Exam chaos: Kaplan issues apology after 175 students wrongly told they’d failed SQE 

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By Thomas Connelly on


Questions remain over whether blunder led to TC offer cancellations

Kaplan and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have apologised this morning after it emerged that 175 students were incorrectly told they had failed parts of their Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) assessments.

The results for the January 2024 SQE1 assessments have been “reissued” to correct an error by Kaplan in the calculation of students’ scores. The issue came to light as result of students appealing their original scores.

As a result of the error, 175 students who were originally told that they had failed either Functioning Legal Knowledge 1 and/or Functioning Legal Knowledge 2 (the two parts of SQE1) have, in fact, passed those assessments.

News of the exam marking blunder comes just weeks after Legal Cheek exclusively revealed that some students had their training contract offers revoked due to failing the January sitting of SQE1.

At a press briefing this morning, Legal Cheek asked both Kaplan and the SRA if they were aware of any instances where a student’s training contract offer was revoked due to the error.

Zoe Robinson, director of qualifications at Kaplan, said that at this stage, it is not aware of any candidates who have had their training contracts rescinded due to this error, but acknowledged the possibility. She confirmed that Kaplan would collaborate with any affected candidates to ensure they are adequately compensated for any impacts caused by the error.

The SQE Hub: Your ultimate resource for all things SQE

Explaining how the error occurred, Kaplan and the SRA said: The way the results were presented was new for January’s SQE1 — rather than results being shown as a percentage mark, candidates were given a standardised score out of 500. The mistake was made when implementing this change. It was unique to the January 2024 results — no previous SQE assessments are affected. It was discovered by Kaplan through general checks conducted during the appeals period.”

The error doesn’t impact the overall pass/fail outcome for the other 6,451 candidates who took the assessment. However, certain candidates may notice alterations in their scores or their placement within quintiles. Quintiles classify candidates into five groups, with the top 20% seated in the top quintile, and so forth.

All 6,626 candidates who took SQE1 in January have been contacted by Kaplan and all results from this sitting have been reissued to candidates.

Robinson said:

“We are committed to putting this right for candidates, and sincerely regret and apologise for the impact this has had for those affected. A goodwill payment of £250 is being offered to those candidates who were incorrectly told they had failed an assessment in recognition of the upset caused by this matter. In addition, we recognise that individual candidates who received the incorrect outcome may have been impacted by this in different ways. We would encourage candidates in this group, who have incurred losses as a direct result of this error, to contact our Candidate Services Team to outline your circumstances and each will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We have set up a dedicated email address for this purpose — SQE1Jan24@kaplan.co.uk.”

Paul Philip, Chief Executive at the Solicitors Regulation Authority, who oversee the SQE and qualification route for solicitors, said:

“We are really disappointed by this error and apologise to the candidates who have been affected. Our immediate priority has been making sure the error has been put right as swiftly as possible, and the impact on candidates is recognised and addressed. We will be doing a full review with Kaplan of how the error occurred, and redoubling efforts on assurance, so we can reduce the risk of an error happening again.”

This isn’t the first example of issues with marking SQE exam papers, although not quite at this scale. In September 2023 Kaplan apologised to students after it identified an “isolated error” with the marking of a small number of SQE2 assessments.

The news comes just days after the SRA confirmed SQE1 and 2 fees will rise by 5% to £1,888 and £2,902, respectively.



This is astounding. For a regulator to play with the future of young people like this, thinking a small payment makes up for this error, is remarkably out of touch. Students’ lives will have been turned upside down at the initial failure, only now to be presented with more uncertainty with a revised pass. The SQE needs to be scrapped.

Archibald O'Pomposity

They’re not “playing” with anybody’s future, you daft sod. It was incompetence, not malevolence. An utterly inexcusable error for sure, but don’t descend to hyperbole.


Archibald is there a reason I see you on every thread mentioning the SQE and routinely replying with desperate defences of the SRA? You seem to have replied to almost every comment on here.

This suggests to me you have too much free time to be in private practice – do you work for the SRA/Kaplan?


Do stop trolling this page, with such coarse and inexcusable language. Kindly practice what you so sanctimoniously preach.

