SQE Stage 1 Pilot

SQE stage 1 pilot candidates selected and stage 1 pilot Assessment Specification published

The SQE Stage 1 pilot will take place on 20-22 March 2019. Applications for the SQE Stage 1 pilot closed on 17 December 2018. We received a large number of applications and are very pleased with the interest shown in the pilot. Successful applicants have been contacted and we will provide them with further information about the pilot shortly.

We have published the Stage 1 pilot Assessment Specification. This informs candidates what will be assessed in the pilot and how and to what standard it will be assessed.

What is the SQE?

The SQE is a new common assessment for all would-be solicitors, which will be introduced in September 2021. More information about the SQE

In the future, all those wishing to qualify as a solicitor will need

  • to pass the two stages of assessment (SQE 1 and SQE 2)
  • have a degree (or equivalent)
  • complete two years of qualifying work experience
  • meet the SRA's character and suitability requirements.

What is Kaplan?

Kaplan is a global education and assessment organisation which has been appointed by us to design, develop and deliver the SQE. Kaplan will organise and run the pilot.

What is the pilot?

This is the pilot for stage 1 of the SQE. It will involve a multiple choice test and skills assessments of legal research and writing.

Can I also apply to take the SQE Stage 2 pilot?

You will need to apply for that separately and details will be available in due course.

Who will sit the pilot?

As far as possible, candidates for the Stage 1 pilot have been selected to be representative of those who will eventually sit stage 1 of the SQE.

In terms of prior education and experience this means that you should either:

  • have completed Stage 1 (the compulsory stage) of the Legal Practice Course (LPC), or
  • have completed a period of study and/or work experience equivalent to Stage 1 (the compulsory stage) of the LPC, or
  • be a qualified lawyer in a recognised jurisdiction eligible to qualify via the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme, or
  • be a barrister of England and Wales.

In introducing the SQE, we want to widen access to the profession and make sure it is diverse and representative.

The pilot was oversubscribed and so preference has been given to those who applied early.

I received extra time for my exams at university due to a specific learning need or disability. Can I have extra time in the pilot?

You will be assessed against the same standard but reasonable adjustments will be made to the way they are assessed in line with the Equality Act 2010.

When will the pilot take place?

The Stage 1 pilot will run over a period of two and a half days from 20 - 22 March 2019. You will need to attend and complete the assessments on all days. You will have been advised of the registration time and assessment commencement time. Days 1 and 3 of the pilot will last approximately seven and a half hours and day 2 will last approximately five hours. However, if there are unforeseen circumstances, such as technical difficulties, the days may be longer. There will be appropriate breaks.

Where will the pilot take place?

The pilot will be computer-based and take place at one of 42 Pearson VUE test centres in the UK and select international venues. Successful candidates have been contacted with details of the assessment locations.

Will any food be provided?

No. Water will be available at the assessment venues but you should make your own arrangements to bring food and other refreshments with you.

What is the benefit in taking the SQE Stage 1 pilot?

  • Evidence of performance. You will receive a transcript with detailed results including your result in relation to the pilot cohort. You will be able to show these to any future employer. (The pilot involves both a multiple choice test and a skills test. An overall score will be derived from scores on all sections.)

  • Career development. We recognise that candidates work very hard to try to secure a contract for training with law firms and other legal organisations. Taking part in the pilot is an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment and enthusiasm for the law. In addition to this, a number of leading law firms are offering a limited number of career development opportunities for the best performing candidates, such as a training contract assessment day place, open day places, skills workshops, and one-to-one coaching sessions.

    The firms currently offering these opportunities are:

    • Atherton Godfrey
    • Brethertons
    • Browne Jacobson
    • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
    • Mayer Brown
    • Moore Blatch
    • Sidley Austin

    After the pilot, the best performing candidates will be contacted once they have received their results to provide them with further details and discuss the opportunities offered. Candidates will be allowed to select the opportunity they wish to take up based on their overall result and availability (ie the highest scoring candidate will have first choice).

    We will continue to work with law firms that would like to offer career development opportunities to candidates and will update the information on this website as appropriate.

  • Ex-gratia payment. Candidates that complete the entire pilot will receive £300. Candidates in the top 10 percent will receive an additional £200. To receive payment, you must complete the entire Stage 1 pilot.
  • Help develop the SQE. This is an opportunity to be directly involved in the development of the SQE and help shape the assessment for future solicitors of England and Wales.

Please note: Taking part in the pilot will not exempt candidates from any elements of the SQE once it comes into force. Candidates will not be able to qualify by doing the pilot.

What will I be tested on?

The Assessment Specification for the Stage 1 pilot sets out what will be assessed in the pilot, how candidates will be assessed and to what standard. The legal content of the assessment has not changed from that in the 2017 draft specification.

The Assessment Specification for the pilot now includes the assessment blueprint, which sets out the weighting given to different parts of the three Functioning Legal Knowledge assessments.

Please note that Kaplan is continuing to seek views about the form and content of the Assessment Specification. It is likely to change following input and in the light of the SQE pilot.

Will I receive travel expenses?

Travel expenses will not be paid in addition to the ex-gratia payment.

Further information

If you have a question, get in touch.