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-PEAT 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.
COVID-19 update June 2021
We 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 Society continues to hold all exam diets remotely and this method will continue for the next exam diet due to be held in July 2021. Further information about the arrangements of a remote exam diet can be found in the drop-down list at the bottom of this page.
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 July.
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 usually take place in Edinburgh, at the Law Society of Scotland office on Morrison Street, however due to the ongoing pandemic all exams are being sat remotely until further notice.
Exam enrolment forms must be submitted no later than six weeks prior to an exam diet. Late enrolments will not be accepted. Please note, as all of the Society's exams are currently being sat remotely, the Board of Examiners have revised the timetable to allow candidates extra time at each paper. All changes can be found in red in the timetable below.
If you have questions about any aspect of the Law Society exams, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
GUIDANCE FOR CANDIDATES
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 fail 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
Exam Timetable and Issue of Paper
The exam timetable will be published as normal, a copy can be found here. Exam papers will be sent to candidates, by email, 10 minutes before the scheduled start time of each exam.
The exam paper will be in broadly the same format as would have been supplied in the exam hall setting. It will comply with the terms of the syllabus for each subject in terms of numbers and types of question etc.
The duration of the exam will be the standard duration, as per the timetable.
Return of Exam Scripts
Completed exam answers must be emailed back to the Society within 10 minutes of the scheduled finish time.
Form of Submission
In principle, exam answers should be Word-processed. If you will be unable to comply with this requirement, you must arrange, in advance, to handwrite your answers and submit photos of each page within the 10-minute period allowed for this at the end of the exam.
Excessively long answers should be avoided. Quality is more important than quantity. Remember that this is an exam. The aim is to write the best, not the longest, answers which can be given to the question asked.
Writing the Exam Answers
As soon as you receive the exam paper, save it to your own desktop so that it will not matter if you lose internet connectivity. Create a new Word Document (or equivalent) into which to type your answers. If possible, apply a header to this answer file containing your candidate number (which will be provided to you prior to the exam) and the name and date of the exam. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME. If you can’t create a header, type your candidate number, etc at the beginning of your paper. Save the answer document in a number of places so that it can’t be completely lost or accidentally deleted. You can write your answers offline provided that you complete them and email them back to the Society within 10 minutes of the exam ending. Save your work frequently, and make sure that it has been saved.
Exams are now open book. In answering them, students may consult any material available to them. The questions will take some account of the fact that all materials are accessible. Essay questions might, for example, ask you to come up with particular examples of your own creation. Problem questions will concentrate on application of legal principles to fictional case studies. Do not rely on being able to find the material required during the exam. Access to materials can serve only as aide-memoire so that, for example, it may be possible to check a detail such as a case name.
Full referencing (OSCOLA etc) is NOT required. You should still use supporting evidence for your points as you would in an exam. For example, ‘as the case of Smith v Smith (2018) demonstrates…’ or ‘Smith, in her book What is Law? argues that…’ If you quote another source directly, you must still put that quotation in inverted commas and give a brief citation of the source (eg “Chalmers, (2015), p 8)”.
Avoiding Academic Dishonesty
Exam answers must be students’ own, individual, original work. Students must answer the exam on their own. Markers will be looking for any indication of collusion or of assistance from others. Do not cut and paste large chunks of material from other sources. Examiners will be checking for plagiarism.
In principle, your answers should be as they would be in the exam hall.
In marking, examiners will recognise
- the novelty of these arrangements for students and the possible difficulties presented
- the fact that students can access other materials in preparing their answers
If you do not receive the exam paper at the start of the exam, immediately contact thr Society (contact details will be provided when you enrol in an exam). It is advised that you have a generic email address as a back-up, in which the exam paper can be emailed back to you. If you have no internet access, please let the Society know ASAP. If you cannot email your completed script back at the end of the exam, follow the same instructions.
Students with Reasonable Adjustments
In general, these can be dealt with for online submission but please discuss in advance with the Law Society.