The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is one of two possible routes to become a solicitor for England and Wales – the other route is the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Additionally, if you’re qualified as a lawyer in any jurisdiction, including as:
- A UK Barrister, CILEX Practitioner or Chartered Legal Executive
- A Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scottish solicitor
but wish to become a solicitor in England and Wales, you must take the SQE exam.
There are, however, some exemptions from some parts of the SQE for qualified lawyers from certain jurisdictions.
How do I pass the SQE?
To qualify via the SQE you will need to:
- Have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or work experience)
- Pass both stages of the SQE assessment - SQE1 focuses on functioning legal knowledge and SQE2 on practical legal skills and knowledge
- Have two years' Qualifying Work Experience
- Meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements
Find out more about the SRA’s SQE regulations here.
What are the SQE assessments?
Part of the requirements to complete the SQE is that you need to sit two assessments namely the SQE1 and SQE2.
The SQE1 tests functioning legal knowledge (FLK). The exam has two parts – FLK1 and FLK2. SQE1 takes place over two non-consecutive days, and both FLK1 and FLK2 are single best answer multiple-choice tests. FLK1 and FLK2 must be taken in the same assessment window (unless an exemption applies).
SQE2 assesses practical legal skills. It also has two parts – oral assessments over two consecutive half days, and written assessments over three consecutive half days.
Find out more about the topics tested in the SQE1 and SQE2 exams here.
What does it mean to have two years’ Qualifying Work Experience?
Under the SRA regulations, Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) means:
The experience of providing legal services that gives you the opportunity to develop the prescribed competences for solicitors
That is at least two years’ full time or equivalent
That has been done in no more than four organisations
That has been signed off by either the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) or a solicitor in the organisation or by another nominated solicitor.
Find out more about QWE here.
How do I sign up for the SQE exams?
To sit any of the assessments you will need to register an account with the SRA.
After which you will need to complete some pre-booking steps and then book assessments during the booking window opening.
It is important to book your assessments in a timely fashion to avoid having to wait for the next booking window to be able to register for the exam.
Find out more about booking windows here.
How much does the SQE cost?
The total candidate fee for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is £3,980.
● SQE1 – £1,558
● SQE2 – £2,422
Find out more about costs and payment details here.
How can I prepare for the SQE exams?
The SRA suggests that a candidates’ knowledge and skills should be sufficient for him to pass the SQE assessments. However, if you feel like you need an extra boost, here is a list of SRA-recommended SQE training providers.
In 2022, you can take the SQE in Welsh
Good news, from April 2022, candidates can sit the SQE in Welsh, as well as English.
Find out more information about how to register to sit the pilot Welsh SQE exam here.
Writer: Alisa Maya is a graduate student at the UCL Institute of Education.
She is passionate about improving learning experiences for all through EdTech.
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