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

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.

The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is an independent centralised assessment, introduced in September 2021, which every aspiring solicitor in England and Wales is required to undergo. It will eventually replace all current routes to solicitor qualification.

The SQE is comprised of a series of exams that, unlike the GDL/LPC exams, include mixed subject questions (contract with civil litigation, for example) and multiple-choice formats. Furthermore, the SQE means that a classic undergraduate law degree, or non-law degree, will provide insufficient test preparation on their own.

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

The new path to qualification

Under the new SQE route, to become a solicitor, you are required to undergo the following steps:

Undergraduate degree or equivalent

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

Duration: 2-4 academic years
Cost: Varies

SQE1 exam

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 exam

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.

Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)

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.

Have a Degree or Equivalent

Pass the SQE

Complete a Minimum Period of Qualifying Legal Work Experience

Satisfy the SRA's Character and Suitability Requirements

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.

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.

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.
  • From 2022, 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.

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