SQE1 – My route to qualifying as a solicitor

SQE1 – My route to qualifying as a solicitor

I am currently a childcare paralegal at National Legal Service and am undertaking the SQE qualification route to qualify as a solicitor.

The SQE is split into two exams, SQE1 and SQE2:

  • SQE1 tests the candidates Functioning Legal Knowledge through two exams, each containing 180 single best answer multiple-choice questions, covering 16 legal subject areas.
  • SQE2 tests the candidates written and oral legal skills through 16 individual assessments over five days, covering legal writing, drafting and research, case and matter analysis, interviewing/attendance notes and advocacy.

I completed my SQE1 exam in July 2022 and I am thrilled to say that I was one of the 53% of people who passed the exams! I feel relieved and so proud of myself.

The preparation for the exams is definitely not easy but with the right dedication and study plan it can be overcome!

I have worked full time along my preparation for these exams and I do think working in Law has assisted me with my studies. I started studying in February 2022 for the July 2022 exams and used the QLTS School preparation course which I found very helpful. I implemented a strict schedule for my studying which included studying two hours before work, one hour at lunch time, and studying for the remainder of my evenings after work. I also studied every weekend. My life was truly focused around work and studying.

I am grateful to NLS and especially my team for being extremely supportive towards me and my undertaking of the SQE. The flexibility at NLS also allowed me to take paid study leave for revision and my exams.

I commenced my revision by going through each module and making my own revision notes. I would then complete some practice multiple choice questions  before moving onto the next module. Although it took time, I do think my own notes helped me as I was able to refer back to them and clearly read through them instead of having to go back to lengthy text books. For the last few months, I was studying around 8-9 hours per day. I understand studying 15-20 hours per week for around 5-6 months is recommended by the SRA.

When I studied law at university, the exams were based on essay style questions. The style of multiple-choice questions therefore felt unfamiliar. Also, the questions are based on a best choice answer, meaning that a number of the answers were correct, but you have to choose the best answer based on the facts provided in the question. I found this very difficult. It’s very easy to trip up and it is so important that you read each and every question very carefully and understand exactly what they are asking you and then understand which legal  principle would apply.

My approach to revision was practice, practice, practice! If I hadn’t put in the hours and work, I would not have achieved the results I did. Hard work truly does pay off!

At times I wanted to give up, but I tried to keep myself motivated and focused on my end goal which is to qualify as a solicitor. I can’t believe I am finally nearly there!

Throughout my revision, I realised that there is A LOT to learn and remember. I realised that it is not possible to retain every single detail on every single topic, but the trick was to retain as much as I can.

The Exam

The exams themselves were tough. It is a strenuous activity as each exam lasts 5 hours with a break of around 45 minutes mid-way. It was difficult to remain focused at times, especially in the second session, as I felt extremely drained from the first!

I did complete a number of timed mocks prior to the exam, but I still did not have lots of time to spare at the end. I would recommend to definitely practice the questions under similar timed conditions. I also found it helpful taking a couple of minutes break throughout the exams, looking away from the screen and having some water to refocus myself.

My strategy to answering questions in the exams included drawing a rough table on the whiteboards provided, with 7 columns ‘Question No A – E”.As I went through each question I marked down on the grid an “X” for whichever answer I was sure was incorrect and “?” for an answer that could potentially be correct and a tick for what I believed was the correct answer.

I found this technique extremely helpful as it helped me eliminate some answers by visually seeing it and when revisiting questions that I flagged, it helped me come to a decision as to what answer to choose.

Now onto preparation for SQE 2 in April 2022, the final step until I can apply to qualify as a solicitor after studying for over 6 years. Wish me luck!

Best of luck to you all taking the SQE route!

Grace Jenkins – Paralegal

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Shaoli has been a solicitor at NLS for over two years, transitioning from a background in criminal law to full-time family law. Her experience as a Criminal Duty Solicitor has equipped her with unique skills that are invaluable in her current role.
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