Neha: It has been quite some time since we practised a SQE2 mock, and I really miss doing that. It was a wonderful journey, and I’m so happy that I had OSCEsmart with me, helping me throughout this journey. It played such a wonderful and important role that I cannot thank you enough, honestly, because it was really a difficult path to get here.
Interviewer: Thank you. What was the most difficult aspect of the OSCE (SQE2) exam, Neha? Something that you will remember anytime when you think back?
Neha: I come from a common law jurisdiction, and I’m an Indian qualified lawyer. Solicitors from the UK are something different from the system I come from. So, everything I did here, the examination itself was different because I never attended such kind of assessments before. Whatever we do in the Indian legal system is more based on memory skills. So, you just memorise and you write your answers as if you are writing whatever you have memorised. But here, the entire way in which the SQE2 examination is held is based on your actual skills. And though you may perform the skills with your clients in your day-to-day life, the amount of pressure that you have while you do the examination is something which is really difficult. And this is where you need help, you need guidance, and you need all kinds of tips and tricks and expertise, and this is where OSCEsmart comes in.
Interviewer: That’s a practical examination. I totally agree. And you have to possess all necessary practical skills, right? But I know Neha, that you are a practising lawyer, and when you started your preparation, you already were practising as a lawyer. Now, do you think that your practice, professional practice, and professional experience alone would have prepared you properly for this practical component of the examination without any training providers, without OSCEsmart?
Neha: Definitely not. Even though you may be working with clients and practising law, cracking this examination is not easy without guidance. The composition of the examination itself is quite unusual. As a practising lawyer, you’re not typically assessed on your skills in the same way. Clients are more focused on outcomes; they want to know what needs to be done. However, this exam is more focused on earning marks. You have to check off literally every box, and you may not know which boxes to check unless you have guidance on what they’re looking for and the level of skill required for each aspect. This guidance is essential. OSCEsmart has been instrumental, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, despite being a practising lawyer.
Interviewer: Thank you, Neha. And I have another question for you. When did you start preparing for the examination? Did you cram all your SQE2 preparation into the last, let’s say, month, couple of months before the examination? Did you start well in advance? So, how did you structure your preparation?
Neha: I completed my MCT (precursor to SQE1) in 2020. I received my results in March of that year and had initially planned to take my OSCE (precursor to SQE2) examination within the same year. However, due to the COVID crisis, I was unable to do so. Finally, I sat for the examination in 2022. I would say the core time I dedicated to preparing for this examination was around six to eight months. I believe this timeframe is necessary not only to sit for the exam but also to thoroughly understand each subject. It requires immersing oneself completely in the material. This duration is essential not only for passing the exam but also for acquiring the depth of knowledge required.
Interviewer: Right. And you tried to balance it with your work and family responsibilities. You didn’t have the luxury of taking time off solely to focus on the exam, did you?
Neha: Yes, it wasn’t possible for me to dedicate the entire day solely for studying. Balancing my full-time job, caring for my six-year-old daughter, and managing my other commitments was indeed a struggle. My schedule typically involved going to work, attending to my family’s needs upon returning home, and then dedicating at least three to four hours to studying each day. On weekends, I aimed for five to six hours of study time. Maintaining discipline was crucial because deviating from my daily study targets could easily lead to feeling overwhelmed. Despite the perception of having ample time before the exam, it was imperative to stick to a structured schedule to avoid falling behind. Thus, maintaining consistency and adhering to the study schedule throughout the preparation period was essential. For example, I initially created various timetables for each day, aiming to stick to a rigorous study plan. However, I soon realised that some of these schedules were unrealistic, and I struggled to meet the set targets. Recognising this, I adjusted my expectations and slowed down my pace. Initially, I had aimed to complete my studying within four months, but as I couldn’t keep up with the daily targets, I re-evaluated my approach. I revised my timetables, focusing on more achievable goals and restructuring the subjects and topics I covered each day. Ultimately, it took me around eight to nine months to fully prepare for the examination.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s a long time. I remember that the times were difficult with all these lockdowns and red lists. But I’m also grateful that even though that was a very difficult situation, you agreed to participate in our Legal Theatre (SQE2 mock client interview). I think it was two times.
