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sqe The SQE Explained

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is being phased in to become the new centralised way to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It will eventually replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to practice.

94% of postgraduate students in employment were in Highly Skilled Occupations 15 months after graduating (2018/19 Graduate Outcomes data). Contains HESA Data © HESA 2021 (hesa.ac.uk).

With a range of SQE courses, locations and flexible study options, we will prepare you for your career as a solicitor, as well as SQE exam success.

Receive four weeks of guaranteed Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) within our Legal Advice Centre and put theory into practice working on real-life cases.

Your route to become a solicitor

We've developed a range of courses that will prepare you for a career as a solicitor, as part of the new SQE qualification route, as well as SQE success.

Alternatively, you can still continue with the LPC route if you completed, started, accepted an offer, or paid a non-refundable deposit for one of the following by 31 August 2021:

• a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) / the Common Professional Examination
• our MA Law
• the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
• a period of recognised training (also known as a training contract)

For a qualifying law degree (QLD) and exempting law degree (ELD), such as our LLB, you must have completed, started, accepted an offer or paid a non-refundable deposit by 21 September 2021.

In most cases, for the QLD, ELD and CPE, the relevant course must have started at the latest on or before 31 December 2021.

If you have already started a qualifying law degree, GDL or training contract there are transition arrangements in place until 31 December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor under the current routes, as long as courses still remain available.


Two colleagues laughing

supportCareers & Employability

Our employability support will help you to achieve your career and work experience goals. You’ll receive four weeks guaranteed Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) within our Legal Advice Clinics for students studying our LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) and MA Law (SQE1). You’ll also receive access to Pro Bono opportunities, as well as mentoring and leadership training. Our Employability Team will advise you, help with job applications and placements, and prepare you for interviews.

Event: SQE Explained - 20 July 2022

Should I do the LPC or SQE?

Want to become a solicitor but unsure whether the SQE or LPC route is the right one for you?

Join our virtual event on Wednesday July 20th from 17:00 to 18:30 and chat with our tutors and students to discover more.

SQE Quiz

sqeFind your route through the SQE

You may be uncertain about which route or course is best for you. We’ve put together a useful tool to help you understand the different options available at The University of Law and make the best choice for you. If you’d like more advice, or to talk about your individual circumstances, please email us at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand you may be uncertain about how the SQE could affect you. Don’t worry, we’re here to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future.

The SQE is the centralised assessment for anyone who wants to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It is part of a new, four-stage route to becoming a solicitor:

  • A degree (or equivalent) in any subject
  • Pass SQE1 and SQE2 assessments*
  • A minimum of two years Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)
  • Show you are of satisfactory character and suitability

*Some exemptions apply. Please visit the SRA website for further information on the SQE assessment exemptions.

The SQE has been divided into two parts – SQE1 and SQE2.

In SQE1 you will be tested on ‘functioning legal knowledge’ which tests your application of law based on realistic client-based scenarios in multiple choice questions. The assessments will cover subjects you will 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. There will be two lengthy multiple choice papers of 180 questions each, covering all aspects of the SQE1 syllabus. You must pass SQE1 before being eligible to sit the SQE2 assessments.

In SQE2 you will be tested on the practical legal skills required for practice, including:

  • Interviewing (with written attendance note/legal analysis)
  • Advocacy
  • Legal research
  • Legal drafting
  • Legal writing
  • Case and matter analysis

SQE1 and SQE2 will be assessed by centralised assessments introduced by the SRA, not by the University of Law. These assessment are an essential requirement to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. Whereas the GDL and LPC are courses with their own individual assessments.

There is no central SQE course, but there are important topics that you’ll need to study. We offer a range of SQE courses to prepare you for the SQE assessments, as well as your future career as a solicitor.

Under the new route you will need to complete a minimum of two years’ QWE before you can qualify as a solicitor.

QWE is similar to a training contract and can be completed at any point during the qualification process (although it is anticipated that most students will complete this after SQE1).

QWE may be completed with up to four different legal employers. The type of work which qualifies as QWE includes placements while studying for your degree, time spent as a paralegal or working in a law clinic, as well as working for a two year period with a single law firm.

