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A week in the life of an SQE student

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As the new route to qualification for lawyers in England and Wales, many questions are surrounding the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), what it entails, and what a typical day of learning might look like on an SQE Prep course with BARBRI. To help give you a little insight into how our students manage to earn while they learn, one of SQE students, Madison Berry, shares a little overview of what her typical week looks like. She is a non-law graduate who is currently studying on our 40-week SQE1 Prep course. Over to you, Madison.

Monday

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9am – A brand new week and I’m ready for work. Monday morning usually means catching up on any emails that have come in over the weekend and checking that all of last week’s tasks have been completed.

12pm – Time for a dog walk. Working from home for so long has been tough, and one of the best ways I’ve found to break up the day is to take the dogs out for a quick 20-minute walk as often as possible (although I’m not sure the dogs are quite as keen!).

12.30pm – Eat lunch; do an SQE multiple-choice question set on Tort. I got 75% which was really rewarding. I’ve been struggling with Tort and haven’t been getting great scores on the practice sets. But this is my fourth question set on the subject and I’m starting to understand the material properly and get to grips with the type of questions I might get asked in the exam. Considering that on my first Tort question set, I got 33.3% (!) it’s good to know that the method is working.

1pm – Back to work. This afternoon I planned out some timetable designs and had them approved by my boss.

5.15pm – I finish work and set off for a run. I’m trying to complete Couch to 5K for about the fifth time – at least now the evenings are much lighter so it’s not dark by the time I get back.

6pm – Back from my run so it’s time to make a quick dinner.

6.30pm – Then, it’s SQE1 study time. Another question set, this time in Dispute Resolution. The question sets I did today were a catch up from last week’s assignments because I didn’t have any internet early last week, so I was a bit behind. I got back on track today, so I am ready for the rest of this week’s assignments starting tomorrow. Luckily, as today was a little quieter, I was able to fit in a lunchtime set, which I know I probably won’t get again as work picks up throughout the week.

Tuesday

9am – Time to start work. I’m not a morning person so I don’t like to study before work! I’ll do it later in the day.

12pm – Lunchtime but no dog walks today as it was raining. I’m sure the dogs didn’t mind!

12.30pm – Back to work. Today it’s mainly video editing, which is one of my favourite things to be getting on with.

5.30pm – I’ve finished work and take 10 minutes for intense hula hooping with a weighted hoop. It sounds weird, but it’s a great way to exercise!

6pm – Study time. I like to make sure I have a break between work and study time, especially because I tend to use the same space for both – our home office set up means I have a pretty good desk to work and study from. Sometimes my break is just to get changed out of my “work clothes” and into something comfier. Today it’s lectures, so I watch two modules but break for dinner in the middle. Overall, it’s about one hour of work, which I’m happy with for today.

Wednesday

9am – My working day begins!

10am – I attended one of the BARBRI SQE Prep workshops. We’ve had two workshops so far which have been incredibly useful. I found the session on how to answer multiple-choice questions really valuable because I don’t have much experience with sitting this type of exam – it’s new for so many of us! I think the last time I did multiple-choice was on my driving theory test! Today’s workshop was on wellbeing. It was good to take a break from work to do the session. Plus, it was a useful session to remind me that mental wellbeing is so important when studying and working full time.

12.30pm – Little bit of lunch and a dog walk.

1.30pm – Back to work. I had a few meetings this afternoon, so I need to spend tomorrow morning working through the follow-up tasks.

5.15pm – Running again. I try to run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday because I find it easier to push myself to do it when I have a routine.

6pm – Time for a relaxing evening. After the workshop session today, I think it’s a good idea to take a break this evening and not force any study, especially as the afternoon was pretty packed at work. Instead, I hang out with some friends on Zoom and watch some TV.

Thursday

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9am – It’s a busy morning at work and I have a lot to do. I get a few calls asking how to use our online system and still need to finish my tasks from yesterday’s meeting.

12.30pm – Lunchtime but no time for a dog walk today, which the dogs are pretty happy about. They snooze through the afternoon!