Someone with half a brain

Not just the SQE – it’s the SRA that needs to be scrapped. Just another example of their total incompetence


But apart from that, SQE has been a fantastic change…


Irony of the SRA demanding a ridiculously high level of junior lawyers when they cannot even reach baseline competence themselves…

Aspiring lawyer

The errors themselves are not a surprise – it happens all the time with public exams in schools; lost papers, missed questions, wrong marking and transcribing errors.

The issue is Kaplan’s lack of transparency and a proper enquiry process (eg getting the equivalent of a copy of your exam paper back to review). The whole system is entirely opaque and one wonders how many other errors there are that we will never hear about because they were never questioned.

The whole system appears set up to scare candidates into not questioning their results. That is so wrong.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“The issue is Kaplan’s lack of transparency and a proper enquiry process (eg getting the equivalent of a copy of your exam paper back to review).”

I’m not sure any examining board has ever offered this. They call it ‘the dark art of examining’ for a reason!

Aspiring lawyer

Every A level and GCSE exam board in England offers this and has done for decades.


So many people have been stopped from going onto SQE2, delaying their start dates for their jobs. Disgusting really. £250 is not enough

Archibald O'Pomposity

You’re right – £250 is an insult, especially for those whose TCs were rescinded.

Archibald is cringe

First decent take from you Archibald – glad your bedside manner is improving

Not shocked

I am shocked!


£250? Hardly compensatory for the damage of having a TC cancelled …

Not a lawyer

And also… if you accept this ‘offer of a payment of 250£’, does that stop you being able to sue them in negligence/breach of contract/ being an otherwise silly goose?


I imagine the £250 is more for students who ‘failed’ without a TC etc who just want a little moan (given, save for some emotional strain, it didn’t have a huge impact on them). If anyone had a TC revoked over this then the providers know they will have to pay out a lot more if the firm doesn’t agree to put another offer in place (best part of a TC being a FTC means loss of earnings is surely easier to prove for the full 2-years ;))


This flimsy payment doesn’t even begin to cover it. The disruption is bad enough if you had UK passport and residency, but what if you had your visa status in the UK revoked over this? It’s a distinct possibility and Kaplan should be thrown into the dustbin over this.


There were students who had to leave the country after their TCs were cancelled

Anon the 4th

Just more SQExcuses for the SRA and Kaplan’s shared incompetence

Anonymous Lawyer

I think that I speak for myself and many other candidates who are due to sit SQE1 in July that my confidence has been knocked significantly and this shows that the new marking system is just as confusing for the members of KAPLAN to follow, as well as students/teachers ourselves. The new statistical report does not give any insight as to what the % score needed to pass was and the 300 scoring mark is not helpful in the slightest. The fact that almost 200 individuals had thought they had failed the SQE but had actually passed is absolutely insane. I cannot believe that a prestigious body such as SRA and KAPLAN allowed this to happen.

Archibald O'Pomposity

I do feel sorry for those reading this who are due to sit the exam in Summer. All I can say is that lightening doesn’t strike twice (not usually, in any event) and I expect they will double- and triple-check the results before release. Keep your head down and just focus on the knowledge.

MC trainee

What are you talking about. Lightning strikes everything they’ve touched. As if you think this is the only thing that has gone wrong. They’ve got a warped version of the King Midas touch. Everything they touch turns into sh** not gold. Remember the Business SQE2 exams that all got mistakenly marked as 0s and all the candidates affected got was an apology…


They literally had a marking error in sqe2 which is still unresolved, 5months prior to this ?


Unfortunately it does – The SQE2 Marking scandal of those 20 ish students who sat one of the exams who were handed 0% marks! Firms seem to be supporting those who experienced it which is good but I know of someone who is having to sit the ENTIRE SQE2 again due to Kaplan’s idiocy (again). The whole thing is a chaotic mess and makes me ever more nervous to sit SQE2 this month.


I was marked zero at business it made me fail. I still don’t understand how this happened. I suspected an error but Kaplan wouldn’t let me check my copy. Such a disgrace.


Unfortunately it does. Look at the SQE2 marking scandal last year where they have circa 20 students 0% for one subject and are making them sit the entire thing again! They haven’t admitted to this despite firms pushing them on it! Whole thing is a mess and makes me nervous to sit the SQE2 this month.


