SQE2 marking and overall pass marks explained

May 9, 2022

With the first ever SQE2 completed, now is a good time to talk about how it is marked, and how the overall pass mark is determined, ahead of the results in August.

Overview of SQE2 marking

SQE2 is made up of 16 stations that test legal skills and application of legal knowledge. Each station is an individual ‘assessment’ or ‘exercise’ that candidates take as part of SQE2. Advocacy (Dispute Resolution) is one station, legal drafting (Business organisations, rules and procedures) is another station, and so on.

The 12 written stations assess the candidate's skills of case and matter analysis, legal research, legal writing and legal drafting, while the four oral stations test skills across the areas of advocacy, interviewing and attendance note/legal analysis.

SQE2 is marked using professional judgements across a range of assessment criteria, as set out in the SQE2 Assessment Specification. The standard is that of a Day One solicitor, defined as level three of the SRA’s Threshold Standard.

Each of the 16 stations is graded against the relevant criteria for that station set out in the Assessment Specification. The marks relating to legal skills are averaged into a single ‘skills’ mark, and marks for the application of legal knowledge into a single ‘law’ mark. The average of these two marks make up an overall mark for each station. A candidate’s final score for SQE2 is an average of percentage marks from all 16 stations.

SQE2 pass marks

Overall SQE2 pass marks are calculated using the station scores for each group of candidates who sit the same assessment. Although the written questions are common for all candidates, the oral ones will differ depending on the date on which they are taken. This is to ensure that the assessment exercises for each day remain confidential, so that all candidates are treated fairly.

Despite different questions on each day, they are all set at a similar difficulty level and test the same skills and application of legal knowledge.

Because questions vary from day to day, a pass mark will be calculated for each set of dates and unique combination of stations. This is based on the common written questions and the specific oral questions which have been attempted.

As a result, the pass mark for SQE2 may differ across dates to reflect any small changes in the difficulty levels of the stations. To maintain equivalent standards, and to be fair to candidates, station scores adjust to compensate for any changes in difficulty.

The same approach is taken in successive sittings of both SQE1 and SQE2. This means the pass mark reflects the level of difficulty of actual questions used, so as to ensure a consistent standard and fairness between candidates, and over time.

Take a look at the Assessment Specification for more on the stations and scoring methods. Find out more about how the pass mark is set in the Marking and Standard Setting Policy.