Decoding the Solicitors Qualifying Examination Format: What to Expect

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Decoding the Solicitors Qualifying Examination Format: What to Expect

If you aspire to become a solicitor in the UK, you’re probably already familiar with the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). This new examination, which is set to replace the current system of qualification, aims to provide a standardized approach to assessing the competence of aspiring solicitors.

However, if you’re like most candidates, you may be wondering what the SQE format actually looks like and what to expect on exam day. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of the SQE format, offering you a comprehensive guide to help you prepare and succeed in the examination.

The Structure of the SQE

The SQE is divided into two stages: SQE1 and SQE2. Let’s take a closer look at each stage:


SQE1 is designed to assess candidates’ functional legal knowledge, including their understanding of core subjects such as contract law, criminal law, and constitutional law. This stage consists of two multiple-choice question (MCQ) exams and one written response question (WRQ) exam.

The MCQ exams consist of 180 questions each, covering a range of legal topics. These exams are computer-based and aim to test your ability to apply legal principles to practical scenarios. Each question is worth one mark, and you will have a specified time limit to complete the exams.

The WRQ exam, on the other hand, is a written exam that assesses your ability to analyze legal problems, apply legal principles, and communicate your findings effectively. This exam will require you to answer a series of scenario-based questions in a written format.

It’s important to note that the SQE1 exams are held at designated exam centers, and you will be required to bring your own device, such as a laptop or tablet, to complete the exams.


SQE2 focuses on assessing candidates’ practical legal skills, including their ability to interview clients, draft legal documents, and engage in legal research. This stage consists of two practical assessments: oral skills assessment (OSA) and written skills assessment (WSA).

The OSA is an interactive assessment conducted through role plays, where you will be required to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively with a client or counterpart. This assessment aims to evaluate your skills in areas such as client care, problem-solving, and advocacy.

The WSA, on the other hand, is a written assessment that tests your ability to draft legal documents, such as contracts or legal opinions. This assessment requires you to analyze a given scenario and produce a written response based on the information provided.

Both the OSA and WSA will be conducted in a controlled environment, such as a designated assessment center, and you will be provided with the necessary materials to complete the assessments.

Preparing for the SQE

Now that we’ve covered the format of the SQE, let’s discuss some key strategies to help you prepare effectively for the examination:

1. Understand the Exam Format

As we’ve already discussed, familiarizing yourself with the format of the SQE is crucial. Take the time to read the official SQE regulations and guidance provided by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This will give you a clear understanding of what is expected from you in each stage of the examination.

2. Create a Study Plan

Developing a study plan is essential to stay organized and cover all the necessary topics. Break down your study material into manageable chunks and allocate specific time slots to cover each topic. Make sure to include regular revision periods to reinforce your understanding.

3. Use Reliable Study Resources

There are various study resources available to help you prepare for the SQE. Utilize textbooks, online materials, and practice exams to enhance your knowledge and test your understanding. Additionally, consider joining SQE preparation programs or courses that offer comprehensive study material and expert guidance.

SQE Resources for Aspiring Solicitors: Tools and References for Exam Preparation

4. Practice Time Management

Time management is key to success in the SQE, especially in the MCQ exams. Practice answering sample questions within the allocated time limit to improve your speed and accuracy. Additionally, simulate exam conditions during your practice sessions to get accustomed to the pressure and time constraints.

5. Seek Feedback and Support

Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from your peers, mentors, or tutors during your preparation. Their insights and suggestions can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your study approach. Join study groups or online forums to connect with other candidates and share valuable tips and resources.


The SQE format may seem daunting at first, but with the right preparation and strategies, you can navigate the examination successfully. Remember to familiarize yourself with the format, create a study plan, use reliable resources, practice time management, and seek feedback and support along the way.

For more comprehensive guidance on preparing for the SQE and maximizing your chances of success, check out our related articles:

By utilizing these resources and implementing effective study techniques, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the SQE and take a step closer towards your goal of becoming a qualified solicitor.

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