The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) - the new route to qualification

The SQE was introduced in September 2021 as the new route to qualification as a solicitor in England & Wales.

It comprises two sets of centrally assessed examinations: SQE1, which assesses Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) and SQE 2, which assesses practical legal skills and knowledge.

Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK)

FLK is assessed in SQE1 via single best answer multiple-choice exams, taken over two days. SQE1 broadly assesses the foundations of law that have traditionally been assessed via a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the core practice areas that are assessed in stage 1 of the Legal Practice Course (LPC). SQE1 is split into two parts (FLK1 and FLK2), which cover the following subject areas, in addition to ethics and professional conduct:


  • Business Law and Practice
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Contract
  • Tort
  • Legal System of England and Wales
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services


  • Property Practice
  • Wills and the Administration of Estates
  • Solicitors Accounts
  • Land Law
  • Trusts
  • Criminal Law and Practice

Practical Legal Skills

Practical legal skills are assessed in SQE2 via written and oral assessments which are taken over five days. Six skills are assessed within the context of five practice areas, as follows:

SQE1 Skills:

  • Client interview and attendance note/legal analysis
  • Advocacy
  • Case and matter analysis
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Legal drafting

SQE2 Practice Areas:

  • Criminal Litigation (including advising clients at the police station)
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Property Practice
  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice
  • Business organisations rules and procedures (including money laundering and financial services)

Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) Qualification Criteria

In order to qualify via the SQE, candidates must:

  • have a degree (or equivalent qualification, such as a level 6 or 7 apprenticeship or professional qualification) in any discipline;
  • pass the SQE1 and SQE1 examinations; and
  • complete at least two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) on a full-time or equivalent basis.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) prescribes that QWE must be experience of providing legal services that gives candidates the opportunity to develop the prescribed competencies for solicitors. QWE can be completed in up to four organisations.

As with all routes to qualification, candidates must also meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.

The SQE is the compulsory route to qualification for candidates who had not done one of the following by 21st September 2021:

  • Started or already completed their Qualifying Law Degree (QLD)
  • Accepted an offer to study their QLD
  • Paid a non-refundable deposit for their QLD

The same stipulations also apply to the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), but with the alternative final date of 1st September 2021.

Candidates who had done any of the above, can choose whether to qualify via the SQE, or via the Legal Practice Course and training contract route.

SQE Fees

How much does the SQE cost?

SQE 1: £1,622 (comprising of FLK 1&2 at a cost of £811 each)

SQE 2: £2,493

Total cost: £4,115 (all fees are VAT exempt)

The cost of the SQE is in addition to the cost of any preparatory courses you may take to help prepare for the examination.

SQE Resit Fees

SQE1: If you fail FLK1 or FLK2 then you will need to pay £811 to resit the element you failed. If you fail both then you will need to pay the full fee of £1,622 to resit both exams.

SQE2: If you fail SQE2 you will need to pay the full amount of £2,493 to resit.