The Solicitor Qualifying Examination was introduced in 2021 and since this point has received a mixed response from those within the legal profession. It was insinuated right from its introduction that a multiple-choice layout equated to a far easier route to qualifying, than that of the Legal Practice Course. This has been proven to be far from the truth.
The SQE qualification process is two-fold in structure. The SQE1 examination involves two three-hour sittings of multiple-choice questions which can be on any area of Law. The SQE2 examination mimics that of the practical examination within the LPC, whereby candidates are required to perform advocacy, advice giving, and drafting.
It appears from the results of SQE1 and SQE2 that both have come with their significant challenges.
The SQE1 exam has had two sittings since its introduction in 2021. Both have returned remarkably low pass marks, with the most recent in July 2022, being 53%. It is clear that its difficulty should be in no way underestimated.
Understandably, this low pass rate has caused mass frustration and confusion amongst those who have elected to sit the SQE exams. This is particularly troubling given there does not seem to be a vast difference in the pass rates of those who had/had not taken a preparatory course, and those who had/had not participated in Qualifying Work Experience.
It is therefore anticipated that some level of restructure or reform will be necessary to ensure that the SQE route is viable as a way to qualify. However, the SRA have commented very little on this pass rate and have given no indication nor suggestion of any possible changes being made to the SQE process as of yet.
In light of this, at Family Law Group, we have made attempts to tailor the support given to those enrolled on the SQE programme even further to ensure that they are given the best possible support in passing these incredibly tough exams. This has involved a number of SQE trainee-led initiatives being implemented; such as an SQE Trainee community being established, and regular MS Teams meetings being set up. As our SQE Trainees are all at different stages in the process, it is hoped that we can work collaboratively to ensure we are all given the best possible chance to pass these exams and ultimately qualify as a solicitor.
Whilst the Solicitor Qualifying Examination has been labelled as the new “accessible” route to qualify as a solicitor, it should in no way be confused as an “easy” route to qualify. These exams are proving to be immensely challenging, and we must work together as a firm to ensure each candidate is supported throughout this process.