Supporting candidates to take the SQE

Sep 09, 2021

We want to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to take the SQE and we welcome applications for reasonable adjustments from candidates with disabilities or other conditions. Under the Equality Act 2010, we have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for anyone who has a disability, and we are committed to making sure that candidates are not disadvantaged by reason of a disability in demonstrating their competence.

Information for candidates

All candidate requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure that any adjustment made is the most appropriate one for that candidate’s needs.

To support candidates, please read our information on reasonable adjustments. In the guidance Q&As we have included a list of illustrative examples of reasonable adjustments that could be made for the SQE assessments. While the list is not exhaustive, it is intended to provide guidance for candidates on some of the more common adjustments that we anticipate.

JAWS and other types of assistive technology

We understand the concerns stakeholders have raised about the need to make sure that disabled candidates who require a reasonable adjustment are able to use assistive technology for the SQE assessments. We welcome requests for reasonable adjustments involving the use of assistive technology and will deal with all applications on a case by case basis, to find the best solution we can provide for the candidate.

Some types of assistive technology are integrated into the arrangements made for the SQE at our test centres. These can be provided easily, such as adjustable fonts, zoom text/magnification software, adjustable contrast and colour adaptations. We have been working to expand the list and focused first on screen reading software, in particular JAWs which is one of the more commonly used packages. After a period of testing, we are pleased to confirm that JAWS technology will be available as a reasonable adjustment for candidates sitting both SQE1 and SQE2. This includes the first assessment in November 2021. We also recognise that with technologies, such as JAWS, configuration can be required to make sure it can be used by the individual. We will make sure that the reasonable adjustment arrangements allow for this.

Candidates that require the use of other types of technology or reasonable adjustments should apply for the reasonable adjustment that they require. We are not precluding the use of other assistive technologies or any reasonable adjustment and will look at each request on a case by case basis to establish what is reasonable and work with the candidate to put in place the appropriate adjustment. We are building on the information we provide about the range of reasonable adjustments that we can offer and develop the list of assistive technology that is integrated into and available at our test centres for SQE1 and 2.

Practical further steps to support candidates

We want to support candidates from all backgrounds to have an equal opportunity to sit the SQE and will do that by putting in place the adjustments that are reasonable. We want to make it as easy as possible for candidates to request and agree adjustments, at a stage in their journey that allows them to plan ahead. To enable this, we will:

  • Allow open applications

    Candidate registration is open. Candidates who want to explore their options by making an early request for reasonable adjustments can do so without incurring any monetary charge or obligation to sit the SQE.

    Even if you are not ready to book a date for the SQE1 we will review your application and give you an answer, so you are better able to plan and prepare for the SQE. We encourage candidates who seek adjustments to contact us as soon as possible so we are able to agree how to best meet your needs in good time for the assessment.

    We know that preparation for these assessments can be stressful for candidates and early confirmation of your reasonable adjustment arrangements may help to reduce some of the anxiety that disabled students may have. Candidates can also use this information to discuss with training providers, whether these adjustments could be replicated in their training and preparation, if appropriate.

  • Allocate you a dedicated member of the Kaplan Equality & Quality team

    Each candidate that makes an application for reasonable adjustments will be allocated a member of the Equality & Quality team who will be their main point of contact to help them through the process. They will work with you to fully understand your needs and ensure that adjustments made are the right ones for you. This will provide continuity and detailed on-going support for disabled candidates or those with other conditions that require reasonable adjustments.

  • Commit to dealing with candidate requests quickly

    We recognise the importance for candidates to have a clear and timely agreement on what reasonable adjustments will be put in place. We aim to agree the position as quickly as possible on receipt of an application and all the information in support of the application. In most cases this will be possible, and we have been able to provide a decision in 5 working days for the majority of reasonable adjustment applications for the November sitting of SQE1. However, there will be some more complex cases that may take longer for us to work through. We will let candidates know as early as possible.

  • Commit to monitor and develop the range of reasonable adjustments we can offer

    We will continue to engage with candidates of all backgrounds, with training providers and with disability groups to develop our approach to reasonable adjustments. We will add to the guidance on reasonable adjustments and include feedback from candidates that sit the SQE with reasonable adjustments, as the SQE develops.

    We will also seek specific feedback on the provision of reasonable adjustments from SQE candidates so we can use the learning to develop our approach. This will also help the Solicitors Regulation Authority, in its role overseeing the implementation of the SQE, to monitor and evaluate the progress made and consider if there are any changes,we can make to improve our approach.

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