Regulator tweaks SQE1 marking method

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By Legal Cheek on


Introduces ‘scaled scoring’ similar to New York Bar

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has tweaked the approach to marking assessments on part one of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

In an updated published last week, the regulator confirmed it will be introducing a system of “scaled scoring” similar to that already used in a range of professional assessments across medicine and accountancy as well as the New York State Bar.

The SRA also announced it will be increasing the number of SQE1 testing dates within each assessment window, and that the change in approach to marking came in response to this increase.

“So that we can offer more choice to candidates about when they sit the assessment, but maintain the integrity of the assessment, there will be different papers in an assessment window,” the SRA said. “We will therefore be introducing a system of scaled scoring to enable us to still achieve accurate and fair comparisons between test takers.”

The SQE was formally introduced in September 2021 as the new route to solicitor qualification. SQE1 tests ‘Functioning Legal Knowledge’ (FLK) in two multiple-choice tests of 180 questions each, whilst SQE2 focuses on legal skills.

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The regulator went on to explain how scaled scoring will work.

“The number of questions a candidate answers correctly out of the 180 questions on each FLK is called the ‘raw’ score. If two individuals with the same ability take different papers their raw scores might differ due to the varying difficulty of the papers. Converting the raw score to a scaled score allows scores to be directly compared to reflect the candidates’ relative performance, despite any differences between the assessments. Candidates will be given their raw score. They will also be given their mark expressed as a scaled score figure out of 500. The pass mark will always be 300.”

Dr Ioannis Glinavos, a senior lecturer at Westminster Law School, has also provided a helpful video explanation as to what the changes mean. You can view it here.

Last week Legal Cheek reported that of the 3,475 candidates who attempted SQE1 in July (the latest sitting), 53% successfully passed. This marked a slight improvement on the 51% success rate achieved by those who sat SQE1 in January.


UK Laylay

Presumably dumbing down even further by the back door. This is a professional exam in which you can get 45% plus of the questions wrong and still pass at the moment and the woke crowd are moaning about it being to hard.


How is that different than the LPC where you could get 50% wrong and pass? Probably 75% of LPC students pass on their first attempt and 90-95% of LPC students pass by their third attempt, yet there you are thinking that the SQE is somehow easier.


You clearly have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. There is not one person who has taken the SQE who have said it was ‘easy’. Quite the opposite. MC future trainees and Russell group graduates with 1sts are failing.

Woke Crowd Member

It’s ironic that the same smug, superior lot who jump into these comments to call this exam easy and whine about falling standards and a notional woke/snowflake/coddled sensibility amongst those of us who have actually TAKEN this exam, are the ones who are too dim to see what’s actually happening here –

This “tweak” (overhaul) of the marking method is no doubt being brought in at the insistence of the top firms, city consortium etc whose rigorously selected future trainees are failing this exam at an unacceptable rate. In simple terms for you: top law firms need this exam to be easier to pass. Why? Because it’s a prohibitively hard exam to pass, let alone do well in, that’s unduly derailing people’s career paths and firms’ hiring plans.

I sat and passed SQE1 this summer and prepped for it while working in practice full-time. The toll it took on my mental health and relationships (personal and professional) was immeasurable. I didn’t have financial pressure because I’m a sponsored trainee but that added stress would have broken me I think as I really didn’t feel I had passed. My GDL and undergrad were a cakewalk in comparison.

To anyone else doing SQE – fair play, and ignore the galling commentors (I should take me own advice…)

Tacit tacit ?

‘Presumably dumbing down’!? So really, you haven’t even bothered to look into the reason behind changes before criticising. There are many things about the SQE that can be criticised but this isn’t one of them. The pass bar hasn’t moved.

Tempted to summarise it here for you but can’t be bothered. Crib someone else’s notes..

Gud Spiller

Presumably “the woke crowd” know how to use the word ‘too’ correctly in a sentence.


A timely article, given that countless SQE candidates are (this very second) being messed about by Kaplan‘s kafkaesque registration system. I know of dozens of people who have been in a queue for three hours waiting to be let into the system, and of others who have got through but were then rejected because they had allegedly failed to complete the pre-booking steps (which, in fact, they had completed).

Jumping through the regulator‘s and assessment provider‘s burning hoops of incompetence is what makes the SQE hard, not the exam itself.

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