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How to prepare for the SQE at university

How to prepare for the SQE at university

Matthew Biggerstaff


Reading time: three minutes

With the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) having been formally introduced less than three years ago, law students and aspiring solicitors are still finding their feet on exactly how to take on the assessments. While previous options such as the Legal Practice Course were built into university education through master's and postgraduate degrees, the SQE offers a different approach, being separate from university education. In this post I'll discuss ways that you can best prepare for the SQE exams while in university.

MCQ exams

With the introduction of the SQEs, multiple-choice question (MCQ) exams are becoming a more core part of how students are assessed at university. A great way to prepare for the SQE is to treat these MCQ exams as if they're the SQE1 assessment. If you can approach these exams in the same way that you'll approach the SQE, while still being aware that it's an actual assessment, then this'll prepare you for completing what's essentially another MCQ exam with the SQE1.  

People can be guilty of underestimating MCQ exams, which is part of what makes the SQE so difficult. You should attempt a wide range of topics when practicing MCQs in order to best simulate SQE1, trying to highlight any potential areas for improvement. If your university put on ‘quizzes’ for each week of taught content, you can also go back and take these on completed modules to further reinforce your knowledge.  

Practice SQE exams

Practice SQE exams are readily available online for you to practise at any time during your studies. Much like your driving theory test, taking a simulation of the exam on an app on your phone can help massively to prepare you for exactly how the questions will be asked during SQE1. The University of Law has developed an app that allows you to take practice SQE1 exams and see what topics it is that you need to further practise. Exams are hard, but they’re much harder when you go into them completely blind as to how the exam itself takes place.  

Find out more about The University of Law's SQE revision app.

Take advice

Even though the SQE hasn't been around for long, there's still a great number of people who've completed or attempted the exams. Advice on the assessments themselves or how to prepare for them can be found easily, even on this very site. As the SQE assessments are still early into their lifespan, there isn’t any perfect one way to prepare for the exams figured out yet, but this means you can have a look around at what people say who've already taken, and possibly passed, the exams and see what helps you and fits how you like to prepare and revise. 

SQE preparation courses

Many universities have begun to offer SQE preparation courses – often alongside a master's degree. If you're self funding your SQE preparation course, you'll need to consider how to finance the course. If you've already obtained a training contract or qualifying work experience (QWE) with a law firm, it's likely that they'll mandate the course and university, as well as funding it for you. Either way, it's highly recommend to take a preparation course before embarking on the SQE. You might like to stay at the university where you're completing your undergraduate degree, as you can remain being taught by lecturers you're already familiar with. 

As a side note, these SQE prep courses may even include some time that qualifies as QWE if your institution has a law clinic. Adding this to any time you may have spent in the law clinic as an undergraduate, and you may already have a couple of months of QWE before even officially leaving university.  

All in all, the SQE is still very new. However, there's a multitude of ways to prepare for these exams, while there not being one steadfast way to prepare means that there's a greater range of options and pieces of advice available to you to find the best way to prepare.