Changes to the Law Society’s exams (September 2016)

From September 2016, there are a number of changes that will affect those candidates sitting the Law Society's exams as part of the alternative route throughout their Pre-PEAT traineeship, including  an updated exam regime and completion of a work-based learning module. For those who started on this route to qualification prior to September 2016, nothing will change. These candidates will continue to sit exams as set out at their time of enrolment.

The changes ensure that the alternative route to qualification is aligned with our foundation programme outcomes, which students studying the LLB are required to achieve. Prejudice will not be held against students who commenced on this route prior to September 2016 and all of their qualifications will continue to be recognised for entry to the profession.

The changes consist of the addition of a reflective work-based learning logbook, to be completed as part of the pre-Diploma traineeship, the introduction of a face-to-face presentation, the introduction of ‘coursework’ (as opposed to pure examination) and the requirement to complete the Legal System and Legal Method module first.

Please ensure you consult the correct guidance; whether pre or post September 2016.

    Guidelines, syllabus and reading list (post September 2016)
    Guidelines, syllabus and reading list (pre September 2016)


Work Based Learning Module

The focus within the work-based learning module is upon candidates producing evidence of learning outcomes which are set out in the module guide.

Exam timetables and additional resources

Our professional examinations are usually held in February and August.

The Society are closely monitoring official advice and updates from the Scottish Government and NHS to ensure that we are acting in accordance with the latest guidance to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, members and stakeholders.

The August exam diet will go ahead as planned, however, candidates will be required to sit the exams remotely. Please submit an enrolment form to no later than 6 weeks prior to the exam diet. Further information will be provided once you have enrolled.

In order to understand what exams you need to take and when you can take them, read all of the information on this page. Please note that exams take place in Edinburgh, at the Law Society of Scotland office on Morrison Street. 

Exam enrolment forms must be submitted six weeks prior to an exam

    Exam calendar for 2020
    Enrol for an exam now
    Exemption checklist
    Exam technique guidance


If you have questions about any aspect of the Law Society exams, please contact

Criteria required for exemption applications

1. The Board of Examiners [the Board] of the Law Society of Scotland [the Society] has the responsibility to ensure that a candidate qualifying or requalifying as a solicitor in Scotland meets a minimum level of knowledge, skills and understanding in each prescribed subject for qualification as a solicitor.

2. The benchmark for assessing whether this minimum level of knowledge, skills and understanding has been achieved for any particular subject is a level which would be required to obtain a pass in that subject at Grade D of the marking scale for the Society's examinations.

3. The usual manner of satisfying the Board that a candidate has the requisite minimum level of knowledge, skills and understanding is by obtaining a pass in the subject in the current diet of the Society Examinations set by the Board.

4. Exceptionally, a candidate may seek to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board that the appropriate level of knowledge, skills and understanding can be established by other means. Where a candidate seeks an exemption from the Society's examinations, the onus is upon the candidate to provide the evidence required to allow the Board to determine the matter.

5. An application for exemption (and supporting evidence) must relate to the prescribed subject as a whole. Partial exemptions will not be granted. However in relation to exams which have more than two papers an application may also be made in respect of one or other papers.

6. Evidence of knowledge, skills and understanding submitted by a candidate seeking exemption may take the form of;

a) qualifications obtained through examinations other than the Society's
own examinations in accordance with paragraph seven below;


b) evidence of knowledge, skills and understanding obtained through
professional experience and gained in accordance with paragraph eight below.

7. Qualifications obtained through examinations other than the Society's examinations:

a) No pass in/any such pass from an examination gained more than seven years before the date of lodging the application for exemption will be considered in itself as evidence of the requisite level of knowledge, skills and understanding in terms of this paragraph. However any such qualification may be submitted as evidence in support of an application under paragraph eight below.

b) Qualifications from an examination gained within seven years of the date of lodging of the application must be shown to be substantially equivalent to the content of current curriculum, learning hours (or SCOTCAT credits) and level of study (normally, study at levels one or two at Bachelor's level or first cycle study) of a course of learning offered as part of a programme [of study] which would lead to the award of a Foundation Programme qualification [degree of Bachelor of Laws (LLB)] or PEAT 1 qualification [the Diploma in Legal Practice] at a Scottish university accredited by the Society.

