SQE2 October 2023 Analysis: Insights for All Candidates

Published
May 31, 2024
Reading Time
6 Mins

Introduction to the SQE2 October 2023 Session

The SQE2 is a critical component in the journey of becoming a solicitor in the UK, assessing practical legal skills and knowledge. The October 2023 session comprised two parts: oral assessments conducted between October 23-26 and written assessments from October 30 to November 2. A total of 642 candidates were graded, with 408 in Sitting 1 and 234 in Sitting 2.

Examination Schedule by Station Type and Sitting Date
Station Type Sitting 1 Sitting 2
Oral 23-24 October 25-26 October
Written 30 October – 2 November2
Candidate Performance Statistics Across Examination Sittings
Statistic Sitting 1 Sitting 2 Overall
Pass Mark 62% 61% -
Candidates (all graded) 408 234 642
Pass Rate (all graded) 66% 59% 64%
Candidates (first attempt) 345 197 542
Pass Rate (first attempt) 71% 66% 69%

School Background and Performance

Candidates who attended different types of schools showed varying pass rates and mean scores.

School Attendance and Performance
Which type of school did you attend for the most time between the ages of 11 and 16? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
State-run or state-funded school - non-selective 27 67 79
State-run or state-funded school - selective on academic, faith or other grounds 15 69 81
Independent or fee-paying school 13 66 69
Independent or fee-paying school, where I received a bursary covering 90% or more of my tuition - - -
Attended school outside the UK 33 65 60
I don't know - - -
Other - - -
Prefer not to say 12 61 58

Those who attended state-run or state-funded selective schools on academic, faith, or other grounds had a higher pass rate of 81% and a mean score of 69%. Meanwhile, candidates from independent or fee-paying schools had a pass rate of 69%, with a mean score of 66%. Notably, 33% of the candidates attended school outside the UK, with a pass rate of 60% and a mean score of 65%.

Household Income and SQE2 Outcomes

The occupation of the main household earner, indicative of socioeconomic background, had a noticeable influence on candidates' results.

Household Earner's Occupation and Candidate Performance
What was the occupation of your main household earner when you were aged about 14? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Professional background 54 67 71
Intermediate background 11 67 77
Working class background 12 66 69
Other background 4 65 68
Prefer not to say 19 62 59

Those from a professional background had a pass rate of 71% with a mean score of 67%. In contrast, those from working-class backgrounds had a pass rate of 69% and a mean score of 66%.

First Language and SQE Success

First language also correlated with performance, where native English speakers had a pass rate of 77% and a mean score of 68%, compared to 60% pass rate and 64% mean score for those with a different first language.

Candidates' First Language and Performance
Please state what your first language is? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
English 58 68 77
Other 28 64 60
Not applicable 14 61 53
Prefer not to say - - -

Work Experience and Educational Attainment

Impact of Qualifying Work Experience on Candidate Performance
Have you undertaken any qualifying work experience? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Yes 62 67 73
No 32 64 65
Prefer not to say 6 60 47

Candidates with qualifying work experience had a higher pass rate (73%) than those without (65%).

Candidates' Education Level and Performance
What is your highest level of education? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
At least an undergraduate degree 88 67 71
Qualifications below degree level - - -
No formal qualifications - - -
Not applicable 4 56 48
Prefer not to say 8 60 51

Furthermore, individuals with at least an undergraduate degree had a 71% pass rate, while those with no formal qualifications had a significantly lower pass rate of 48%.

Undergraduate Degree Classification

The classification of candidates' undergraduate degrees also correlated with their SQE2 outcomes.

Candidates' Undergraduate Degree Classification and Performance
What was the your undergraduate degree classification? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
1st 17 73 89
2:1 43 68 81
2:2 9 60 49
3rd - - -
Commendation - - -
Distinction 4 67 60
Pass - - -
Prefer not to say 7 60 40
Not applicable 20 61 56

Those with a first-class degree had the highest pass rate at 89%, while those with a lower second-class (2:2) had a pass rate of 49%.

Professional Qualifications

Legal Qualification and Candidate Performance
Are you a qualified lawyer? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Yes 34 62 49
No 66 68 80
Prefer not to say - - -

Being a qualified lawyer seemed to impact the outcomes less, with qualified lawyers having a pass rate of 49% compared to 80% for non-lawyers.

Demographics and SQE2 Performance

Gender, religion, and age also played roles in the performance.

Candidates' Sex and Performance
What is your sex? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Female 58 67 73
Male 37 64 64
Other - - -
Prefer not to say 5 62 54

Females had a higher pass rate (73%) than males (64%).

Candidates' Religion or Belief and Performance Metrics
Which is your religion or belief? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Buddhist - - -
Christian 29 65 62
Hindu 7 67 64
Jewish - - -
Muslim 10 60 49
Sikh - - -
No religion or belief 36 70 87
Other - - -
Prefer not to say 18 62 54

Candidates with no religion or belief had the highest pass rate (87%).

Candidates' Age Categories and Performance
What age category are you in? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
16 - 24 15 70 87
25 - 34 58 68 78
35 - 44 18 61 47
45 - 54 5 53 12
55 - 64 - - -
65+ - - -
Prefer not to say 4 58 55

The age group of 16-24 had the highest pass rate (87%).

Parental Education and Candidate Performance

Parental University Attendance and Candidate Performance
Did either of your parents attend university by the time you were 18? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Yes, one or both of my parents attended university 54 66 69
No, neither of my parents attended university 32 66 71
Do not know / not sure 2 66 60
Prefer not to say 12 63 65

Candidates with at least one parent who attended university had a slightly lower pass rate (69%) compared to those whose parents did not attend university (71%).

Ethnicity, Disability, and SQE2 Results

The SRA's data collection on diversity is aimed at understanding how candidates from various socio-economic and demographic backgrounds perform. This aligns with the ethos of creating an SQE that is equitable and accessible to all.

Candidates' Ethnic Group and Performance
What is your ethnic group? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Asian / Asian British 24 65 65
Black / Black British 5 58 24
Mixed / multiple ethnic groups 4 65 70
Other ethnic group 7 61 59
White 49 69 81
Prefer not to say 11 61 50

Ethnicity and self-identification with a disability under the Equality Act 2010 were also considered. White candidates had the highest pass rate (81%), while Black/Black British candidates had the lowest (24%).

Candidates' Disability Status and Performance
Do you consider yourself to have a disability according to the definition in the Equality Act 2010? Candidates % Mean Score % Pass Rate %
Yes 9 67 74
No 84 66 70
Prefer not to say 7 59 45

Candidates without a disability had a pass rate of 70%, in contrast to 74% for those with a disability.

In this session, the diversity of candidates was quite broad, encompassing different school backgrounds, household incomes, first languages, and levels of education.

Conclusion on SQE2 Results 2023

The analysis of the SQE2 October 2023 session reveals significant insights into how various factors such as educational background, work experience, and demographic characteristics influence candidate performance. It underscores the need for targeted support and resources to bridge performance gaps among candidates from diverse backgrounds. This comprehensive overview not only serves as a valuable resource for future candidates to better prepare for the SQE but also highlights areas for potential improvement in legal education and training to foster a more inclusive and equitable profession.

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