SQE2 Pilot Key Information

Q&A

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

  • pass the two stages of examination (SQE1 and SQE2)
  • have a degree or equivalent qualification or experience
  • complete two years’ qualifying work experience
  • meet our character and suitability requirements.

It is not proposed that SQE2 will include a single best answer multiple choice test but it is included in the pilot for purposes of data analysis.

We were looking for candidates with and without work experience in English and Welsh law. This could include:

  • paralegals
  • chartered legal executives
  • trainee solicitors
  • solicitor apprentices.

Candidates should have at least one of the following education and experience criteria:

  • completed Stage 1 (the compulsory element) of the Legal Practice Course (LPC); or
  • 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.

Individuals who fell into the categories below were not eligible to take part in the pilot:

  • qualified Solicitors of England and Wales
  • those who are able to apply for qualification by the time of the pilot (10 December 2019)
  • those sitting the QLTS OSCE assessments in November 2019 and therefore will be awaiting their results at the date of the pilot.

This is because they will not be at the same stage of qualifying as candidates who will eventually sit the SQE.

The pilot was oversubscribed, and so preference was given to those who applied early, taking into account the factors outlined above.

However we will make reasonable adjustments to the way they are assessed in line with the Equality Act 2010. We are liaising with candidates that have requested reasonable adjustments. 

Days 1 and 2 (computer-based assessments, see below) will be longer days, with candidates expected to attend for approximately 6.5 hours.

Days 3-5 (oral and written assessments, see below) may not be as long, with candidates expected to attend for a long half day.

Specific timings have been given to  candidates taking part in the pilot. However, if there are unforeseen circumstances, such as technical difficulties, the days may be longer. There will be appropriate breaks during the days.

Candidates selected to sit the pilot will need to attend on all the days specified to them.

Days 1 and 2:

10-11 December (written assessments including a multiple-choice test element):These will be computer-based assessments and will take place at Pearson VUE test centres in the UK and, subject to availability, internationally. A large selection of test centres are available but places at any particular centre are subject to demand and availability. Candidates select a test centre once they accepted a place on the pilot. Candidates will need to attend both assessment days.

Days 3-5:

13-15 December (oral and written assessments): The assessments will take place at:

Candidates selected to sit the pilot were notified of which location they should attend after they accepted the offer to take part. These assessments will not be computer based.

Please note that candidates will only need to attend on two days for this part of the pilot.

Candidates will attend on different days according to the specialisation they have selected (see 'What will I be tested on?' for more information about the specialisations). Candidates were told which days to attend after they accepted the offer to take part.

Career development. Taking part in the pilot is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their commitment and enthusiasm for the law to employers and others. Furthermore, 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, a work experience placement and career development coaching.

The firms currently offering these opportunities are:

  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  • Browne Jacobson
  • Fletchers Solicitors
  • Mayer Brown
  • Michelmores
  • Mishcon de Reya
  • Moore Blatch.

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 that may be available.

We will continue to liaise 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 per cent will receive an additional £200. To receive payment, they must complete the entire SQE2 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 cannot qualify by doing the pilot.

Candidates must not remove any materials from the test centre. They must also keep the content of the assessments confidential and not disclose or discuss any of the content with any other party.

  • Criminal Practice
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Property Practice
  • Wills and the Administration of Estates and Trusts
  • Business Practice.

Assessments

The legal skills assessments in the SQE2 pilot are:

  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Legal drafting
  • Case and matter analysis
  • Oral presentation/advocacy
  • Client interview
  • Attendance note/case analysis (linked to the client interview).

Legal Skills Assessments

For the purposes of the pilot, candidates will complete the seven legal skills assessments twice (ie they will do a total of 14 assessments) as follows:

  • seven assessments in a practice area chosen by the candidate (the “specialisation”). Candidates were asked to choose between (1) business practice and (2) criminal practice. Candidates indicated their preference of specialisation in the application form and if they are prepared to sit in the other specialisation if their preferred option is not available
  • seven assessments which range across the five practice areas (the “common core”), ie there will be at least one assessment in each of the five practice areas. Advocacy/oral presentation in the common core will be in dispute resolution or criminal practice.

To allow us to conduct the analysis of the pilot we would like a similar number of candidates to take each specialisation. If the specialisations are oversubscribed, preference will be given to those candidates that apply early, taking into account the need to achieve a broadly similar number of candidates for each specialist practice area.

Read more about the format of the Legal Skills Assessments.

Single best answer multiple choice question test

The SQE2 pilot also includes a test of the Functioning Legal Knowledge comprising single best answer multiple choice questions. This test will provide data to help inform and extend the analysis to be carried out following the SQE2 pilot.

