Supporting candidates to sit the SQE

This information and others relating to the SQE reasonable adjustments have been published in advance on our website ahead of the SQE website being available.

Reasonable adjustments

We and Kaplan are committed to making sure that a candidate is not disadvantaged by reason of a disability in demonstrating their competence. We welcome applications for reasonable adjustments from candidates with disabilities or other conditions. We have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates under the Equality Act 2010, and we may be able to support you if you have a condition which is not a disability as defined by the Act. All SQE candidates must be assessed against the Statement of Solicitor Competence and the Functioning Legal Knowledge and must reach the Threshold Standard to qualify. We will make reasonable adjustments to the methods of assessment to make sure that disabled candidates are not disadvantaged. If you wish to make a request for reasonable adjustments, please let us know immediately on registration for the SQE (the website will be available in spring 2021).

The Q&As below explain the SQE reasonable adjustment policy and what you need to do to make a request once registration opens.

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You can request a reasonable adjustment after first registering for an SQE account online.  Before booking your assessment, you must let us know if you require a reasonable adjustment. You will be asked to complete and submit a reasonable adjustment request form via the SQE portal.  We will ask you to provide supporting evidence as part of your request (see related topic).

Please let us know if you are not able to use our online registration and booking process.  You can contact Kaplan (details to be made available in the future) and we will work with you to find the best way to help. This may include agreeing with you other means of communication so that you can register, book assessments and provide us with information.

You are encouraged to let us know if you need a reasonable adjustment as early as possible.  Late requests for a reasonable adjustment or a delay in providing information to us may mean we are not able to accommodate your needs in time for your preferred assessment date.  If you request a reasonable adjustment after the booking deadline for an assessment, you will need to sit your assessment at a later date.

The table below illustrates some of the adjustments you may be offered. This is not an exhaustive list or an exact description of the adjustments that would be made for the SQE nor of the disability or condition that a candidate may have. We recognise that a candidate may have other disabilities or conditions and may be affected in different ways. The content of this table is not intended to be prescriptive or exhaustive.

For each condition or disability identified below, one or more, but not necessarily all, of the reasonable adjustments shown could be made for an SQE candidate, or an alternative adjustment could be made. Any adjustment/s will be made on a case by case basis, in accordance with the SQE Reasonable Adjustments Policy and subject to the supporting evidence provided.

Example of condition or disability Reasonable adjustment

Arthritis

Additional time, use of computer/laptop for written assessments, candidate may bring and take medication

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Additional time and breaks, use of earplugs

Cerebral palsy

Additional time, separate invigilation

Chronic pain

Additional time, candidate may bring and take medication

Depression

Additional time, use of computer/laptop for written assessments

Dyslexia

Additional time, enlarged/coloured assessments, use of computer/laptop for written assessments

Food intolerance

Candidate may bring and take medication

Hypoglycaemia

Candidate may bring appropriate snacks to the assessment

Migraines

Candidate may bring water and medication to the assessment

Mobility issues

A personal assistant, an amanuensis, additional time, use of computer/laptop for written exams, elevated monitor

Pregnancy

Pregnant candidates are not disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act. However, if we are aware of their condition, we will make any arrangements which are medically advised

PTSD

Additional time, use of computer/laptop for written assessments

Spondylitis

Additional time, use of candidate’s own back support

Tendonitis

Use of computer/laptop for written assessments, use of candidate’s own wrist brace, use of own pen

Visual impairment

A reader, additional time, a separate room and invigilation, large-print copies of materials provided in printed format, use of software eg to magnify the text and a variety of different contrast options

Your request will be considered by an experienced and suitably qualified team, who report to the Kaplan SQE Head of Equality and Quality. Our team includes members who have experience of disability and of agreeing reasonable adjustments.  Our team will engage sensitively, promptly, consistently and fairly with you and in accordance with the SQE Reasonable Adjustments Policy.

When we receive your request for a reasonable adjustment, we will consider your request and, where necessary, we will get in touch, using the email address you provided on registration (or if you are unable to use email, by using your preferred method of communication).  We may need to discuss your request with you or may ask you to provide further information or evidence.  In many cases your initial request will provide all the information we need.

When you request a reasonable adjustment, our team will work with you to agree what adjustment/s can be made. The test centres can accommodate a range of alternative arrangements for candidates with whom reasonable adjustments have been agreed, and who have special requirements. We will identify a test centre which can accommodate your agreed reasonable adjustment and is as near to you as possible and will reserve a place there. You then book the place by making the required payment.  This may mean that a candidate has to travel to a test centre other than the nearest one to their home address, but we will ensure that the booking is appropriate for the candidate.

