What does the SQE look like?

Experts at QLTS shine the light on the detailed structure of the course, and what the prep work looks like.

In Autumn 2021, the qualification process to become a solicitor changed with the implementation of the SQE assessments. This change to the qualification process has brought up many questions for those preparing to qualify, including questions about planning, required time commitments and preparations needed to be ready for the SQE. In actuality, the answers to these questions depend on each candidate’s personal circumstances, including their time availability, legal experience and background with English law.

SQE exams

The SQE is broken down into two parts, or stages: Stage 1, Functioning Legal Knowledge Assessments (SQE1), and Stage 2, Practical Legal Skills Assessments (SQE2). SQE1 is available to write in the UK and at various international centres. The written parts of SQE2 are available at UK locations as well as some international centres, while at this point, the SQE2 oral assessments are only available in Cardiff, London and Manchester.

The SQE exams are heavily modelled on QLTS exams, covering similar content and sharing a similar and familiar style, format, and structure. As a result, there is a clear advantage to preparing for the SQE exams with an established QLTS training provider.

Learn more about the SQE exams structure and format from QLTS School>

SQE stages and preparation time explained

QLTS School believes that, on average, based on various individual needs, it is likely to take about 9-12 months to prepare for both stages of the SQE exams.

The total cost to sit both SQE1 and SQE2 will be £4,115. That breaks down to £1,622 for SQE1 and £2,493 for SQE2. This cost does not include study preparation materials or resits (should they be required). In addition, you are allowed to attempt each stage of the SQE only three times during a six-year period.

It is, therefore, best to be well-prepared for the SQE assessments the first time you sit them. Financially, sitting the SQE without being fully prepared may cost you thousands of pounds in retakes, and delaying your legal career. To better understand what kind of preparation is needed, consider the information you will need to study for each part of the assessments.

SQE1 tests the Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) required for effective practice through two assessments, which integrate substantive and procedural law and also test ethical judgement. 

FLK1 covers: Business Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contract, Tort, The Legal System of England and Wales, Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law, and Legal Services.

FLK2 covers the following practice areas, including: Property Practice, Wills and the Administration of Estates, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, Criminal Law, and Criminal Litigation.

The assessment has a total of 360 questions, and is divided into two assessments of 180 questions each. This assessment will run the course over two separate days, for a total of approximately 10 hours.

With all this in mind, a general guideline to study for SQE1 suggests that a candidate should study for approximately 5-6 months, for about 15-20 hours per week, while another candidate might choose to spread out their study time commitment over a period of 12-18 months.

SQE2 requires candidates to demonstrate a high level of legal knowledge and well-honed practical skills in a carefully structured environment against strict marking criteria. SQE2 assesses six different skills, five legal practice areas, has 16 assessments and takes 13 hours and 45 minutes which run across five half days.

For SQE2, a candidate would most likely spend about 3 to 4 months preparing and studying, or even as long as 8 months, for about 15-20 hours per week.

Again, it should be noted that the amount of time it takes to be prepared for the assessments, be it in hours, weeks, and months, will depend on the individual candidate and their personalised needs and circumstances, but there is no doubt that it involves a serious time commitment.

Attaining success with the SQE assessments the first sit

The SQE syllabus is extensive and detailed in various subject areas. It covers legal areas taught over several years in UK universities in the LLB degree or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), and during the Legal Practice Course (LPC), the phased-out vocational route for qualification in England and Wales. The SQE assessments test your legal skills, which can only be acquired through regular practice or substantial legal experience.

Broken down into SQE1 and SQE2 study tracks, QLTS School’s preparation courses and study materials provide you with a variety of tools needed for success –18 textbooks, mock exams, digital flash cards, video tutorials, practice questions, online resources, extensive tutor support, and more.

SQE1 preparation

There are several stages in preparing for the SQE1 exams:

Stage 1 – understanding the style, format, and procedures of SQE1

Study tools:

  • Course Administration Handbook
  • SQE1 Exam Day Resources

Stage 2 – studying the substantive and procedural law

Study tools:

  • 18 textbooks, specifically written for the SQE, covering the entire SRA syllabus.
  • 5,000+ digital flash cards with short questions and answers on each of the topics, organised by specific topics for each practice area assessed on SQE1, that are covered by the syllabus. The digital flash cards will help you reinforce your legal knowledge.
  • Revision notes of key points, summarised, as well as main legal principles on each subject. The study pack has a timesaving layout and presentation to quickly access key information.

