How much will the SQE really cost you?

Published
May 29, 2024
Reading Time
6 Mins

Introduction

When considering a career in law in the UK, passing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a crucial step. Many prospective candidates initially focus on the exam fees, which are significant but only part of the overall financial picture. As of now until August 2024, the cost for the SQE1 is £1,798 to take both FLK1 and FLK2. The SQE2 is slightly higher, priced at £2,766.

However, starting from September 2024, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced an increase in fees. The new fee for SQE1 will be £1,888, and for SQE2, it will rise to £2,902.

But what do these numbers really mean? While the figures provide a straightforward look at the "sqe cost" and "sqe price" for the exams, they don't tell the whole story. The real cost of the SQE involves much more than just these fees. From preparation materials and courses to additional practical expenses, there's a lot that adds up beyond the basic exam price. In this article, we'll dive deep into these costs, helping you understand the full financial commitment of the SQE journey, so you can plan effectively and avoid any surprises. Stay with us as we break down the true cost of achieving your qualification as a solicitor.

Understanding the SQE: Components and Fees

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is divided into two key components (SQE1 and SQE2), each designed to test different skills and knowledge essential for qualifying as a solicitor in the UK. Understanding these components and their associated costs is crucial for anyone planning to take this path.

SQE1 and SQE2 Components:

SQE1: Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK)

SQE1 focuses on your functioning legal knowledge. It assesses your ability to apply legal knowledge in practical situations. This part of the exam is split into two assessments:

  • FLK1 covers business law and practice, dispute resolution, contract, tort, legal system of England and Wales, constitutional and administrative law and EU law, and legal services.
  • FLK2 tests your knowledge in property practice, wills and the administration of estates, solicitors accounts, land law, trusts, criminal law and practice.

SQE2: Practical Legal Skills

SQE2 is more practical and tests your ability to perform tasks that solicitors are expected to handle. This includes client interviewing, advocacy/persuasive oral communication, case and matter analysis, legal research, legal writing, legal drafting, and negotiation. 

SQE1 and SQE2 Direct exam cost from SRA

Examination Fees

Each of FLK1 and FLK2 assessments costs £899, totalling £1,798 for both. This fee structure is applicable for assessments taken up until August 2024. However, from September 2024, each assessment will cost £944, bringing the total for SQE1 to £1,888.

The cost for SQE2 is currently £2,766, but this will increase to £2,902 for assessments starting from October 2024.

Indirect Costs of the SQE

While the direct costs of the SQE exams are straightforward, the indirect costs associated with preparing for these exams can vary significantly and can often be a major part of your total expenditure. One of the largest indirect costs comes from choosing the right course provider. 

Here’s what you need to know about the typical costs involved.

Course Providers:

Major Course Providers

Several well-known institutions offer comprehensive courses designed to prepare candidates for both SQE1 and SQE2. Each provider has its own pricing structure, teaching methods, and course features, which can impact your preparation and overall success in the exams. 

Here’s a look at some of the major course providers:

BARBRI

Known for its intensive preparation courses, BARBRI offers options for both SQE1 and SQE2. The courses can be taken online and are designed to fit around other commitments. Prices for only SQE1 or SQE2 typically range from around £2,999 to £6,000 depending on the course length and materials included. View our Barbri vs FQPS comparaison.

The University of Law

Offering a variety of options including face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments, The University of Law provides tailored preparation for both components of the SQE. Their course fees for only SQE1 or SQE2  start at £4,650. View our University of Law vs FQPS comparaison.

BPP University

BPP provides extensive resources and training for SQE aspirants, with a focus on practical skills and legal knowledge necessary for the exam. Courses here can cost from : £6,500 to £15,000, varying by the type and duration of the course. View our BPP University vs FQPS comparaison.

Self-Study Options (Self Study Guide)

For those who prefer a self-directed approach or are looking to reduce costs, self-study can be a viable option. This typically involves:

  • Books and Practice Materials: Investing in textbooks and practice questions is essential for understanding the breadth of material covered in SQE1 and SQE2. Costs for all materials needed can range from £700 to over £1600 depending on the comprehensiveness of the materials.
  • Online Resources and Mocks: Many platforms offer free or subscription-based resources. Additionally, investing in mock exams, which can cost around £150 to £300 each, helps in gauging your preparation level and adjusting your study plan accordingly.
  • Tutoring: For areas where you need more help, private tutoring can be beneficial, though it's usually the most expensive option on a per-hour basis.

Combining Resources

Many candidates find that a combination of these approaches works best. For example, enrolling in a formal course for structured learning and supplementing it with additional mocks and books can enhance your readiness for the exam. It’s important to assess your own learning style and financial situation to decide which mix of resources will best support your success on the SQE.

