Learn more about the SQE exam format, content, and style
Your journey to becoming a solicitor begins with a thorough understanding of the SQE exams. This page will explain the SQE exam format, content, and style, equipping you with the essential knowledge required to pass successfully on your first attempt.
There are two assessments within the SQE. Each exam tests for specific legal knowledge and skills. You can’t take any materials into your SQE exams.
SQE1 is made up of two exams which are designed to test your functioning legal knowledge (FLK) and the application of substantive and procedural law.
Both exams are computer-based and multiple-choice format, with 180 questions to answer in each. You’ll face several realistic scenarios where you’ll need to choose the best response out of five possible answers.
The first assessment (FLK1) covers:
The second assessment (FLK2) covers:
Ethics and professional conduct issues are examined pervasively across the two SQE1 exams.
You need to take both parts of SQE1 at the same time, over the course of two days. The exams are offered in the UK and in various other locations around the world.
Each SQE1 FLK lasts 5 hours and 6 minutes, totalling 10 hours and 12 minutes of exam time.
If you don’t pass one of the FLKs, you can then retake that individual exam at a later sitting.
The pass mark for the SQE1 exam is determined based on scaled scoring to ensure fair and accurate comparisons between test-takers who sit different papers within an assessment window, accommodating variations in paper difficulty.
You’ll answer 180 questions on each FLK, with the number of correct answers constituting your ‘raw’ score. This raw score is then converted to a scaled score out of 500 to allow for direct comparison of relative performance, with a consistent pass mark set at 300.
The SQE2 exam tests your ability to complete practical legal skills tasks across a number of practice areas. You’ll also be tested on ethical principles throughout. There are 16 assessments in total, known as ‘stations’, which include simulations of solicitor/client interactions, file reviews and court-based scenarios.
As an example, an assessment might evaluate your ability to interview a confused, forgetful, emotional, or unreliable client. It may also test how well you establish credibility with the client.
There are two parts within the SQE2 exam. Each part assesses different types of skills.
SQE2 oral exams will take place over two half days. The following table shows the assessments you will undertake on each of the days.
|Day 1||Day 2|
|Advocacy (dispute resolution)||Advocacy (criminal litigation)|
|Interview and attendance note/legal analysis (property practice)||Interview and attendance note/legal analysis (Wills and intestacy, probate administration and practice)|
Different candidates may complete the assessments in different orders. You may therefore begin with either the interview or the advocacy assessments.
SQE2 written exams take place over three half days. You’ll sit 12 assessments in total:
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Case and matter analysis||Case and matter analysis||Case and matter analysis|
|Legal drafting||Legal drafting||Legal drafting|
|Legal research||Legal research||Legal research|
|Legal writing||Legal writing||Legal writing|
|Two of these exercises will be in the context of dispute resolution and two will be in the context of criminal litigation||Two of these exercises will be in the context of property practice and two will be in the context of wills and intestacy, probate administration and practice||Candidates will sit all assessments in the context of business organisations, rules and procedures|
Different candidates may complete the SQE2 assessments in different orders.
Throughout SQE2, you’ll be marked on both your skills and the application of the law, with each element weighted equally. You’ll be assessed on whether, overall, you meet the standards of a newly qualified English solicitor.
You’ll be able to access your results for SQE1 within 5-6 weeks of your assessment date. For SQE2 results, it’s 14-18 weeks. The results will be made available on your personal SQE account with the SRA.
The cost to sit SQE1 is £1,798 while sitting SQE2 will cost £2,766.
SQE exam fees are payable to Kaplan at the time you book your seat. They do not include retakes of the assessment or cover the cost of preparatory courses.
You must pass both the SQE1 and SQE2 exams within six years from the date of your first attempt at the SQE1 exam.
You have three attempts each to pass SQE1 and SQE2 in that six-year period. If you don’t pass, you can resit some or all of your assessments (as needed).
The first time you sit SQE1, you must take both parts (FLK1 and FLK2) at the same time. If you don’t pass one of the FLKs, you can then retake the individual FLK you have failed.
You need to pass the entirety of SQE1 before you move on to SQE2.
Preparation is key to making sure you pass your SQE exams on your first attempt. Your preparation time will depend on your level of knowledge, background, and the amount of time you can spend studying. However, we’d suggest spending at least nine to twelve months preparing for both parts of the SQE.
You may not have an idea where to start at first glance as the content covered in the SQE assessments can be overwhelming, but that’s all right; we’re here to help you prepare and navigate the SQE exams.
With more than a decade of experience helping new solicitors qualify through the QLTS exams, which have been the model for the SQE, we’ve got a range of courses to help make your prep a breeze.