Stage 3 – developing a deeper understanding of the subject areas

Study tools:

  • SQE question bank with 2,500+ MCQs, covering a wide range of all the topics and the scope of legal knowledge required for each practice objective. Each question contains a fact pattern, question, and five possible answers. The answers also provide you with a detailed solution as to how the correct answer is arrived at and why the other answers are wrong.
  • SQE Video Library with 200+ video tutorials, spanning 60+ hours of lectures, and provides a wide overview of the entire syllabus, focusing on certain topics, and go into various aspects of the SQE syllabus in more detail.

Stage 4 – applying the law to realistic fact patterns

Study tools:

  • 30 mock tests, with 90 questions each for FLK1 and FLK2. This allows you to test your progress through real test questions with a time limit, similar to the formal assessment.

Updates to the course materials are provided any time the law changes, which ensure that you are always studying the most up-to-date content, regardless of when you sit the assessments.

SQE2 Preparation

SQE2 is a practical legal skills assessment. It is divided into two parts: SQE2 oral (interviewing and advocacy) and SQE written (legal research, legal drafting, legal writing, and case and matter analysis). SQE2 involves simulations of solicitor/client interactions, file reviews preparation of written advice or reports, and court-based scenarios, assessed in various legal environments known as ‘stations’.

Stage 1 – understanding the style, format, and procedures of SQE2

Study tools:

  • Course Guide
  • SQE2 Exam Day Resources 

Stage 2 – studying the substantive and procedural law

  • Practice area summaries cover the essential elements of the law. The practice areas are summarised and divided into sections, covering the main topics tested in the assessment.
  • Digital flash cards which cover the substantive and procedural law
  • An extensive SQE Video Library, covering the substantive and procedural law. The lectures are broken down into smaller topics that cover various aspects of the syllabus in further detail.

Stage 3 – learning and understanding the five skills

  • SQE2 practice questions cover the legal practice areas through multiple exercises based on a single scenario/case study common to that practice area. All the questions are supported by a variety of documents and forms which you may see in the formal assessment, such as a letter of claim and particulars of claim; board and members’ resolutions; defence and witness statements; a bail application; wills, IHT forms, and probate applications; purchase deeds, a copy of the register and site plan, and purchase and sale contracts.
  • SQE Skills Online, an interactive tool complemented by video and audio material covering legal writing and drafting, advocacy, interviewing and advising, case and matter analysis, and legal research.
  • 100+ Legal Skills Video Workshops including role-play scenarios on interviewing and advocacy, and expert tutor’s commentary. These videos are delivered by law tutors with extensive experience in practice and offer guidance on drafting commonly used documents.

Stage 4 – developing and practising your legal skills

  • 300 mock exams for self-assessment covering all legal practice areas and skills assessed. The mock exams will help you deepen your legal knowledge and hone your practical skills. Samples of the mock exams are accessible here:

o   Dispute Resolution – Advocacy: https://bit.ly/2QcMk4A

o   Probate – Legal Drafting: https://bit.ly/2W9HJpc

o   Criminal Litigation – Legal Writing: https://bit.ly/2JH6JNO[NV9] 

  • Mock practice stations with personal tutor feedback offer you the opportunity for online, one-to-one mock stations in client interviewing and advocacy with an experienced tutor, who provides you with feedback on your performance based on Kaplan and the SRA Marking and Moderation Policy. You also have the opportunity to have a role-play mock exam with tutor feedback in client interview and advocacy.  

QLTS School’s preparation courses for the SQE exams reflect the SRA’s SQE Assessment Specification and are based on a decade of experience in teaching foreign lawyers for the QLTS exams. This ensures that you will be equipped with all the tools for success in the SQE. For more information visit http://www.qlts.co.uk/sqe or email info@qlts.co.uk.

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