Travel and Accommodations

Travel and accommodation costs can significantly add to the total expenses of taking the SQE, especially if you need to travel to a different city or stay overnight. Proper planning can help minimise these costs. Here’s what to consider and some tips to help manage these expenses effectively.

SQE1: Two-Day Exam Spread Over One Week

For SQE1, since the exams are spread over a week, you'll have two main options:

  • Return Home Between Exams: If the travel cost is reasonable and not too exhausting, you might consider traveling back and forth between exam days. This might save on accommodation costs but could increase your overall travel expenses.
  • Stay for the Duration: Staying in the exam location for the entire week could reduce travel stress and give you more time to prepare calmly between the two exam days. This, however, will increase your accommodation costs.

SQE2: Five-Day Exam (Three Days Written, Two Days Oral) with a Week Separation

For SQE2, considering the format and duration:

  • Return Between Parts: Similar to SQE1, if feasible, returning home between the written and oral parts could be economical in terms of accommodation, but could increase travel costs and fatigue.
  • Continuous Stay: Staying near the exam venue for the entire period minimises daily travel stress and can be more convenient, particularly if you find affordable long-stay accommodation.

Cost Calculations Considering Separations

For SQE1
  • Train Fare: Assuming an average return train fare of £100 per trip, making two trips would total £200.
  • Local Transport: Approximately £20 per round trip for local transport, so £40 for two trips.
  • Hotel: If opting to stay for the week, approximately £80 per night for eight nights totals £640.

Total Costs for SQE1 might be:

Staying for the week: £200 (train) + £40 (local transport) + £640 (hotel) = £880.

Traveling multiple times: £200 (train) + £40 (local transport) = £240.

For SQE2
  • Train Fare: £100 for a round trip, potentially twice if returning home between parts, totalling £200.
  • Local Transport: Approx £20 per round trip, so £40 if making two trips.
  • Hotel: Staying 12 nights (if you do not return home) at about £80 per night totals £960.

Total Costs for SQE2 would be:

  • Continuous stay: £100 (train) + £20 (local transport) + £960 (hotel) = £1,080.
  • Returning between parts: £200 (train) + £40 (local transport) + multiple short stays could vary significantly.
Tips for Both Exams
  • Leverage Long-Term Stay Discounts: Some accommodations offer discounts for longer stays, which might be beneficial.
  • Explore Various Lodging Options: Besides traditional hotels, consider other accommodations like hostels, Airbnb, or serviced apartments, which may offer competitive rates for longer durations.
  • Plan Meals and Daily Expenses: Choose accommodation with kitchen facilities to save on dining out, and plan for other daily expenses like groceries.
  • Group Arrangements: If you know other candidates, consider pooling resources for travel and lodging to reduce costs.

This approach to planning for the SQE exams, considering the non-consecutive nature and required travel, aims to provide a balance between cost efficiency and convenience, helping you maintain focus and reduce stress during your exam preparations.

Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) Validation and ID Check

As part of the SQE pathway to becoming a solicitor, candidates must complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). This experience needs to be properly validated, and candidates also must undergo an ID check before sitting for the exams. If you don't have a personal contact who can validate your QWE, you may need to hire a solicitor to perform this service. Understanding these requirements and the potential costs involved is crucial for proper planning.

QWE Validation

  • Role of a Solicitor: Typically, your QWE should be signed off by the solicitor who supervised your work. However, if this isn't possible—for instance, if you've completed your experience in a non-traditional setting or with a supervisor who isn't a solicitor—you might need to hire an external solicitor to validate your experience.
  • Potential Costs: Hiring a solicitor for QWE validation can vary widely depending on the solicitor’s fees and the complexity of your experience records. Generally, you might expect to pay between £100 and £500. It's advisable to get quotes from several solicitors to find the most cost-effective option.

ID Check

Procedure: An ID check is a standard requirement before you can sit the SQE. This check is straightforward but essential, ensuring that all candidates are properly identified according to the SRA’s requirements.

Handling the ID Check: Most candidates will complete their ID check as part of their registration process for the SQE without incurring additional costs. However, if special circumstances require professional assistance (for example, if you are an international candidate needing specific guidance), solicitor fees may apply.

Tips to Manage QWE Validation and ID Check Costs

Explore All Options: Before hiring a solicitor, check if your current or previous employer, especially if they operate in the legal field, can provide validation services at a lower cost or even for free.

Compare Solicitor Fees: Shop around and compare fees from different solicitors or legal services firms. Prices can vary significantly, so it pays to do your research.

Legal Clinics and Universities: Some law schools or legal clinics offer services at reduced rates or even pro bono for qualifying individuals. If you're still connected with a university, check if they can provide assistance.

Online Services: Consider using online platforms that offer legal services at potentially lower costs than traditional solicitors. Make sure any service you use is reputable and recognised by the SRA.

