Students forced to queue for hours to book SQE exam

Avatar photo

By Aishah Hussain on


Wait times of up to two hours as online booking system opened this week

Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) candidates attempting to book sittings for the next stage of the assessment (SQE2) had to queue for hours for a limited number of slots when bookings opened this week.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s SQE website opened for bookings on Monday at 10am but several candidates experienced delays of up to two hours after logging in and joining the virtual queue.

One candidate described the experience as “stressful” given the booking system operates a ‘first come, first served’ basis and the limited number of spaces available for some parts of the first SQE2 assessment.

“I was put in the queue for an hour and a half, but the wait time kept changing from ten minutes to over an hour, so I couldn’t concentrate on anything else for fear of missing my spot!” reported another exam-taker.

A screenshot of the SRA’s SQE booking site showing wait times of ‘more than an hour’

The SQE provider Kaplan said it anticipated high demand when bookings opened so it operated a queuing system to ensure the process was as fair as possible. Kaplan said that the queue had cleared by early afternoon.

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

Students pay the regulator £2,422 to sit the second stage of the two-part SQE assessment. SQE2 examines practical legal skills through 16 tasks or ‘stations’. It comprises written assessments testing legal research, writing and drafting skills, for example, as well as oral assessments examining advocacy and client interviewing.

The exams take place in-person at Pearson VUE test centres in the UK from April 2022. But the oral exams for this first sitting are only available in London, Manchester and Cardiff. Some candidates told us these slots were quickly filled leaving them without the option to book oral exams in any of the three test centres.

Kaplan said there is still availability for SQE2 assessments, including places for oral assessments in each of the three cities in which they are being offered.

A Kaplan spokesperson said: “We anticipated a high level of demand for when booking opened. So we let people know in advance that there would be a queuing system in place to ensure that the process was as fair as possible. The queuing system provided candidates with their waiting times and place in the queue. By early afternoon there was no queue.”

The spokesperson added:

“Candidates have been able to book throughout the process since the booking window opened at 10am on Monday, 31st January.”

The booking system opening date was pushed back from 25 January to 31 January to give candidates more time to complete their registration and the pre-booking process. Bookings close on 7 March.

The SQE officially went live on 1 September 2021. The results of the first SQE exam (SQE1) were released by the regulator in late January (notwithstanding technical glitches, data issues and delays), with just over half (53%) of candidates making the grade.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, news and careers advice:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

Related Stories

news SQE Hub

Law school leaders react to first SQE results

Legal Cheek talks to the key players in legal education to understand what last week's results announcement means for students and the wider profession

Jan 26 2022 10:55am
news SQE Hub

Just over half of students pass first ever SQE

Regulator identifies 'attainment gap' among ethnic groups

Jan 21 2022 1:30pm
news SQE Hub

SQE results day hit by technical issues and delays

Some students found out their results late into the night, whilst some claim to have received other candidates' scores

Jan 21 2022 12:34pm