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New solicitor super-exam ‘likely’ to cost between £3,000 – £4,500

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But SRA delays implementation date until September 2021, one year later than previously proposed

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed students will “likely” pay between £3,000 and £4,500 to sit the new solicitor super-exam, as it confirmed a revised launch date of September 2021 — a year later than previously proposed.

As part of today’s update, the regulator published a breakdown of the provisional fee range for both parts of the new centralised Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), otherwise known as the super-exam. SQE1, which focuses on black-letter law and will take the form of a computer-based, multiple-choice assessment, is likely to cost anywhere between £1,100 and £1,650. Meanwhile, SQE2, which tests practical legal skills such as advocacy, is likely to cost between £1,900 and £2,850.

The regulator stressed the costs are “indicative” as the SRA continues to work with Kaplan (the education giant which won the contract to run the SQE earlier this year) to develop and test the assessment. Factors that could change the costs include the length of the assessment and whether it is offered in both English and Welsh.

It is worth noting that today’s costs focus on the examination itself and do not include preparation course fees. While some law schools have already confirmed they will incorporate SQE prep into their current LLB offerings, others have revealed plans to launch a standalone course, adding potentially thousands onto the final bill. Despite this additional cost, the new route to qualification could yet still prove much cheaper than the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Legal Cheek’s LPC Most List shows a student in London can pay northwards of £16,000 to secure a place on the year-long course.

The 2019 LPC Most List

The regulator also today confirmed it has pushed back the SQE’s implementation date until September 2021, having previously proposed a launch date of September 2020. It said the additional time was in response to “strong” feedback from law firms and education providers. The revised date means that students who have started a law degree before September 2021 will have the option to qualify under the old system up until 2032.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said:

“We want everyone to be ready to make the most of the SQE. We have listened to law firms and universities, who have told us that 2021 gives them the right amount of time to prepare. Our priority is creating a rigorous, value for money assessment that drives consistent high standards. The SQE also offers a fresh opportunity to increase access to the profession. A competitive training market, offering real choices, will help the profession attract the best talent.”

The SRA confirmed Kaplan will be running pilots from next year to test the effectiveness of the assessment, and has already made some tweaks to the original proposals. Following a review of SQE1, the pilot is going to be much shorter than originally planned. It will include just 360 questions split over three separate examination papers, instead of 680 questions split over six separate examination papers.

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39 Comments

I look into my crystal ball...

SQU examination costs = £4,500
BPP SQE prep course + “LLM” in business = £12,000

BPP Shareholder dolla dolla bill y'all

LMAOOOOO this is right on the money

Anonymous

5 to 3 times less than the cost of an LPC which doesn’t even guarantee a training contract.

I have seen people do the LPC couldn’t get a training contact and then do CILEX afterwards.

Anonymous

Yes but they can then apply for a waiver from the SRA and get admitted as a solicitor after completing the CILex route.

Anonymous

Of course they can get a waiver but to spend close to 30000 doing both a LPC and Cilex to be a solicitor not including 27000 uni fees is too much.

Anonymous

not the case, I got my CILEx paid for by the firm. Then paid for LPC myself. The firm paid for the admission costs.

Anonymous

Are you talking about doing Cilex modules (instead of doing a law degree) and then doing the LPC to get admitted? I was on about the Cilex diploma to get admitted instead of the LPC.

Sceptical individual

True, but if it is organised similarly to QLTS – the English law exam foreign lawyers need to pass to qualify as a solicitor, it is quite possible that the pass rate will be around 30-40%, meaning some people will need to pay two or three times (not even speaking about the price of the preparation courses).

Sigh

Ah yes. The emergence of “lawyers”.

Sneaky.