Neha: Yes, I participated in the Legal Theatre two times. Engaging in the Legal Theatre was quite out of character for me as I tend to be more introverted and not particularly stage-savvy. However, despite my initial apprehensions, I found that these sessions not only enhanced my examination skills but also helped me become more extroverted. The experience of performing in a theatre setting was daunting at first, considering the scrutiny of the audience. Legal Theatre presents a win-win scenario for both myself and the spectators. If I perform well, it’s a confidence boost for me. However, if I fall short of the standards, the audience can learn from my mistakes, ensuring they don’t repeat them. Additionally, making mistakes in such a setting is incredibly beneficial for me as it ensures I won’t forget the lessons learned from the experience.
Interviewer: So, both times your performance was just spectacular. The audience also enjoyed it. But my question to you is also whether you think that this activity, these simulations, which are broadcast or streamed in real time to the audience, whether they are helpful for the spectators. Do you think that this is an important SQE preparation activity for the audience?
Neha: Absolutely. During the theatre performances, the questions were given to me just a couple of hours before the session, and they were entirely new, never practised in the mocks. These questions were often set at a higher level compared to the ones in the mocks, with complex issues intertwined into multiple layers. I distinctly recall encountering a sixth issue during one Legal Theatre session, catching me completely off guard as I hadn’t prepared for it. This real-time scenario in the live streaming sessions puts you on the spot, highlighting the importance of being adaptable and quick-thinking. It’s not only beneficial for me as a participant but also for the spectators, as it demonstrates how such unexpected situations can arise in real life and how to navigate them effectively when under pressure.
Interviewer: Right. But do you think that it’s enough for the candidates to just watch one time or two times the Legal Theatre, never to conduct practical mocks himself or herself, and then to feel prepared to handle the examination? Is that enough? Just watching someone perform.
Neha: Watching someone perform is definitely beneficial for preparation because each phase of preparing for this examination plays a distinct role. Firstly, studying is crucial as it provides detailed knowledge of the law, enabling effective application during SQE2 mock scenarios. Mock performances themselves are invaluable, presenting complex scenarios that require practical application of legal principles. Through practice, one learns how to effectively apply the law in diverse situations. Additionally, receiving accurate feedback after mock sessions is invaluable as it provides lifelong lessons on areas requiring improvement, ensuring continuous growth and refinement of legal skills. Studying is different from applying, and likewise, observing someone else perform has its own unique significance. The entire process of studying, performing mocks, and participating in live streaming sessions has been meticulously designed by OSCEsmart. I believe it’s crucial to engage in these activities. While some individuals may possess extraordinary abilities that allow them to succeed without such preparation, for most, it’s essential. Even if you feel you have exceptional skills, engaging in mocks and live streaming sessions will only enhance your preparation and ensure you’re fully equipped for the examination. Therefore, I highly recommend participating in these activities.
Interviewer: Okay. So, we can all find specific stages as far as I can understand, in an effective preparation for the SQE2. First is reading, substantial reading, in-depth reading, maybe rereading several times. Then another strategy that you have referred to is watching someone conduct mocks and benefiting from the performance, from the feedback, and finally practising on your own, which cannot be replaced by anything. Do you agree with that?
Neha: I used to practise on my own, for example, with colleagues and family, which is very different. But practising with professionals and tutors like OSCEsmart is on a completely different level. Before I subscribed to OSCEsmart, I used to practise as I mentioned, but it was at a different level because the assessor didn’t have the expertise to provide valuable feedback. When you practise with someone knowledgeable about the SQE2 exam and its assessment criteria, it’s a whole new experience. I was amazed by the detailed comments I received while working with you and the OSCEsmart team. I never expected such insightful feedback on various aspects of my performance.
Interviewer: Thank you for your kind words. And then, when you were in the examination, did you feel confident? Do you think that what you have learned with OSCEsmart has contributed to your confidence and to your understanding of what to expect in each assessment?