If nothing else, this must illustrate the shortsightedness of those firms who have acted immediately to rescind TC offers on the back of a candidate’s first-sit failure in the SQE, without permitting any resits or taking the candidate’s particular circumstances into consideration.

Much of the discussion about the SQE of late, following the latest set of results, has seen people getting caught up with, and dare I say preoccupied with, how ‘difficult’ the exam is, and whether the level of difficulty is where it should be.

This misses a separate, parallel, and potentially more insidious issue, which is that the administration and implementation of the SQE (entirely leaving aside how hard it is as an exam) has so far been utterly, utterly woeful.

There is a valid argument to be made that the SQE’s present level of difficulty is appropriate – that can be debated either way. There is, however, absolutely no way of reasonably arguing that the SQE ought to be as capricious, poorly run, or arbitrary as it presently is. It’s totally inexcusable.

Item 1 on the job list when implementing any new exam, even before considering how difficult that exam should be, must surely be to ensure that it will be consistent and reliable, so that it provides a consistent metric for comparing candidates against one another. The SQE in its present manifestation singularly fails to achieve this.

Those embarking on the SQE now are not, on the whole, worried or angry because it will be a difficult course and set of exams, I would wager. I think they would be perfectly prepared to accept that so long as they knew what they were getting into at the outset. No, they are worried and angry because they have no way of knowing what is coming down the road at them. No assurance that they will not be swept up in yet another basic administrative or technical failure which might have hugely detrimental consequences for their future careers through absolutely no fault of their own. I think anyone would find that pretty intolerable.


Well said


I urge anyone who has any administration issues during their July exams to flag it as mitigating circumstances. One thing I’ve not seen others mention in this thread is the issues with the exam centres themselves, especially the nob Kaplan ones, some are awful and there were laptops pausing mid exam. I applied for mitigating circumstances last year and my attempt was discounted and the exam fee returned. This doesn’t make up for the fact that you have to do the exam again, but the issues in the administration need to be documented. After having passed the exam in Jan 24, I still don’t know what the pass rate is for the exam. The SRA does not explain how they came to 500 as a total number. The correct scores per module were not released nor the correct answers required to meet the pass rate of 300.


Surely if there were mitigating circumstances the marks should be weighted to account for it. Not force a resit.

Archibald is cringe

Truly appalling. People should be fired for this.

Archibald O'Pomposity

YOU’RE FIRED! Better get used to hearing this from now…


I am one of the people who had their marks revised to a pass and I cannot emphasise enough how traumatic this entire process has been and how much it has affected my confidence in my own ability as well as my confidence in the regulatory body of my future profession.


what was the basis of your appeal? I did not appeal mine as i felt i had no leg to stand on

Archibald O'Pomposity

C-PTSD diagnosis downstream, I suspect.

BCMA Victim

Try being one of the SQE2 BMCA marking error victims who still to date, 9 months later; haven’t had any form of resolution and most of us quite literally should be 9 months qualified right now. 😩
I have a lot of sympathy for you guys honestly, but can’t say it doesn’t sting a bit watching them admit to your error, give compensation (as measly as it was) and put things back on track when we’ve had nine of that and all left in limbo & asked to pay 2.9k to redo it all. It’s all an absolute shit show. It’s also embarrassing to see this happen so soon after them saying they’ve reviewed their processes and learnt from their mistakes…
Kaplan are either corrupt, extremely incompetent or most likely, both


SQE/SRA you are a joke!!!


Amongst this, the SRA insists the SQE is “performing well” and raises the fees by 15% over a year… the SRA/Kaplan are laughing in our faces, it’s an embarrassment for the entire profession.


Surely those who have wrongly been told they have failed only two weeks until the SQE2 that they would have otherwise been sitting should sue for damages, £250 is a slap in the face – especially for those who have to now postpone their TC for a year or who have lost their TC entirely… surely that would call for legal action.

