sqe assessments

SQE Assessments – Becoming an English Solicitor

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is the national assessment to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales and is administered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The SQE came into force in September 2021.

Watch this video presentation to learn more about the SQE exams:

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify as a solicitor under the SQE route you must meet all the following conditions:

  • have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or work experience)
  • pass both stages of the SQE assessment
  • have two years’ qualifying work experience
  • pass the SRA’s character and suitability requirements

This means that candidates from various backgrounds can pursue the SQE, including candidates with a law degree or non-law degree, paralegals, chartered legal executives, apprentices, and foreign qualified lawyers who hold a legal professional qualification which confers practice rights (which will allow those lawyers to be exempt from the qualifying work experience).

Questions about your eligibility should be addressed to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham B1 1RN, UK

Tel: + 44 (0) 121 329 6800 Email: contactcentre@sra.org.uk Web: http://www.sra.org.uk

Format of the SQE

The SQE exam involves two stages:

SQE1 – Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK): this part tests the knowledge and understanding of various legal practice areas SQE1 includes two FLK assessments each with 180 multiple choice questions. The assessment is offered across two days and lasts about 10 hours in total.

To pass SQE1, you need to show to the SRA that you are able to apply fundamental legal principles to given fact patterns and find a single best answer out of five alternatives. The questions will not focus on esoteric topics or assess the ability to cite cases or memorise the law.

While you can acquire basic knowledge by reading through textbooks, the application of knowledge can only be achieved by attempting multiple choice questions and mock tests in a similar format to the formal SQE1 assessment.

SQE2 – Practical Legal Skills Assessment: the second part of the SQE tests six skills: Interviewing, Advocacy (known as SQE2 Oral), Case and Matter analysis, Legal Research, Legal Drafting and Legal Writing (known as SQE2 Written). The assessment runs across five days. SQE2 is conducted in the context of five legal practice areas: Business Law, Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Property Practice, and Wills and the Administration of Estates.

The legal skills are assessed through 16 various simulated legal environments known as ‘stations’ using different techniques. These include actors as interviewed clients and writing legal reports to clients or partners of the firm.

There is a single pass mark for SQE2 oral and written, and you must take the two parts at the same sitting. Law and skills are weighted equally in SQE2.

Assessment Rules

There are several rules you need to be aware of prior to embarking on the SQE:

  • You must first pass SQE1 before attempting SQE2
  • Candidates are allowed to attempt each stage of the SQE three times within a six-year period
  • You must complete both parts of the SQE within six years after attempting the first assessment
  • The assessments are closed-book – you are not allowed to bring any materials with you into the exam

Sitting the SQE Assessments

The SQE assessments are administered by Kaplan, the sole assessment provider that has been appointed by the SRA.

The SQE1 assessments are held in London, at other locations in the UK and in various locations around the world. The exam is delivered online (computer-based assessment) in conjunction with Pearson VUE. It will initially only be offered in the UK.

The cost to sit SQE1 is £1,558 (£1,622 from January 2023) and SQE2 is £2,493.

There are no formal steps you need to comply with in order to sit the SQE assessments other than the registration on the SRA SQE website and booking the assessments with Kaplan.

To check a test centre’s availability, use the Seat Availability function on the Pearson VUE SQE website.

Year Assessment Date
2022 SQE1 July
2022 SQE2 October
2023 SQE1 January
2023 SQE2 July
2023 SQE1 July

Note that spaces are limited and subject to availability, so candidates are advised to book early to guarantee a place.

The results for SQE1 will be released within 6-10 weeks after the assessment date. The SQE2 results will be published within 14-18 weeks after the assessment.

Once you have passed the SQE assessments, fulfilled the qualifying work experience requirement and the SRA character and suitability test, you may apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales.

SQE Preparation Courses

QLTS School’s preparation courses will help you prepare for and pass the SQE exams with confidence.

Our materials have been used and tested by thousands of candidates who have prepared with us for the QLTS assessments.

Learn more about how we can help you prepare for the SQE.

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