What is the SQE?

Your guide to understanding the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam.

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SQE at a glance

It’s not just a new name, it’s an entirely different way of testing, bringing with it the need for an entirely new way of preparing for the examination.

In September 2021, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) are being phased out and replaced by the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). With that change comes an entirely new way of testing your legal knowledge and lawyering skills.

The SQE is comprised of a series of exams that, unlike the GDL/LPC exams, include mixed subject questions (contract with civil litigation, for example) and multiple-choice formats. Furthermore, the new SQE means that a classic undergraduate law degree – or non-law degree– will provide insufficient test preparation on their own.

Why take the new SQE rather than the old route?

  • The SQE offers greater flexibility, spreading the preparation course and exam fees over longer time periods.
  • Unlike the full-time LPC, earn whilst learning with BARBRI SQE Prep.
  • The SQE and the opportunity for qualifying work experience in place of a traditional training contract allows flexible entry into the profession.
  • Many smaller LPC providers will discontinue their course or migrate to SQE preparation, making it difficult to gain a place in an affordable or convenient LPC.
  • Innovation and investment will be directed towards the SQE as universities, law firms and employers begin focusing on the new qualification.
  • From 2022, most employers will expect their future trainees to have qualified under the SQE.

SQE stages: SQE1 and SQE2

SQE1 is a computer-based exam testing your functioning legal knowledge by way of multiple-choice questions.

SQE2 consists of practical legal skills assessments such as client interviewing, advocacy, case and matter analysis, legal research and written advice, and legal drafting.

Functioning Legal Knowledge

The SQE1 is a computer-based functioning legal knowledge assessment which consists of 2 exams of 180 multiple-choice questions, 360 in total. SQE1 combines substantive and procedural law, and is a test of candidates functioning legal knowledge, i.e. application, problem solving and decision making. Both examinations must be taken in single assessment window.

Kaplan is the sole authorised exam assessment provider, and SQE1 assessments will be available in designated examination centres across England and Wales and internationally. As the assessment provider, Kaplan is not authorised to provide SQE1 preparation courses. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the governing body that determines the knowledge which candidates must demonstrate on the exam. BARBRI SQE Prep always recommends that candidates visit the SRA website for any recent revisions.

Subjects Tested:

  • Business Law and Practice (including taxation)
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Contract
  • Tort
  • The Legal System of England and Wales
  • Constitutional & Administrative Law & EU law
  • Legal Services
  • Property Practice (including taxation)
  • Wills and the Administration of Estates (including taxation)
  • Solicitors' Accounts
  • Land Law
  • Trusts
  • Criminal law and Practice

Ethics & professional conduct will pervade.

The SQE1 exam fee, payable to the exam provider, is £1,558.

After passing SQE1, you will then be eligible to apply for and sit for SQE2.

The SQE2 will consist of practical legal skills assessments, namely:

  • Client interviewing, advocacy, case and matter analysis, legal research and written advice, legal drafting
  • Simulated role plays

Kaplan is the sole authorised exam assessment provider. As the assessment provider, Kaplan is not authorised to provide SQE2 preparation courses. The SQE2 legal research and written advice and drafting assessments are also available in designated examination centres across England and Wales and internationally. To make sure that the assessments are comparable and consistent, the remaining three role-play SQE2 assessments are only available in designated examination centres in England and Wales. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the governing body that determines the knowledge which candidates must demonstrate on the exam. BARBRI SQE Prep always recommends that candidates visit the SRA website (https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitorexam/) for any recent revisions.

Candidates have a six-year time frame in which to pass all SQE1 and SQE2 assessments.

The SQE2 exam fee, payable to the exam provider, is £2,422.

Path to qualification

The SQE has been designed to establish the competence of candidates qualifying as solicitors. All candidates who have passed the SQE will have demonstrated the competencies specified by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) through the Statement of Solicitor Competence (SoSC).

Have a Degree or Equivalent

Pass the SQE

Complete a Minimum Period of Qualifying Legal Work Experience

Satisfy the SRA's Character and Suitability Requirements

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Do I Need to Take the SQE?

To learn more about the SQE requirements and if you need to take it, please view our SQE calculator.

Preparing for the SQE

This completely new method for testing your readiness to become a solicitor in England and Wales requires a completely new method of preparation and that’s what BARBRI offers. BARBRI has been the overwhelming choice of law students in the U.S. for decades.

Now, you can take advantage of those decades of experience. You can face the SQE with confidence. You can make the choice that’s helped more than 1.3 million U.S. law students prepare for their version of the SQE. You can trust BARBRI.

BARBRI SQE1 Prep

BARBRI SQE2 Prep

Being better prepared starts today

Well informed is well-armed. So be sure you have the most updated information about the exam that will shape your future legal career. Information from the leader in this exact type of legal testing; BARBRI.

To make it easy, BARBRI will deliver that information direct to your inbox. Just sign up.

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