Candidates will need to answer 120 single best answer multiple choice questions over two days, as follows:

Candidates taking the business specialisation. These candidates will take the following multiple choice assessments:

  • 10 December: 60 single best answer multiple choice questions sampling from all areas of the Functioning Legal Knowledge except:
    • Legal system of England and Wales, including Sources of law
    • Constitutional law and EU law including Human Rights Act 1998
    • Equality Act 2010
    • Legal Services
    • Solicitors Accounts.
  • 11 December: 60 single best answer multiple choice questions sampling from business law and practice including taxation; money laundering and financial services; contract law and related questions on ethics.

Candidates taking the criminal specialisation. These candidates will take the following multiple choice assessments:

  • 10 December: 60 single best answer multiple choice questions sampling from all areas of the Functioning Legal Knowledge except:
    • Legal system of England and Wales, including Sources of Law
    • Constitutional law and EU law including Human Rights Act 1998
    • Equality Act 2010
    • Legal Services
    • Solicitors Accounts.
  • 11 December: 60 single best answer multiple choice questions sampling from core principles of criminal liability, criminal litigation and related questions on ethics.

These single best answer multiple choice questions test the candidates’ ability to apply core legal principles and rules appropriately and effectively at the level of a newly qualified solicitor in practice; to realistic client-based and ethical problems and situations. Further detail will be provided in the assessment specification for the pilot which will be available in advance of the pilot. We will inform candidates selected to sit the pilot when the assessment specification is available and provide a link to it by email.

Each of the questions on the single best answer multiple choice test is followed by five possible answers. Candidates should choose the best answer from the stated alternatives. Candidates should mark only one answer for each question. Multiple answers will not be counted.

Please note: Using single best answer multiple choice questions in this pilot is for the purpose of enriching the pilot data for analysis. The proposed design of the actual SQE2 assessments does not include single best answer multiple choice questions tests.

For the specialisation in the legal skills assessments, candidates will be provided with materials a day one solicitor would usually look up. For the common core in the legal skills assessments, candidates will be provided with core materials. Any other materials, such as books and notes, cannot be brought into or used during the pilot assessments.

They will have to explain to the partner their legal reasoning and the key sources they rely on. They will not need to produce a research trail. Candidates will be provided with the sources for the legal research exercise: these may include both primary and secondary sources. Some of the sources provided may not be relevant. Candidates will be given 60 minutes to complete the exercise.

Legal writing. Candidates will be asked to write a letter or an email as the solicitor acting in a matter. Candidates will be given 30 minutes to complete the exercise.

Legal drafting. Candidates will be asked to draft a legal document or parts of a legal document. This may take the form of drafting from a precedent or amending a document already drafted, but it may also involve drafting without either of these. Candidates will be given 45 minutes to complete the exercise.

Case and matter analysis. Candidates will be working with a case or transaction. Candidates will need to report in writing to a partner on the case, giving a legal analysis as requested and suggesting options and strategies as appropriate including as part of a negotiation. Candidates will be given 60 minutes to complete the exercise.

Oral presentation/advocacy. Candidates are given a separate case study on which they will conduct a piece of advocacy/make an oral presentation. An email asks the candidate to conduct the advocacy/make the presentation and tells them before whom this will be made. Where relevant, candidates are also given a file of documents. Candidates will be given 45 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to make their presentation.

Client interview. Candidates are given an email from a partner or a secretary indicating who the client is and something about what the client has come to discuss. The email may, but will not necessarily, be accompanied by documents. Candidates have 10 minutes to consider the email and/or documents. They then have up to 25 minutes to conduct the interview with the client.

Attendance note/case analysis (linked to the client interview). Following the client interview (above), candidates will have 25 minutes to write by hand an attendance note/case analysis of the interview they have just completed.

Please note: The client interview and oral presentation/advocacy assessments may be recorded. Any recordings will be deleted at the end of the assessment process.

We will therefore make a contribution towards reasonable travel expenses for candidates that are eligible. The contribution will be up to a maximum of £150 in total, per eligible candidate, to attend these oral and written assessments in London. To be eligible, candidates must:

  • start their journey more than 40 miles from the assessment venue they are allocated
  • use standard class travel
  • complete an expense form which we will provide
  • submit valid receipts
  • attend and complete all of the pilot assessments.

No contribution towards travel expenses will be made for candidates to attend the computer-based assessments on 10 and 11 December.

Applications have now closed. Full details of how candidates have been selected are given above, including that preference was given to those who applied early, taking into account the need to achieve a broadly similar number of candidates for each specialist practice area.

Further information

If you have a question, please get in touch.