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Reddit Roundup: January 2024

Welcome to our first Reddit Roundup which aims to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding legal studies posed on the social media platform.

With the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) becoming the new centralised way to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales, it is no surprise that this month’s most popular queries are regarding the preparation for the SQE assessments.

By Cara Fielder. Published 30 January 2024.

It is anticipated that the majority of law students wanting to train as a solicitor will transition over to the SQE pathway by September 2024. It will replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route and it’s important to understand how to prepare for this new avenue to becoming a solicitor.

Here is a selection of the most frequently asked questions on Reddit that we’ll tackle this month:

  1. How do I properly pace myself if I choose to self-study?
  2. Is there flexibility in scheduling the SQE exams?
  3. How do I handle self-doubt and setbacks?
  4. Should I mention my SQE preparation at my Paralegal interview?
  5. Is it possible to be part of a large firm with a solicitor apprentice qualification?

1. How do I properly pace myself if I choose to self-study?

Self-studying can be challenging, with lots to consider. But fear not, we’ve pulled together some useful tips for you:

First things first, familiarise yourself with the exam’s content. It guarantees you're adequately preparing for every topic included and focusing on the things that matter.

The exam structure for each SQE is as follows:

  • SQE1: The exam will assess your functioning legal knowledge. It will consist of specialised multiple-choice questions, otherwise known as SBAQs (Single Best Answer Questions). In these questions, there may be more than one correct answer, however, one answer may also be more suitable than others. Carefully consider the question’s context to identify how to respond. It comprises two lengthy papers, each with 180 questions. It will cover all aspects of the SQE1 syllabus.

    Questions include realistic scenarios, in which you will have to apply your knowledge of law. Subjects include those you have studied on a law degree or a conversion course, as well as the vocational practice areas in stage 1 of the previous LPC route.

  • SQE2: The exam is a set of skills assessments. It will access your practical legal skills, which are essential for practice. Subjects include interviewing, advocacy, legal writing, legal drafting, legal research and case matter analysis.

To ensure you’re pacing yourself, it’s worth making a list of the topics you need to learn and acknowledge the subjects you need to prioritise.

For instance, a particular subject may be more challenging than others and may require additional attention. Remember, everyone is different so a topic you may find easy may be difficult for others. It’s important to schedule your time based on your own understanding.

How you choose to prioritise subjects can also be determined by their significance in the exam. For instance, the Black Letter Laws are essential for both the SQE1 and SQE2 assessments. These are well-established legal rules and case law which are no longer subject to reasonable dispute. It comprises the fundamental legal principles of the law in England and Wales. It’s important to understand this subject in preparation for both exams. The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) website breaks down the assessment topics for both SQE1 and SQE2.

In addition, it is also important to regularly assess your knowledge to ensure you are monitoring your progress. If you are studying with us, we have a number of resources to support you, including our SQE Revision app, dedicated to helping you get through the SQE1 exams. 88.8% of our 1000+ students who used the app, and who were deemed as ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to pass, went on to do so*.

This app contains structured tests, which include a broad range of ‘single best answer questions’ (SBAQs), all based on the SQE1 syllabus.

On top of this, our students also receive detailed and accurate feedback regarding their performance, giving them an understanding of their strengths and areas in need of improvement.

A top feature is the predictive exam pass analytics, which monitors progress, giving students and their lecturers invaluable insight on how things are going.

Students who are completing their SQE1 with us have full access to this app. Once enrolled onto an SQE programme, an account will automatically be allocated. Non-ULaw students also get limited access to a subset of questions and materials. You can learn more about the app through our informative SQE Revision App user guide.

2. Is there flexibility in scheduling the SQE exams?

Juggling personal and study life can be difficult. Every individual has a unique lifestyle. With one possibly having plenty of free time for their learning, and another having to fit in a full or part-time job.

The good news is that SQE exam schedules do offer some flexibility: You can take the assessments (SQE1 and SQE2) up to three times over a six-year period. This period starts on the first day of your SQE1 assessment. It is important to note that you must have passed SQE1 in order to proceed to book and sit SQE2- unless you have been exempted by SRA for the whole of the SQE1.

The upcoming 2024 assessment dates are as follows:

SQE1:

  • July 2024

SQE2:

  • April 2024
  • July 2024
  • October 2024

The full details regarding the SQE assessment dates can be found on the SRA website, with additional information such as the booking opening and closing dates, first day of the assessment window, examinable law and practice cut-off dates, and results dates. There are exam fees that will need to be directly paid to the SRA too, and if you have to resit any exams, you’ll have fees for that.

