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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Solicitors Regulation Authority publishes SQE annual reports

Solicitors Regulation Authority publishes SQE annual reports


The reports review the first year of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) published three annual reports on 16 March, assessing the first year of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). According to the SRA, the overall implementation of the new assessment has gone well.

The SQE assessment provider, Kaplan, has provided an annual review of the SQE for 2021/22, which sheds light on some emerging trends, but states that firm conclusions cannot be drawn until there is more data. The two other reports are a quality assurance report and a summary of the initial feedback from candidates, training providers and law firms. The reports cover the first year of assessments, in which there were three sittings: two for SQE1, which tests candidates' legal knowledge, and one for SQE2, which tests the application of legal knowledge and skills.

The general themes in the Kaplan report include that: candidates with higher degree classifications performed significantly better in the assessments; candidates who were apprentices performed well and candidates who had some qualifying work experience also performed better; candidates performed better in SQE2, with a pass rate of 77 per cent compared to 53 per cent for SQE1; candidates who needed to re-sit SQE1 were more likely to fail again when compared to first-time sitters; and candidates who did not need to take SQE1 did not perform as well on SQE2 when compared to those who had passed SQE1.

Commenting on the findings, Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “It’s been a positive start. One of the main reasons we introduced the SQE was to bolster confidence that qualifying solicitors were meeting the same, high standard. It’s good to see all the analyses show it is a robust, fair, valid assessment. Generally, the candidate experience has been good, but we are committed to improving it further. It’s too early to draw conclusions on the long-term impacts of the SQE, but I am pleased that the training market is offering affordable ways to qualify when compared to the old LPC route. It’s good to see apprentices excelling, but we need to better understand the complex reasons why Black and Asian candidates aren’t generally doing as well. We can then identify whether there are steps we can take to address this.”