SQE1 pass rate climbs slightly amid marking error backlash

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By Rhys Duncan on


56% successfully navigated latest sitting

News that the percentage of students passing SQE1 has risen slightly is unlikely to quell anger over a significant exam blunder by Kaplan which led to 175 students being told they had failed, when they had in fact passed.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) latest statistical report looks at the results of students who sat papers in January this year.

Of the 6,061 candidates who attempted the exams earlier this year, 56% passed. This is a slight increase on the previous sitting where 53% were successful, higher again than last January which saw only 51% of budding solicitors pass.

For those sitting the exam for the first time, the pass rate was slightly higher than the average at 59%, in line with the most recent sitting where first timers were again 3% more likely to pass.

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But the news comes amid an outpouring of anger over the new system and a backlash against yesterday’s news that 175 students were wrongly told that they had failed the part of SQE1 after a marking error by exam administrator Kaplan.

“Irony of the SRA demanding a ridiculously high level of junior lawyers when they cannot even reach baseline competence themselves…” vented one anonymous commenter, with a prospective SQE candidate adding:

“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.”

Another anonymous poster discussed their own experience of the error. “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.”

Top figures at a number of the UK’s leading law schools added their concerns to the mix, with one describing the situation as an “omnishambles”.

This news comes less than a week after the SRA announced that the SQE exams will be 5% more expensive from September this year.

In recent weeks, Legal Cheek exclusively revealed that a number of firms had rescinded training contract offers from students who failed the most recent SQE exam sitting. It remains to be seen whether any of these students are also affected by the marking blunder.



Well considering 175 students were told yesterday that they have now passed. But they didn’t fail those who actually should have failed, you’d expect the pass rate to be slightly inflated as it includes those people who haven’t been moved to a fail after correction of the error.

I don’t disagree with the decision to let these candidates keep their pass. But it does put the integrity of the exam into question if borderline failing candidates are given a pass due to an operational error.


Reading on the SQE1 Exams Results
& hearing they failed when they have passed

Is that the LLM SQE1&2
Or is that the
Legal Check


The SQE is a complete scam. I got an email notification saying that my fail status remains the same but there was an error in my grade. Earlier I had failed by x marks now I have failed by much more – they actually demoted my grade!!!!! I mean if this was a purchase then I want my money back since they cannot even do basic scoring. Gmat has been doing competitive exams for years and tells you the score instantly and then ranking after data collation.

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