And all this for an exam that took 2 months to mark yet can be marked entirely by computers

Defund the Sra

Everyone at the SRA who was involved in creating the SQE needs to be sacked ASAP for bringing the profession into disrepute


I don’t understand how they managed to screw up marking a multiple choice electronic exam. Surely the marking system is automatic by the computer and not marked by a human marker.
The confidence is the SQE, Kaplan and SRA is diminishing each cohort. They need to get themselves organised before they make a joke out of the whole legal profession


Yes, I too am assuming it’s automated, but the computer marking system is only as intelligent as the person who wrote the program. I’m guessing that when they rescaled it to compare against a score of 500 instead of a percentage of the questions answered that were actually correct, that someone made an error. Who knows?! Whichever way up you look at it, it’s not OK. My paralegal is due to sit her SQE1 and my attempts to reassure her just to ‘keep your head down and it will be OK’ is becoming less and less convincing.


Do people who incorrectly passed, now fail?
Or are people only going from the fail bracket to pass?


No. Anyone who was given a pass and shouldn’t have, gets to keep the pass. That’s what I’m reading into the part of the statement as follows “The error does not affect the overall pass/fail outcome for the other 6,451 candidates who took an assessment.”.

MC associate

“175 candidates incorrectly told they failed an assessment when they had actually passed. In total, 182 outcomes were incorrect.”

That implies that seven people were told that they had passed when they had in reality failed (though Kaplan are, risibly, trying to avoid saying that).

Shocked and disappointed, no accountability beyond issuing a statement

I think this is extremely concerning. This is not the first nor second nor third error etc. that has been committed with the administration side of the SQE, it is simply the largest. For those due to sit SQE1 in July and at the end of this year, it is so disheartening to know that you are walking into an examination process with the reliability and credibility of a Wikipedia page.
The SQE1 in and of itself is so much harder than the LPC, both in the substance and in the testing process. Now it’s come to light that the new testing process is fundamentally flawed too? Absolutely shocked and disappointed. This huge reform should not have happened before the exam was deemed safe.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“it is so disheartening to know that you are walking into an examination process with the reliability and credibility of a Wikipedia page.”

Wikipedia entries are subject to peer review.

David Bentley

Can’t add much to what has been written above. However, the number of people sitting SQE1 seems quite high to me – over 6,000.

6,000 is roughly 3.75% of the total number of practising solicitors in E&W. If you assume even a 35 year average career length (short), this would be growing the number of qualified lawyers beyond what is needed to replace retiring ones. There are already not enough trainee or even paralegal places for those that want them.

This is an absolute failure from the SRA actually allowing people to spend lots of money on exams, to try and get into a profession that is already quite saturated. I don’t know the solution, and nobody at the SRA is ever going to campaign to “shrink the profession”, but loads of young people are being ripped off with no hope of ever practising.

An Offshore Trainee

Hi David, worth noting a number of people sitting these exams will aim to become a qualified solicitor in England and Wales but work in another jurisdiction, such as Jersey or Hong Kong. A similar thing happens with the New York Bar (around 35% of those sitting the 2021 exams were educated/qualified outside the US). I’m unsure of the SQE stats but it’s likely a sizeable number of the 6,000 are not angling to have a career either in or fully in the UK.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“I don’t know the solution”

Quite. It is not the job of the regulator to meddle with the supply and demand of baby lawyers, and any attempt to do so would doubtless have unintended consequences. That said, perhaps the oft-bemoaned high difficulty level was an attempt at curbing the influx of the mediocrity? Who knows.


Really? The law gazette currently appears to have over 5000 solicitor vacancies.



This has “class action” written all over it.



Giles Proctor

The latest from the Solicitors Regulation Authority in terms of their continuing problems with their running of the SQE. Mistakes do occur and have quite rightly been addressed in this case. However, there is a wider issue emerging here around the dialogue from the SRA with firms, providers and students and how concerns are listened to and addressed.

More clear communication is needed and a sense of careful planning and discussion rather than just ploughing on with the same systems. Otherwise, the really important stakeholders in all this, the students undergoing SQE, will continue to be under huge pressure and suffer from mistakes like this.

Archibald O'Pomposity

Many thanks for this analysis, Captain Obvious.


The SRA is not fit for purpose.

The legal or is a toxic environment

Archibald O'Pomposity

The “and” is rather tricky too, some say even worse.


‘Profession’. Autocorrect, Grr!

Tired Turtle

Please tell me there is a class action brewing?????


My friend who lost his TC has just been told he actually passed lol.


