Breaking Down the SQE: All You Need to Know About the Exam

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Welcome to our blog post on the SQE exam! We understand that preparing for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) can be a daunting task, but fear not, because we are here to break it down for you. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about the exam, including its structure, content, and tips for success.

Understanding the SQE

The SQE is a two-part examination that will replace the traditional routes to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales. It is designed to test your practical legal skills and knowledge, ensuring that you are well-prepared to practice as a solicitor. The exam is administered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales.

Let’s dive deeper into the two stages of the SQE.


The first stage of the SQE focuses on assessing the key skills and competencies required for practice as a solicitor. It consists of two parts:

  • Functioning Legal Knowledge
  • Practical Legal Skills

The Functioning Legal Knowledge part tests your understanding of the core areas of law, such as contract law, criminal law, and property law. It is a multiple-choice exam that assesses your ability to apply legal principles to practical scenarios.

On the other hand, the Practical Legal Skills part focuses on your ability to demonstrate practical legal skills, such as legal research, client interviewing, and legal writing. This stage is designed to evaluate your competence in performing tasks that you would encounter in real-life legal practice.

To excel in SQE1, it is crucial to enhance your analytical skills and legal research abilities. Our 37. Legal Research for SQE: Enhancing Your Analytical Skills and 48. Unlocking Legal Research Skills for SQE Success articles provide valuable insights and tips on mastering legal research.


The second stage of the SQE focuses on assessing your ability to apply legal knowledge in practical scenarios. It is designed to evaluate your competence in the practice areas of your choice.

This stage consists of six written assessments, each focusing on a different practice area. These assessments are open-book exams that require you to analyze and solve legal problems based on realistic case studies.

If you are unsure about which practice area to choose, check out our article on 15. SQE Practice Areas: Choosing Your Specialization to gain insights into different practice areas and make an informed decision.

Preparing for the SQE

Now that you have a clear understanding of the structure of the SQE, it’s time to dive into the preparation process. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  1. Start Early: The SQE is a comprehensive exam that requires a solid foundation of legal knowledge and practical skills. Starting your preparation early will give you ample time to cover all the necessary topics and practice your skills.
  2. Create a Study Schedule: Plan your study time effectively by creating a study schedule. Allocate specific time slots for different subjects and practice areas to ensure a balanced preparation.
  3. Utilize Interactive Learning Tools: Incorporate interactive learning tools into your preparation to make it more engaging and effective. Our 23. Interactive SQE Learning Tools: Gamify Your Exam Prep article provides a list of valuable resources that can enhance your learning experience.
  4. Practice Past Exam Papers: Familiarize yourself with the exam format and types of questions by practicing past exam papers. This will help you understand the exam structure and identify areas where you need improvement.
  5. Seek Professional Guidance: Consider enrolling in a reputable SQE preparation course or seeking guidance from experienced professionals. Their expertise and insights can immensely benefit your preparation process.


The SQE exam is a challenging but necessary step towards becoming a solicitor in England and Wales. By understanding its structure, content, and preparing effectively, you can set yourself up for success.

Remember, preparing for the SQE is not just about cramming legal knowledge but also about developing practical skills and analytical thinking. By utilizing the right resources, such as interactive learning tools and professional guidance, you can strengthen your preparation and boost your chances of achieving SQE success.

Stay tuned for our next article, 62. SQE2: Everything You Need to Know About the Second Stage Exam, where we will delve deeper into the specifics of the second stage of the SQE.

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