By understanding these additional indirect costs and planning for them, you can ensure that you are fully prepared for all aspects of your journey through the SQE, without any unexpected financial surprises. This comprehensive approach not only aids in budgeting but also in alleviating some of the stresses associated with qualification as a solicitor.

Totalling the Costs

Understanding the full SQE cost of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is crucial for effective financial planning. Below, we present a cumulative analysis of all direct and indirect costs involved in preparing for and taking the SQE, aiming to provide a median total price. This will give prospective candidates a clearer picture of the financial commitment required.

Direct Costs

  • SQE1 Fees: As discussed, the current fee for SQE1 is £1,798, which will increase to £1,888 from September 2024.
  • SQE2 Fees: The current fee for SQE2 is £2,766, increasing to £2,902 from September 2024.

Indirect Costs

Course Providers

  • Preparation Courses: Depending on the provider and the comprehensiveness of the course, fees can range from £1,800 to £6,000.

Study Materials

  • Books and Practice Materials: Approximately £100 to £500.
  • Mock Exams: Around £30 to £100 each.

Travel and Accommodations

  • For SQE1: Depending on travel strategy, costs can vary. Staying for the week might cost around £720 to £880.
  • For SQE2: Costs for continuous stay during non-consecutive exam sessions can be around £1,080 to £1,200.

QWE Validation and ID Check

  • Solicitor Fees for Validation: Typically £100 to £500.
  • ID Check: Usually included in registration, but special cases might incur additional costs.

Example Cumulative Cost Calculation

To provide a median estimate, let's assume:

  • A mid-range course fee (£3,900 average between the high and low ends),
  • Moderate expenses on study materials (£300),
  • Travel and accommodations based on a mix of staying and returning strategies for SQE1 and SQE2 (£1,000 average),
  • Average QWE validation cost (£300).

Total Estimated Costs

  • Direct Costs: SQE1 (£1,798) + SQE2 (£2,766) = £4,564
  • Indirect Costs: Course Fees (£3,900) + Study Materials (£300) + Travel and Accommodations (£1,000) + QWE Validation (£300) = £5,500
  • Median Total Price: £4,564 (Direct) + £5,500 (Indirect) = £10,064

This calculation provides a ballpark figure to help candidates budget appropriately. However, individual circumstances, such as choice of course provider, travel decisions, and access to materials, can significantly affect the final cost.

Additional Considerations

  • Potential Increases in Fees: Always check for the latest fee updates from the SRA. (The fee for SQE1 has increased from £1,558 in 2022 to £1,888 in 2024.)
  • Scholarships and Funding: Explore scholarships, grants, and employer sponsorships that can help offset some of these costs.

Mitigating the Costs: Strategies to Fund Your SQE Journey

Understanding and managing the costs associated with the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is crucial for candidates. There are several strategies to mitigate these expenses, from earning while gaining Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) to tapping into various funding opportunities.

Earning During QWE

At FQPS, we are committed to providing an inclusive and affordable path to qualifying as a solicitor, without compromising on the quality of education. Our innovative approach offers comprehensive support that not only prepares you for the SQE but also helps manage the often overlooked costs of obtaining your qualification. Here’s how we make this possible:

Options include:

  • Part-time or full-time roles in legal settings that qualify as QWE.
  • Flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or adjusted hours, which can facilitate concurrent study and employment.

SQE Funding Through Scholarships and Grants

A variety of scholarships and grants are available to help cover the costs of SQE preparation and examination fees:

  • The University of Law offers several scholarships, detailed on their website, which can significantly reduce financial burdens.
  • The Law Society's Diversity Access Scheme supports candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds, covering costs associated with SQE assessments and preparation.
  • Kaplan’s Access and Reinvestment Fund is set to provide financial assistance to eligible candidates, with details to be announced by the SRA.

Private Loans for SQE Funding

For those needing additional financial support, private loans offer a way to cover SQE costs:

  • Specialist Student Lenders: Companies like Future Finance provide loans specifically for postgraduate studies, including funds for living costs.
  • Retail Banks: Banks such as Danske Bank offer postgraduate loans with favorable terms, like interest-only repayments for initial periods.
  • Peer-to-Peer Lending: Services like Lendwise connect students with investors to fund professional courses, offering flexible repayment options starting after graduation.

Employer Sponsorship

Many law firms continue to support their trainees by funding SQE preparation and examination fees:

  • Training Contracts: If you secure a training contract, most firms will cover all related educational expenses as part of their investment in future talent.

Legal Apprenticeships

For those looking at alternative routes:

  • Solicitor Apprenticeships: These programs, available for both school leavers and graduates, cover all training and assessment costs, allowing you to qualify without incurring debt.
  • Compare Funding Options: Research all available scholarships, loans, and sponsorship opportunities to find the best fit for your financial situation.
  • Plan Ahead: Early application for scholarships and loans can provide financial security and peace of mind.
  • Seek Advice: Consult with financial advisors or educational consultants to ensure you make informed decisions about funding your SQE journey.

