SQE Update – April 2020

This bulletin covers the updated SQE1 sample questions, along with some further analysis of the SQE1 pilot and how to get involved in our April webinars

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SQE1 sample questions updated

In December, we published 90 Functioning Legal Knowledge single best answer multiple choice questions from the SQE assessment pilots to help both education providers and candidates prepare for the assessment and plan training. These have recently been updated and two questions have been changed. Take a look at the sample questions

Academic report on SQE1 pilot results

SQE assessment provider Kaplan has published a psychometric and statistical analysis report examining the Functioning Legal Knowledge  element of last year’s SQE1 pilot. Read the report

Burning questions about the SQE

Are you an education and training provider, employer or candidate seeking guidance or support about the SQE assessment content or administration? You can now send your questions to our dedicated mailbox. Where appropriate, we will look to publish the answers to some of the most relevant/commonly asked questions on our website.

This month we've published a new answer to: "Are candidates expected to understand the concept of trespass as part of tort within SQE1?". Take a look at the answer

SQE timetable – no anticipated changes in light of the Covid-19 outbreak

After careful review, we do not expect the Covid-19 outbreak to lead to any changes to the planned timetable for the introduction of SQE. The first SQE assessments will be no earlier than autumn 2021 and we will of course continue to monitor the situation.

Get involved

SQE: A fair assessment for all (Webinar, YouTube)

  • When: 12.00 – 12.20 on 23 April 2020
  • What: Explaining our approach to reasonable adjustments within the SQE assessments
  • Who: Len South, Academic Director, Kaplan
  • Learn more and book now

SQE2: Skills assessment (Webinar, YouTube)

  • When: 12.30 – 12.50 on 29 April 2020
  • What: Should the SQE2 assess legal skills against uniform scenarios, or allow candidates a choice of contexts?
  • Who: Julie Brannan, Director of Education and Training, SRA
  • Learn more and book now

Considering our approach to assessing skills in SQE2

By Julie Brannan, Director of Education and Training

One of the key questions we are currently considering is the SQE2 skills assessment. Should all candidates take the same assessment with exactly the same questions? Or should candidates be able to choose the contexts (property, civil litigation, criminal litigation, probate and business) within which they apply their legal skills?

Candidate choice would mean that candidates’ assessments could reflect their areas of work experience and future career aspirations. Most solicitors specialise. And many trainees start to specialise when they choose the firm in which they train.

On the other hand, the licence to practise is broad and all solicitors get the same rights on admission.

The case for uniformity:

  • Is it right for us to permit people to qualify if they haven’t demonstrated competence across all reserved activities? Given that it is a single qualification, shouldn’t there be a single assessment?
  • Can we be sure that everyone has been assessed to the same standard unless they have all taken exactly the same test? Consistency and fairness are key objectives for the SQE assessment.
  • Are legal skills transferrable from one context to another? We all recognise that trainees need to learn new skills at the start of each seat as they apply their skills to different areas across rotations round the office.

The case for choice:

  • In reality the vast majority of solicitors specialise and few people change practice area after admission.
  • Solicitors are under a professional duty not to practise in areas where they are not competent.
  • Specialisation pre-admission enables people to be trained specifically for the role that awaits them.

A focused training may make them more likely to be competent in that role. Early specialisation may make their training more efficient and cost-effective.

These are some of the issues we are considering and on which we would welcome any views ahead of taking final decisions on the design of the skills assessment. We would particularly like to hear from you about how either of these options would affect you or your organisation.

Watch our webinar to find out more and tell us your views on what should be assessed.

Other ways to get involved

Join our LinkedIn reference group. It will help you keep up to date with the latest SQE developments and opportunities to get involved in our surveys and events.

If you are thinking about taking the SQE, or know someone who is, please follow Career in Law for the latest information aimed at aspiring solicitors.

If you have any questions, or want more information on how you can get involved, contact us.

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