Six things you should consider when selecting your SQE training provider
Unquestionably, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), is a high stakes professional exam on your path to becoming an English solicitor. It is, therefore, vital that you take your time, thoroughly research your options, and consider the pros and cons of each before you make a final decision on your SQE training provider.
Before you begin your research, it is extremely important that you understand the exam’s requirements and SQE Assessment Specifications.
Based on our decade of experience in preparing candidates for the QLTS exams, the precursor for foreign lawyers who sought to qualify as English solicitors, many candidates failed the assessments due to a lack of proper preparation, caused by misunderstanding the nature and scope of the assessments.
We observed that Ill-prepared candidates made unwise decisions the first time they teed – such as trying to collate their own study resources online or by relying on disparate or irrelevant materials – and failed their assessment attempt as a result.
Often this is the result of not allowing adequate study time and preparation, carelessness, or simply because of not wanting to invest in a preparation course to save money to their own detriment on the actual exam.
The syllabus of the SQE exams is extensive and a significant amount of time is needed for the proper preparation and practice for the assessments. The SRA has designed the SQE exams in such a way that unless you develop and demonstrate the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to apply the law in such a way as to meet their stringent criteria, you will not pass the assessments.
You will only have three attempts at each element of the SQE within a six-year period. This means that failing may delay your career plans for many years.
The cost will be another factor to consider in this instance, should you find yourself in a position where re-testing is necessary. As such, it is imperative to make sure you have made the right decision for test preparation, so you can pass each stage of the SQE on your first attempt.
In this article, we will explore what we believe you should take into consideration before you decide on your SQE training provider.
Experience in this field
If you are familiar with the LPC, a course of study that focuses on only certain subject areas set by the course provider, know that the SQE is fundamentally different. The SQE is a series of exams set by Kaplan, the assessment provider.
All candidates will need to sit for the SQE exams regardless of how, where, or when they studied and whether they have a degree in law or in any other area of study. This also applies to foreign qualified lawyers, paralegals, apprentices, and chartered legal executives.
The SRA will use your SQE results to confirm your knowledge, preparedness and competences to become a solicitor.
Because the SQE is vastly different from the LPC, those providers which have taught and experienced the LPC may not possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to prepare candidates for the SQE.
This also applies to those experienced in preparing candidates for multiple choice tests. Selecting a provider with knowledge of the SQE exams and a history of success is of paramount importance and your best course of action.
How can QLTS School help: The SQE is modelled substantially on the QLTS, as both exams are largely based on the same content, style and format.
We have assisted thousands of individual lawyers and candidates from the world’s top law firms to prepare for the QLTS exams since 2011. We have the necessary knowledge and experience to help you succeed in this journey.
Scope and quality of the course materials
Transparency is first and foremost in relation to preparatory courses. It is imperative that you clearly understand what SQE providers offer you. Generally, you should know what is covered in their textbook(s), and the form it will be provided – hard copy or digital.
From our past experience and generally speaking, reading too many pages on the screen is not user-friendly.
It’s also important to consider how many mock tests are offered. Consider if you are planning to use the content on your PC, tablet, mobile device, etc., and if those options are readily available.
Most importantly, you should also ask to see samples of the training providers’ materials for each element of the SQE exams to make sure the content is of high quality and targeted specifically for the SQE, as some may not be tailored specifically to the new testing assessments, and the quality of others may simply be poor.
How can QLTS School help: our SQE preparation courses have been used by thousands of QLTS candidates for almost a decade and, as such, they have been thoroughly tried and tested and further enhanced by the additions and improvements we have made over the last couple of years to cover the entire SQE1 and SQE2 Specifications.
With a proven successful offering, there is therefore no call for an experimental period to check the efficacy of the teaching material and you can thus study the courses with confidence.
For the SQE1 exam, we offer summary notes, 18 textbooks in a hard copy format with around 3,000 pages, 2,500+ practice questions, 5,000+ digital flash cards, 200+ videos (with 60+ hours of lectures), 30 mock tests (2,700 questions in total), and tutor support.
Taking SQE1 mock tests is key to success in the examination, especially in the last two weeks before the exam. Check the free samples of our SQE1 course materials including free mock tests.
For the SQE2 exam, we offer an initial consultation and a tailor-made study plan, practice area summaries which cover the essential elements of the law, SQE practice questions which cover the legal practice areas, 300 mock exams with suggested solutions for self-assessment which cover all legal practice areas and skills tested in the SQE2 exam, SQE Skills Online (more than 60 interactive exercises covering the practical legal skills, complemented by video and audio material and a 130-page accompanying book), Legal Skills Video Workshops (a suite of more than 100 video workshops with role-play scenarios and professional presentations, spanning nearly 20 hours in total), and mock practice stations with one-to-one tutor feedback in client interviewing and advocacy.
Free samples of our SQE2 course materials are available for your review.
