SQE candidate performance by practice area

Dec 13, 2022

We have published a report which provides a cumulative picture of the outcomes from the assessments that have taken place between September 2021 and August 2022. It includes statistical tables, narrative and interpretation along with the identification of any emerging trends.

It will form part of the SQE annual report, which will be published in March 2023, but we are publishing this information now in advance of the next SQE1 sitting in January to assist candidates and training providers in their preparation.

Below we summarise some of the key findings that candidates may find helpful. However, the report should be viewed in full so that stakeholders can look at data that is of importance to them and draw their own conclusions.

Practice area performance in SQE1

All candidates (passing and failing)


Candidates performed best in the Ethics and Contract Law practice areas, with a mean or average score range of 69% to 73% for Ethics and 66% to 70% for Contract Law. Candidates performed worst in Business Law and Practice and Dispute Resolution, which had the lowest average score ranges of 50% to 59% for Business Law and Practice and 53% to 56% for Dispute Resolution.


Candidates performed best in Ethics and Criminal Liability, with an average score range of 65% to 75% for Ethics and 59% to 72% for Criminal Liability. Candidates performed worst in Property Practice and Wills and Intestacy with average score ranges of 46% to 48% for Property Practice and 51% to 56 for Wills and Intestacy.

Comparing passing and failing candidates

There are similar patterns of performance between the passing and failing candidates, and first and second attempt candidates, across the majority of practice areas within each assessment. This suggests both stronger and weaker candidates perform well/less well in the same practice areas.

The report also provides information on the average difference between passing and failing candidates across the practice areas. There are differences consistently above 20% in some specific practice areas. In FLK1 these are the areas of:

  • Business Law and Practice
  • Contract Law, and
  • Legal Systems.

In FLK2, these are the areas of:

  • Wills and Intestacy
  • Land Law, and
  • Trust Law.

(see (i) Practice Area Performance in SQE1).

This indicates that weaker candidates have a greater deficit in knowledge in these practice areas suggesting these areas may require more preparation for future SQE1 attempts.

Practice area performance in SQE2

All candidates (passing and failing)

Within each of the five practice areas there is a range of average or mean scores suggesting candidates do not find particular practice areas easier or more difficult than others.

However there are some stations in which candidates generally performed better than others. Looking at the average scores for all candidates, they performed best in:

  • Legal Research - Dispute Resolution (85%)
  • Advocacy - Criminal Litigation (79%) and
  • Case and Matter Analysis - Business (78%).

Candidates performed worst in the Legal Writing - Dispute Resolution station (57%), which was the only average score below 60%.

Comparing passing and failing candidates

Written stations

When looking at the average scores for the SQE2 written stations, the average scores for failing candidates do not follow the same pattern as those for the passing candidates. The average score difference for failing candidates was greater than 20% for the following eight (out of 16) stations, meaning a greater deficit in the legal skills of the weaker candidates. This suggests these areas potentially require more preparation:

  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice - Case and Matter Analysis
  • Criminal Litigation - Case and Matter Analysis
  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice - Legal Writing
  • Business Organisations, Rules and Procedures - Case and Matter Analysis
  • Criminal Litigation - Legal Drafting
  • Property Practice - Legal Research
  • Criminal Litigation - Advocacy
  • Dispute Resolution - Legal Research

(Note: Whilst these stations have been identified for the April 2022 SQE2, it should be noted that, in line with the SQE2 Assessment Specification, the combinations of skills and practice areas will change for each iteration of the SQE2 assessment).

Oral stations

There was less variability in the average scores for the four oral stations with a range of 2% for the failing candidates (61% to 63%) and 9% for the passing candidates (74% to 83%); the difference between the passing and failing candidate averages ranged between 12% and 21%. Therefore, although failing candidates were scoring consistently above 60% for the oral stations, they were still some way below the level of the passing candidates.

Note: Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number for this summary. If candidates would like the report in a different format, please contact the Candidate Services team to discuss how we can assist.

Learn more: SQE Candidate Performance by Practice Area