Neha: Definitely. My confidence, especially at the start of my journey, wasn’t very high, but after completing all my mocks with OSCEsmart, I witnessed significant progress. By the time I was taking my examination in London, I felt remarkably confident. It almost felt like I wasn’t taking the exam for the first time because I had already experienced similar scenarios during my mock sessions. The interviewers, particularly during the SQE2 client interviews, were well-prepared and trained, which didn’t surprise me because I had encountered similar situations before. Dealing with different types of clients, ranging from difficult to friendly, taught me invaluable skills. These mock sessions helped me understand how to navigate various personalities, which ultimately boosted my confidence during the actual examination.
Interviewer: Excellent. Yes, I’m happy that it helped because we have a team of interviewers and solicitors.
Neha: This applies not only to the client interview but also to the SQE advocacy during the examination. I remember practising beforehand with Olga [tutoring solicitor], which was incredibly helpful. The presentation time is limited, but Olga’s thorough feedback was invaluable. I would meticulously jot down every comment she made, noting my mistakes and areas for improvement. These notes would often span four pages. Before the examination day, I would review these comments. With limited time for preparation, I focused on quick but helpful insights. I also relied on feedback from OSCEsmart for other aspects, such as the structure of my answers and the application of legal principles. Reading through these notes provided a comprehensive review before the exam. The structured feedback mirrored the real exam format, making it incredibly beneficial. You have no idea how much this approach helped me. It was instrumental in my preparation and significantly contributed to my success.
Interviewer: But that was so prudent of you to consider the feedback, to elaborate on the feedback that you received in the SQE2 mock sessions, because that’s another step in your preparation and it takes it to another level. So, that was a very reasonable and very sensible approach, I would say. And also on the platform, if you remember, in addition to oral mocks, we had written SQE mocks and we also had group seminars. I remember that you participated in those group seminars. Do you think that that’s a helpful activity? Did you learn anything from discussing something, some legal issues with other candidates and with the tutor who is a solicitor?
Neha: Yes, definitely. In group seminars, you can observe how others express themselves on a particular topic, allowing for a comparison with your own performance. Since this is a competitive examination, participating in seminars gives you insight into the abilities of your peers in the same exam cohort. It’s rare to find such a diverse group of individuals, and even if you do, engaging in these seminars might not be common. Thus, these sessions are designed to facilitate competition at the same level and help you assess your skills against your peers.
Interviewer: So, we’ve discussed so many aspects and thinking back, I realise how much you invested in this preparation, Neha, and I really admire the effort that you made having other commitments as you said earlier. Now can you tell us briefly whether your professional life, your career has changed after the OSCE (SQE2) examination, after you got to know that you passed it?
Neha: I’m still processing the fact that I have passed this examination. It was an incredibly difficult journey, and I invested a tremendous amount of effort, especially considering the extended duration due to COVID-19. Passing the exam has truly elevated my confidence to a whole new level. While I was already a practising lawyer, the skills I acquired through this examination have undoubtedly upgraded my professional capabilities. Now, when I stand before clients or represent them in front of opposing counsel, I feel a profound sense of assurance. It’s as though my knowledge and confidence resonate with the other side, making for more effective interactions. I am genuinely grateful for this achievement as it significantly contributes to my career, enhances my personality, and bolsters my overall confidence.
Interviewer: Absolutely, and we are happy to have an opportunity to talk to you today, and I hope that what you have said and the tips and ideas that you’ve shared today will be helpful to the people watching this video. That indirectly you will also help someone prepare for this challenging examination which is the SQE2.
Neha: Definitely. I extend my best wishes to everyone preparing for the examination, and I highly recommend OSCEsmart for SQE2 preparation. In my experience, I’ve never come across a resource quite like it that can truly help you ace this exam on your first attempt. OSCEsmart offers a variety of subscription options, including standalone SQE2 mock exams, which can be incredibly helpful just before the actual examination or even as an assessment tool to gauge your readiness. I’m grateful for the various range of mock packages they’ve designed, which are exceptionally valuable for every candidate.
Interviewer: Thank you. We all are wishing you a spectacular career, further professional growth, and I hope that the successes that you have already gained are just the beginning.