What is the SQE?

Your guide to understanding the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam

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

The SQE 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

Starting at


SQE1 Prep alumni price

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

The main aim of the SQE is to ensure that all candidates meet the same single, high standard for admission into the profession.

The SQE 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.

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, please check the SRA website 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.

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.

Download our SQE Prospectuses

Download the SQE Prep Prospectus

Read our SQE Prep Prospectus to discover key information about the Solicitors Qualifying Exam and BARBRI.

Download the Qualified Overseas Lawyer Prospectus

Learn more about the route to SQE qualification, how SQE exemptions work and more. 

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Test out our online course

Sign up for free to check out the BARBRI SQE Prep course. Powered by the Intuitive Study Assistant and Coach (ISAAC), it calibrates to your time and progress to ensure you maximise your study time and prepare with confidence for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

SQE Sample Course Materials

SQE1 Sample Course Materials

Thinking about enrolling in the BARBRI SQE Prep course? Sample some of the materials and resources you’ll receive to prepare for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam. 

SQE2 Sample Course Materials

Thinking about enroling in the BARBRI SQE2 Prep course? Download sample course materials and receive a step-by-step guide to your study process on the SQE2 Prep.

“BARBRI gives you all of the tools you need for success […] The thorough materials provide you with ample study guides and realistic practice materials. The daily study plan assures you that you are staying on track with your studying. This combination of well-developed tools allows you to feel as confident as you possibly can.”

Kristin Noonan

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