Education and training providers

29 October 2020

This information is for education and training providers, such as universities. It will help you understand more about the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), what it might mean for you and help you think through what you need to do to implement it.

What is the SQE?

A single, national licensing examination that all aspiring solicitors will take before qualifying. From 1 September 2021 to qualify they will need to:

Get ready

Keeping in touch

Talk to other legal practitioners about what they are doing. One way you can do this is by joining our LinkedIn reference group.

SQE: A fair assessment for all

We want our information about the content and administration of the SQE assessment to be as clear and accessible as possible.

If you are actively involved in training that aims to prepare candidates for the SQE assessments, you may find the questions and answers we post here useful. To ask a question, email us.

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The total fee for taking both SQE assessments will be £3,980. When it is introduced in September 2021, these fees will cover:

  • SQE1 - £1,558 for ten hours of examinations testing candidates' functioning legal knowledge.
  • SQE2 - £2,422 for 14 hours of written and oral tasks testing both practical legal knowledge and skills, such as advocacy, legal research and case and matter analysis.

Ethics and professional conduct are tested throughout both SQE1 and 2.

The fees do not include training costs, which will vary depending on a candidate's choices. Find out more about SQE training providers.

SQE assessments timings are not yet available. When we know what the final examinations will look like, then we will be able to offer more detailed information.

In tort, the concept of trespass to land is intrinsic to the topics of nuisance and occupiers' liability.

A candidate answering a question on either of those topics could be required to demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to apply the principles governing when and whether a person is trespassing on land.

The Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) does not include every topic which a well-prepared SQE candidate should study.  For example, in a criminal context, we would expect candidates to understand the concept of trespass, in order to apply it in answering a question on s.9 Theft Act 1968.  Trespass is not listed as a topic in the section of the FLK which deals with core principles of criminal liability.  A similar point could be made about the concept of dishonesty.

The timetable and structure of the SQE pilots is not necessarily the same as how future SQE assessments will be arranged and delivered. How the final assessment days are arranged is still subject to planning and venue availability. We are also considering the number of rest days between the written and oral assessments, and the order in which they will be offered.

The planned dates for 2021 and 2022 have been published, though these may change slightly and will be confirmed closer to the time of the assessments.
Information about the structure and content of the SQE assessments can be found in the assessment specifications for SQE1 and SQE2.

The first SQE1 assessment will take place in November 2021 and SQE2 in April 2022.

The first SQE1 assessment date and timetable will be published in April 2021, followed by the SQE2 timetable in September 2021.

SQE1 will usually be held over two consecutive days (or where this is not possible, over two days in close succession), with one exam of 180 questions on each day. This may vary in case of some reasonable adjustments (eg double time). 

Initially, all candidates will sit on the same two days. Over time Kaplan will monitor whether there is sufficient demand to offer the assessment within a testing window (eg across the course of a week).

The first assessment will take place in November 2021.

SQE2 has five sitting days. The written assessments will take place across three days in close succession at Pearson VUE test centres.

The oral assessments will take place across two half-days (initially) at venues in London, one in Wales and another location in England which is yet to be confirmed. 

The days will be in close succession - there will be a number of different dates offered, depending on anticipated demand for that sitting. Candidates will not necessarily complete SQE2 oral and SQE2 written in the same week.

How the assessment days are arranged is still subject to planning and venue availability. We are considering the number of rest days between the written and oral assessments, and the order in which they will be offered.

Kaplan will be considering operational requirements as well as how any arrangements might impact on candidates (eg in terms of travel, overnight stays, rest days etc).

It is also possible that with larger numbers of candidates, several runs of SQE2 oral will be necessary.

This is due to multiple groups taking the assessment within the same time frame, so group A may sit in the stated order, but group B may sit in reverse. This allows two cohorts of candidates to sit the assessment within the same timeframe.

The first SQE1 assessment date and timetable will be published in April 2021 and the SQE2 timetable in September 2021.

The first SQE1 assessment will take place in November 2021, followed by the first SQE2 in April 2022.

Going forward, the timetable will be published approximately 12 months in advance.

We expect bookings to close two months prior to the assessment. The planned dates for 2021 and 2022 have been published, though these may change slightly and will be confirmed closer to the time of the assessments. We will provide more information about when bookings open, after the final dates are confirmed.

If a candidate resits the whole of the SQE1, they will pay the full SQE1 fee. The individual fee for sitting either FLK1 or 2 (applicable for exemptions or resits) will be half of the full SQE1 fee.

Candidates resitting SQE2 will pay the full SQE2 fee.

Third-party sponsors will not receive the results for places that they have funded.

Timetables for future assessment windows will be published approximately 12 months in advance.

We have not released sittings for 2023 and beyond because we will still be learning about candidate volumes and ideal assessment windows in 2021-2022. Kaplan will assess the trends and demands of the initial assessment sittings when planning 2023 and beyond. 

It can’t be guaranteed because availability across the test centre network needs to be confirmed each year. This allows us to best match venues to demand. However if we know that this is important to stakeholders, we can consider it in our planning.

