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How do I choose an SQE preparation course?

The SQE assessments are notoriously difficult to pass and, as you can have a maximum of three attempts to pass the assessments within a six-year period, you need to ensure that you are extremely well prepared. There are a variety of courses coming to the market to help with this, ranging from full-time diploma and master’s courses to shorter SQE assessment preparation courses. Some are aimed specifically at those who have already completed UK law degrees or a law conversion course, while others are designed for those who have never previously studied law or law in the UK.

What should I look for in an SQE course?

When you're deciding which type of course to undertake, think about the style of learning that suits you best. Do you prefer to learn through self-study or through online/distance study, perhaps alongside a job? Or are you more comfortable with structured, face to face on-campus learning and support?

Consider whether you want an academic qualification such as a post-graduate diploma or master's, or do you just need something to help you pass the assessments themselves?

Have an eye on your future career and what employers might be looking for. For example, if you don't have a law degree, a course which provides you with both a strong foundation in law as well as an academic qualification will be important not only in providing you with greater confidence but also future employers who might be considering you alongside law graduates. Ensuring you have strong academic qualifications in law will also help if you are interested in gaining a legal qualification in other jurisdictions in the future.

If you already have a law degree, but it is not a UK qualifying law degree (which covers the key foundations in law), look at what you have studied and where you will need to top up. You can choose a course that suits you, taking into account the studies you have already undertaken as well as the areas of interest you might have. 

For those already qualified as lawyers in other jurisdictions, you may have studied and practised in law sufficiently, or may even have previously studied law in the UK, in which case an SQE preparation course geared specifically to the SQE assessments may be more suitable for you.  It is worth familiarising yourself with what the two assessments will be testing you on and choose a course which best fits in with the studies you have already undertaken.

If you have previously done a GDL or QLD, or even an LPC, and have decided that you wish to complete your qualification through the SQE route, you could consider doing a short SQE preparation course to help you pass the assessments or, if you want to build on your academic credentials, choose a masters course which includes preparation for the SQE assessments.

When does the course finish and how quickly afterwards could you take the SQE assessments? If there is a long gap between the end of the course and the date of the assessment, you will need to factor in the need for further revision closer to the time.

Course fees differ hugely depending on the type of course and where you choose to study. Some courses - those that come with a Master's level qualification - will be eligible for student funding, whereas others won't be. It's important to make sure you are clear about what the course includes and whether you will need to cover the cost of any additional course materials. Bear in mind also that the SQE assessments themselves are completely separate from the course and will need to be booked and paid independently by you. 

And finally, depending on your existing legal experience, you could consider whether you want a course that:

  • offers employability support and employability skills development
  • provides access to legal work experience opportunities that could be 'banked' as QWE
  • offers additional workshops/tutorials to develop broader career-long skills in e.g. leadership, conflict management, commerciality
  • provides coursebooks/guides to support off-course revision and self-study of SQE1 & SQE2 subject areas and related SBA questions.

The SRA website contains further guidance for applicants on what to consider when choosing an SQE course.

Preparing for SQE 1

If you are applying for a course, it is really important to check the course contents to ensure it is suitable for you based on your education background and will cover what you need to pass the assessments.

SQE 1 tests you on functioning legal knowledge (FLK) and so if you are looking for a course to help prepare you for this, have an eye on the topics that are covered in the assessment: 

Business Law and Practice
Dispute Resolution
Legal System of England and Wales
Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services

Property Practice
Wills and the Administration of Estates
Solicitors Accounts
Land Law
Criminal Law and Practice

Ethics and Professional Conduct are examined in unflagged questions throughout both FLK1 and FLK2.

You will find SQE 1 Functioning Legal Knowledge sample questions available to view on the SRA website.

All aspects of the SQE1 assessment are compulsory. You will be assessed by single best answer multiple choice questions over a two-day period and so its important to make sure that your course enables you to regularly and repeatedly develop and test on Single Best Answer (SBA) questions in exam conditions. To pass, you must achieve the overall pass mark for both FLK1 and FLK2; you cannot pass SQE1 if you fail either FLK1 or FLK2.

For further information, the SQE 1 Assessment specification is available on the SRA website.

Preparing for SQE 2

For SQE2 preparation, consider a course with content that develops core legal skills (oral and written), allowing you to practise those skills and receive constructive feedback. 

During the SQE 2, you will be assessed on the following six skills:

Client interview and attendance note/legal analysis
Case and matter analysis
Legal research
Legal writing
Legal drafting

The practice areas in which these legal skills are assessed are:

Criminal Litigation (including advising clients at the police station)
Dispute Resolution
Property Practice
Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice
Business organisations rules and procedures (including money laundering and financial services).

Sample questions for SQE 2 are available on the SRA website.

All aspects of the SQE2 assessment are compulsory. The assessment is taken over five days and involves a combination of written and oral based tasks. Like SQE 1, ethics and professional conduct are assessed throughout.

Further information about the SQE is available in the SQE 2 Assessment Specification on the SRA website.

Register for the SQE assessments

Don't forget that anyone wanting to take the SQE assessments needs to register to create an SQE account with the SRA. Once you have successfully registered, you will receive notification of assessments dates, including when bookings open, and will then be able to book your own assessment date as soon as you are ready. Further information about timings of the assessments can be found on the SRA SQE site

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How do I find an SQE preparation course?

Use the LawCAB course finder to search for SQE courses using filters such as education background, location, start date and study mode to identify courses that will meet your needs.

When you are ready to make your application, sign up for an account or login to your account on LawCAB to create your online SQE and/or GDL application form.