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SQE assessments: what to expect
What do the assessments cover?
The SQE1 assessment specification sets out the overview of the SQE1 assessments and what they cover.
The SQE1 consists of two functioning legal knowledge (FLK) assessments, of 180 multiple-choice questions.
Candidates must apply their knowledge of the law, the fundamental legal principles and rules, to demonstrate the competences required to the level of a newly qualified solicitor of England and Wales.
Questions may draw on any combination of the subject areas below which a solicitor might encounter in practice.
The two multiple-choice assessments cover:
- business law and practice; dispute resolution; contract; tort; 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; trusts; criminal law and practice
Ethics and professional conduct will be examined pervasively across the two assessments.
Candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to act honestly and with integrity, and in accordance with the SRA standards and regulations regarding the purpose, scope and content of the SRA principles and the code of conduct.
Principles of taxation will be examined only in the context of business law and practice, property law and practice and wills and the administration of estates.
The SQE2 assessment specification sets out the overview and detail of the requirements for the SQE2 assessment.
The SQE2 assessment is divided into two parts, although there is one pass mark for the assessment as a whole:
- SQE2 oral – four oral legal skills assessments which will take place over two half days, covering:
- interview and attendance note/legal analysis
- SQE2 written – 12 written legal skills assessments which will take place over three half days, covering:
- case and matter analysis
- legal research
- legal writing
- legal drafting
The interviewing exercises ('stations') will be marked by the assessor playing the role of the client and will be marked on skills only.
All other stations will be marked by a solicitor who will assess candidates on both skills and application of law.
Candidates must demonstrate that they can apply fundamental legal principles in the skills-based situations in a way that addresses the client’s needs and concerns, thus demonstrating that they meet the standard of competency of a day one solicitor.
This does not include detail that a day-one solicitor would be expected to look up, unless it has been provided as part of the assessment materials.
How are the assessments being run?
The SRA has appointed Kaplan as the sole assessment provider for the SQE. Kaplan is only offering the assessments and will not be able to offer training for the assessments.
Kaplan has partnered with Pearson VUE test centres, to provide assessment centres for written and computer-based assessments. There are also be a smaller number of centres for oral skills assessments.
There's a network of assessment centres in England and Wales, as well as internationally, for both SQE1 and the written assessments of SQE2.
Initially, the oral assessments for SQE2 will be available in England and Wales in a more limited capacity, but this will be reviewed periodically.
There are two sittings of each exam (SQE1 or SQE2) per year, one in the autumn and one in the spring.
The number of sittings is expected to increase as demand increases.
The SRA has provided further details of the planned dates for assessments in 2021/ 22.
Order of assessments
A candidate must pass SQE1 in its entirety before they can take SQE2.
Results will be sent to candidates, and data will be given to organisations so they can put individual results into context.
The SRA has indicated that SQE1 results will be published six weeks after the assessment is completed, and SQE2 results are expected 14 weeks after the assessment is completed.
Resits will be available. Candidates will be allowed three attempts at an assessment within a six-year period.
If a candidate cannot pass both stages of assessment within this period, they will lose any progress made and must begin again.
SQE policies – this SRA page shares information about how the SQE operates, including key policies and procedures as well as practical information about assessment logistics