Posted in Latest News on 13 Dec 2023
As you may have seen, we have been looking at the still relatively new Solicitors Qualifying Exam results here at Douglas Scott over the last few months.
And as we end this calendar year, the final set of results for the SQE2 assessment has been released. So, we thought it was worth looking at them and some of the stories coming out of the latest SQE sittings, which happened in October.
The pass rate climbed to its highest level for people who sat the exam between July and August, with 79% of the confirmed 1,004 candidates passing the all-important exam. This is a climb from the previous high of 77% in August this year, with the pass rate previously sitting between 71% and 77%. As we mentioned in our last roundup of the SQE numbers, it looks like we’re starting to see candidates getting to grips with the requirements of the exam and what is expected of them. The SQE2 results, in particular, indicate this, although the previous SQE1 pass rate lingered around the 53% mark. With the exams testing two sets of different skills (SQE1 looks at what is described as ‘functioning legal knowledge,’ while SQE2 looks at legal skills), it seems that the primary knowledge component is more difficult to pass than the more practical aspects of the SQE. For those taking the exam for the first time, the pass rate leaped to 82%. These results clearly show that we are starting to see this becoming a natural examination for many prospective solicitors, which is reflected in the results we are beginning to see.
However, it isn’t all plain sailing for the SQE. While students seem to be getting to grips with the exam itself, there seem to be technical issues plaguing their ability to do the exam. In the most recent round of examinations (held in October), students reported waiting up to three hours to book a slot. Others said they got to the front of the virtual queue, and the system crashed, forcing them to go to the back of the line again. The SRA had to issue a post on X, explaining that they were working to fix the problem. These tech issues also plagued the exam itself: an exam centre in Chiswick kept students waiting for over six hours to sit one of their SQE2 written assessments before being told they wouldn’t be sitting the exam today. While some were eventually able to sit their exam, they couldn’t use the time to prepare for it, leading to a number to complain on social media about the delays. This isn’t the first-time issues have plagued the exam: last year, a similar incident in Hammersmith forced students to defer their sitting due to technical problems, and marking issues have also been reported. These issues can potentially undermine confidence in the exam if they continue, and students may feel that this disruption is undermining their ability to pass and become qualified solicitors.
Overall, the pass rate results are great to see. After some concerning results from the SQE earlier in the year, it’s nice to see that results are improving considerably. However, particularly for the SQE1, it’s clear that there might still be a barrier to success that is preventing people from passing. And several tech issues continue to plague the exams, which is very concerning for students. As we go into 2024, we will continue to monitor these results and see if the upward trend in results we have recently seen continues.