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SQE and reasonable adjustments: everything you need to know

updated on 28 May 2024

Reading time: four minutes

Are you qualifying via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and unsure how to request reasonable adjustments for the assessments? This short guide outlines the steps you need to take.

What’s a reasonable adjustment?

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers, education providers and others are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that existing and prospective employees or students with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, aren’t placed at a disadvantage. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) says that it’s “committed to making sure that a candidate is not disadvantaged by reason of a disability in demonstrating their competence”.

In January 2024, the SRA updated its policy to clarify that accommodations also apply to those who aren’t disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 but have conditions that impact their ability to undertake the SQE.

The SRA has outlined a range of example adjustment plans for different conditions or disabilities. For example, candidates who suffer with chronic pain can take medication and will receive additional time. Neurodiverse candidates are eligible for a range of adjustments, such as additional time and breaks, a separate room, a reader, a recorder, JAWS (screen reader), adjustable font and coloured overlays. Adjustment plans can also include an alternative assessment format (computer/paper).

So how can you make a reasonable adjustment request for your SQE assessments?

How to request a reasonable adjustment

To make a reasonable adjustment request, you must first make an SQE account with the SRA. You can register for an SQE account via the SRA’s website.

Your reasonable adjustment application must be submitted before you book onto any assessments. As part of the application, you’ll be required to fill out a reasonable adjustments form via your SQE account on the SRA website, as well as provide evidence to support your request. The SRA should be in touch within two working days to acknowledge the request and within five days to provide you with a named liaison.

The SRA encourages candidates to make reasonable adjustment requests early in the process. The regulatory body suggests that you make your requests (if you know what they are) even if you’re not yet ready to book onto an assessment. This ensures that there’s enough time to discuss and approve the adjustments you’ve requested. Candidates can then accept the proposed reasonable adjustments plan in their candidate account.

If you’re unable to access the internet or use the SRA’s online registration, you can alternatively get in touch via telephone on 0203 486 3080.

What information do I need to supply?

The SRA requires several bits of information when you’re making a reasonable adjustment request, including:

  • supporting evidence for your request;
  • your preferred test location; and
  • details of the assessment you want to book.

The evidence must be provided by your disability assessor (eg, a specialist consultant, GP or occupational health adviser). The SRA encourages candidates to read, and share with the disability assessor, its information for disability assessors to ensure your request includes the information needed.

Read this Feature to find out more about accessibility and disability in the legal profession.

How will the request be assessed?

Your reasonable adjustment request will be taken on by a team made up of individuals who “have experience of disability and of agreeing reasonable adjustments”, according to the SRA. The team may reach out to candidates to discuss the request where necessary. There’s also an SQE Reasonable Adjustments Policy that’ll be used throughout the process.

Will my reasonable adjustment apply to SQE1 and SQE2?

Given the nature of the assessments, candidates should consider the different adjustments they may need. SQE1 consists of multiple-choice questions, while SQE2 consists of written and oral testing, so the adjustments required for SQE1 might not be suitable for SQE2. Therefore, the SRA encourages candidates to submit separate adjustment requests for both assessments.

Can I track my request?

You can track your reasonable adjustment request for the SQE assessments via your SQE account. The SRA says: “The time it takes us to process a request for reasonable adjustment will depend on the nature and complexity of your request and the supporting information and evidence you provide.”

Your next steps

If you require a reasonable adjustment for the SQE assessments, please make sure you read the SRA’s reasonable adjustments guidance to ensure you include all the relevant information and evidence in your application to make for a smoother process.

You can also head to LawCareers.Net’s SQE hub, sponsored by The University of Law, for everything you need to know about qualifying via the SQE.   

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