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SQE pass rates reveal continuing racial divide

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(6 October 2022)

White candidates still significantly outperform black candidates sitting the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), according to data published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority today.

The regulator says it wants the SQE, designed to deliver a single, rigorous assessment for aspiring lawyers, to help support a more diverse profession.

However, statistics published today on candidates who sat the first part of the exam, known as SQE1, in July show that the pass rate for black candidates was 23%. The pass rate for white candidates was 63%. Of the candidates, 115 were black and 756 white. 

Statistics for the first SQE1 sitting last November show a similar pattern – 67 candidates were black and 460 candidates were white. Pass rates were 39% and 66% respectively.

To qualify as a solicitor, candidates will also have to pass SQE2. Data for the April sitting shows that 60 candidates were black, with a pass rate of 53%, and 363 were white, with a pass rate of 85%.

Following publication of the first SQE1 results, SRA chair Anna Bradley said the regulator anticipated it might see a ‘troubling difference’ in performance between different ethnic groups ‘that has been a longstanding and widespread feature in examinations in the legal and other sectors’.

The University of Exeter has been commissioned to research the factors driving the attainment gap, which has yet to report back to the regulator.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)