8. Evidence of knowledge, etc gained through professional experience;

a) If a candidate for admission seeking exemption from the Board's examinations cannot satisfy the requirements of paragraph seven above, the candidate must provide evidence of a relevant level of competence obtained through professional experience requiring application of knowledge, skills and understanding of the subject matter to the benchmark level in terms of paragraph two above.

b) The evidence to be provided must be in documentary format, and the Board will not seek to assess its reliability or validity by means of oral examination. The documents must make specific reference to the prescribed content of current curriculum for the subject, and indicate the degree of competence in the subject which the candidate has obtained through professional experience.

c) This evidence may include evidence of qualifications gained through examination set by professional bodies or other providers of further or higher education, and evidence of qualifications gained at any time prior to the date of lodging the application for exemption.

9. Applications for exemption must be lodged with an initial Application for an Entrance Certificate. Late applications for exemption will only be considered at the discretion of the Board where good cause for lateness can be established by the applicant. For making applications see page four of the Law Society of Scotland syllabus and reading list.

10. In exercising its discretionary authority in determining whether to grant an exemption or any other matter under these rules, the Board (or the Convener of the Board acting on behalf of the Board) may delegate the power to determine the application to one or more members of the Board.

Board of Examiners
January 2012


In determining whether there are 'extenuating circumstances' affecting performance or 'reasonable cause' for non-attendance, the Board of Examiners may take into account illness or other adverse circumstances affecting a candidate before the date of the examination.


(1) Extenuating circumstances' affecting performance in an examination:

Candidates should note that if there are any extenuating circumstances which they wish the Board of Examiners to consider, a letter should be submitted to the Law Society of Scotland's Education, Training and Qualifications department. Normally the letter should be submitted in advance of an examination but exceptionally the Board will consider circumstances existing at, or immediately prior to, the examination where the candidate became aware of these circumstances only at a time immediately before or, at the latest, two weeks after the examination.

Extenuating circumstances may only be considered where the candidate's performance in the examination has been manifestly prejudiced by the illness or other adverse circumstances leading to a fa il in the exams.

If such extenuating circumstance is established to the satisfaction of the Board of Examiners, the work affected shall normally be deemed not to have been submitted, and the examination script or other work submitted for assessment will be set aside and the student's position will be the same as if the work had not been submitted.

Candidates are expected to make reasonable provision for misadventure in their preparation for assessment and attendance at the examination, particularly in respect to travel arrangements.

(2) 'Reasonable cause for non-attendance'

In the event of the candidate having failed to attend an examination or examinations, the Board shall determine whether the failure to attend has been justified by reasonable cause. A candidate must have been prevented by illness or other adverse personal circumstances from attending the examination. The candidate must provide written evidence of the illness or circumstances.


In both circumstances a candidate must provide written evidence of the illness or circumstances. 'Evidence' shall mean a report descriptive of the medical condition or such other adverse personal circumstances outwith the candidate's control which are advanced by the candidate for consideration. Such a report should include a supporting statement from an appropriate person having knowledge of the candidate. Where the report refers to a medical condition of more than five days' duration the report must be completed by an appropriate medical practitioner.


Board of examiners

June 2017


Candidates are permitted to take only the following published versions of statutory materials (only annotations which form part of the text or the printed materials are permitted) into the examination hall for the following exams:-

Scots Private Law Avizandum Statutes on Scots Family Law

Avizandum Statutes on Scots Property, Trusts and Succession Law
Avizandum Statutes on The Scots Law of Obligations

Scots Commercial Law and Business Organisations

Avizandum Statutes on Scots Commercial and Consumer Law
Blackstone's Statutes on Company Law
Blackstone's Statutes on Commercial and Consumer Law
Butterworth's Commercial and Consumer Law Handbook
Butterworth's Company Law Handbook
Butterworth's Isolvency Law Handbook
The Parliament House Book
Sweet and Maxwell's Commercial Law Statutes


Avizandum Statutes on Scots Property, Trusts and Succession Law



Greens Sheriff Court Rules (reprinted from The Parliament House Book (latest edition) AND Greens Annotated Rules of the Court of Session (reprinted from The Parliament House book) (latest edition)
Parliament House Book Volumes I and II AND Greens Criminal Court Statutes (reprinted from The Parliament House book) (latest edition)
Renton & Brown, Criminal Procedure Legislation (and updates)
Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, Greens Annotated Acts (latest edition)

EU Law

Blackstone's EU Treaties & Legislation 2010-2011
Basic Community Law by Rudden & Wyatt
A copy of the EC and EU Treaties published by the Office of Official Publications of the European Communities

Professional Responsibility

Standards of Conduct 2008
Standards of Service 2008


Updated 30/01/2014

Candidates are NOT PERMITTED to take any materials into the following examinations;
Public Law and the Legal System
Scots Criminal Law

Candidates own material will NOT be permitted
Downloaded materials will NOT be permitted