About the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)

The SQE Explained

Your guide to understanding the Solicitors Qualifying Exam and assessments

Find out how BARBRI can help you prepare for the SQE with confidence

What is the SQE?

The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is an independent centralised assessment, introduced in September 2021, which every aspiring solicitor in England and Wales must undergo.


Why was it introduced?

The main aim of the SQE is to ensure that all candidates meet the same single, high standard for admission into the profession. It also opens up the profession by providing flexibility during the qualification process for SQE candidates, ensuring more diversity and inclusion.

The SQE has been designed to establish the competence of candidates qualifying as solicitors. Candidates who have passed the SQE will have demonstrated competencies specified by the SRA through the Statement of Solicitor Competence (SoSC).

For more on this, you can read the Bridge Group report and the Hook Tangaza research findings, both of which were commissioned to assess the impact of the SQE on the legal profession and admission to it.

The new path to qualification

Have a Degree or Equivalent

An undergraduate degree in any subject, or equivalent, obtained domestically or internationally.

Duration: 2-4 academic years
Cost: Varies

Pass the SQE

SQE1: This consists of two Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments. LPC graduates are exempt from the SQE1 exam. More on the exemption and the process of application for it here.

SQE2: This is the stage of the practical legal skills assessment. A candidate must pass the SQE1 exam before proceeding with sitting the SQE2 exam, unless they are exempt.

How we help you if you don’t pass the SQE exam the first time >

Complete a Minimum Period of Qualifying Legal Work Experience

Two years’ worth of qualifying work experience in up to four different organisations that can demonstrate solicitors’ skills. This can be paid or unpaid and needs to be signed off by a qualified solicitor or a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP).

This can be undertaken before, during, or after the SQE assessments.

For more information on the QWE, click here.

Satisfy the SRA's Character and Suitability Requirements

All individuals applying for admission or restoration to the roll of solicitors or those applying for or renewing their registration to be an REL or an RFL must be of satisfactory character and suitability. Those applying to become an authorised role holder, must be fit and proper to hold the role, and for ease we use the term "character and suitability" in this context also.

Find out more here.

Comparing LPC and SQE

If you are in the group of students who have already undertaken the Qualifying Law Degree, Common Professional Examination / Graduate Diploma in Law and/or the Legal Practice Course before 1 September 2021, then you can choose between the two routes until 2032. Every new graduate not yet on the traditional route now needs to take the SQE route.

Would employers prefer the LPC or the SQE?

Employers have had to transition to accepting candidates via the SQE. This is because this is now their only avenue and so it will bear the same weight as the LPC route. It is worth also remembering that the purpose of the SQE was to ensure uniformity and equal weight given to all routes into the profession, provided the candidate can pass the requisite assessment after whatever training they undertake.

Why take the new SQE rather than the old route?

  • The SQE offers greater flexibility, spreading the preparation course and exam fees over longer time periods.
  • Unlike the full-time LPC, earn whilst learning with BARBRI SQE Prep.
  • The SQE and the opportunity for qualifying work experience in place of a traditional training contract allows flexible entry into the profession.
  • Many smaller LPC providers will discontinue their course or migrate to SQE preparation, making it difficult to gain a place in an affordable or convenient LPC.
  • Innovation and investment will be directed towards the SQE as universities, law firms and employers begin focusing on the new qualification.
  • Most employers will expect their future trainees to have qualified under the SQE.

The SQE assessments at a glance

It’s not just a new name, it’s an entirely different way of testing, bringing with it the need for an entirely new way of preparing for the examination

Split in two stages

The first stage tests legal knowledge, and the second tests legal skills. BARBRI offers prep courses for both.

You must take both parts

Students must take both stages of the SQE, unless they qualify for an exemption based on a law degree from another jurisdiction or an LPC.

Exam formats are varied

Unlike the GDL/LPC exams, the SQE is comprised of a series of exams that include mixed subject questions and multiple-choice formats.

SQE1 Prep

Three different course options leading up to each SQE1 exam, all under one price
Online with full Learning Coach support

10, 20 or 40 week course options


SQE2 Prep

Two different course options. BARBRI SQE1 Prep alumni are entitled to a £500 discount
Diagnostic testing and flexible study

10 or 20 week course options


SQE1 Prep alumni price

SQE: Exam dates, locations and how to book

The Solicitors Qualifying Exam is centralised and run by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). If you want to sit the exam, you need to:

  1. Register on the SRA website. You can do this at any time. You'll verify your identity, confirm whether you have any exemptions or request reasonable adjustments. Click here to register with the SRA.
  2. Book your assessment date. You can find the SQE dates and locations here. And here you'll find booking opening and closing dates, plus the results dates.

The SQE1 assessment: Legal knowledge

SQE1 assessment fees:

Current fees: £1,798 (£899 for FLK1 and £899 for FLK2)
September 2043 onwards: £1,888 (£944 for FLK1 and £944 for FLK2)
All fees are VAT exempt.

You must book FLK1 and FLK2 separately but pay for them both in a single payment at time of booking. FLK1 and FLK2 must be taken in the same assessment window (unless an exemption applies).


Day one (FLK1) and day two (FLK2) of the SQE1 are assessed separately and each subject in the SQE2 is assessed separately, however, the pass mark will be determined based on the overall grading for the whole of SQE1 and SQE2 respectively.


Candidates must pass all of SQE within a six-year period and they have three attempts for each of the two stages.

If a candidate fails FLK1 and/or FLK2 of SQE1 three times during the six-year period, they must wait until that six-year period expires before re-applying. Previous passes will not be carried forward. For example, if a candidate sat SQE1 in November 2021, May 2022 and November 2022 and failed all three times, they would have to wait until November 2027 before they could start again.

For more on this, please see the SRA website here.

The SQE2 assessment: Application of knowledge in practical situations

SQE2 assessment fees:

Current fees: £2,766
September 2024 onwards: £2,902
All fees are VAT exempt.

You must book both the written and oral assessments together, and pay at the time of booking.


In SQE2, candidates are assessed 50% on skills and 50% on their functioning legal knowledge i.e. the material assessed in SQE1 (with the exception of interviewing which is purely assessed on skills). The pass mark is determined on a bell curve, in line with the overall performance of all candidates on the exam.


Candidates must pass all of SQE within a six-year period and they have three attempts for each of the two stages. If a candidate fails SQE2 three times during the six-year period, they must wait until that six-year period expires before re-applying. Previous passes will not be carried forward.

For more on this, please see the SRA website here.

Next steps


We know you might have a few questions. Read our BARBRI SQE Prep course FAQs here.

Contact us

Connect with us through a one-on-one phone appointment to answer your questions about our courses.

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