Our previous article “Is it possible to self-prepare for the SQE examination?” discussed various options of SQE preparation. An analysis of their advantages and disadvantages suggests that self-preparation for the SQE offers certain convenient benefits. Building on that, let’s now consider the basic costs associated with the preparation for SQE1 and SQE2.
SQE1 self-preparation & basic costs
Based on our QLTS experience and survey of successful candidates, self-preparation for the SQE1 is possible without subscribing to any course – for candidates with and without a UK law degree. You can find more details in the research “QLTS and SQE: Prep Time Unveiled”. A distinctive feature of the SQE1 is covering a wider range of subjects compared to the previous QLTS MCT, including 5 practice areas assessed in the SQE2.
This means that preparing for the SQE1 also serves as preparation for the knowledge assessment in the SQE2. Engaging in a thorough and comprehensive self-study from the very beginning is an effective tool to prepare oneself for the challenges of the SQE2. Assuming that the candidate is fluent in English, she should generally be able to prepare for the SQE1 in about a year.
The basic costs of the SQE1 self-preparation are made up of:
- SQE1 exam fees – £1,798;
- One of the SQE1 core manuals with multiple-choice questions – preferably either the SQE Prep & Practise from Oxford University Press (£450) or the SQE Study Manuals from the University of Law (£475). For details on these SQE prep materials, please check the Reading Material section in our article.
- SQE notes, flashcards, lectures and tests. There are numerous free or very affordable resources with free SQE flashcards (check Quizlet), SQE law lectures and notes. For example, SQE1 live or pre-recorded lectures (with concise lecture notes) from OSCEsmart are available at £45 per lecture and can be hand-picked by the topic and practice area. After registration on the Superexam training platform, the candidate can purchase the required materials in the Event (for live lectures) or Library (for pre-recorded SQE lectures) sections.
You can also benefit from study notes on the English law created by the actual LLB and LPC students – these are easily found online on such webpages as studocu or oxbridge notes. Another useful – and mostly free – SQE prep tool is flashcards like those found on Quizlet (search there “SQE flashcards”).
We’d suggest using them together with – but not instead of – exam-format multiple-choice questions (MCQs) that simulate the SQE 1 exam environment. Free MCQs are naturally rather limited, considering the time and effort involved in designing them, but can still be found in the SRA’s SQE1 sample questions and QLTS Kaplan’s QLTS MCT sample questions.
More SQE1 MCQs that you can find helpful (though not free) are those offered by the Revise SQE series that also includes a summary SQE books: check SQE FLK1 and SQE FLK2. At the same time, when working with available multiple-choice questions, it’s important to note that even subscribing to an SQE1 course that has its own SQE1 questions does not guarantee the same standard of multiple-choice questions as the actual exam. So to prepare properly, it is important to draw on the SQE1 core manuals and try SQE prep questions from different SQE providers and publishers e.g. Oxford University Press.
In view of the above, it may be more beneficial to base your SQE1 preparation on a variety of sources – rather than subscribing to a comprehensive SQE1 package. Core SQE1 manuals can be supplemented with meaningful extras, such as SQE revision lectures where you can interact with the qualified solicitor delivering the lecture, concise lecture notes, or SQE1 revision books with exam-format questions and answers. Structuring your SQE1 self-prep like this will make it more effective and affordable, bringing basic self-prep costs down to £800-£1000.
SQE2 self-preparation & basic costs
While the luck component may play a role in passing the SQE1, pure luck without proper legal knowledge will hinder your success in the SQE2. Unlike SQE1, SQE2 does not provide multiple options to choose from, requiring a comprehensive understanding of legal concepts. This involves providing reasonable advice to clients, considering advantages and disadvantages of different options, dealing with professional conduct issues that are not necessarily flagged.
Therefore, given the complexity of this type of assessment, comprehensive preparation from the beginning is crucial to excel in both SQE1 and SQE2 exams.
It is paramount to avoid delaying your SQE2 exam after passing the SQE1, in order to retain the fresh knowledge of legal concepts. With this in mind we developed the sqe1 + sqe2 package (£3,000). While the SQE2 is referred to as a skills assessment, it is important to note that the overall mark is evenly divided between law and skills components. In addition to having legal skills and knowledge, it is essential to be well-versed in the exam format and develop specific strategies for each type of the SQE2 assessment.