How FQPS Breaks the Cost Barrier: Making SQE Inclusive, Affordable, and Excellent

At FQPS, we are committed to providing an inclusive and affordable path to qualifying as a solicitor. Our innovative approach offers comprehensive support that not only prepares you for the SQE but also helps manage the often overlooked costs of obtaining your qualification. Here’s how we make this possible:

One-Price Solution

FQPS offers all-inclusive packages that cover every aspect of your SQE journey:

  • SQE1 and SQE2 Preparation: Our courses are designed to prepare you thoroughly for both SQE1 and SQE2, with structured content delivered over 6 months for SQE1 and 3 months for SQE2.
  • Mentor Guidance: Each candidate is paired with a mentor who provides personalised advice and support throughout the study process and beyond.
  • Career Assistance: We help you find your dream job that qualifies for QWE, making it easier to gain valuable experience while you study.
  • QWE Validation and ID Checks: These essential services are included in our packages, ensuring you meet all the regulatory requirements without any additional costs.

Financial Assistance

Understanding that candidates come from diverse backgrounds, FQPS offers:

  • Scaled Pricing: We provide discounts based on individual circumstances, making our courses accessible to a wider range of candidates.
  • Additional Resources: All course participants receive extra materials at no additional cost, enhancing their learning experience and preparation without extra fees.

Cost Comparison: FQPS vs. Traditional Routes

To highlight the cost-effectiveness of FQPS, here is a comparison with traditional self-study and other preparation routes:

Cost Item FQPS (All-inclusive) Traditional Course Self-Study
SQE1 Prep £679 £1,800 - £4,500 £500 - £1,500
SQE2 Prep £879 £2,000 - £5,000 £700 - £2,000
QWE & ID Check Included (£129) £200 - £500 £200 - £500
Total Costs £1,687 £4,000 - £10,000 £1,400 - £4,000

This comparison clearly shows that FQPS not only offers a more comprehensive package but also provides significant cost savings. By choosing FQPS, candidates can expect a straightforward, transparent pricing structure that covers all their needs without any hidden fees.

FQPS Values: Inclusivity, Affordability, and Excellence

FQPS is dedicated to democratising the process of becoming a solicitor by eliminating financial barriers and providing comprehensive support. We strive to give every candidate, regardless of background, an equal opportunity to succeed while ensuring the highest standards of educational excellence. Our approach ensures that the journey to becoming a solicitor is truly inclusive and affordable, aligning with our core values of equity, access, and excellence in legal education.

By choosing FQPS, candidates are not just preparing for an exam; they are investing in a supportive, inclusive community that guides them through every step of their legal career, ensuring they receive the best preparation possible. 

This is how we make the SQE truly accessible to everyone.

Conclusion: Navigating the SQE with Clarity and Confidence

As we conclude our comprehensive exploration of the costs associated with the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), it's clear that candidates must consider both direct and indirect expenses to fully understand the financial commitment required. From examination fees to the essential costs of preparation and logistics, the journey to becoming a solicitor involves careful financial planning.

Recap of Key Points

  • Direct Costs: The fees for SQE1 will increase from £1,798 to £1,888 and for SQE2 from £2,766 to £2,902 starting in September 2024. These are the baseline costs every candidate faces.
  • Indirect Costs: Beyond the exams, candidates incur significant costs for course providers, study materials, travel, accommodations, and administrative necessities like QWE validation and ID checks. These can vary widely but are crucial for thorough preparation. From £6,599 to £17899+ for both SQE1 and SQE2.
  • Cost-Effective Strategies: Utilising resources such as scholarships, private loans, employer sponsorships, and legal apprenticeships can significantly reduce the financial burden. Additionally, FQPS offers all-inclusive packages that cover educational and logistical needs at a fraction of the cost of traditional routes, ensuring affordability and inclusivity.
  • Total Costs: Depending on the chosen route of preparation and the strategies employed to mitigate expenses, total costs can range from approximately £11,400 to £21,000+.

FQPS: A Commitment to Excellence and Equity

FQPS stands out by not only breaking down financial barriers but also by ensuring high educational standards and support throughout the SQE journey. Our programs are designed to be inclusive, affordable, and excellent, offering every aspiring solicitor an equal opportunity to succeed. With FQPS, candidates can access top-tier preparation and comprehensive support, making the path to becoming a solicitor as straightforward and effective as possible.

As the landscape of legal qualifications continues to evolve, FQPS remains dedicated to providing candidates with the resources they need to navigate their journey confidently and cost-effectively. By choosing FQPS, you invest in a partner who values your success as much as you do, helping you turn your aspirations into achievements.

By understanding and planning for the full scope of SQE costs and leveraging available resources and strategic planning, candidates can approach their legal qualification journey with greater clarity and confidence.

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