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SQE Pass Rate

Prospective candidates can find comprehensive information about the SQE pass rate for July 2023 and April 2023 for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). 

SQE Pass Rate Analysis: July 2023 and April 2023

Introduction to SQE1 Results

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently released statistical reports for the SQE1 exams of July 2023 and April 2023. This overview will discuss key statistics, highlighting the concerning trend of an attainment gap, a pattern observed in previous reports.

SQE1 Exam: A Closer Look at the Results

Spotlight on Low Pass Rates

SQE1 has garnered attention primarily due to its overall low pass rates, particularly among various minority groups. While the industry’s concerns are understandable, it’s important to note that these rates are not significantly different from those seen in the Legal Practice Course (LPC). However, the persistent attainment gap among minority groups remains a significant issue.

Recent Trends and Statistical Observations

The latest report from the SRA shows a marginal increase in pass rates compared to the January 2023 exam, with overall pass rates moving from 51% to 53% and first-time sitters from 54% to 56%. Notably, this increase is not due to a smaller pool of candidates; in fact, there was a 15% rise in the number of candidates in July compared to January.

The pass mark for the July exam was lower, but this is in line with the SRA’s policy of setting pass marks based on the specific exam, using the Modified Angoff Method along with statistical equating and the Standard Error of Measurement.

The Modified Angoff technique employs a group of experienced solicitors, all well-versed in the competencies expected on the first day of practice. They evaluate each exam question to estimate the number of minimally competent solicitors (out of ten) who would answer correctly. Given this method, a lower pass threshold indicates a more challenging exam compared to the one in January.

This raises an intriguing question: how did a greater number of candidates pass a tougher exam? Now, with four iterations of the SQE1 behind us, it’s plausible that the candidates, along with training providers and, where relevant, employers, are becoming more accustomed to the multiple-choice question (MCQ) format, a method previously unfamiliar in this legal system.

Demographic Data and Diversity Considerations

Despite a slight upward trend, the pass rates for Black/Black British candidates remained significantly lower than the national average (29% in January and 34% in July). In contrast, the pass rates for Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups were above the national average.

The SRA has commissioned research by the University of Exeter to investigate the factors influencing this gap.

These findings will form part of a comprehensive phase two report, scheduled for release in spring 2024. The University of Exeter plans to use a theoretical framework in this report and address any gaps found in earlier studies on similar subjects.

Initial findings from the first phase of the report indicate that success in exams is influenced by a variety of factors.

Key among these are:

  • An individual’s socio-economic status.
  • The nature of their educational path, encompassing both its highs and lows.
  • The level of educational and professional support available to minority groups.
  • Personal perceptions about their potential success in the profession, influenced by social and ethnic barriers.

 

These findings seem to indicate a systemic issue, as evidenced by the disparity in degree attainment rates (62% of white students achieve a 2:1 or first-class degree, compared to 37% of black students, for instance). This highlights a shared responsibility among educators and employers to enhance their frameworks and create better opportunities for individuals from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds and minority communities.

SQE2 Exam: Trends and Analysis

The SQE2 exam showed an overall positive trend with the pass rate increasing from 71% in October 2022 to 77% in April 2023. This development occurred with a notable 50% expansion in the pool of candidates evaluated, as an increasing number of individuals are taking the SQE pathway.

Factors Influencing SQE2 Results

SQE2 has consistently shown higher pass rates compared to SQE1, which can be partly explained by the exemption of LPC candidates from SQE1. These candidates, with their practical legal experience, find the SQE2 more aligned with their skills. Additionally, those who have successfully passed SQE1 have the relevant knowledge fresh in their minds, which forms a significant part of the SQE2 assessment criteria.

Demographic Data and Inclusion Efforts

Reportedly, the pass rates for Black/Black British candidates in the SQE2 mirror those in the SQE1, remaining below the national average, whereas the pass rates for Asian/Asian British candidates are more aligned with the national average. Additionally, candidates with disabilities, as defined by the Equality Act 2021, saw a pass rate of 82% in the April session, a 9% increase from October 2022. This indicates that the SRA’s efforts to implement reasonable adjustments are proving effective in promoting success and diversity in the exams.

Summary and Forward Outlook

While the data shows some positive trends, there is still significant work to be done in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), especially for Asian/Asian British and Black/Black British candidates. It is important to recognise that the disparity cannot be solely attributed to the exam format and that a variety of factors need to be considered for a comprehensive understanding and subsequent action.

SQE Exam Dates

To find out more information about the SQE exam dates:

Book SQE Exam

Anybody wanting to take the SQE exams needs to register with the SRA by creating an account.

To start the SRA registration process:

SQE Notes and SQE Practice Questions

To purchase SQE notes and SQE practice questions for SQE1 and SQE2: 

Disclaimer:

Please note that the information provided herein is subject to change at any time without prior notice. Changes may occur due to modifications in policies, regulations, or other factors that impact the SQE assessments and related processes. We recommend regularly checking the official Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) website and SRA SQE Updates for the most up-to-date information. We are not responsible for any discrepancies between the information contained herein and the latest updates provided by the SRA or other official sources.

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