This diverse and flexible training method allows candidates from anywhere in the world to prepare in their own time and according to their personal and work commitments and to receive real-time and genuine feedback regarding their progress.
Furthermore, our courses are suitable for candidates from different backgrounds and with varying levels of legal knowledge and experience in English law.
Proven track record of successful candidates
You should be given the opportunity to speak with former candidates and look for feedback on their courses. As the SQE is a new way of testing, you will have to assess this by speaking with those who have taken other preparation courses with the provider you’re considering.
For example, you can look up LinkedIn groups of past, prospective and current candidates. You can ask questions pertaining to how well prepared they felt, was the course material well-tailored to the actual test they took, and did they prepare you in a way you felt confident on the test day? If you can’t find former candidates of the training provider, what does it say about the provider?
How can QLTS School help: We have a proven track record of many successful candidates who have prepared with us for the QLTS and passed on the first attempt.
You can check the success story videos of our recent SQE candidates. We also have an SQE LinkedIn group with more than 30,000 members. You are welcome to join the group and engage with other candidates.
Preparation time and planning
It is likely that you know what is generally involved in preparing to take the SQE exams – such as the multiple-choice questions, the practical legal assessments and the areas of law and skills covered.
Looking at the specifics of preparation needed – the logistics, time commitment and study schedule – several questions inevitably arise that will underpin your entire preparation effort:
- How long does it take to prepare for the SQE1 and SQE2 exams?
- How many hours should I allow for study each day/week?
- How can I get a structured study plan and the necessary study tools?
- How can I be confident that what I am studying is really what is needed to pass?
Again, you should make sure your training provider had the necessary experience and a proven track record in preparing candidates for the SQE exams. Your provider should offer you a suggested study guide and timetable so you won’t get lost.
Be cautious when you come across advertisements about ‘fast track’ courses. The syllabus is vast, and there are no short cuts. You will need to devote significant time to prepare for the SQE exams.
How can QLTS School help: Each candidate will be provided with a suggested study guide, target dates, and recommended time to devote for each of the course modules. Some people may need less time to prepare, where others require more time.
The course schedule can be customised to meet your personal circumstances and needs. For a general idea, check our SQE preparation time and planning ideas.
Your SQE journey will likely take 9-12 months. or longer, depending on your circumstances. This means that the relationship with your training provider does not end on the day you sign up for a course and begin your preparation.
In fact, it just starts then. You should be able to communicate with your training provider by telephone, email, or other means of communication, whenever you need to, as you are likely to have questions on administrative and logistical matters throughout the period of your studies.
Therefore, customer support is an important factor to consider. Make sure you have someone designated by your training provider that you can easily communicate with.
How can QLTS School help: Many candidates have commented that the advice received from SRA advisors is concise and scripted. Having spoken to us, they fully understand every single detail of the qualification and SQE assessment process.
Our services are not limited to the provision of training materials and tutor support. We also have dedicated, experienced, full-time account managers who remain in close contact with you from the initial contact, during the research of the SQE, throughout your preparation time, and until you have completed the SQE exams.
Once our account manager speaks with a candidate over the phone for the first time, they become your assigned account manager throughout the entire process. The account manager will provide invaluable guidance and consultation based on the knowledge we have acquired about the QLTS and SQE, that has been developed over many years, so you can confidently get started with SQE exam preparation.
Furthermore, to accommodate the needs and expectations of our foreign candidates who come from various backgrounds and jurisdictions, we run our operations from several locations around the world.
This also enables us to provide both tutor and administrative support to candidates in different time zones and at weekends as many work full-time and are only available outside of normal working hours.
Clearly understand what you are paying for and compare SQE course packages. Do you need to purchase additional materials? Is the price all-inclusive? What is included in the course?
While you can find websites that may offer courses for a few hundred pounds, is their offering comparable to a more expensive but much better course? Legal training is no place for mistakes and false economy.
You should also take into consideration the cost of failing the SQE exams. Sitting the exam without a preparation course or signing up with a training provider who may lack the benefit of knowledge, experience and a proven track record of successful candidates may cost you thousands of pounds in the long run in retakes, delaying the progress of your legal career and so on.
A one-off investment in thorough preparation for the SQE exams will spare you no end of stress, hassle and lack of confidence and certainty.
How can QLTS School help: we offer three packages for each stage of the SQE exams at affordable prices that deliver great value. So even if your budget is limited, you may find a package that will suit your needs.
Our materials have been used and tested by thousands of candidates who have prepared with us for the QLTS exams. There is no trial and error process or an experimental period we need to undergo to test the materials. Everything is ready for you.
Learn more about our course packages.
The conclusion: You are going to spend hundreds of hours preparing for the SQE exams and will need the support of a training provider for at least a year. So, take a few days and carry out a thorough research plan.
Making the right decision the first time around will save your time, money and effort.