Introduced in September 2021, the Solicitors Qualifying Exam has reformed how solicitors qualify in England and Wales. Reports into the first year shows that good progress has been made in implementation of the assessment.
More than 3000 candidates across 42 countries have so far sat the exam, with the SQE Independent Reviewer Report concluding that candidates, stakeholders and the public have confidence that the assessments are fair and reliable.
Kaplan’s report highlighted some emerging trends:
- Individuals with higher degree classifications perform significantly better in the assessments – for instance, 71% of candidates with a First Class degree passed SQE1 compared to 32% with a 2.2.
- Candidates who were apprentices performed well – with pass rates 26% higher than the overall rate. Candidates who had done some qualifying work experience also performed better, with 10% more passing compared to those who had not.
- Candidates performed better in SQE2, with a pass rate of 77% compared to 53% for SQE1 – this is unsurprising given most candidates need to have passed SQE1 before they can take SQE2.
- Candidates who need to resit SQE1 are more likely to fail again when compared to first time sitters.
- Candidates who did not need to take SQE1 – which is generally lawyers qualified in another jurisdiction who had previously passed the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme or candidates who have previously passed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) – did not perform as well on SQE2. 67% of this group passed compared to 89% of those who had passed SQE1.