The Legal Cheek View
US-based legal education provider BARBRI, previously best known in the UK for its New York and California bar exam prep courses and Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) prep courses, launched its Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) Prep course in January 2021 and has quickly grown to become a leading online player in the market.
What sets it apart
BARBRI’s SQE offering differentiates from that of traditional market players on both price and delivery. SQE1 and SQE2 Prep courses are offered at £2,999 respectively, with SQE2 Prep costing £3,499 for non-BARBRI alumni.
Using its existing investment in technology and more than 50-years’ experience in training candidates to master multiple-choice exam questions, BARBRI’s courses are delivered mostly online, with some workshops taking place on-campus at the universities with which it has partnered.
Doing an SQE course and being told to not make any notes may seem rather counterintuitive, but this is BARBRI’s advice to students.
Its SQE Prep courses come equipped with ISAAC, an Intuitive Study Assistant and Coach. This handy tool generates a ‘Personal Study Plan’, or PSP, which updates based on time left until the exam and allows each student to customize their schedule. You can block out days off if you’ve got a holiday planned, and take weekends off if you’d like. The PSP then generates your daily schedule, outlining the number of hours of work you have to do each day, as well as the assignments to be covered. On the 20-week SQE1 Prep course, daily study hours can range between 2 and 4 hours, depending on how many days off you take per week.
Assignments on the course vary between reading material from BARBRI workbooks (which are available as hard copies or in digital format), 30-min lectures and practice questions. The lectures are interactive, with short exercises incorporated at checkpoints throughout, to ensure you’re absorbing the content and not tempted to reach for your phone. They also go in the order of the content in the study guides, so if you’re more of a visual learner, you can follow the lectures on there as well. BARBRI points out that the key thing to keep in mind about the practice questions is that they’re part of the learning process, rather than a test. So, it’s important to not get bogged down by bad scores, and not too elated at the good ones – always read the explanations for the answers, whether you’ve got them right or wrong.
The standout point of the “BARBRI method” is a study technique called ‘interleaved practice’. What this means is that rather than covering each topic in its entirety (lectures, study guide reading, practice questions) before proceeding to the next, the PSP interleaves the different topics so that students are exposed to the content in frequent intervals to aid memory retention. So, you’ll watch the lectures on a certain topic, do some practice questions on it and then revisit it a few days later when the Plan tells you to read the study guide chapters relating to it. BARBRI recommends that you follow this structure laid out for you by the PSP — so don’t give in to the temptation to whiz through a topic you like by completing all its components at once!
Another part of the course is your Learning Coach, who you can contact with both substantive legal questions as well as study technique queries. It’s quite flexible, so you can be in touch with them as much or as little as you’d like. BARBRI also hosts 2-hour online workshops at various points throughout the course, covering study techniques, test guidance and wellbeing. Since these are recorded, you can choose to attend them live if you want to ask questions, or watch them once they are uploaded and appear in your PSP.
Please note that you can only enrol onto SQE Foundations as a package alongside either the SQE 1 Prep Flexible (40 weeks) and Focused (20 weeks) courses.
BARBRI SQE Foundations is short course that can help increase your confidence before undertaking your SQE 1 Prep studies. If you are a graduate from a non-law discipline, or have a legal background from a civil law jurisdiction, or have been out of academic study for multiple years, this will provide you with the fundamentals needed to feel confident before starting your SQE 1 Prep course.
SQE1 Prep Course Focused Foundations package
This course helps to increase confidence before SQE1 Prep studies, and is designed to help graduates access learning delivered through BARBRI SQE Prep courses quicker & more successfully. This prep course is packaged with SQE1 Prep 20-week course, starting 29th August 2023.
• Part-time: 4 weeks (then 20 weeks to undertake the Focused SQE1 Prep course)
• Cost: £3,399 online
SQE1 Prep Course Flexible Foundations package
This course helps to increase confidence before SQE1 Prep studies, and is designed to help graduates access learning delivered through BARBRI SQE Prep courses quicker & more successfully. This prep course is packaged with SQE1 Prep 40-week course, starting 2nd October 2023.
• Part-time: 4 weeks (then 40 weeks to undertake the Flexible SQE1 Prep course)
• Cost: £3,399 online
SQE1 Flexible Course
Best for non-law graduates or law graduates from a UK or non-UK university and who are currently in full-time employment.
• Part-time: 40 weeks
• Cost: £2,999 online
SQE1 Focused Course
Best for law graduates from a UK university who have been out of law school for 3+ years and currently not working.
• Part-time: 20 weeks
• Cost: £2,999 online
SQE1 Accelerated Course
Best for recent law graduates from a UK university looking for the quickest, most efficient course to pass the SQE.
• Full-time: 10 weeks
• Cost: £2,999 online
• Full-time: 10 weeks (Best for candidates able to study full-time, this course is not suitable for non-BARBRI SQE1 Prep alumni)
• Part-time: 20 weeks (Best for candidates looking for the most flexible option, who have sat and passed SQE1/QLTS MCT or LPC graduates who are exempt from SQE1)
• Cost: £3,499 (SQE1 Prep Alumni £2,999) online
BARBRI’s courses are only available online.
Public Sector SQE Scholarship
This scholarship is applicable for current/future employees in the public sector with an annual salary less than £45,000.
Value: £600 discount towards your course fees
Essay Competition SQE Scholarship
This scholarship provides financial support to 10 students studying either the focused 20-week SQE1 Prep course, starting 29 August 2023, or the Accelerated 10-week SQE1 Prep course, starting 6 November 2023.
• 1 x full SQE1 fee scholarship
• 1 x half-fee SQE1 scholarship
• 8 x £1,000 towards fees scholarship on SQE1 fees
1st Class Honours SQE Scholarship
This scholarship is for all graduates who received a first-class honours in their undergraduate degree (or international equivalent to a UK first class degree), and will be studying the Accelerated 10-week course, starting in May 2023.
Value: 30% off of the Accelerated SQE1 Prep Course
BARBRI Humanitarian SQE Scholarship
This scholarship is for prospective SQE students, or lawyers qualified in a different jurisdiction the opportunity to study to become a qualified solicitor in England & Wales who can prove asylum/refugee status or displacement due to war.
Value: 50% discount for SQE1 Prep Course