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SRA delays super-exam decision until spring 2017

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Final decision was due this month

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed that a final decision regarding a new centrally assessed “super-exam” won’t be made until at least spring 2017.

The SRA-backed exam — or Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE), to give it its official title — will, if given the green light, combine the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) to create a one-stop shop professional skills exam.

The SRA had originally said it would reach a final decision on the fate of the super-exam by the end of this month, but has now extended the timetable until next year, so it can focus “on getting the detail right”.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said:

I think the case for a form of centralised assessment is strong. It addresses the problem that, currently, qualifications are not comparable — multiple courses and exams mean that standards can vary significantly and there is a lack of transparency. Any new assessment needs to be fair and consistent and ensure that new solicitors can meet the high standards that the public and employers expect.

Earlier this year the SRA undertook a profession wide consultation on the new exam format. Receiving over 240 responses, almost 200 raised concerns about the proposals.

Issues highlighted were wide-ranging, but one common theme was regarding the exam being open to non-graduates. Many apparently felt this would undermine the status of a solicitor. Furthermore, many didn’t agree with the SRA’s view that the new assessment format would cut costs.