The basic costs of the SQE2 self-preparation would consist of the following:
- SQE2 exam fees: £2,766;
- Passive SQE2 training: SQE2 mock exams for self-assessment, like the SRA’s SQE2 sample questions and QLTS Kaplan’s QLTS OSCE sample questions. Though providing an opportunity to understand the format of the assessment, they leave out the practice component – and thus cannot be viewed as an effective tool for SQE2 preparation. Another resource suitable for passive training is Cilex level 6 exams, although their format may differ from the SQE2 assessment.
When considering an SQE2 course, it is important to inquire about the practical component – the number of 1-to-1 simulations with individual feedback included in the package. It is also beneficial to check if these simulations can be adjusted based on your performance in the course of preparation. To gain valuable insights and guidance on effective preparation strategies, it is advisable to consult individuals who have firsthand experience with either SQE2 or QLTS OSCE exams. They are the best sources of information and can provide advice based on their personal experiences.
- Active SQE2 training: It is important to remember that the SQE2 assessment is based on simulations that reflect the actual legal work of solicitors. Therefore, how much SQE2 prep is required ultimately depends on your experience and its relevance. Passive training alone is not effective in developing the skills and knowledge required for the SQE2 assessments. The most effective tool has always been SQE2 or QLTS OSCE mocks with individual feedback from those who have firsthand experience of the exam. You may purchase the OSCEsmart 1-to-1 SQE2 mocks on the SUPEREXAM training platform. How many of those mocks you need depends on your relevant experience, legal background and knowledge retained.
Let’s consider different groups of candidates:
- Candidates with limited experience: Aspiring solicitors with no or very little legal experience would have to undergo more substantial training. It can be either compact and more intensive, or less condensed and lengthy, depending on your availability. To remain flexible, this category of candidates would benefit from subscribing to a comprehensive SQE2 pack with one-to-one mocks for each SQE2 assessment, oral and written. Conducting them on an individual basis allows considerable flexibility in scheduling and intensity level. When all package mocks have been completed, a few stand-alone extras can be added as a final touch. Fees for OSCEsmart SQE2 packages with individually conducted mocks for each type of assessment are based on bulk discounts and start at £1000.
- Lawyers from civil law jurisdictions: For someone coming from a civil law jurisdiction, legal experience may be vastly different – to the point of actually becoming a disadvantage. As can be concluded from the SQE2 exam statistics, foreign-qualified lawyers tend to perform worse than inexperienced aspiring solicitors. Further, your domestic exam experience and approach to legal education is likely to be fundamentally different and misleading, which puts you at a disadvantage. So proper preparation for this category should also be based on a comprehensive package with one-to-one mocks for each SQE2 assessment.
- Common law lawyers and UK-based paralegals and apprentices, including UK barristers with a marginal pass in the SQE1: If you marginally passed the SQE1, you may require more substantial training in order to fill the gaps in your legal knowledge. In this case, we’d suggest considering SQE2 packages (around £2000). Otherwise, your main task is to understand the SQE2 exam and how to handle each SQE2 assessment. The best way to do it – is practice, practice and practice. You may check SQE2 prep tips from our grad Lindsey Ashton (GDL & LPC).
- Common law lawyers and UK-based paralegals and apprentices, including UK barristers with a confident pass in the SQE1: Depending on your area of practice, your legal experience should be very relevant for the SQE2. If you are an expert in advocacy, you will only require one mock advocacy session in order to learn the exam techniques. To prepare for the qualifying exam, you may need no more than 1 mock for each SQE2 assessment (6 mocks), with some time and budget reserved for a couple of extras to work on the mistakes made. With OSCEsmart, this is available at £790+.
To effectively prepare for the SQE2, it is crucial to incorporate into your SQE preparation simulation-based mock exams. These mock exams, particularly those that provide individual feedback, are highly valuable. It is beneficial to have guidance from someone with firsthand experience of the exam who can share SQE2 tactics with you. This guidance can be obtained through an online training course or a personal tutor. The basic cost of SQE2 self-preparation typically ranges from £790 to £2000, depending on your background.