SQE students voice frustration over erroneous exam slot cancellation email

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By Thomas Connelly on

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Kaplan stresses assessments will go ahead as planned, apologises for confusion


SQE students have expressed their frustration after receiving an email explaining that their upcoming exam slot had been cancelled at their request — despite making no such request.

Legal Cheek can reveal a number of students were informed incorrectly on Wednesday morning that their slot for the upcoming SQE1 sitting in January “ha[d] been cancelled as requested”.

The email naturally left students — many of whom spent hours in online queues to secure an exam spot in the first place — scrambling to speak to someone in a bid to find out what was going on.

“I called the number provided and was put straight into a queue where I didn’t move for an hour and a half,” one stressed student told Legal Cheek. “I know of others who have spent all morning in the queue with dozens others in front of them.”

“There has been a lot of stress on the group chats this morning with waits of over an hour on the phone whilst people try to find out what is going on,” another added.

In a statement, Kaplan explained that prior to the Christmas break, it agreed with Pearson VUE that some candidates due to sit SQE1 in January at the Islington test centre could have a slightly later assessment start time, moving from 8am to 9am.

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“This is to facilitate a later check in for candidates, since candidates testing at this test centre must check in one hour prior to their assessment,” Kaplan said.

It continued:

“We can confirm that no assessments have been cancelled. Affected candidates received a notice from Pearson VUE that their 8am assessment start time had been cancelled. Those candidates, with the revised 9am start time, were contacted directly by email by the Kaplan SQE team to provide clarification and reassurance that the assessment will go ahead at the revised time. We apologised for any uncertainty caused by the email from Pearson VUE.”

“As per our website, candidates are able to contact the Kaplan SQE Candidate Services team by email up to the 29th December, then again from 2nd January,” the statement added.

25 Comments

Legally Blonde

As someone who this happened to, I think it demonstrates yet another way that SQE is not a good change. The SRA claims its encouraging diversity, but the exam is inherently ableist and does not prepare you to be a good lawyer.

This error apparently happened to the site dedicated to people with adjustments… Not a good sign.

truth

SQE.. the gift continues. Lets do like the old days and protest on the streets to scrap this nonsense.

Poppa

The SRA will do nothing about Kaplan’s consistent failures because they’re too busy sniffing around for trainees to strike off for sneezing the wrong way

Archibald O'Pomposity

“The SRA will do nothing about Kaplan’s consistent failures because they’re too busy sniffing around for trainees to strike off for sneezing the wrong way”.

Practise law with competence and integrity and you will have nothing to worry about.

Nick

With all due respect, does this really warrant an article? It was a technical glitch which was fixed. It happens all the time, to everyone. Stop whining about anything that happens with the SQE.

Legal123

I had put aside that day to revise , I spent 3 hours on hold and was seriously distracted. When you work full time this is precious time lost at a very stressful time.

Whilst I am glad this was an error, my slot had not been cancelled, actually they had moved the exam time to 9 not 8, which in turn moved the arrival time from 7 to 8 (which would have meant me getting up at 5:30AM to attend) I was glad of that at leas.

I agree with the last comment that this is an ableist exam with no real means to try and eleviate that. PTSD sufferers who are distracted by sound are not allowed ear plugs , anyone suffering migraine and needing water will just have to suffer the migraine, anyone left handed will have to struggle trying to write on a white board whilst also rubbing out what they write, anyone with ADHD would just struggle to concentrate for 6-7 hours and anyone with dyslexia how ever much extra time you give them will not be able to equally compete with this style of questions.

They have written an exam that needs guarding like the Crown Jewels as it’s too much of a task for them to re write the questions and students are suffering because of this. All of these measures are to protect the questions not the students.

On the upside for the SRA the drop in pass rate from around 70-80 % to 50-54 % will generate them an additional 2.7million revenue in resits per year.

I have autism and need earplugs

We’re not allowed earplugs?? Why??? It’s a piece of rubber that can easily be inspected to ascertain no electronic instrument is fitted in them, this is absurd. In uni all I had to do was email the person responsible for exams explaining why I needed earplugs and they responded with ‘yep’ within the hour. Sitting SQE1 in a year’s time and this does not make me happy. Also surely ADHD people get a rest break right?? Right??? 🙁

Archibald O'Pomposity

Although “I have autism” is not a magic wand that will disperse every challenge that life throws your way, I do have sympathy with this scenario. Plain foam earplugs should be allowed in examinations.

Stop

No. They’re not allowed in the exams. That’s the problem.