Anonymous

The big difference here is that many more will have to sit the assessment more than once. Many of the assessments are modelled on the QLTS assessments, where pass rates have typically been much lower than the GDL/LPC. So for many more students they will be paying possibly £8,000 or £12,000 – and that is just to sit the exams, let alone any prep course fees to get ready for the assessments. BARBRI charge £4,500 for their QLTS prep courses just to give you an indication.

sounds like a bargain

So…

4.5k * however many times you need to retake the exam

+

god knows how much the prep course costs

+

living expenses during this period

=

still a lot of money

Anonymous

“multiple-choice assessment, is likely to cost anywhere between £1,100 and £1,650. ” That is a lot for a test the will be marked automatically.

It may be that the preparation course will not be too high – and certainly nowhere near the cost of the LPC,

As far as I understand it, the multiple-choice test of the SQE will be based on the QLTS. The bad news for students and firms is that the pass rate for the MCT, at the last sitting, was only 50% (and that was high compared to previous years).

It is extremely difficult to fail the LPC with one leading provider boasting of a pass rate of over 98%. It is also becoming increasingly easier to obtain a First Class degree at university with all this grade inflation (or, just maybe, the current generations of students are much much brighter than students in the past).

So, imagine taking Contract and Tort in the first year. Property Law in year two. And, on graduation, having to sit a MCT testing you on all you have studied with a pass rate of 50%.

Many students will fail the MCT part of the SQE, unless they take a crammer course.

There are some organisations out there (such as QLTS School with a MCT pass rate of over 80%) with years of experience at getting delegates throughout the MCT. Barbri is beavering away on a crammer. Many others will soon jump on the crammer bandwagon and there will be a huge choice of crammer courses, all offering the same product with thousands of similar online sample questions. This competition will keep the costs down. And universities will have to add on crammer courses to their degrees – they do not want large numbers of their graduates failing.

So, yes, it is a hurdle, and will, for some, prove to be a very tough hurdle. But it is likely to be a cheaper one than the unchallenging LPC.

On the downside, as much as students seem to hate the LPC, the content of the LPC, especially the Electives, does give trainees some understanding of what they are like to encounter in practice. The City firms are considering what they will do once the Electives go (along with the LPC). Smaller firms may not have the buying power to design in-house training and will need other solutions.

Anonymous

Very good analysis of the position. As you alluded to however, the issue may be placing the focus on cost for prospective lawyers, instead of quality of content. I am a first year trainee in a litigation seat and the LPC is geared towards practice and gives the basic foundations for moving from the academic side to the practical world of being a solicitor.

Daniel Stalmach - 3rd Year Law Student, University of Greenwich

The SQE will be a travesty to law students. SQE 1 will result in a repetitive legal education as many law students have studied the core modules. I cannot understand why there is no exemption for law students. What’s more, these core modules result in a less tailored legal education for those who already know which areas they wish to practice in. The SRA reasons that this ‘super-exam’ will make access to the legal profession easier however the way they are going about this is anything but ‘super’.

Anonymous

Are you happy paying 16000 to do a LPC and become a paralegal, and get turned down for not having enough experience?

Already through the system so not bothered

does anyone even understand this thing?

Anonymous

Would those with LLB still have to do SQE1?

Anonymous

Yes – it is a standardised qualification for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your qualification is (it doesn’t even need to be a degree – it can be an equivalent).

Anonymous

Yes. And huge numbers will fail it. 50% pass rate for the MCT part of the QLTS. This is going to come as a shock to many.

Anonymous

That is insane. Have universities not objected to this? I imagine LLB numbers could go down a lot. There would then be no point at all in doing an undergraduate law degree if you have to repeat everything again on the SQE1.

Anonymous

There is an element of truth in this. However, the undergraduate law degree will provide a good foundation for the SQE.

But an undergraduate course is not necessary if you want to become a solicitor. This is the case now with students who have taken a degree in a much more interesting area catching up with law graduates by taking the one year GDL.

