SQE Exam Pattern Revealed: Understanding the Format for Success

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SQE Exam Pattern Revealed: Understanding the Format for Success

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is the new standardized assessment that all aspiring solicitors in England and Wales will need to take to qualify. It aims to ensure that all candidates can demonstrate the necessary legal knowledge and practical skills required to practice law effectively.

In order to succeed in the SQE, it’s essential to understand the exam format and structure. In this article, we will reveal the SQE exam pattern and provide you with valuable insights to help you prepare effectively for this important assessment.

Overview of the SQE Exam

The SQE consists of two stages: SQE1 and SQE2. Each stage assesses different aspects of a candidate’s legal knowledge and skills.


SQE1 is a computer-based assessment that focuses on testing candidates’ functioning legal knowledge across various areas of law. It consists of two parts:

  1. Functioning Legal Knowledge Test
  2. Practical Legal Skills Test

The Functioning Legal Knowledge Test is further divided into two sections:

  1. Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)
  2. Scenario-Based Questions (SBQs)


SQE2 is an assessment of candidates’ practical legal skills. It incorporates both written and oral elements and is designed to evaluate candidates’ ability to apply legal principles in practice. It consists of the following five areas:

  1. Client Interviewing and Attendance Note
  2. Advocacy
  3. Case and Legal Analysis
  4. Legal Research
  5. Legal Drafting

Each area is assessed through various tasks and exercises.

Understanding the Exam Format

Now that we have an overview of the different stages of the SQE, let’s delve deeper into the exam format.

SQE1 Format

The SQE1 exam consists of:

  1. 180 multiple-choice questions (MCQs)
  2. Task-based scenario questions (SBQs)

There will be a total of 360 marks available for both the MCQs and SBQs. The MCQs are designed to test your understanding of legal principles, while the SBQs assess your ability to apply those principles in practical scenarios.

It’s important to note that the MCQs are not simply recall-based questions. They require you to analyze and apply your legal knowledge effectively.

SQE2 Format

The SQE2 exam is a combination of written and oral assessments that evaluate your practical legal skills. Let’s look at the format of each area:

Client Interviewing and Attendance Note

This area assesses your ability to effectively interview a client and produce a concise and accurate attendance note. You will be required to review a client’s information and ask relevant questions to gather important details. The attendance note should summarize the key points discussed during the interview.


In the advocacy assessment, you will be given a scenario and asked to present a legal argument before a panel. This could involve delivering an opening statement, examining witnesses, or making closing submissions. The panel will evaluate your presentation skills, legal knowledge, and your ability to effectively convey your argument.

Case and Legal Analysis

This section requires you to analyze a given case and provide a written analysis of the legal issues involved. You will need to identify the relevant legal principles, apply them to the facts of the case, and provide a well-reasoned analysis. Attention to detail, critical thinking, and clear communication are crucial in this assessment.

Legal Research

In the legal research assessment, you will be provided with a research problem and asked to research relevant legal sources to find the necessary information. You will need to effectively navigate legal databases and other reference materials to locate and analyze the required legal information. Your ability to summarize and present the findings of your research is also essential.

Legal Drafting

The legal drafting assessment requires you to draft a legal document based on a given scenario. This could involve drafting a contract, a letter of advice, or any other legal document relevant to the scenario. Your drafting skills, attention to detail, and understanding of legal principles will be evaluated in this assessment.

Preparing for Success

Based on the exam format and requirements, it’s clear that a comprehensive and well-rounded preparation strategy is essential for success in the SQE.

Here are some key tips to help you prepare effectively:

  1. Understand the exam format: Familiarize yourself with the structure, timing, and requirements of both SQE1 and SQE2.
  2. Review core legal principles: Brush up on your knowledge of key legal areas covered in the exam.
  3. Practice MCQs and SBQs: Solve practice questions to get comfortable with the type of questions asked in the exam and develop efficient answering techniques.
  4. Develop practical skills: Work on enhancing your practical legal skills through mock interviews, advocacy exercises, case analysis, research, and drafting tasks.
  5. Manage your time effectively: Time management is crucial in the SQE. Refer to our article on Time Management for SQE: Strategies for effectively allocating study time and managing tasks for valuable insights on managing your study schedule.
  6. Stay informed about the latest trends: Stay updated with the pass rates and performance trends by referring to our article on SQE Results: Analyzing Pass Rates and Performance Trends.
  7. Learn from successful candidates: Gain valuable insights from successful SQE candidates by reading their testimonials in our article 47. Student Testimonials: Insights from Successful SQE Candidates.
  8. Seek guidance and support: Connect with mentors, tutors, and study groups to seek guidance and support throughout your SQE preparation journey. Engage in discussions and share experiences with fellow candidates in our article 6. Student Experiences: Navigating the Journey to SQE Success.

By following these tips and adopting a focused and disciplined approach, you can increase your chances of success in the SQE exam.

Remember, preparation is key to perform at your best. Develop a study plan, stick to it, and utilize the available resources effectively.

Good luck with your SQE exam preparation!

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