SRA data shows alarming discrepancies in SQE pass rates between White and Black candidates

updated on 10 October 2022

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Following the latest Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) assessment in July, data collected by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) demonstrates that there continues to be a significant difference in attainment when looking at candidates’ ethnicity.

The SRA’s statistical report for July’s SQE1 assessment shows that 63% of the 778 White candidates passed both stages of the SQE1, while only 23% of the 122 Black candidates passed. Meanwhile, 54% of the 569 Asian/Asian British candidates who took SQE1 in July passed.

Similar discrepancies were also highlighted in the first sitting of SQE1 which took place in November 2021. According the SRA’s report for November 2021, the pass rates were as follows:

  • 66% of White candidates;
  • 43% of Asian/Asian British candidates;
  • 39% of Black/Black British candidates;
  • 58% of Mixed/multiple ethnic groups; and
  • 41% of other ethnic groups.

Pass rates for SQE2, published in August 2022, continue to highlight “troubling” differences in attainment, with the pass rate for White candidates sitting at 82% and only 43% for Black/Black British candidates.

The SQE, which is now the single rigorous assessment that all aspiring solicitors must pass to qualify as a solicitor, was designed to support a more diverse profession. When the first SQE1 results were published, chair of the SRA Anna Bradley said: “We anticipated that we would again see the troubling difference in performance for candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups that has been a longstanding and widespread feature in examinations in the legal and other sectors. We know the reasons will be complex and, as well as ongoing review and analysis, we have appointed Exeter University to carry out in-depth research to better understand the factors driving the attainment gap for these groups in professional assessments, so that we can do everything we can to address the issues.”

The SRA has confirmed that the first annual report for the SQE will be published in spring 2023.

Candidates can now book onto the January 2023 SQE1 assessment – booking for this assessment closes at 5pm on 19 December 2022.

Visit LawCareers.Net’s SQE hub for everything you need to know about the new assessments!