About the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)
The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a single, national licensing examination, presenting a new route to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. The SQE route provides the opportunity for a wider range of people to qualify, with a variety of study options, less cost, and a flexible method of obtaining qualifying work experience.
What is the SQE route?
To qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales through the SQE route you will need to satisfy four main elements:
Have a degree in any subject (or equivalent Level 6 qualification or work experience)
Pass both stages of the SQE assessment or be exempt
Have two years’ qualifying work experience
Pass SRA character and suitability requirements
To allow flexibility in how you qualify, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has not stated any order in which you must complete the first three elements. You can choose when and how you complete each part to fit around your own commitments. For example, you can start to develop and collate your work experience before you take your SQE assessments.
SQE elements explained
Degree or equivalent
If you have a degree (in any subject), or equivalent qualification, you can meet this element. Equivalent Level 6 qualifications include apprenticeships and other forms of work experience in which learning has been completed successfully at Level 6.
For example, Law Training Centre offers the CILEx Level 6 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice. This qualification would meet the ‘degree or equivalent’ requirement.
Whilst it is also possible to take the first part of the SQE assessment stage before doing your degree / equivalent qualification, as there are no entry requirements to sit the SQE1 which is the first part of the SQE assessment stage, it is expected that most will complete their degree / equivalent qualification before or alongside preparing for the SQE assessments.
SQE assessment stage
The SQE assessment stage consists of two parts; the SQE1 testing knowledge and application of law known as Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK), and the SQE2 testing the application of legal skills and FLK. Each part is assessed as a pass or fail and you have three attempts at each within a six year period.
SQE1 assessment (Multiple Choice Questions on Functioning Legal Knowledge)
The SQE1 examines your legal knowledge, and your ability to apply this knowledge, in the following areas:
The emphasis of SQE1 is on testing how you can apply legal knowledge to practical situations. The SQE1 is made up of two separate assessments, FLK1 and FLK2, each consisting of 180 multiple-choice questions. Separate marks are awarded for each assessment, and in order to successfully pass SQE1 you must pass both the FLK1 and FLK2. If you do not pass one or both of the assessments you will be able to retake only the assessment that you failed, with a maximum of two re-takes within a 6 year period.
You can read more about the SQE1 assessment here.
SQE1 Prep Courses
Law Training Centre offers three flexible preparation courses for the SQE1 assessment. Each course is fully flexible and will help to support and prepare students to qualify as a solicitor in a way that fits around your existing work/life commitments. You can benefit from choosing a course which best fits your needs, depending on your existing legal knowledge and experience:
- SQE1 Full Prep Course – Our most comprehensive course with course materials, a Personal Academic Coach, tutor support, live workshops and 15 months course access. Also available as just an FLK1 or FLK2 option with 12 months course access.
- SQE1 Express Course – A comprehensive course with course materials and 9 months course access without tutor support. This course is recommended if you have completed some form of prior legal qualification and require an update and refresh of your existing knowledge and you are seeking to practice multiple choice questions and gain mock exam experience.
- SQE1 Just Mocks – A 3 month course containing questions to test your knowledge. Ideal if you are confident in your legal knowledge and you are seeking to practice multiple choice questions and gain mock experience. Also available as just an FLK1 or FLK2 option with 2 months course access.
SQE2 assessment (Practical Legal Skills)
The SQE2 Exam is divided into two parts, with a total of sixteen assessments.
- SQE2 Oral – The SQE2 oral assessments take place over two half days with a total of four oral assessments to be completed.
- SQE2 Written – The SQE2 written assessments will take place over three half days with a total of twelve written legal skills assessments.
This part of the SQE examines six categories of legal skills across five practice areas.
You will need to demonstrate that you can apply fundamental legal principles in the skills-based situations covered by the SQE2 assessment specification in a way that would address your client’s needs and concerns.
In order to successfully pass SQE2 you must obtain the overall pass mark for SQE2. There is not a separate pass mark for SQE2 Oral and SQE2 Written, there is one pass mark for SQE2 as a whole. If you do not pass the entire SQE2 assessment must be retaken.
You can read more about the SQE2 assessment here.
SQE2 Prep Courses
Law Training Centre offers three flexible preparation courses for the SQE2 assessment. Each course is fully flexible and will help to support and prepare you to qualify as a solicitor in a way that fits around your existing work/life commitments. You can benefit from choosing a course which best fits your needs, depending on your existing legal knowledge and experience:
- SQE2 Full Prep Course – A comprehensive course for each of the SQE2 legal skills within each practice area, with a Personal Academic Coach, tutor support, live workshops and 15 months course access.
- SQE2 Express Course – A comprehensive course for each of the SQE2 legal skills within an individual practice area, with a Personal Academic Coach, tutor support, live workshops and 9 months course access. Ideal if you have completed some form of prior legal qualification and you are confident in the remaining practice areas.
- SQE2 Just Mocks – Courses aimed at preparation for the assessments featuring oral and written mock assessments with 1:1 tutor feedback. Ideal if you are confident in your skills and application of law and you wish to gain SQE2 mock experience.
- SQE2 Exemption Plus Course – A comprehensive course for the SQE2 assessment with both SQE2 legal skills and Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) content with a Personal Academic Coach, tutor support, live workshops and 15 months course access. Ideal if you are exempt from SQE1 but would like to build on the FLK required for the SQE2.
Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)
To satisfy the QWE element you will need to show that you have completed two years’ work experience. You can accrue this before, during or after completion of the SQE assessment stage.
You can utilise up to four different organisations to achieve completion of your QWE. For example, if you work in a paralegal role for six months you would then need to complete a further one year and six-month period of work experience.
Standards of character
On application to be admitted as a solicitor, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will consider your character and suitability to work as a solicitor. This is important as the SRA expect certain standards to be met in relation to character and behaviour.
If you want to check any potential problems before then, you can complete an early character and suitability assessment with the SRA at any time however they are not bound, in any subsequent application for admission, by any decision made.
More information on this can be found here.
SQE assessment exemptions are only available to qualified lawyers. An exemption will mean that the qualified lawyer does not have to sit one or more of the assessments.
You must show how your qualifications and/or experience are based on a legal system that is not substantially different from that in England and Wales. If you cannot show this, the SRA not be able to grant exemptions from the assessments.
The transitional arrangements allow those who have already commenced their route to qualification via the QLTS or LPC to continue on that route or to choose the SQE.
Read more about the shift from LPC to SQE here.