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 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.