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.
How to choose an SQE training course provider
There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing a course training provider for the SQE. This includes the entry requirements, length of the course and the structure of the training programme.
You will also need to consider the overall cost of the training course, including the materials and any extra support you might need. For example, some candidates prepare for the SQE whilst working in full-time employment, whilst others can dedicate over 40 hours to studying, which is why choosing the right course structure is imperative.
Continue reading to find out more information about your training course options to help you decide which one can benefit you and help you to pass the SQE.
What does the SQE involve?
In 2021, the SQE replaced the existing examination – Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS). The new SQE assessments aim to prepare candidates to enter law society with the same knowledge and experience.
The SQE is made up of two exams: the SQE1 and SQE2. These two exams test your legal knowledge and skills through a series of multi-choice questions and written and verbal assessments. You must successfully complete both exams in order to pass the SQE.
Kaplan is the sole provider of the SQE and works on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA is England and Wales’ regulatory body for solicitors in the UK, which means that all candidates that pass the SQE will have passed the SRA’s standards.
Candidates are also required to complete two years of qualifying work experience and pass the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
Within the SQE1, there are two exams called the FLK1 and the FLK2. Both exams consist of 180 multiple-choice questions that must be completed in a set time period. You must pass the SQE1 in order to sit the SQE2.
The SQE2 focuses on legal skills and is tested through both written and oral tasks. There are 16 exercises within the SQE2, of which 12 are written and four are oral assessments. These exercises take place over several days.
Both the SQE1 and SQE2 focus on different subject areas and core legal skills that every candidate must demonstrate.
The SQE is an integral part of becoming a solicitor, which means that you need to carefully think about how you prepare for the exams. Preparation for the exams could be the difference between passing and failing the SQE and your following journey within the legal field.
What should I consider when choosing an SQE course provider?
Many SQE candidates opt for help from a professional body to help them prepare for the exams. There are various things that you could base your decision on, such as the structure of the training course and how flexible the learning programme is. You should also consider how much access you have to tutors and whether it will be enough to support you throughout your SQE preparation.
Some students take the SQE straight after completing a law degree, whilst 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.
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.
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.
Cost is also a big factor for SQE candidates. The total examination fee is £3,980, with the SQE1 costing £1,558 and the SQE2 costing £2,422. As these fees only cover the cost of the actual examinations, any fees for training providers will have additional costs.
Added costs can also 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 because 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.
What is offered on 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.
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.
Can I get an SQE scholarship?
The full SQE costs £3,980, whilst our prep course comes to an additional £2,999 for SQE1 and £2,999 for SQE2.
We realise that not everyone can afford SQE prep courses, which is why we have a scholarship scheme. These schemes have proven successful in offering candidates from various backgrounds the chance to study for the SQE and enter the legal profession. We have also partnered with a student finance company to give you options of how you can fund your SQE studies, including through student loans.
The three scholarship options are as follows:
- Public Sector SQE Scholarship
- Essay Competition SQE Scholarship
- 1st Class Honours SQE Scholarship
You are eligible for the Public Sector scholarship if have a job offer for or are currently employed by a charity or not-for-profit organisation. This scholarship offers a discount of £600 towards your course fees.
The essay competition scholarship requires the submission of an essay about how your legal training will help you to make a change in the world and society. You may be rewarded either full or partial funding towards your course fees if you write the winning essay.
Finally, the 1st Class Honours scholarship is open to students that received a 1st Class in their undergraduate degree. The scholarship will cover 30% of the course fees.
You can also apply for a student loan with our partner companies Knoma and Lendwise to help fund the costs of the SQE1 and SQE2 exams and the SQE prep courses.
What topics are covered on the SQE?
The SQE includes both written and practical legal skills assessments to test candidates’ working legal knowledge in preparation for becoming qualified lawyers.
The SQE1 is broken down into two exams: FLK1 and FLK2. The FLK1 covers topics such as Dispute Resolution, Contract Law and The legal system of England and Wales. The FLK2 covers topics such as Solicitors Accounts, Land Law and Criminal Law and Practice.
After you have passed the SQE1, you can sit the SQE2. These assessments feature written and oral tests in six key areas, such as Client Interviewing, Legal Written Advice and Case And Matter Analysis.