Unanticipated Challenges in the Recent SQE1 Exams

What you will read in this post

    The Solicitors Qualifying Exam 1 (SQE1) is a key component of the new solicitor qualification process in England and Wales. SQE1 focuses on assessing candidates’ legal knowledge and understanding of various legal principles. It consists of two multiple-choice question (MCQ) papers, each with 180 questions. The SQE1 covers the following practice areas:

    SQE1 FLK1

    • Business Law and Practice
    • Dispute Resolution
    • Contract
    • Tort
    • Legal System of England and Wales
    • Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services

    SQE1 FLK2

    • Property Practice
    • Wills and the Administration of Estates
    • Solicitors Accounts
    • Land Law
    • Trusts
    • Criminal Law and Practice

    The exam is designed to test candidates on their ability to apply legal principles to practical scenarios. The SQE1 is a crucial step for individuals seeking to qualify as solicitors in the UK. Passing the SQE1 allows candidates to progress to the practical skills assessment (SQE2). Undertaking a period of qualifying work experience (QWE) is one more requirement for admission.

    Discrepancies in SQE1 Exam Questions

    Candidates have been expressing concerns about the significant difference between the SQE1 sample questions provided by both the SRA and training providers, and the actual test questions in the SQE1 exams. This discrepancy has posed a considerable problem for many, transforming what initially appeared to be a promising test day into a bitter disappointment. Despite meticulous SQE prep, aspiring solicitors were caught off guard by a substantial deviation in the question format, resulting in a higher failure rate than anticipated. This unexpected shift, distinct from both the SRA example SQE1 MCQs and those offered by training providers, left well-prepared SQE candidates struggling to adapt.

    The SQE1 exam questions, unlike the straightforward examples the candidates had practised, featured a more formal and legal language, making them longer and more complex. This unexpected change not only affected confidence, but also resulted in candidates running out of time due to the extended complexity of the SQE1 questions. Additionally, the use of a dated SQE test system with questions on a hard-to-read black background added an unnecessary layer of difficulty.

    The repercussions of this surprise were profound, given that SQE allows only three attempts before a substantial waiting period for reattempting. Self-funded SQE candidates, already under significant financial pressure, faced a heartbreaking setback. It is crucial to address these issues promptly, as a fair and transparent testing system is vital for the credibility of the SQE assessment.

    Updates to SQE1 Marking: Scaled Scoring

    The SRA has announced the use of a scaled scoring system for the SQE1, a method commonly employed in professional assessments such as in medicine, accountancy, and the New York State Bar. This SQE1 scoring system is designed to ensure fair comparisons between test takers.

    The raw score, indicating the number of correct answers out of 180 questions on each SQE1 FLK, may vary due to the differing difficulty of SQE1 papers. Converting raw scores to scaled scores (out of 500) enables direct comparisons, reflecting candidates’ relative performance. SQE1 candidates will receive both their raw and scaled scores, with the pass mark consistently set at 300.

    Upcoming SQE Sample Questions of Higher Difficulty

    In response to this challenge, our OSCEsmart team is actively working on developing harder multiple-choice questions that closely resemble the real SQE1 exam questions. These questions are expected to be ready in approximately half a year, aiming to bridge the gap between SQE1 sample questions and the actual exam, providing candidates with a more accurate preparation experience.

    Optimal SQE1 Sample Question Resources

    Here are some resources that can be used for preparing for SQE1. While the sample questions are of good quality, the level of complexity is not very high.

    SQE Prep & Practise: Complete (Oxford University Press)Electronic manual offering about 1200 MCQs with a 12-month subscription.
    Bundle of 15 study manuals: Law & Professional Practice (University of Law)Approximately 600 MCQs are accessible via a QR code.
    Revise SQEFLK1 Practice Assessment: 180 SQE1-style questions with answers
    FLK2 Practice Assessment: 180 SQE1-style questions with answers
    SQE1 sample questions (Solicitors Regulation Authority)Practise them under exam conditions here.
    New SQE1 example questions (SRA)

    released in November 2023

    Practise them under exam conditions here.

    If you are the author of high-quality SQE1 MCQs or know of other resources, please get in touch with us – info@superexam.uk. We will add you to the list after review.

    Proactive SQE Tips for Future Candidates

    To avoid future challenges in SQE1 exams, candidates should consider these tips:

    Thorough Revision

    Even if you feel confident in your knowledge, invest extra time in revision, especially in challenging SQE practice areas. Over-preparing can serve as a buffer in case of unexpected difficulties during the SQE sitting.

    Balanced Knowledge

    Avoid focusing solely on certain subjects. A well-rounded understanding is crucial for navigating SQE1 multiple-choice questions effectively.

    Stay Updated on Changes

    Keep yourself informed about any updates or changes in the SQE exam format or content. Regularly check official SQE sources and stay connected with peers to be aware of any recent developments.

    Maximise Exam Eve

    If travel is necessary, use the night before the SQE1 exam for additional revision. Having a local test centre can ensure a good night’s sleep, positively impacting performance at the SQE.

    Manage Your Expectations

    Recognize that SQE exams are dynamic, and unexpected challenges may arise. While diligent preparation is key, acknowledge that anything can happen on exam day. Cultivate adaptability and resilience by staying calm in the face of surprises.

    In conclusion, the experiences of candidates in the recent SQE1 exams highlight the need for transparency and fairness in the testing process. By acknowledging these challenges and implementing the suggested tips, candidates can better equip themselves for success in future SQE exams. Remember, preparation is key, and with awareness, you can overcome unforeseen obstacles and increase your chances of passing the SQE.

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