First ever SQE2 results: pass rates higher than SQE1 but diversity gap is “troubling”

updated on 26 August 2022

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More than three quarters of candidates who took the SQE2 in April passed.

In what was the first ever SQE2 results day, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced that 77% of the 726 candidates who took the assessments back in April passed but “troubling” differences in attainment gaps remain.

SQE1 results: pass rates revealed as diversity gap remains

Much like the first SQE1 results, which saw a 53% pass rate, the SQE2 results have raised concerns regarding the continuing attainment gaps when it comes to education and ethnicity.

The SRA reported that data from the assessment shows that candidates who had a higher degree classification achieved a higher pass rate – that is, those who had a first-class degree had a 92% pass rate, compared to those with a 2:2 who had a 57% pass rate. The pass rate for apprentices taking the SQE2 was above the overall pass rate.

There was also a distinct difference in attainment when looking at candidates’ ethnicity – 82% of white candidates passed, while 72% of Asian/Asian British candidates, 53% of Black/Black British candidates and 92% of candidates in mixed/multi-ethnic groups passed.

Anna Bradley, chair of the SRA board, said: “We have again seen the troubling and long-standing pattern of differential performance for certain groups, particularly Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates. We have commissioned the University of Exeter to undertake in-depth research into the factors driving the attainment gap for these groups in professional assessments so that we can consider next steps. The data from multiple SQE assessments will also help to provide better insight.”

In addition, the data also showed specific groups of candidates who generally performed better. Of the candidates who declared a disability, 92% passed, while 79% of women passed compared to 75% of men. Candidates who had completed some qualifying work experience (QWE) also performed better, according to the SRA.

Geoff Coombe, the SQE’s independent reviewer said he was “reassured and satisfied” with the tasks and the awarding of pass/fail grades. He added: “I observed good levels of planning and preparation and a great deal of care and attention in setting valid and reliable assessment tasks.”

With some candidates having now completed SQE2, September will see the first cohort of candidates qualifying as solicitors via the new SQE assessments. Candidates were only able to sit the SQE2 assessments if they’d passed SQE1 or had demonstrated their legal knowledge and understanding in other ways so were exempt.

There are four requirements to qualify as a solicitor via the SQE. You must:

  • have a university degree or equivalent in any subject (law or non-law);
  • pass the SRA’s character and suitability assessment;
  • pass SQE1 and 2; and
  • have two years’ QWE.

For more information on the SQE, updates and advice, head to LawCareers.Net’s SQE hub, sponsored by The University of Law.