SQE Preparation Courses
The introduction of the SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) has marked a substantial change in legal education in England and Wales. The SQE is now a centralised route that everyone must take in order to become a qualified solicitor. Passing the SQE will be a rigorous process, so candidates will want to be properly prepared so that they can pass the exams. This article will take a look at the 4 best SQE preparation courses that will give you the best chance of passing the SQE exams on the first attempt.
What is the SQE?
The SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) has introduced a new route to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales.
There is now a four-stage route to becoming a solicitor under the SQE, which is the following:
- Hold a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification);
- Pass both stages of the SQE assessment — SQE1 and SQE2 (unless SQE exemptions apply);
- Have a minimum of two years’ SQE qualifying work experience (QWE); and
- Pass the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
The most important stage in this route to qualification is passing the SQE assessments (SQE1 and SQE2).
What is the SQE1 exam?
The SQE1 exam assesses your functioning legal knowledge using a series of scenario-based multiple choice questions that are client focused in nature. This is a computer-based multiple choice exam, with candidates being required to select one answer out of five for each question. The SQE1 exam consists of two Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments, with each assessment comprising of 180 multiple choice questions (360 in total).
The two FLK assessments cover the following subject areas:
FLK Assessment 1: Business Law and Practice; Dispute Resolution; Contract; Tort; Legal System of England and Wales; Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services.
FLK Assessment 2: Property Law and Practice; Wills and the Administration of Estates; Solicitors Accounts; Land Law; Trusts; Criminal Law and Practice.
Ethics and Professional Conduct are examined pervasively across the two FLK assessments above.
Principles of taxation are examined only in the context of: Business Law and Practice, Property Law and Practice and Wills and the Administration of Estates.
What is the SQE2 exam?
The SQE2 evaluates candidates on their practical legal skills. This part of the SQE exam is divided into two parts: oral and written.
The oral part of the assessment tests candidates on the following legal skills:
- Interview and attendance note/legal analysis; and
The written part of the assessment will test candidates on the following legal skills:
- Case and matter analysis;
- Legal research;
- Legal writing; and
- Legal drafting.
The practice areas within which the above oral and written skills can be tested include the following:
- Criminal litigation;
- Dispute resolution;
- Property practice;
- Wills and intestacy, probate administration and practice; and
- Business organisations rules and procedures.
Can I prepare for the SQE myself?
Technically, SQE preparation courses are not required in order to take the SQE exams. The SRA has stated that a candidate’s education and training should be sufficient in enabling them to pass the SQE exams. It is possible to self-study for the SQE exams, and many candidates choose to do just that.
Some candidates may find self-studying for the SQE more challenging given that there is a lack of structure and a legal educator to walk you through the various areas of the law that are tested on the SQE. If you are going to self-study for the SQE exams, then we’d suggest following a few tips:
Materials – SQE preparation books
If you are self-studying for the SQE, you are going to want to make sure that you are using the most effective SQE preparation books for self-study. SQE preparation books will likely work best when self-studying for the SQE1 exam given that this part of the exam is multiple choice and does not assess a candidate’s legal practical skills. SQE preparation books are designed to provide you with all the relevant legal knowledge that you will need to pass the exam. You should ensure that you select SQE preparation books that cover the assessment specification (i.e. FLK1 and FLK2) and that also explain the law in a clear and digestible manner.
SQE preparation books currently available are:
- SQETestPrep SQE Books
- University of Law’s SQE Study Manuals
Create a schedule for yourself and stick with it. You can use the SQE preparation books as a guide to mapping out a detailed schedule. The first week of preparation could involve familiarising yourself with the assessment specification for each area of the law and then, over the coming weeks, addressing each sub-topic within that legal area.
You should also give yourself plenty of time to prepare. To give yourself the best chance of success you should give yourself at least three to six months of focused studying. Some students may not need a full 6 months, but if you have a full-time job or other commitments then you should consider allocating a longer period of time to study.
SQE Preparation Courses Cost
Taking the SQE will come at some cost to the student. At the time of writing, students will have to pay a total of £4,115 in order to take the SQE exams – £1,622 for SQE1 and £2,493 for SQE2. On top of that, a lot of SQE course providers charge a fee of approx. £6,000+ for preparation for both the SQE1 and SQE2 exams. Costs can quickly add up, so it’s important to pick the most cost-effective SQE course provider that will give you the tools you need to pass the SQE exams without setting you back financially.
If you are a foreign-qualified lawyer or studied a non-law degree, then it’s likely that you will be unfamiliar with many concepts underpinning English law that you will need to know in order to pass. In this case, it is advisable to at least pick-up some SQE preparation books that you can use to self-study for the exams.
4 Best SQE Preparation Courses
SQE course providers will have their own prep courses with differing course features. So, it’s important to think about which course features matter most to you and will allow you to pass the SQE exams on your first attempt.
Let’s take a look at the 4 best SQE preparation courses that you can use to pass the SQE exams.
SQETestPrep is a team of ex-Magic Circle and U.S. lawyers with over 5+ years of legal education experience.
According to SQE exam rules, candidates realistically only have three attempts to pass either the SQE1 or SQE2 exam. The goal behind SQETestPrep is to give students the tools that they need to pass the SQE exams on their first attempt. Importantly, students can avoid paying re-sit fees and waiting months to retake exams if they pass on the first attempt.
SQETestPrep offers revision and study books that cover the assessment specification for the SQE exams. Books that are currently available include:
- Business Law and Practice;
- Contract Law;
- Land Law;
- Tort Law;
- Trust Law;
- Constitutional Admin and EU Law; and
- English Legal System.
With more on the way.
Over 2,700+ students are using the SQETestPrep books to prepare for the SQE exams. Free sample books can be accessed here.
SQETestPrep books can be used for either self-study or with a prep course. They are also particularly useful for foreign-qualified lawyers or students who do not have a legal background.
SQETestPrep books are a cost-effective option for sitting the SQE exams. The revision and study books provide you with the same information as a £3,000+ prep course at a fraction of the price.
QLTSchool originally provided preparatory materials for individuals looking to pass the QLTS exams, which is the route that foreign qualified lawyers needed to take in order to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales.
Coming in at the #2 spot is BARBRI, a US-based legal education provider. BARBRI is primarily known for its US bar exam and QLTS prep courses, and will now be one of the many SQE course providers.
4. University of Law
Another SQE course provider in the space is the University of Law (UoL). UoL is known for their GDL and LPC courses, and will now also start helping students pass the SQE exams.
There are a number of SQE preparation courses currently available, but the courses listed above are the ones that should be on your radar when it comes to deciding which course to use. We will be updating this list as we come across more courses that we think will give you the best chance of passing the SQE exams on your first attempt.