The way you prepare for taking the SQE1 exam series is likely to depend on whether you’ve already covered the legal subjects at degree level, or coming into the legal training route from a non-law academic background.
The SQE will be made up of two assessments of 180 questions each, which will cover the Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) that solicitors starting out will be expected to have. This mirrors the core law subjects that you will have studied if you’ve done a Qualifying Law Degree at undergraduate. As you’ll have already covered the bases of the SQE1 content, your preparation won’t need to be as all-encompassing and thorough as other candidates.
Take a preparation course
Unlike the previous arrangements with the GDL and LPC, the SQE will only consist of two exam series, rather than a course in itself. This means that various training courses will be provided by a host of universities and institutions, each providing their own format. Although these won’t be obligatory in order to take the exam, it’s recommended that you take one before jumping into the demanding SQE1 exams, especially as you’ll have three chances at passing it.
For instance, The University of Law will have developed courses covering the breadth of the SQE specifications and content, whether you need to get up to speed with the required legal knowledge or get some exam practice. You should also bear in mind that if you’re applying for a training contract or already have one secured, it might be the case that your law firm already has an agreement in place with a provider to prepare their trainees for the exam.
Reading as much as you can
Since the SQE1 is a new exam, initially you won’t have any past papers with which you can practice, as would have been the case with previous assessments. However, since the material will be based on Functioning Legal Knowledge, you can turn to the wide range of textbooks which cover the core subjects of law - these are contract, tort, land, criminal, equity and trusts, EU and constitutional and administrative law.
Find the right arrangement
The Solicitors Regulation Authority will introduce the SQE system from autumn 2021, in the hope that this route towards qualifying will offer prospective solicitors more flexibility. If you’re graduating at the end of the 2020/21 academic year, for example, you can either take the SQE1 exam in November 2021 or in May 2022 - although bear in mind that you’ll need to be signed up at least two months beforehand.
Alternatively, your SQE exams could be integrated into a solicitor apprenticeship, which would see you study for the assessment alongside your placement. As a result, you should consider your options when it comes to your route through the SQE, to find which arrangement works best for you and your career planning.