SQE candidates unable to sit both exams this year
Students taking SQE1 in July will not have their results in time to sit SQE2 in October
Students due to sit part one of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) will be unable to progress onto the next stage this year.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said that students taking SQE1 in July will not have their results in time to register and sit SQE2 in October 2022. They will instead have to wait until April 2023, causing delays to their qualification and disruption to career plans.
The regulator said the delay is to ensure it undertakes “detailed analysis and quality assurance” before results are released.
“Our priority remains, as always, to ensure complete accuracy in candidate results,” an SRA spokesperson said.
Last month’s SQE1 results day was marred by technical glitches, data issues and delays, resulting in some students finding out whether they had passed or failed late into the evening and some receiving other candidates’ scores. Just over half (53%) of students made the grade, leading some law school leaders to question the “low” pass mark. Further, the regulator found there to be discrepancies between different ethnic groups: some 65% of white candidates passed SQE1, compared to 43% Asian and 39% Black candidates.
Legal Cheek reported this month that some students faced wait times of up to two hours when attempting to book sittings for SQE2.
News of the latest delay to hit the regime came over an hour into an SRA webinar answering questions on how the first sit in November went.
Zoe Robinson, director of qualifications at Kaplan, which assesses the exams, said: “It will not be possible for the SQE1 in July, for candidates to move onto the SQE2 in October”. She said it has always been the “aim to set a timetable which will permit candidates to move through the assessments and the overall qualification quickly”.
Legal Cheek understands that some course providers have taken steps to ensure that their students who pass SQE1 in July have access to SQE2 materials to aid their preparation.
The delay will be particularly disappointing for candidates hoping to qualify this year or those who have already completed their two years Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) and just need to pass the two exams.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said in a statement on Monday: “We understand the SRA’s measures to ensure standards as the SQE assessments are still new but sympathise with the aspiring solicitors who have been disappointed and will have to wait until next year to sit the SQE2.”
“We hope the Solicitors Regulation Authority can take this feedback on board and make any necessary adjustments for future cycles to ensure that the process is smoother,” said Boyce.
The July exam is the second SQE1 sitting; bookings open next month until June.
The SRA said it will be possible for candidates to move immediately from SQE1 to SQE2 in due course “as we streamline our processes”.
“We are confident that by the time we get to the third delivery, the January SQE1 progressing to April SQE2 [in 2023], that will be possible,” added Robinson.
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