Studying for the SQE: Better Solo or in a Group?
Every single person is unique, and how a person studies is no exception. Whether you prefer to find a quiet, secluded space or prefer to prepare with your study group, the stress of preparing for an important exam, like the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), can sometimes be overwhelming.
As you begin to prepare for the SQE assessments, you are probably trying to figure out your study plan. Creating lists, setting goals, improving your reading speed, and working through complex topics with peers or tutors are all steps you can take to help achieve exam success. One question that may arise is if it is better to study in a group or on your own.
Scientific evidence does not indicate which approach is best, however there are some pros and cons to each study option that we have outlined here for you to consider.
Group study could take place either in a physical location or remotely on Zoom (or other similar app0. One of the biggest advantages to studying for the SQE in a group is accountability and increased motivation.
For example, if your group has decided to split up and break down large chunks of reading material and information, with the intention of summarising the content for the members of the group, you are being held accountable to read a certain number of pages by a specific date and time, or run the risk of letting your peers down.
This study method creates a higher level of engagement with the study process and motivates you to do your part and do it well. Having other people around you can also prevent distractions and help you maintain focus, thus maximising your study time and preventing procrastination.
Another benefit of group study is increased rétention. By having the opportunity to vocalise and discuss your thoughts and ideas about the SQE with others out loud about the material you are studying, you are more likely to remember the information better. Collaborating with your peers can also bring new insight and perspectives.
If you are having a hard time with a specific topic or concept, someone in your group might be able to discuss or present it in a new way that you can grasp it better and finally ‘get it’.
Studying with a group also greatly expands your access to information. Combining your knowledge with the knowledge of others in your study group can be invaluable when it comes to sitting the SQE assessments.
Studying with a group for the SQE, especially with a group of friends or colleagues, can often times end up in a chat session about dinner or weekend plans, creating unnecessary distractions and less time for actual studying. If you are easily distracted or not very disciplined, studying with a group might not be the best choice for you.
Another drawback, unfortunate but true, is that if one person in the group is struggling, distracted, or does not take studying serious enough, it can be detrimental to the entire group. Because your time, money, and career are the top priority in this situation, if you choose to study with a group, make smart choices and agree as a group to specific rules, and consequences of not following those rules, right from the start.
One of the best parts of studying solo for the SQE is that you can choose and set-up your study environment however you like.
You can study in the library or at your kitchen table, with headphones on or with music playing softly in the background, and you can have snacks and drinks at the ready if you so choose.
Studying alone also allows you the benefit of being able to control when you study without the need to meet anyone anywhere at a set time and place.
If you feel like studying after work or first thing in the morning, you can choose to set your study schedule at times and places that are convenient for you.
Another benefit of studying on your own is that you can pace yourself however is most comfortable for you. You can decide how many pages you want to read, how quickly you want to read them, and then break up your reading into manageable sections however you see fit.
You can also take your time to focus on the information that is more complex and skim through other topics that you are already familiar or comfortable with.
Studying solo for the SQE also allows you to minimise distractions. You do not have to worry about a study session turning into a hang out session, cell phones going off while you are trying to focus, or the disruption of the comings and goings of your group or the people around you, allowing you to keep focused on what is most important.
Preparing for the SQE exams involve more than just memorising and reciting material. If you come across materials or topics that you do not quite understand, you will not be able to immediately ask someone for help or an explanation.
Studying with a group can help you make beneficial connections, both literally and figuratively, that you otherwise would not make.
Another drawback of group study is when the meeting times are not convenient for everyone or when meetings keep getting rescheduled, setting back your study schedule and putting everyone in the group at a disadvantage.
Studying with a group makes you accountable and can push and motivate you just the right amount to do better than you would on your own. Sometimes an extra push to stay on task and maximising your study time from your peers can be exactly what you need to succeed.
Many people, scholars included, might say that studying with a group is best, but truly the decision is up to the individual and whatever works best for their study needs.
Regardless if you choose to go it alone or study in a group for the SQE, you are going to spend a significant amount of time studying, reading through material, watching videos, doing mock interviews, and working on practice questions in order to be well-prepared for the SQE assessments.
You will also need to make time to analyse and reflect on the information you are reading to be sure you are comprehending and absorbing everything you need to know. If you cannot decide between one route or the other, perhaps consider doing a combination of both group and solo study, getting the best of both worlds.
You will find several study packages that include all the tools you need to succeed: For SQE1: a study plan, 18 hard copy textbooks, 30 mock tests (with 90 questions each), 200+ videos, 5,000+ digital flash cards, and 2,500+ practice questions.
For SQE2: 300 mock exams with model answers, 100+ legal skills videos, and mock stations with personal tutor feedback and more so you can sit the SQE exams with confidence.
Be sure to view the free SQE sample materials offered by QLTS School.