Hilary bain

O ,lord, god,help


Will they have the TC reinstated do you know?


This happened to me, from failed flk1 to pass flk1 – do I accept the £250???


If we can’t hold the SRA accountable for their blunders because we’re all scared they’re going to strike us off for breathing.. does that make SRA a dictatorship?


Shame on the SRA, as usual, expecting high standards from students, trainees and Solicitors, whilst they fall ungraciously to the lowest level possible. Third rate people expecting first rate performace…

Foreign Anon

I’ve passed the FLK 1, and failed FLK 2 last July. I’ve asked for a clerical check and my request was denied because “the clerical check process has not found any error in the calculation and collation of marks for any candidate that has made a request.“ I don’t know what to think now anymore…….


That’s somewhat analogous to the indignant reply one receives when questioning someone’s drafting, along the lines of “we’ve always used this document and no-one has ever questioned that clause before, so there aren’t any issues”.

Now might be a good time to persist with your request.


The whole process seems ridiculous. I’m sitting SQE1 this July and am completely overwhelmed what I’m supposed to store in my memory! All good solicitors know where to look for the answers! I’m 54 and can’t remember anything 😫😫

Archibald O'Pomposity

This would be a funny joke if it wasn’t representative of so many real complaints on these pages.

SRA Stan'

Mistakes happen. The SRA does a good job regulating the legal profession overall. I stand by the SRA.

SRA Stan'

The SRA is a great regulator. They have done so much for our profession and not enough people appreciate their work. I stand by them.

Archibald O'Pomposity

This would be a funny joke if it wasn’t representative of so many real complaints on these pages.


I Wonder what are the success rates according to ethnicity, gender, race, religion these exams and what is the information data on those impacted

Honest Joe

To be honest, the difficulty of the SQE has to be set incredibly high to stop clueless graduates with humanity/non-law degrees to join the legal profession.

Non-law future trainee

And yet many of these so-called “clueless humanity/non-law degree” students turn out to be excellent lawyers who exhibit out-of-the-box thinking… presumably due to their diversified academic experience? Many firms hire 50:50 non-law to law students. Food for thought Honest Joe.

MC associate

I am currently working on a multi-billion pound transaction, where four out of five of the partners have non-law degrees. All of them are extraordinarily knowledgeable, adored by clients and are top-ranked by the main directories. If I were a client I would trust them far, far more than I would some dullard with an LLB and no genuine intellectual ability. Neither an LLB nor the disgrace that is the SQE will teach you the skills and abilities that *actually* matter in commercial legal practice.

Who wants to sue?

Honestly who wants to make a group claim? (Being deadly serious)


I would! But how??

Replace the SRA

The SRA are staggeringly incompetent in all areas – this is just a prime example. They are not effectively overseen by the LSB (whose handful of MPs occasionally turn up and nod off in meetings every few years).

We have a sophisticated, respectable profession being regulated by third rate individuals who are seeking power grabs over examinations, misconduct tribunals and now legal executives.

We need to replace the SRA with competent and intelligent regulators.


Really? Appointing Kaplan who has proved to be a disaster with exam results and non-transparent, speaks volume. The SRA needs to be regulated!


Is anyone aware if they took the missing question into consideration? I failed by 1% and I am wondering if it is worth appealing as I only got to sit 179 questions.


How do you know you only failed 1% if the mark is now no longer a percentage?


you need 300/500 to pass which is 60%, I scored 296 but also had 1 less question and missed time due to the fire alarm going off and being evacuated.

Anonymous Lawyer

This is not right though, the pass mark is not 60% because you don’t answer 500 questions. In their working example given they said the pass rate was around 56% but I am unsure whether this was just an example. It would be massively unfair if the pass mark was increased to a set 60% after many previous exams ranging anywhere from 52 – 56%. This is why there is so much confusion because we don’t actually know what the pass rate is or what amount of questions you need to get right to pass, there is no explanation on how to work out the raw mark.


I don’t understand how many questions I missed since I scored 278/300. I would like to understand how many incorrect questions there are between 278 and 300 to understand whether to appeal.

The pass mark is generic, unmotivated and no one knows what the right answers were. They must indicate the right answers for each question


I took the exam last January. I have a lot of concerns about my score. If anyone feel the same please contact me.




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