You will be asked to provide your name, candidate number, details of the assessment you wish to sit, the nature of your disability or other condition, details of the adjustment/s requested and supporting evidence. The supporting evidence must be provided by an appropriate person and must include information detailed enough to identify:

  • the nature of your disability or condition; and
  • the effect of the disability or condition on your ability to perform in the assessment; and
  • requested reasonable adjustments and how these adjustments will address your needs.

The appropriate person/s to provide this evidence is your disability assessor.  They may be your specialist consultant, your GP, an occupational health adviser, an educational specialist or another specialist with appropriate qualifications (see related topic).  Please look at the information we put in place for disability assessors.  This will help you to identify the information and evidence we need you to submit when you request a reasonable adjustment.  Please read the guidance before completing your request, and share it with your disability assessor/s to help them prepare appropriate information and evidence to support your request.

The person providing the evidence (your disability assessor) must have sufficient professional qualifications as well as expert knowledge of your disability or condition to understand what that disability or condition is and how it will impact on your ability to demonstrate the competence requirements of the SQE assessments.  Examples are your specialist consultant or GP, an occupational health therapist, a healthcare professional or an educational psychologist.  As well as providing evidence of your disability or condition, they are best placed to provide proposals for adjustments which can help to remove or minimise any disadvantage you may suffer as a result of your disability or condition.  

If you are requesting reasonable adjustments because you have a learning difficulty, we will require a report from an approved assessor.  Approved assessors in the UK include:

Specialist reports should be in English, or where the candidate has indicated that they will sit the SQE in Welsh, the report may be in Welsh.  Where the report has been prepared in another language, it must be accompanied by a certified translation into English by a professional translator.  The report should have been prepared at a time when the candidate was aged 16 or over.  

You are advised to start thinking about the reasonable adjustment you will request as early as possible, and preferably well before you want to book an assessment.  It may take some time to get the referral you need, and to identify who will be the appropriate disability assessor/s to provide evidence of your condition and of the adjustment you will request.  

Please share the information we have prepared with your disability assessor or assessors. This will help them to understand SQE assessment methods and requirements and discuss them with you, and to produce the information and evidence which will support your request for reasonable adjustments.

Our team can provide general advice on the information and evidence you may need to submit in support of your request for a reasonable adjustment.  They can be contacted via email (or other agreed means of communication).  Our team may also be able to suggest a range of reasonable adjustments which you may wish to discuss with your disability assessor.  The role of the Kaplan reasonable adjustments team is to work with you to try to agree the reasonable adjustment you need, once you have submitted your request with supporting evidence.  

It is your responsibility to provide the information and evidence which will enable full consideration to be given to your request for a reasonable adjustment.  You, working with your disability assessor, should propose adjustment/s appropriate to remove or reduce the disadvantage which you might otherwise experience because of your disability or condition.

This can be submitted, and we will assess this on a case by case basis.  We will work with you to identify whether that evidence is sufficient or whether you will need to provide further information.  We can, for example, consider recommendations prepared by an adviser at a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) assessment centre, provided that they are accompanied by the medical or other specialist evidence you submitted to apply for DSA, or equivalent more recent evidence which reflects changes in your condition.  However the assessment methods encountered at university are likely to be very different from those of SQE1 and SQE2 and it may be that reasonable adjustment offered at university will not be appropriate or sufficient for you when you undertake the SQE.  Where this occurs, we will discuss with you what else is required by way of evidence or information. Please also see related topic.

If you are not able to provide appropriate supporting evidence at the time when you first notify us of your reasonable adjustment request, you should submit the request at once, and your supporting evidence as soon as possible afterwards.  Your request for reasonable adjustment/s cannot be fully considered until both the request form and supporting information or evidence have been received.  

You are asked to respond promptly, wherever possible, to requests for information or further evidence in connection with a reasonable adjustment request.  If you delay, you may find that we are not able to reserve your place in a convenient test centre, since the number of available seats reduces as the assessment date approaches.  

Requests for reasonable adjustment and/or supporting evidence received after the booking deadline for the relevant assessment cannot be processed except as relating to the next sitting of the assessment.

Please contact us by email (details to be made available in the future), or otherwise, if you wish to discuss concerns about confidentiality in relation to the submission of your evidence.

