How to choose an SQE training course provider

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Taking the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is challenging, which is why many students choose to prepare for it through a training course. You only get three attempts to pass the exam in a six-year period, so it’s important that you feel fully prepared for each section of the SQE.

Over 1,000 candidates from 26 countries took the very first SQE1 in November 2021. However, the pass rate was only 53%, which demonstrates the need for intensive preparation before you sit any of the examinations.

The new exams hold every candidate to the same high standard to ensure that no candidate has a distinct advantage or disadvantage. The skills assessed in the SQE are based on the type of work and experiences that candidates will find in the working world once they qualify as a solicitor.

In this article, we will look at what you should consider when looking for an SQE training course provider, as well as how much you can expect to pay and how long the courses last.

Factors to consider when choosing an SQE training course provider

Many SQE candidates opt for help from a professional body to help them prepare for the exams. There are various factors that you could base your decision on, such as:

Course structure

Some students take the SQE straight after completing a law degree, while others come from other backgrounds. You should consider which SQE preparation courses can cater for you if you have been out of study for an extended period of time, or are currently in full or part-time employment. Some university providers teach the SQE prep on campus as part of a year-long qualification, while some students may benefit from a more flexible online learning method, or want to do an intense 10-week course. Ask yourself:

  • Is there an alternative course structure to support a candidate with a non-traditional background, or one who has been out of study for a long time, or those who are currently in work? Does this carry an additional cost?
  • Is the course structured and automatically tailored to you or is it self-study?
  • Would you have any gaps between the end of the course and the exam date, requiring additional revision closer to the time?
  • Is it one complete course or several courses priced separately?
  • Are there any additional qualifications required to enrol onto the course?

Course materials

Also consider the training materials you’ll receive.

  • Do you need any additional materials besides what is provided by the course provider and within the course fee?
  • Are they available as interactive online books, pdf or just in print? Is there a separate fee for a different format?
  • How long is the access to online materials available for?

Cost and funding

Cost is also a big factor for SQE candidates. The exam fees, paid directly to Kaplan, are a few thousand pounds and in addition, you’ll have to pay for the training course. Additional costs can include course materials, although some SQE course providers include this in the overall price of the training course. You might also have to pay travel costs if you have to commute if the SQE preparation course is classroom-based. However, you can also choose a course that is through an entirely online training system or a hybrid model, which can cut down on travel time and expenses. Some questions to ask:

  • What does the prep course cost and what does it include?
  • Do you have to factor in travel costs if the learning takes place on location?
  • Do you have to take an additional course to benefit from funding? eg. LLM
  • Are there any partnerships between the provider and your institution that you can benefit from?
  • Does the provider offer payment plans, scholarships and student loans? Do these cover all prep and exam fees? 

Course delivery

Something else that you should look into is whether the preparation course is taught in one section or if it is broken up into smaller chunks. This could affect your study schedule, depending on your other commitments or your preferred method of studying.F

  • What system is used for delivery – is it a standard conferencing platform, eg. Zoom, or a purpose-built platform?
  • Is it online, classroom based or both?
  • Does the course feedback your progress to you? How much individual feedback will you receive during the course?
  • What type, general or personalised and substantive, and how much individual support do you receive? Is this for a separate fee?
  • What experience does the provider have in offering preparation courses for this type of exam? What is their track record with this?

Learning support

You should also consider how much access you have to tutors and whether it will be enough to support you throughout your SQE preparation. You may need extra guidance with basic subject matters if you haven’t previously attended law school or if you have to juggle your workload alongside your job. Other commitments that could also affect your studies include child care or disabilities, which is why you need to work with your SQE training provider to keep on top of your study schedule.

Employability

  • Does the provider offer an employability service during or after the course?
  • What does it consist of?

Enrolment process 

  • What flexibility is there for how and when you pay your fees?
  • Is there any guarantee policy in case of requiring a resit?
  • Is there a flexible deferral or cancellation policy?
  • How complicated or lengthy is the enrolment process?
  • Have you had the option to view materials in advance?

What is offered in an SQE prep course?

Every student learns differently, which is why there are various preparatory courses that are capable of getting candidates ready to sit the SQE exams.

Here at BARBRI, we offer several course models that will give you access to leading law tutors and flexible study options that allow you to study on both a full and part-time basis. Candidates are provided with a full set of materials and an online Personal Study Plan to help them prepare for their SQE assignments and exams.

SQE1 course prep options

We offer three SQE1 course options for you to take as you prepare for the SQE. Each course costs £2,999. However, you are entitled to a discount of £200 if you are Barbri alumni.

Course option 1 is a part-time course and takes place over 40 weeks. There are 10-12 hours of required study time each week, which makes this course a good option if you are currently in full-time employment.

This course is also suitable for candidates that have a law degree, as well as non-law graduates from both UK and non-UK universities.

Course option 2 is also a part-time course but only lasts 20 weeks as candidates are required to complete at least 20 hours of study per week. This option is a recommended choice for students that graduated with a law degree from a UK university three or more years ago. However, unlike course option 1, this course is not recommended for candidates that are currently working.

The final course choice is course option 3, which is the only full-time course. It takes place over 10 weeks and requires 40 hours of study every week. Due to the large workload, this is the best option for recent law graduates that want to pass the SQE as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Our SQE1 prep courses are offered twice a year in time for the scheduled examinations. The course materials are available online and accompany your Personal Study Plan and 1:1 Learning Coach support. We also offer touchpoint workshops to help you keep on track with your studies.

We provide video lectures, as well as workbooks and practice tests. Candidates are also given printed resources prior to the prep course’s commencement.

SQE2 course prep options

We only offer one SQE2 course option, although there is a different price depending on whether you are Barbri alumni or not. The standard course fee is £3,499, whilst students that previously passed the SQE1 with Barbri can pay £2,999.

The SQE2 prep course is offered twice a year in the lead up to the scheduled exams in April and October. It is part-time and lasts 12 weeks. During each week, candidates are expected to complete 20 hours of study time.

Unlike the SQE1, which consists of two multiple-choice tests, the SQE2 features both written and oral assessments. These include functioning legal knowledge assessments on interview skills, along with legal analysis and advocacy. The written assessments include legal research and drafting, in addition to case and matter analysis.

Our SQE2 prep course helps you to prepare for these assessments by offering interview-style lectures and guided interactive learning activities. You will also be expected to self-study and complete full exam questions by yourself and then review them based on self-assessment materials.

Candidates are given personalised feedback from Barbri assessors, in addition to feedback from mentors within workshop sessions and office hours. An important aspect of the SQE2 prep course is also the mock exams, where you will have the chance to complete tests that replicate the topics and questions that you will see in the real thing.

Summary

There are many things that you should base your decision on when choosing an SQE prep course provider. You need to think about your other commitments and whether the course is flexible enough to cater for your personal and working life. Some of the other factors that you need to consider include the overall cost, as well as the length of time that the course will take to complete.

At BARBRI, we offer a range of prep curse options and legal skills workshops that have a proven track record of preparing candidates to sit the SQE and find work in law firms and legal practices. Whether you want to study on a part-time or a full-time course, we’ll make sure that you feel confident with the topics that the SQE1 and SQE2 cover and meet the SQE assessment specifications.

To download our ‘How to choose your SQE provider’ document, click here.

For more information on our SQE Prep courses, click here. 

Read our other SQE blogs here:

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