5pm – I have a late-running meeting at the end of the day because it’s with a team in Chicago (it’s the beginning of their day there). I have a few questions, but it’s too late for me so I schedule some time for them tomorrow.

5.15pm – Another hula hooping session. It’s more exhausting than it sounds, I promise!

5.30pm – It’s my turn to make dinner tonight. My siblings and I take it in turns, and tonight I’m cooking enchiladas. Spicy!

6.30pm – Back to studying. I watch another two lectures on Dispute Resolution to round off the subject, which is a relief. It’s the longest one on the course and has 18 different modules, which is a lot! I’m excited to start something new, which I do when I read the overview for Business – the next topic that my Personal Study Plan assigns me. I also manage to fit in another question set on Dispute Resolution, and get 86%, which is great! I find it a pretty methodical subject, so once I’ve learned all the time periods, I should be set. In total, I do just over two hours of work, which is fine because I was in the mood to get some stuff done this evening, and also because I took yesterday off. It’s all about balance!

Friday

9am – I manage to get through everything on my to-do list and set up some alerts for next week to check on the progress of a few projects.

12pm – Another dog walk and lunch combo!

1pm – I have another meeting and write up all my expected tasks for next week. I’ve started doing this based on the way the Personal Study Plan assigns my SQE study to me. It’s a logical way of setting out the work I need to do and how long I think it will take me, which means I can plan my week nicely.

4pm – Because I managed to get through everything at work that I needed to, and things have quietened down a little, I spend the last hour of the day doing a review activity for the English Legal System module. I get through it a lot quicker than the estimated two hours. It helps that a lot of questions in this topic are based on Latin terminology, which I remember much more easily thanks to my language degree! A lot of students complain about the Latin phrases in the WhatsApp chat, so it’s nice to know this is one area where I’m ahead of the curve (especially as I struggle with Constitutional Law, which others seem to understand much more)!

5.15pm – My third run of the week. It’s a real push to go out on Friday, but I’m glad I’ve done it.

6pm – Time to wind down. Friday is family night in our house – we always have tacos for dinner, and then watch a film or a TV episode together. I don’t do any more work this evening because I have a whole weekend free to get through the rest of this week’s assignments.

Saturday

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11am – I let myself have a nice long lie-in today so that when I start studying late morning, I’m refreshed. Today’s task is to get through the reading assignments. I like to do my reading in my room instead of in the office, for two reasons: 1) it’s so nice to have a change of scenery! I can get comfy in my room with my textbook and a highlighter and chill out a bit more, and 2) on the weekends the office is the games room for my brothers and trying to read about interim applications with intense Mario Kart being played in the background just doesn’t work! When I do my reading assignments, I make sure that every 20 minutes I put the book down and take some kind of break, even if it’s just to wander around the house. This means I take a bit longer than the estimated time, but I know that the information I retain is much stronger than if I slave away for two hours straight looking at the book.

4pm – After finishing all my reading for the week, I decide to call it a day on studying. We have another family film night, and I get an early night ready for an earlier start tomorrow.

Sunday

9.30am – I start the day by going on a socially-distanced walk with a friend. It’s frustrating that this is the only contact we have, but at least now the weather is warmer – we spent a lot of Sunday mornings in January in the pouring rain!

11am – I sit down to get the last of this week’s tasks done. I have a mixed-subject question set and another two Dispute Resolution sets. In the mixed-question set, I try to take my time and answer all the questions from memory, instead of looking them up. We’re still at the early stages of the course, so I’m not trying to memorise things. But as the subjects on this set have come up a few times already, I manage to answer them all from memory (although not all correctly – luckily there’s plenty of time until November!). On the Dispute sets, because this is still a relatively new topic, any answers I don’t know I look up in the book, following the method that I was taught in the workshop a few weeks ago. I spend around 30 minutes on the dispute sets, and a bit longer on the mixed set.

3pm – With my weekend study time now complete, I still have plenty of time to get my chores done and spend the rest of the day relaxing before the new week begins.

More from Madison on her SQE student experience:

For further insight into the SQE1 Prep course, download our course sample materials here.

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