And if you want to become a lawyer, don’t study law at university. Do anything else. For someone with more authority, see Lord Sumption below. He recommends history or classics but how about engineering, computer studies, any of the science? In the unlikely event that you will then want to forego careers in these areas to become a lawyer, you will likely be able to use the knowledge acquired from these disciplines very effectively in a legal career.

https://www.legalcheek.com/2018/10/to-become-a-lawyer-dont-study-law-says-supreme-courts-lord-sumption-do-history-classics-economics-or-languages-instead/

Anonymous

SQE1 is GDL replacement.

I don’t see any logic in having to repeat the basics of black letter law in SQE1 when you have already studied the law in far greater depth during the LLB.

Certainly, there are the usual pros and cons of studying law at undergraduate vs studying non-law. In the past the choice was LLB + LPC or non-law BA + GDL+ LPC. Now in essence what it means is whether you have studied law at undergraduate or not, you will have to do the GDL equivalent.

Anonymous

It isn’t too expensive.

It is possible to make quite a bit of money by setting up a web camera and taking off clothes for tips. It will be easy for students to raise the funds.

Anonymous

This, but unfortunately some students are prudes and are afraid of swallowing a bit of pride in exchange for advancing their careers. Pathetic.

Alice

Why should we have to resort to that kind of muck? Disgusting idea.

Cockstain

Just avoid going into law kids. It’s a shit job and you can make better dollars in other careers.

Anonymous

Unclear what the recruitment market will be for people who just do these exams and no course to back it up. Doesn’t SQE 2 require an element of actual work experience before it is taken? I suppose you could just rock up and try it but is that a very good idea? I suppose until a set of specimen questions are produced no-one will know whether you can wing it or whether the usual leeches will establish a culture of fear that you can’t possibly pass it unless “you do our Masters” or whatever. I wonder how much the resit fees will be?

Anonymous

No – last time I looked, there was no restriction in someone taking SQE Stage 2 before completing any form of qualifying work experience. However, that approach was challenged, so the SRA might have waivered on that

Anonymous

Who cares what it costs. No right-thinking future trainee would go to a firm which doesn’t pay it anyway.

Anonymous

Who the fuck do you think you are? You fucking arsehole. You prick. I am right-thinking yet I have accepted a training contract offer that doesn’t cover the cost of my LPC. It is a great firm but it isn’t big enough to be able to pay the fees. How the fuck does that mean that I am not right-thinking? You dick.

Anonymous

Yes because seeking financial security is not right-thinking. Right.

Anonymous

Seeking it? A firm either offers it or it does not offer it. You stupid, daft cunt.

Anonymous

Loud as a motorbike. You must be about 165-170cm, male, insecure.

Anonymous

What the bleeding fuck does my height have to do with it? I am actually about 173cm so you are a bit off the mark there. I wouldn’t say that I am insecure. I am a confident person. I’m actually quite popular too. I have more friends than most other people I know. You on the other hand come across as an arrogant twat who is probably used to surrounding himself by similar bafoon-minded clowns and half-wits. Fuck off. Fuck off. Fuck off.

MsPacman

I can’t tell if this guy is the best troll in the world or not

Anonymous

Sod it! Just go on The Apprentice like that brilliant law graduate has just done. Or on Love Island like that other brilliant solicitor! Simples!

Claire

What the SRA should have done instead of this super exam circus which, despite the reassurance, will altogether cost as much as the LPC (prep fees + exam fees + possible retake fees), would be an introduction of a course similar to LPC but only once the person has a training contract already secured. Similar measures operate in many countries in Europe, for instance in Ireland.

This would substantially reduce the number of students who undertake LPC only to end up as paralegals for many years (if not for ever) and also would benefit fresh graduates who miss out on a lot of jobs that for some reason require completed LPC.

But of course any logical solutions that could benefit future generations stand no reasonable chance because well, ekhem… money, right?

Anonymous

I think that’s what they proposed, do part 1 of the SQE then undertake 2 years training and finish off with SQE part 2 (wrap up PSC included)

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