The Unified State Qualification Exam: what should students of the Master of Laws degree expect in the near future?

Читати українською.

Ivan Shemelynets, expert on legal education

On September 28, 2023, students pursuing master's degrees in law will participate in the first Unified State Qualification Exam (USQE). This initial session will serve as a pilot or trial. However, a comprehensive evaluation of master's degree graduates through the USQE is scheduled for November.


The introduction of the Unified State Qualification Exam for legal professionals was initially outlined in the 2016 Draft Concept of Legal Education and the 2017 Draft Law "On Legal Education and Access to the Legal Profession". Subsequently, relevant regulations were established to govern procedural aspects, eligible fields of specialisation, and responsible government entities. The implementation of the USQE faced delays due to quarantine restrictions, unprepared test materials, and a lack of a standardised program. The official USQE program for lawyers was not approved until October 2021, and its initial administration in the spring of 2022 was postponed due to the Russian invasion.

DEJURE Foundation’s experts advocated for the prompt implementation of the USQE for lawyers and actively engaged with the working group responsible for developing the USQE model and its implementation program. In 2020, DEJURE conducted studies to explore various models for evaluating master of laws degree graduates through the USQE.

Why now?

In 2023, the Ministry of Education made the decision to implement the USQE for lawyers. This decision is rooted in clause of the Measures for the Implementation of the State Anti-Corruption Program for 2023-2025, as approved by a Government Resolution in March 2023. Furthermore, it is outlined in clause of the Operational Plan of the Ministry of Education for the year 2023. Consequently, the USQE is planned to be administered twice in 2023: as a trial run in September and as a full-fledged examination in November.

How will the exam be organised?

As per the Cabinet of Ministers' Resolution outlining the USQE administration procedure, all master's degree students in law (both "Law" and "International Law") are required to take the exam.

However, there are exceptions for 2023. Specifically, the following groups are exempt from the USQE:

  1. Students in higher military educational institutions, institutions with specific study conditions, military educational units of higher education institutions, and institutions of professional advanced military education, who are military personnel, policemen, rescuers, or hold positions of authority in the State Criminal Enforcement Service.
  2. Extra-mural students who are military personnel.

Students will complete the USQE according to the approved specification. The exam consists of sections, each containing a maximum of 12 different types of test tasks, including multiple-choice questions and tasks that require sequencing, prioritisation, or matching. There are a total of 120 test tasks.

Responsibility for organising the exam falls upon the higher education institutions, which must provide computer-equipped classrooms with internet access and video surveillance, appoint responsible personnel in these locations, and ensure the in-person participation of their master of laws degree students.

In the event of failing the USQE, a student is considered to have not fulfilled their individual study plan and may be dismissed from the institution of higher education. Such individuals may be reinstated for a one-time retake of the qualifying exam or for repeated studies for at least two semesters if they fail the exam again.


Students abroad and in the occupied territories

The USQE will be administered in an in-person format. Students are required to take the exam at their educational institutions or at a location near their residence agreed upon by the higher education institutions. There are no exceptions to this rule, which means a significant number of individuals living abroad or in temporarily occupied territories may be unable to participate and, consequently, will not receive a higher legal education diploma.


This year, over 7,000 individuals will undergo the USQE. Technical support falls on higher education institutions, posing a risk of system malfunction due to high simultaneous demand. However, previous experiences conducting the National Multi-Subject Test successfully suggest that the system should operate correctly. The quality of the exam also depends on the effective coordination among higher education institutions, proctors, and Ministry of Education representatives.

Quality of the tests

The USQE will be conducted for the first time in this format and on such a large scale. The diverse test tasks within various sections may pose challenges for students. Additionally, the USQE program is extensive and encompasses numerous areas of law. The analysis of the trial USQE results scheduled for September 28, 2023, aims to identify areas where students encounter the most difficulties.


Despite these potential challenges, the Unified State Qualification Exam is a significant step toward ensuring the quality of higher legal education. It is crucial to ensure its effective implementation, from test development and content clarification to the provision of technological and information support. Under no circumstances should the integrity of this exam be compromised.