Assessments can take place in the Pearson Professional Centres or in other centres in the Pearson VUE test centre network. Not all centres deliver all exams at all times but Kaplan will work closely with Pearson VUE to make sure there is sufficient capacity available.

When the SQE website launches, candidates will be able to see available centres in the booking site, search by postcode, town etc and compare availability at the centres nearest to them.

In the meantime, Pearson VUE run many other licensing exams at their centres, so you might find it helpful to look at their website to see how this search works.

SQE2 oral assessments will take place in three cities initially (one in London, one in Wales and a third elsewhere in England), increasing to five cities as demand increases.

Written tests will be taken at Pearson VUE test centres, and oral assessments will initially be available at set venues in London, Wales and a third city elsewhere in England.

Candidates must request reasonable adjustments. More detail on the process will be available when the reasonable adjustments policy and reasonable adjustments FAQs are published, which will be by the end of October.

SQE2 sample questions and sample answers are due to be published in autumn 2020.

This information offers further guidance in line with the common protocol and the transitional arrangements set out our rules (regulation 11 of the SRA Authorisation of Individuals Regulations).

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Validating courses

As set out in our common protocol, we will continue to validate qualifying law degrees (QLDs), exempting law degree (ELD) and Common Professional Examination (CPE) courses for academic year 2021/22.

For courses to be eligible for this validation, students must have accepted offers on or before 31 August 2021 and the course must start on or before 31 December 2021.

The validation remains in place until students have completed their course, in accordance with the requirements of the SRA's academic stage handbook.

Validating courses which start in or after academic year 2021/22

Subject to the exceptions below, we will not validate courses which start after 31 December 2021.

This means that students cannot defer their offer of a QLD, ELD or CPE if it means that they would start the course after 31 December 2021.

This is, however, subject to two exceptions:

  • Students who defer an accepted place from 2020/21 to 2021/22 may start their QLD/ELD/CPE at any time in academic year 2021/22, up to and including 31 August 2022.
  • Individuals who have accepted the offer of a period of recognised training on or before 31 August 2021 may start a CPE any time in academic year 2021/22 up to and including 31 August 2022.

These students will need to keep evidence of their deferral in order to be accepted onto a Legal Practice Course (LPC). This could be, for example, a letter from you making clear that they had accepted a place to start in 2020/21 and had deferred it to the subsequent academic year.

See how this will affect your students

Non-law students who have accepted the offer of a period of recognised training before 1 September 2021

It is possible that some non-law students may be offered a period of recognised training before 1 September 2021, and before they have been offered a place on a CPE.

Again, in order to fairly balance individual circumstances against the need to introduce the SQE without unnecessary delay, we will extend our validation of programmes which meet our requirements for the CPE for one year, for this group of students.

We will therefore recognise programmes which start before 31 August 2022, and which meet our requirements for the CPE, for individuals who have received the offer of a period of recognised training before 1 September 2021.

This applies only to CPE courses, not to QLDs.

Students will need to evidence their accepted offer in order to be accepted onto the CPE (and in due course onto the LPC. For example, this could take the form of the exchange of correspondence between them and their training provider, accepting the offer of a period of recognised training.

See how this will affect your students.

Validating courses

Your Legal Practice Course (LPC) approval is extended until at least the end of the academic year 2025/26. This is so any students who have started a qualifying law degree (QLD) or Common Professional Examination (CPE) course, before the SQE's introduction, can progress onto the LPC, as long as these courses are available.

Entry requirements for the LPC

The conditions of approval state that students admitted to your courses should meet our LPC entry requirements. This means they need to have completed the academic stage of training by successfully completing either a QLD or CPE.

We will continue to validate QLDs and CPE/GDL courses for academic year 2021/22, provided they start on or before 31 December 2021.

This is, however, subject to two exceptions:

  • Students who defer an accepted place from 2020/21 to 2021/22 may start their QLD/ CPE at any time in academic year 2021/22, up to and including 31 August 2022.
  • Individuals who have accepted the offer of a period of recognised training on or before 31 August 2021 may start a CPE any time in academic year 2021/22 up to and including 31 August 2022.

Subject to these two exceptions, we will cease to recognise QLD and CPE/GDL courses which start after 31 December 2021. Students graduating from those courses will not have met our LPC entry requirements and should not be admitted to an LPC.

Other students graduating from courses which start in or after academic year 2021/22

Anyone who does not fall within the two exceptional groups will not fall within the transitional arrangements and therefore will not meet the requirements to start the LPC. They will need to sit the SQE assessments and meet our other requirements to qualify as a solicitor.

Annual course monitoring

We will continue to monitor courses annually for as long as you continue to offer the LPC. But we will amend our narrative report to ask about planned course closure arrangements.

As LPCs come to an end, we will work with you to make sure standards are maintained. This may include informal conversations, formal monitoring visits, attendance at your examination boards and/or requests for information.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

See how this will affect your students.