All QWE is signed off by the legal employer, who must be a solicitor, and is usually also the compliance officer.

If you have already completed part of the required QWE, such as through a Pro Bono placement, it will be up to individual law firms to decide how they accept your previous work experience. On obtaining QWE at a law firm, you might be required to complete the entire two year period of QWE with them, if that is what they require for practice at that firm.

To help you progress your legal training and prepare you for your career as a solicitor, we’re offering four weeks guaranteed QWE within our Legal Advice Centre to our LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) and MA Law (SQE1) students. Find out more.

No, if you do the SQE, you will not be required to complete a training contract. In order to qualify with the SQE route you will need to complete two years of QWE instead.

In addition to tuition fees, students will pay exam fees directly to the SRA. The total cost for taking both SQE assessments is currently £3,980 increasing to £4,115 from October 2022 (correct as of May 2022).

  • SQE1: £1,558 (increasing to £1,622 from January 2023) for the two examinations, consisting of 180 questions each, testing functioning legal knowledge.
  • SQE2: £2,422 (increasing to £2,493 from October 2022) for the written and oral tasks, testing both practical legal knowledge and skills, including advocacy, client interviewing (with written attendance note/legal analysis), legal research, legal writing, legal drafting, and case and matter analysis.

You will sit your SQE assessments at Pearson VUE test centres in the UK and internationally. For details on how to book, pay and receive your results for your SQE assessments, as well as request any reasonable adjustments, please visit the SRA website on https://sqe.sra.org.uk.

The SRA has not confirmed a cost to re-sit the SQE. It is likely that the re-sit will cost the same as a first attempt.

Yes. If you have chosen to study the LPC during the transitional period, you will be able to sit the SQE exams in the future if you wish. Although this is unlikely to be necessary if you pass the LPC as you can continue to qualify under the current route.  

If you have chosen to study the GDL or MA Law, you will be able to select either route on completion of your programme. 

If you’re already studying or training you can continue to qualify through the existing routes. For example:

I’ve started a qualifying law degree.

  • LPC route: if you’re currently studying an LLB or other qualifying law degree, you’ll be able to continue on to the LPC, whether or not you have a training contract. Our LPC will run until at least 2026.
  • SQE route: you also have the choice of our LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2), or you could do our SQE preparation courses.

I’m studying a GDL or MA Law.

  • LPC route: if you started a GDL or MA Law conversion course before September 2021, you can continue to the LPC, which will run until at least 2026.
  • SQE route: you also have the choice of our LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2), or you could do our SQE preparation courses.

I’m interested in studying a non-law degree and I’ll graduate in 2022 or later.

  • You’ll qualify on the SQE route. We recommend that you apply for one of our new law conversion courses – Postgraduate Diploma in Law, MA Law (SQE1) or MA Law (Conversion) – and then the new LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2), or you could do our SQE preparation courses.

Preparing for the SQE takes approximately nine to twelve months to be ready. The first stage of the SQE 1 exam entails studying for around five to six months for about 15-20 hours per week. For the second stage - SQE 2 exam, you will need to study for about 15-20 hours per week for about three to eight months.

If you have any other questions about SQE you can email us at [email protected] or find out more at one of our events.

Student on laptop

Webinar: SQE or LPC

In this webinar you’ll find out about the different routes available to qualify as a solicitor and how to decide which route is best for you and your career.

This is the transcript of the webinar that was recorded in October 2020.

Watch webinar

Make an Enquiry

Our SQE Courses

Whether you’re a law or non-law graduate, want to study full-time, part-time, on campus or online, we have the right course for you. We offer a wide range of SQE courses from Master’s with SQE1 and SQE2 included, to short revision courses to help you get ready for your SQE exams.

Find out more

Our SQE Careers & Employability Support

Our Employability Service will help you to achieve your career and work experience goals. From support with job applications and preparation for interviews, to four weeks guaranteed qualifying work experience (QWE) opportunities and mentoring, we’ll ensure you’re fully prepared for your future career as a solicitor.

Find out more