You can schedule your assessments at a time that’s most suitable for you. For example, it is possible to take the SEQ1 in July 2024, and once passed, you can decide to take the SQE2 exams in October 2024. Ensure you book the date you know you are most likely to pass, as you can only take the assessments three times over a six-year period, and bear in mind the opening and closing times for bookings. You book your assessments directly via the SRA webpage.

3. How do I handle self-doubt and setbacks?

It is perfectly natural to feel nervous, or maybe even feel disheartened. For example, you may have not done as well as you expected in your mock exams. This is all a process. It takes time to learn. Everyone has their own pace and understanding, so don’t perceive yourself as falling behind, instead recognise that you are paving your own path of progress.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support, whether that be from like-minded students or skilled professionals. We have numerous resources available to help our students studying on campus or online:

  • Academic Coach: Having a chat can make all the difference. Your Academic Coach is there to support you throughout your academic experience. They are there to listen and guide you. This includes helping you manage your workload, sharing resources to guide you or directing you to the relevant support services e.g. our Wellbeing team.
  • Welfare Advisors: You can book one-to-one sessions with our knowledgeable and friendly support team. They handle confidentially with care and can advise on the best resources at your disposal.
  • Apps: There are numerous support apps available, so you can gather the help you need conveniently. This includes...
  • ULaw Wellbeing app - As the name implies, this free app provides advice on maintaining wellbeing, as well as a variety of mindfulness techniques. It can also redirect you to our support services.
  • Togetherall - In this online community, you can anonymously speak to individuals who can truly understand your experiences, and you can also, in turn, help others.
  • Student Space - this app supports mental health and revision needs. With the help of volunteers, you can obtain instant support, whether that be through an online chat or text. Students can also talk to one another to obtain useful personal wellness tips through instant messaging.
  • UniBuddy: We want to ensure your voice is heard. This online platform is available for prospective and current students. Here you can converse with one of our student ambassadors and voice any queries or concerns.
  • LifeWorks: Students attending an online campus benefit from free access to mental health professionals online. As well as counselling, there is a range of resources and assessments crafted to help you better understand yourself and recognise the assistance that may be beneficial for you. This platform also provides iCBT, a cognitive behavioural therapy, targeted to ease negative thinking patterns and shape a positive, healthy outlook.

4. Should I mention my SQE preparation at my Paralegal Interview?

It is not mandatory to refer to your SQE exam preparation. Nonetheless, doing so does introduce a range of benefits.

This includes the ability to better dedicate time to your study. For example, during your first three months of employment, you may need time off for your study and exams. By indicating your current situation during the interview, you can give the necessary dates in advance and secure them as annual leave. It is important to note that the employer may ask you for any upcoming annual leave dates before beginning employment. Some firms may even not provide annual leave during the training period, so it’s best to clarify what they offer.

If you are studying for your SQE, you are most likely applying to become a paralegal as part of your Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). However, not all paralegal work will cover the competencies required. In this case, it is better to be transparent to ensure that the work classes as QWE, and that they are able to sign it off.

During an interview, avoid answering questions as though you are a trainee solicitor. Some firms need paralegals to keep the business ticking over, so ensure you do not refer to the role as a mere stepping stone. Instead, focus on why you want the paralegal job. You want to show passion and commitment in the role and an interest in building a career in the company.

5. Is it possible to be part of a large firm with a solicitor apprentice qualification?

The potential to join a larger firm (Magic or Silver Circle) ultimately hinges on your level of experience. At NQ (Newly Qualified) level, you will have various responsibilities. For example, you’ll be immediately shouldering a heavier workload, demonstrating confidence in your practiced legal area, and utilising your refined soft skills and networking abilities. As well as this, you may have line management duties and act as a brand ambassador. In a larger firm, the employer will be looking for a candidate with these qualities.

It is important to develop and showcase your ability to fulfil these needs. This may mean requesting additional responsibilities in your current role or engaging in other opportunities such as attending Networking events with Junior Lawyer Divisions, Law Society, etc.

In addition, it is feasible to move from a small firm to a larger firm, but it is a complicated process. Sometimes not obtaining the role will come down to not having the experience with the same type of clients or size deals, or the role being a faster pace.

Overall, our advice is to plan ahead. The first step is to observe the skills you are missing and the next step is to start developing them.

 

*Based on July 2022 and January 2023 SQE1 assessments and self-reported student data.

 

Have more queries? We have a diverse range of resources to aid you for the SQE.