Whether the evidence is enough will depend on your disability or condition and the reasonable adjustment you are requesting. We recognise that some conditions may not change over time and in such circumstances evidence such as the diagnosis of your condition may well be more than two years old, and is likely to be appropriate.  However the adjustment/s you are requesting must also be supported by evidence, so you should consider discussing these with your disability assessor/s in good time, in order to obtain their recommendation/s for submission to Kaplan.  While we do not want candidates to incur unnecessary costs, Kaplan is not responsible for the cost of obtaining evidence in support of reasonable adjustments.

The assessment methods for SQE1 and SQE2 are not the same and so adjustments made for one may not be appropriate for the other (please see the information on assessment methods provided in the information for disability assessors and in the Assessment Specifications for SQE1 and SQE2).  We want to make sure you have reasonable adjustments in place which are appropriate and specific to your needs for each assessment.  Therefore, separate requests for reasonable adjustment/s should be submitted at the time of booking for SQE1 and for SQE2.  

Evidence provided by a candidate for SQE1 may also be used in support of a request for reasonable adjustment for SQE2 and may be resubmitted when booking SQE2.  If we require additional information or evidence, we will contact you. 

If you have difficulties submitting the evidence, please contact Kaplan (details to be made available in the future) and we will work with you to help.

For details of what appropriate supporting evidence is please refer to the following questions:

What information is needed when making a reasonable adjustment request?

Who can provide information or evidence in support of my reasonable adjustments request?

I have some evidence of my disability or condition and of reasonable adjustments made during my time at university. Can I provide evidence previously used for another reasonable adjustment as part of my supporting documentation?

I have some supporting evidence but it is over two years old. Will I need to get more up to date evidence? If so, will Kaplan pay?

You are advised to start thinking about the reasonable adjustments you will request as early as possible, and preferably well before you want to book an assessment.  It may take some time to get the referral you need, and to identify who will be the appropriate disability assessor/s to provide evidence of your condition and of the adjustments you will request.  As soon as you are able to, we recommend you talk to your disability assessor/s about what adjustments they recommend for you for SQE1 and for SQE2, using our information for disability assessors to explain the assessment methods.

Depending on the nature of your disability, you may be able to obtain recommendations from your disability assessor of reasonable adjustments for each of SQE1 and SQE2 at the same appointment.  In complex situations, and where you are likely to request adjustments which may take some time to agree and put in place, it would be best to contact the Kaplan reasonable adjustments team to discuss your needs before you start the booking process.

Your request for reasonable adjustment/s will be reviewed by a member of our reasonable adjustments team.  In complex cases we may request your permission for us to contact your specialist consultant or GP or the person who has assessed your requirements for reasonable adjustments.  We will keep the information provided to us confidential and as required by the General Data Protection Regulations 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018. 

Where a request relates to SQE1 and the written assessments of SQE2 we will share details of the adjustment agreed as necessary and appropriate with PearsonVUE so that arrangements can be made at the test centre.  Where the request relates to SQE2 oral assessments we may share the information with the assessors, markers and such members of the operations team as is necessary and appropriate to make sure your reasonable adjustment is put in place.

You need to make a new request for each sitting of the SQE assessments. If your circumstances have not changed you may be able to submit the same supporting evidence as originally provided if it is appropriate to do so.  When you book resits, you will use the SQE portal (or agreed alternative means of communication, see related topic) in the same way as for your original assessment booking. Before you are able to book you will be asked whether or not you require reasonable adjustment/s.

You can withdraw your request at any time.  We will try to accommodate changes. However this will always depend on the nature of the change and the timing of the request.  It may be that changes to the original adjustment cannot be made in time for the booked assessment but can be accommodated for a later sitting.

You will be able to track the status of your request through the SQE portal (or otherwise as agreed). While we are reviewing your request, you will be able to see via the SQE portal that it is under consideration or, if you cannot use the portal, then you may contact us at (details to be made available in the future) for an update.

Requests for further evidence or information will be sent to you by email (or alternative means of communication as agreed).  After your request has been reviewed and all supporting evidence has been considered you will receive an update from us via the SQE portal (or otherwise as agreed).  You may confirm and accept the proposed reasonable adjustment in which case the reasonable adjustment will be recorded on the SQE portal.  If you do not accept the adjustment we propose, you may reject our response and in the first instance discuss this with the Kaplan reasonable adjustments team.  We will contact you if we receive a rejection from you via the SQE portal, or initiate a discussion by alternative means of communication as appropriate.  