Autistic person from before, perplexed and offended

Archibald, though I’m glad you agree, I have to dissent with the tone of the counterargument you led with and the line of reasoning as a whole. You see, Archibald, when you start sentences with ‘having [disability] is not a magic wand’, you make an incredibly damaging red herring. You suggest that having autism is used as an excuse which I know is insulting because as an autistic person, my basic (diverse) needs have not ever been met in the slightest. Normally people only become biased against me if I tell them I have autism, they don’t make a single adjustment to make things accessible for me (see: earplugs), so I have to compensate very heavily at my own detriment, and they definitely don’t hold it ever in my favour. Pushing a narrative that autistic people are just ‘doing it as an excuse/for attention/ [insert tired bs] causes autistic people to be come incredibly frustrated (as I am now) and communicates to people that it is ok not to make the slightest accommodation. As for your ‘sympathy’, the line of reasoning is far from the kindness I’m sure you were trying to project as you’re implying that these accommodations should only be allowed if those that don’t have the disability can also relate. You’re concluding that earplugs should be allowed in examinations, which is an accurate conclusion but misses the point entirely. While everyone dislikes distracting noise, the point is that for (a lot of) autistic people the noise is completely debilitating. Some of us cannot think within on, others have meltdowns. Earplugs for autistic people aren’t a perk, they’re a disability accommodation. Please refrain from sharing ableist rhetoric in the future, and please please share earplug recommendations if you have any. Cheers, an autistic person trying to reason with the world.

Autistic person from before, perplexed and offended

**strawman, I don’t know my logical fallacies sorry Archibald.

Anon

You’re completely right. Not to mention the amount of stuff we have to memorise. Memory gets worse with age AND mental illness has been proven to deplete memory. Being able to memorise textbooks does not make you a good lawyer and testing that at this late stage is ridiculous. Do they want us to be Mike Ross?

You’re telling me the average NQ lawyer knows, off by heart, every single time limit for 7 different practice areas? Haha. As if

Archibald O'Pomposity

“You’re telling me the average NQ lawyer knows, off by heart, every single time limit for 7 different practice areas? Haha. As if”

If you can’t even aspire to be like the average NQ, then it’ll be customer service until you retire, sadly.

Anonymous

I have for probably a decade now been advancing the suspicion that the architects of SQE1 did have Mike Ross in mind when constructing the assessment structure.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“With all due respect, does this really warrant an article?”

You clearly haven’t ever worked as an editor.

Alan

You, sir, have overlooked the need for this generation to complain about absolutely anything, however trivial. I blame the internet for giving an audience for these quibbles that only serves to reinforce them. When I was young, we could only tell those around us about our problems. And on top of that, we had real problems, like feeding our families, not minor inconveniences like this. I fear for the future.

Sigh

This is real pot kettle black behaviour of you Alan – you practically live in the Legal Cheek comments, ready to “complain about absolutely anything, however trivial”.

Oh

Are you the Alan that used to be in that law applicants whatsapp group about 2 years ago always putting everyone down and being a debbie downer?

Anon

I find it really confusing that this exam was meant to fix diversity in the sector but it seems to have only made it more polarising?

5 hour memory test with no access to water staring at a screen with only one breaks – yes that’s very inclusive to anyone who has suffered or suffers with mental illness or any learning disabilities. I didn’t realise lawyers aren’t allowed water at their desks.

The exam costs money itself and you have to fork out every time you retake it and most people NEED a prep course – oh yes that’s a great way to get poorer students and those from less privileged backgrounds into the profession.

And then every single diversity report has shown that white students from top universities do the best?

So how is this diverse?

The amount of students completing this exam who I have seen become sick with anxiety over it is terrible too. A lot of these issues can be fixed with adjustments.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“The amount of students completing this exam who I have seen become sick with anxiety over it is terrible too. A lot of these issues can be fixed with adjustments.”

Real legal practice can’t be adjusted for. Try asking the judge if you can take your favourite teddy bear into the courtroom.

Alan

Hear hear. I think this exam seems to act a filter to get rid of those who simply cannot make it in the real world. If so, I’m all for it. We don’t need a profession of lawyers crying and calling on their supervisor to tell off a client who was slightly brisk with them, or asking to go home early as they miss their cat.

2008financialcrash

When you were young, the NHS wasn’t on the brink of collapse, house prices were affordable, and the cost of living was reasonable.

Assuming you are qualified, I highly doubt you would so much as scrape a pass on these set of SQE exams now, albeit pass at all.

Thanks for offering your arbitrary and outdated views though.

Anon

Idiot post by the common troll. No solicitor is not allowed access to water and given such an elusive test. No one complained about the LPC. Your comments are ableist – reasonable adjustments do exist in the workplace.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“I know of others who have spent all morning in the queue with dozens others in front of them.”

THE PERFECT PREPARATION FOR COURT.

SQE Student

If any consolation, foam ear plugs and noise cancelling headphones were available for the SQE1 January exam sittings at the venue I was tested at. I expect it should be the same for all venues. Water was not permitted but you can take a break whenever you wish (albeit the timer on the exam won’t stop for that break).

You can also apply for reasonable adjustments during the exam when you register to sit the SQE1.

I hope that helps!

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