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The Oracle

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

updated on 22 February 2022

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 those firms that do this 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.

Most law firms will ask for a complete 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.

Read this LCN Feature: ‘A first-year student’s guide to opportunities in law.’

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 what makes recruiters tick.

Exam results are not the only things that matter – work experience, extracurricular achievements and interests, and the overall quality of your application (ie, how well it is researched and tailored to the individual firm) will all influence the recruiter’s decision. But 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 LCN Blog to find out what the, ‘Three canny moves for first-year work experience’ are.