If after discussion you disagree with our decision you can appeal against it by contacting the Academic Director Kaplan SQE. Please see related topic.

The time it takes us to process a request for reasonable adjustment will depend on the nature and complexity of the request and the supporting information and evidence you provide.  In most cases the reasonable adjustment requested will be straightforward to put in place.  In some cases we may need to ask for clarification or further evidence.  Once we have all the information or evidence necessary to reach a decision, we will normally let you know via the SQE portal (or otherwise as agreed) within 20 working days.

If you are not satisfied that appropriate adjustments have been offered, and have discussed the offer with the Kaplan reasonable adjustments team without reaching agreement, you can appeal against the offer of reasonable adjustment by contacting the Academic Director Kaplan SQE by email (or other agreed means of communication).  

Your appeal must include all relevant information and evidence, and explain why you do not accept the decision regarding your request for reasonable adjustments. 

The Academic Director may take advice as appropriate and will review your case and the offer made to you.  The Academic Director, taking all relevant factors into account, will determine whether the adjustment you have been offered and/or the manner in which the decision to offer you that adjustment (or not to offer you an adjustment) was reached, involved material irregularity and/or was manifestly unreasonable and/or irrational.

Where the Academic Director upholds your appeal, they may recommend further action, which will normally be an altered offer of reasonable adjustments.  Where the Academic Director rejects your appeal, the original offer of reasonable adjustments will stand.

The Academic Director will communicate his or her decision on your appeal to you by email (or other agreed means of communication) within 10 working days of submission of the appeal.  Where the Academic Director upholds your appeal a new decision on your request for reasonable adjustments will be communicated to you via the SQE portal (or other agreed means of communication) within 5 working days after the decision of the Academic Director.

Please also see the Reasonable Adjustments Policy para 2.6

We understand that some candidates who request reasonable adjustment will need to make additional arrangements and incur additional expenses which are significantly more complex and costly than those which all SQE candidates meet.

This might arise for example because you have a much longer journey to reach a test centre which can accommodate your agreed reasonable adjustment.  Because of your disability, you may have to make additional travel arrangements, or arrange an overnight stay or pay for the presence of a carer.  In considering what reasonable adjustment should be made, we will discuss with you all the individual circumstances of your case and all adjustments which it may be reasonable to make.  In some cases the reasonable adjustment we agree may include payment by us towards additional expenses you may incur.  

Each case will be determined on its individual merits and consistently and fairly in line with the SQE Reasonable Adjustments Policy.  In reaching a decision about what adjustments should be made, Kaplan will consider all relevant factors in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and supporting legislation.

Because we need time to agree and put reasonable adjustments in place, we request that you let us have your request for reasonable adjustment by the relevant booking deadline. It may not always be possible to make last minute adjustments as alternative accommodation or resources may not be available.

Where you have a condition which means that a “flare up” could occur, it will be helpful where possible for us to know this at the time when you make your request for a reasonable adjustment.

If you have an unexpected health problem which arises or “flares up” after booking the assessment and prevents you from sitting the assessment, then on submission of medical evidence you can expect to be offered another opportunity to sit the exam in line with the Kaplan Mitigating Circumstances Policy (to be made available in the future).

If you experience a deterioration in your health which materially affects your performance during the assessment you should inform the invigilating team at once, and contact Kaplan immediately after the assessment so that we can advise on making a claim for mitigating circumstances.

Other useful information

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SQE1 and the written elements of SQE2 (legal writing, legal research, legal drafting and case and matter analysis) will be available across a wide geographic area at Pearson VUE test centres in the UK, as well as some international locations.

For the oral elements of SQE2 (advocacy and client interviewing and the linked written attendance note/legal analysis), candidates will be able to sit at a limited number of test centres in England and Wales. This will increase once the SQE is fully established. More information on these test centres will be available in the future.

Pearson Professional Centres in England and Wales comply with the disability access requirements of the Equality Act 2010. The test centres can accommodate a range of alternative arrangements for candidates with special requirements or the need for reasonable adjustments

For more information on the Pearson VUE test centres, please visit their website.

The Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) can help you cover some of the extra costs you have in studying because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.

The DSAs is not ours or Kaplan’s scheme. The SQE is an exam not a course. However an SQE-related course may qualify for the DSAs but that is for the Government to decide. We and Kaplan are not involved in setting eligibility criteria or deciding who receives the allowance.

We do not offer travel support. However, it could be available from other sources, such as: