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The Oracle

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

updated on 23 February 2021

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 toward my final degree?

The Oracle replies

Many law firms set minimum academic requirements for applicants and most firms that do this will take into account first-year exam results if they need to decide between similar candidates in the first application round.

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.

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.

Exam results are not the only things that matter – work experience, extracurricular achievements and interests, and the overall of 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 first-year hub.