A law grad and training contract offer holder details their journey through SQE1
Like most others starting on the SQE, I too had heard the horror stories — too much content, a nightmare to book the assessments and long, tiring exam days. Having recently sat both FLK1 and FLK2 for the first time, this is how I found it.
Studying for SQE1
Having already done a law degree in England, I started preparing for the SQE1 thinking that I might have it easier. But the reality was that a few years had passed since those contract and tort modules and my memory was more than a bit rusty. So, as it turned out, I had to put just as much time into studying for some of the subjects I’d already covered on my law degree, as for those I hadn’t previously encountered.
The large volume of content that the SQE1 tests on was also something to get used to in the initial weeks. Even with the support of a preparation course, I often felt like I was just constantly learning new information and felt doubtful if I was actually absorbing anything. I was used to studying law with cases mapping out the nuanced progression of a rule over time and applying that knowledge in problem questions and essays, while the SQE1 is a multiple-choice question exam. I certainly found myself over-analysing and questioning the answer choices, falling back into the habit of covering all bases as we’re taught to do in a law degree. It also didn’t help that the SQE1 answer choices are in a ‘single best answer’ format, so you’re not necessarily choosing the right answer from a selection of wrong ones — there could be more than one response that answer the question correctly, just that there’s only one which answers it the best.
It took me a few weeks to get into a good study routine, force myself to be consistent and stick to a schedule. Once I did this, I found myself feeling less overwhelmed by how much there was to get through, because it just came down to methodically following a plan. It’s important to remember that there’s going to be some subjects you get the hang of really easily, and some that you just can’t seem to get right. Because the SQE1 is a pass/fail exam, try not to get too bogged down by wanting to learn everything in all the subjects perfectly, and instead, be strategic about your strengths and weaknesses and the areas that you can realistically improve on by dedicating a few extra study hours. Analysing your scores across the different subjects in practice questions and mock exams is helpful to try and understand this — while it may take a bit of extra time, it’s definitely worth it because it means your revision can be more focused.
Having a clear schedule and sticking to it also means that you have better boundaries when it comes to juggling work, family and social commitments, and don’t feel guilty about taking time off so you don’t end up burned out.
Revising for SQE1
When revising I really had to resist the temptation to try and perfect every little bit of information on the SQE1 syllabus. The SRA website provides an outline of the percentage of questions that will be asked from each subject area — it definitely helped me to keep this in mind when revising, so that I wasn’t spending hours and hours on a tiny section of the course that might only come up in a couple of questions on the exam.
I also tried to balance revising content with doing practice questions every day when I was revising, since I found that there was sometimes a gap between knowing the information and applying it to the MCQs. Doing mock exams is also quite helpful to figure out when you start losing focus and begin feeling tired under timed conditions, so that you can factor in some time to take a water break in the exam.
I made sure that I wasn’t doing too many practice questions in the last couple of days before the exam and focused more on any loose ends in the actual content to try and keep my mind fresh for the 5 hours of MCQs on assessment day.
Sitting the exams
After the initial struggle of booking a centre to sit FLK 1 and FLK 2, there wasn’t anything unexpected about the process of sitting either exam — just the usual things. Arriving well ahead of time, having the right ID documents to hand, wearing comfortable clothes — as for any exam.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect was trying not get demotivated when faced with a series of challenging questions and ensuring I wasn’t spending too much time on any one question — I found it helpful to use the ‘flag’ function to earmark questions I was struggling with and come back to it at the end to try and work the answer out. I certainly found my focus wavering around the halfway mark and really had to force myself to concentrate on answering the questions.
Of course, I’ve only just sat the exams, so I haven’t got my results to hand yet. But it might help those who are feeling a bit lost about preparing for and sitting the SQE1 exams to hear about a recent experience of doing the same, for what it’s worth!
‘SQE Student’ is a law grad and training contract offer holder.