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What the SQE assessment will cover

2 August 2019

This outline reflects the position set out in the SRA's latest draft Assessment Specification. The assessment design will be reviewed, tested and piloted. The assessment design may change as it goes through the testing process.

SQE 1

SQE1 will include what the SRA is terming the “Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments”. These are currently designed to be two online multiple-choice assessments of 180 questions, each sat over multiple days.

These will assess application of fundamental legal principles to common situations likely to be encountered by solicitors. 

In addition, the SRA is considering including a "Practical Legal Skills assessment” within SQE1, which will be an online written assessment covering both legal research and writing.

The multiple-choice assessments will cover:

  • company and commercial law, dispute resolution, contract and tort
  • property law and practice, wills and the administration of estates, equity and trusts, solicitors accounts
  • criminal law and practice, public and administrative law, EU law and the legal systems of England and Wales

The written assessment will cover:

  • legal research
  • writing skills

SQE 1 has recently been piloted for the first time with 316 candidates sitting the assessment.

On 31 July 2019 the SRA published:

The SRA analysis highlighted a lower pass mark than expected for the SQE1 pilot, with the average mark for the functioning legal knowledge test to be 50%.

Furthermore, importantly the pilot highlighted flaws within the SQE1 skills assessment. This is therefore being taken into consideration, with the SRA taking time to reflect and discuss further with stakeholders.

The SRA plans to publish a final version of the SQE1 Assessment Specification later in the year. They will also be publishing some sample FLK questions in 2019.

SQE 2

For SQE2 the Practical Legal Skills assessments (which could consist of mock interviews) will assess:

  • client interviewing
  • advocacy and/or persuasive oral communication
  • case and matter analysis - including negotiation planning
  • legal research and written advice
  • legal drafting

The current proposals are that these will be assessed in two of the following contexts at the candidate’s choice:

  • criminal practice
  • dispute resolution
  • property
  • wills and the administration of estates
  • business practice

SQE2 is due to be piloted in December 2019 with the results to follow in early 2020.

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