The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is the new route to qualification in England and Wales, replacing the LPC and training contract.
What is involved in the SQE?
To qualify as a Solicitor under the new route you must have:
- A degree in any subject
- Pass both SQE 1 and SQ2
- Complete 2 years qualifying work experience (QWE)
- Meet the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s’ character and suitability requirements
This exam is split over 2 days and into 4 sessions and is located in your chosen Pearson Test Centre. Day 1 is the FLK1 exam and day 2 is the FLK2 exam. Each session involves 90 multiple choice questions with a time limit of 2 hours 30 minutes, totaling 10 hours and 360 questions over the 2 days. Each day candidates get a 1 hour break in-between the sessions.
‘‘I was one of the first candidates to take the SQE1 exam in November and passed both exams. FLK1 took place on the Monday and FLK2 on the Thursday. Statistics show that 53% of the 1090 candidates passed the November exam which involved 67% passing FLK1 and 54% passing FLK2. It has been said that candidates became fatigued or had less time to prepare for FLK2 however there was a full 2 days between the exams and I believe the more interesting topics were on FLK2 and thus I scored higher on this exam. You can read more on this at the following link: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/good-start-53-pass-first-sqe-assessment/5111244.article “
FLK1 topics were:
- Business Law & Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contact, Tort, Legal System of England & Wales, Constitutional & Administrative Law, EU Law and Legal Services
FLK2 topics were:
- Property Practice, Wills and Administration of Estates, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts and Criminal Law & Practice.
If a candidate did unfortunately fail either FLK1 or FLK2, they only have to re-sit the exam they failed, not both.
Practice Questions for SQE were released by the SRA:
- SQE1 – £1,558
- SQE2 – £2,422
It is worth noting that the above fees have to be paid again if candidates fail an exam. For example if they fail the whole of SQE1 they pay the full £1, 558, but if they failed FLK1 or FLK2 then you will pay £779 to retake the exam you failed.
The SQE2 are practical exams and are split into oral and written assessments. Out of the 16 exams there are 4 oral (over 2 days) and 14 written exams (over 3 days). The oral exams test skills such as advocacy and interviewing, whereas the written exams test skills such as legal drafting, legal writing and legal research. The topics on the SQE2 are limited to Criminal Litigation, Dispute Resolution, Property Practice, Wills & Probate and Business Law. The exam specification is explained in detail on the SRA website via the following link:
Preparing for the SQE
‘’I have studied with Barbri for both SQE1 and SQE2. To prepare for SQE1 I undertook the 40 week online course to ensure it was flexible around my work commitments. I began studying in January 2021 for the November 2021 exam. I thought it was a great course and involved lectures, reading materials and many mock exams and practice questions. The course covered all of the law on the exam and I would recommend the course. Barbri allocate a tutor to you which was helpful if you had any questions or wanted further guidance on a certain topic they can help.
I am currently undertaking the 12 week SQE2 prep course with Barbri which the tutors and staff have an active role to prepare us for the exam. There are several mock exams on each skill that will be tested on the exam.
Barbri have confirmed via a LinkedIn that 79% of their students passed SQE!’’
Costs for Barbri prep:
- SQE1 – £2,999
- SQE2 £2,999 (if you studied SQE1 with Barbri, if not it is £3,499)
How does the studying fit in with my full time job?
‘’The courses have a personal study plan which involves around 1- 1.5 hours a day of studying which is easy to fit in around full time work or other commitments. As the course is online, independent and does not have a strict timetable like at university, it is so easy to integrate into everyday life. I work full time at a law firm and study in my lunch, after work or on a weekend. At one point I even fell behind and was studying for around 3-4 hours per day which was still sustainable with weekends.’’
Why the SQE?
‘” chose the SQE over the LPC as I knew how competitive and difficult training contacts are. I did not want to go back to attending university, I enjoy the online learning so that I could fit it around my work and personal life. I also enjoy working in family law which is what I will continue to practice once qualified, I did not want to sit in different seats as is required in the training contact.
During my work as a paralegal I also accrued months towards my QWE. More information on QWE can be found on the SRA website:
I think the only downfall of the SQE is the costs involved. However there are also high costs to sit the LPC!”
If anyone would like to know more about my experience with the SQE, or has any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch via LinkedIn.
Anya Harrison, Trainee Solicitor, Major Family Law