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How to successfully prepare for the SQE assessments

updated on 24 September 2020

Preparation time and planning

Preparing to become a solicitor in 2021 will look different than it has in recent years with the upcoming implementation of the SQE assessments. With this change in mind, there is some inevitable questions and concerns regarding the time commitment, planning, and preparation for the SQE.

With consideration to your personal circumstances, experience and background with English law, and your study needs and personal goals in mind, planning your route to ensure you are successfully prepared for the SQE exams does not have to be a daunting task.

The SQE exams are substantially modelled on the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS) assessments, the fast track route to become an English solicitor. Both exams cover similar content and have the same style, format, and structure. There is therefore an advantage to preparing for the SQE exams with an established QLTS training provider.

Based on the recommendation of QLTS School, and factoring in various individual needs, on average, it is likely to take about nine to 12 months to be fully prepared for both stages of the SQE exams.

A general guideline, to study for SQE1 would entail a candidate study for approximately five to six 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. For SQE2, a candidate would most likely spend about three to four months studying, or even as long as eight months, studying for 15-20 hours per week.

Regardless of how many months you feel is the right amount of study time for you, being prepared for the SQE is a serious time commitment.

The total cost to sit both SQE1 and SQE2 will be £3,980: £1,558 for SQE1 and £2,422 for SQE2. This cost does not include re-sits or study preparation materials. In addition, you are allowed to attempt each of the stages 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.

Achieving SQE assessment success

The SQE syllabus 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 will test your legal skills which can only be acquired through regular practice or substantial legal experience.

Broken down into SQE1 and SQE2 study tracks, the study materials will provide you with a variety of tools needed for success – 18 textbooks, mock exams, digital flash cards, video tutorials, online resources, extensive tutor support, and more.

Let’s now look at the various stages of preparing for the SQE exams, including links to sample course material offered by QLTS School.

SQE1 preparation

SQE1 begins with the Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments. Divided into two separate exams, consisting of 180 questions each, you will be expected to answer all the questions in a multiple-choice format.

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, with over 3,000 pages in total, 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 master technical elements and reinforce your knowledge.
  • Revision notes of key points, summarised, as well as main legal principles on each subject. The study pack includes over 500 pages of concise content, with 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 goes 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 for you to test your progress through real test questions with a time limit, similar to the formal assessment.

Updates to the course materials will be 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 with 200 pages cover the essential elements of the law. The practice areas are summarised and divided into sections, covering the main topics tested in the assessment.
  • 2,500+ digital flash cards which cover the substantive and procedural law
  • SQE Video Library with 80+ video tutorials, and 20+ hours of lectures, 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 with 60+ exercises and a 130-page textbook, which is 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 which role-play scenarios on interviewing, advocacy, including expert tutor’s commentary. These videos are delivered by a law tutor with extensive experience in practice on English legal writing and offer guidance on drafting commonly used documents.

Stage 4 – developing and practising your legal skills

Financially, sitting the SQE without being fully prepared may cost you thousands of pounds in the long run in retakes, delaying the progress of your legal career and so on. You should therefore take your SQE preparation seriously.

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 exams. For more information visit http://www.qlts.co.uk/sqe or email info@qlts.co.uk.