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The Oracle

How important are my first-year exam results when applying for training contracts?

updated on 19 September 2023

Dear Oracle

Could my first-year exam results affect my chances of securing a vacation scheme or training contract, even if they don’t count towards my final degree?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: two minutes

Many law firms might set minimum academic requirements for applicants and will consider first-year exam results if they need to decide between similar candidates in the first application round. Having said that, many firms have recently dropped A-level requirements as part of their efforts to improve access to the profession. Instead, firms are creating and introducing more contextual recruitment processes.

However, applying for a vacation scheme or training contract is highly competitive, with hundreds or even thousands of candidates going for a limited number of vacancies.

Read this LCN Feature, ‘A first-year student’s guide to opportunities in law’ for advice on getting legal work experience and more!

Most law firms will ask for a breakdown of your module results, including those from your first year, to help them decide which applications to reject and which ones to progress to the next stage. For example, if a recruiter is considering two candidates with equally high 2:1s, but one has much better first-year marks than the other, the candidate with the more consistent track record will win on academics.

Visit our ‘Meet the Recruiter’ profiles to find out how you can stand out in your applications.

Exam results aren’t the only things that matter – work experience, extracurricular achievements and interests can develop key skills that will make you a more attractive applicant. Additionally, the overall quality of your application, how well researched and tailored it is to an individual firm, will influence a recruiter’s decision.

Visit our ‘Researching law firms’ page for more information on what background research to do prior to making an application.

Ultimately, taking your first-year exams seriously will help to improve your chances of success later.

Find more information and advice for first-year law students, in our dedicated First-year student hub.

Read this feature to find out more about ‘First-year opportunities: open days and insight schemes’.