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18. Grading System in SQE: Decoding Your Exam Results

18. Grading System in SQE: Decoding Your Exam Results

As an aspiring solicitor, your journey towards becoming qualified is highly dependent on your performance in the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE is a comprehensive exam that tests your legal knowledge and practical skills. To successfully navigate this exam, it is crucial to understand the grading system used and how your results are interpreted by the regulatory authorities.

In this article, we will decode the grading system in the SQE and shed light on how your exam results are determined. By understanding the grading system, you will be able to assess your performance and identify areas for improvement.

The Grading Scale

The SQE grading scale is divided into four levels of performance: Pass, Competent, Performance Not Indicated (PNI), and Fail. Let’s take a closer look at each level:

1. Pass

A Pass indicates that you have demonstrated a satisfactory level of knowledge and competence in the skills required for the particular assessment. This is the minimum requirement to proceed to the next stage of qualification.

It’s important to note that a Pass doesn’t necessarily mean you have excelled in every aspect of the exam. Instead, it signifies that you have met the minimum standard required for qualification.

2. Competent

A Competent grade signifies a higher level of performance than a Pass. It demonstrates that you possess a good understanding of the subject matter and have showcased a commendable level of competence in the assessed skills. While not exceptional, a Competent grade reflects a solid performance.

3. Performance Not Indicated (PNI)

A Performance Not Indicated (PNI) grade is assigned when there is insufficient evidence to determine the level of performance. This typically occurs when you have not provided enough comprehensive answers or when the required tasks have not been completed successfully.

A PNI grade should not be misconstrued as a failure. While it doesn’t indicate a pass, it also does not necessarily signify a fail. It is an indication that further assessment or improvement is needed in certain areas.

4. Fail

A Fail grade, as the name suggests, implies that your performance did not meet the requirements to be deemed competent in the assessed skills. This indicates that further study and improvement are necessary before attempting the examination again.

It’s important to recognize that a Fail grade does not reflect your capabilities as a future solicitor. It is a temporary setback that provides an opportunity for growth and development.

Interpreting Your Results

Understanding your exam results goes beyond just knowing the grade assigned. The regulatory authorities provide detailed feedback on your performance, enabling you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

When reviewing your results, pay attention to the areas where you received constructive feedback. This feedback will help you determine which topics or skills require further attention and improvement.

Additionally, comparing your performance across different assessments can provide insights into your overall progress. If you consistently receive a Competent grade in certain areas, it indicates a solid foundation in those subjects. Conversely, if you consistently receive a PNI or Fail grade in specific areas, it highlights an area that requires more focused study and practice.


The grading system in the SQE provides a clear framework for assessing your performance in the exam. By understanding the different levels of performance and interpreting your results, you can strategize your study plan and address areas of weakness.

Remember that the SQE is a comprehensive examination that evaluates both your legal knowledge and practical skills. It is important to approach each assessment with thorough preparation and a mindset for continual improvement.

If you want to learn more about specific aspects of the SQE or enhance your preparation strategy, check out these related articles:

Arming yourself with the right knowledge and resources is essential for success in the SQE. By leveraging these additional articles, you can further enhance your understanding and preparation for the examination.

Best of luck on your SQE journey!