facebook PixelInitialized

SQE vs QLTS – What are the Differences?

What are the Main Differences Between the QLTS and the SQE?

In Autumn 2021, the SQE will replace the QLTS and will forever change how you qualify.

After the SQE is introduced, the QLTS will no longer be available as a route to qualification as a solicitor.

The introduction of the SQE is expected to drive up international applications to levels not seen in many years.


The purpose of the QLTS is to assess foreign qualified lawyers. The purpose of the SQE is similar, but the SQE will assess all aspiring solicitors, whether UK university law graduates, non-law graduates, apprentices, legal executives, paralegals, or foreign qualified lawyers, regardless of their background.

Structure of the Assessments

The overall structure of the SQE and QLTS assessments are similar in the way that they are both divided into two different sections and that the first section must be passed before the second can be attempted. The QLTS is structured into the different parts, Part 1, MCT, and Part 2, OSCE. SQE will have also have two different parts in stages, Stage 1, Functioning Legal Knowledge Assessments, and Stage 2, Practical Legal Skills Assessments. Likewise in the QLTS, SQE Stage 1 will be available at various international centres, but SQE Stage 2 will only be available in England and Wales initially.

Part 1 of the QLTS, the MCT, focuses on assessing the application of knowledge of substantive law, and is only one assessment, consisting of 180 questions, divided into morning and afternoon periods of 2 hours and 45 minutes each. The MCT lasts 5 hours and 30 minutes. You are given an unlimited number of attempts to pass.

Stage 1 of the SQE will focus on assessing the application of functioning legal knowledge required for effective practice, consisting of 360 questions, divided into two assessments of 180 questions each, likely to run across two separate days for a total of about 11 hours. With the SQE, you are given three attempts to pass each assessment in a 6-year period. The content of SQE1 covers more practice areas than the MCT, and assesses substantive, procedural and practical law, whereas the MCT only assesses substantive law. For example, SQE1 will assess civil and criminal litigation where those areas are not currently assessed on the MCT.

Part 2 of the QLTS assesses six different skills across three legal practice areas, has 15 assessments and takes 12 hours and 45 minutes, and also comes with an unlimited amount of attempts to pass. Stage 2 of the SQE assesses seven different skills, five legal practice areas, has 14 assessments and takes 10 hours and 30 minutes, but you are given only three attempts to pass each assessment in a 6-year period.

With the QLTS, there is no time frame that both parts much be completed, but with the SQE, both stages must be completed within 6 years.

Exemptions from the Assessments

Exemption from the SQE will only apply to qualified lawyers with practice rights on the basis of their prior qualifications or experience, and only from a whole component(s) of the SQE, including an equivalents degree to a UK degree or UK qualification through a UK NARIC Statement of Comparability. Exemption from the QLTS can be grated only to lawyers qualified in the EU, subject to the arrangements following Brexit, to Scottish solicitors and English barristers. The exemption can be from just one element or from a whole of a test.

Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)

The SQE requires graduate students who are not qualified lawyers in another jurisdiction to complete a two-year Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) requirement. Foreign qualified lawyers are exempt from the QWE. So in this aspect, there is no change compared to the QLTS which does not impose any experience or training requirement on foreign lawyers who pursue the QLTS.

English Language Test

As to the English language test, candidates undertaking the QLTS or SQE are not subject to any English language requirement. However, you should ensure that your standard of written, spoken, reading, and listening English is appropriate for the assessments otherwise you are unlikely to pass. In very limited circumstances, the SRA may impose an English language requirement to foreign qualified lawyers who may be exempt from SQE2.

SQE Assessment and Course Fees

The total fee for taking both SQE assessments will be £3,980: SQE1 – £1,558 and SQE2 – £2,422. VAT is not applicable.  The costs of taking the QLTS are £588 + VAT for the MCT and £3,042 +VAT for the OSCE.

As for training, QLTS School will be offering three course packages for each of SQE1 and SQE2 assessments, each with different features and modules. While the final figures have not been set yet, they are likely to range between £1,500 – £2,000 for SQE1 and between £1,500 – £2,500 for SQE2.

The SQE course fees are slightly higher than the current fees for our QLTS preparation courses.

Transitional Arrangements for QLTS Candidates

QLTS Candidates who will have passed the MCT by the time the SQE is introduced, will have another year to complete the OSCE. Otherwise, they will need to take the SQE and get no credit for passing the MCT.

What does this mean for you? You could take the MCT in January or July 2021 and if you pass, you will have the opportunity to complete the OSCE and apply for admission with the SRA until 1 September 2022. If you don’t pass the MCT in 2021, or if you will have passed the MCT in 2021 but not able to complete the OSCE and apply to the SRA by 1 September 2022, you will need to take the SQE. So you still have sufficient time and reasonable prospects to complete the QLTS route.

Information on the transition from the QLTS to SQE is still forthcoming and we will be continuing to update you as the SRA finalises more details. Be sure to check back often. If you want to begin preparing for the SQE, we can help.

SQE vs QLTS - Infographic

We have created the infographic below to better illustrate the major differences between the SQE and QLTS.

Please feel to share with your friends and colleagues!

sqe vs qlts

Preparation Courses for the SQE Assessments

QLTS School offers comprehensive, affordable and flexible preparation courses for the SQE assessments, which reflect the SQE Assessments Specification objectives and the examiner’s requirements. Our courses will enable you to study in your preferred environment, at your own pace, and at the most suitable and convenient time for you – whether at home, in the office or elsewhere.

Our preparation courses for SQE 1 and 2 are suitable for candidates from a variety of background – be it law or non-law degree graduates, paralegals, legal executives, apprentices, and foreign qualified lawyers. The courses will save you time and money whilst at the same time will retain the advantages of our professional guidance and experience. Our SQE preparation courses combine comprehensive and professionally written textbooks, video tutorials, an online training system, mock exams and extensive tutor support.

In the meantime, we invite to check our free SQE sample materialsdownload our brochure or request a free consultation with one of our advisors.

Social Likes
Landing Page Banner

© 2020 QLTS School LLC. Registered in Delaware. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Cookies Notice | Careers | LLM