Skip to main content

Delivering the SQE assessment: A case study?

27 September 2022


Back in 2018, Kaplan was appointed the official SQE assessment provider, short for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. With a wealth of experience and expertise, the organisation stood out amongst some strong competition - having been selected following a rigorous, year-long process.

Kaplan is now delivering the SQE on behalf of the SRA. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring the competence of solicitors operating within the UK, raising standards in the sector and shaping the future of the legal profession.

Simply put, the SQE is a robust and innovative assessment, underscoring a commitment to interrogating the standards within high-stakes professions.

Kaplan Assessments, a branch of Kaplan that offers tailored assessments and qualifications, is taking this approach one step further. Spanning the legal, education and finance sectors (to name a few), we support a wide range of professional organisations with the design, development and delivery stages.

Our team provides a unique way of measuring competence, making a real difference to the everyday.

Is this something that would benefit your organisation? Get in touch today to learn more about Kaplan Assessments.

Setting the standard as the SQE assessment provider

As a leading education, training and assessment provider across multiple professional services, Kaplan was the ideal fit to develop and run the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

Having developed the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), the organisation has direct experience of assessment within the legal sector in England and Wales, which has now been replaced by the SQE. The QLTS placed Kaplan above the rest during the selection process, with the qualification’s groundbreaking approach then being incorporated into the SQE design.

The SQE assessment: A brief case study

The SRA and Kaplan worked with stakeholders from across the legal and education sectors to design, develop, and pilot the SQE.

In the summer of 2020, the SRA Board decided on the composition of the SQE based on a final design, which is valid, reliable, manageable and cost-effective:

  • SQE1 consists of uniform assessments for all candidates, with the functioning legal knowledge assessments consisting of two 180-question examinations: FLK1 and FLK2.
  • SQE2 consists of a single, uniform assessment for all candidates. The assessment has 16 exercises which sample across the skills and practice areas. Candidates are not able to choose the practice area for their skills assessment.

The SRA has been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) as the external quality assurance body for the solicitor apprenticeship.

To complement the assessment provision, Kaplan has also been appointed as the endpoint assessment organisation for the solicitor apprenticeship. Apprentices must pass the SQE before they qualify as a solicitor.

If you would like to learn more about the details of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, please visit the SQE website.

The SQE on reflection: What impact has the assessment had on aspiring solicitors and the sector as a whole?

The main aim of the SQE was to provide a more accessible route to qualifying as a solicitor, alleviating the barriers of entry while maintaining robust standards.

Although there is still a long way to go, a few key insights can be gleaned from the progress of the assessment so far:

  • As well as further building trust and confidence in professional standards, the SQE is supporting wider access to the profession and addressing the attainment gap.
  • There is a correlation between consistency of assessment and public confidence. In response, the assessment ensures that all the different routes to entry, including 'earn as you learn' pathways such as apprenticeships, are tested in exactly the same way.
  • Balancing rigour with accessibility is opening doors for a wider pool of talented candidates, enriching the legal profession with diversity in background and experience.
  • By implementing a single, rigorous assessment, as opposed to having multiple providers that produce a variety of results, the SQE has established a more effective evaluation process.
  • It has also removed the financial barrier, with no need for would-be solicitors to pay significant up-front costs (up to £17,000) to take the Legal Practice Course.

The first SQE1 assessments commenced in the autumn of 2021 in over 100 test centres in 26 different countries. The SQE Independent Reviewer’s report summarised that "Overall, the initial SQE1 exam appears to have successfully delivered valid fair, reliable and defensible outcomes.".

Kaplan is the leading expert in professional development across high-stakes organisations

As witnessed with the SQE assessment, the development of quality professionals within today’s landscape is crucial, but complex.

On the one hand, it requires a deep understanding of what it takes to be a professional, particularly in relation to the changing nature of roles. For instance, legal professionals are having to adapt to new technologies, as well as shifting client expectations. Within this context, qualifications should align the specific competencies required to perform a role with the emerging developments taking place across multiple sectors.

On the other hand, the assessment itself needs to successfully evaluate everyday standards. Otherwise, there is a risk of overlooking potential gaps in knowledge and ability, which is especially problematic for organisations that operate within high-stakes sectors.

Kaplan is well-versed in both aspects, having showcased an unmatched level of expertise in their appointment as the SQE provider.

Moreover, this proficiency is also evident in the success that Kaplan Assessments has seen - marrying Kaplan’s background with an emphasis on rigorous, precise and flexible assessments.

Taking it to the next level: How Kaplan Assessments approaches high-stakes qualifications

So, what sets Kaplan Assessments apart? Sharing Kaplan’s focus on excellence, we place your organisation at the heart of the assessment process. Our dedicated team of specialists design, develop, and deliver assessments that are uniquely tailored to your needs.

How do we achieve this?

  1. Stakeholder involvement: We recognise the importance of a collaborative approach and ensure that the assessment targets the specific competencies required from your workforce.
  2. Specialist knowledge and expertise: From the use of psychometrics in improving reliability to the administration of fair and accessible assessments, our team are leaders within their respective fields.
  3. Nationally recognised assessments: Our Ofqual-regulated awarding organisation ensures that each assessment is quality assured and made available on the Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework.

Looking for a professional qualification for your organisation?

As an employer, providing your workforce with a qualification that is regulated and relevant is fundamental to your overall growth. Having supported multiple organisations across multiple sectors, the positive impact that a tailored qualification has on both raising standards and increasing employee motivation is considerable.

Whether you’ve identified the specific knowledge and skills that need to be evaluated or you’re not sure where to begin, we can help.

Reach out to our team today to begin your journey with Kaplan Assessments.

See all Insights