The new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) will be phased in from the autumn of 2021 and reconfigure the way graduates qualify as solicitors, with all applicants taking two sets of exams - the SQE1 and SQE2. The Solicitors Regulation Authority will only allow three attempts at passing all of the SQE1 exams.
Is there a time limit for resits?
You’ll have a total of six years to retake them, from your first attempt - the reasoning behind this time period is that it allows for those studying towards the exams part-time enough space to complete all of the components of SQE1 and 2.
The justification that was given for this decision was to uphold the effectiveness of the exams, and to deter candidates from using their first exams as ‘trial’ runs.
Do I need to pass SQE1 before I take the SQE2 exam?
Successfully passing SQE1 is a requirement for then moving on to the SQE2 assessments, so you’ll need to resit before moving on to the next stage if you haven’t achieved a passing grade.
The SRA have announced that there would be two sittings of each exam for every academic year, so you’ll be able to resit SQE1 within six months - for the first year the SQE is introduced, the sessions will take place in November 2021 and May 2022, and you’ll need to book entry at least two months before.
You should also bear in mind that if you’ve already passed the LPC, you won’t need to take the SQE exam for the duration of the transition period that’s been established by the SRA - this means you will have until 2032 to complete the training contract period and qualify through the LPC method.
Preparing for SQE1
However, many law firms that offer training contracts will integrate a preparatory course for the SQE exams into their placements in the coming years so as to equip their trainees with the necessary skills before embarking on their contract. Alternatively, you could do a preparatory course with a leading legal course provider like the University of Law.