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PSC: modes of assessment
Unlike with other courses (such as the GDL or LLB), the Professional Skills Course (PSC) for trainee solicitors is highly practical. Candidates will be assessed in most cases for each module based on their conduct. For Advocacy and Communication Skills there is a tutor appraisal and for Financial and Business skills there is a written assessment.
The PSC consists of three subject areas, which are supported by written standards. Each subject area makes up a portion of a compulsory core, which includes face-to-face instruction for a minimum number of hours:
• Financial and Business Skills – 18 hours
• Advocacy and Communication Skills – 18 hours
• Client Care and Professional Standards – 12 hours
The compulsory core element involves 48 hours of tuition with assessment. The PSC also involves an elective element of 24 hours tuition resulting in a total 72 hours of tuition.
How candidates are assessed
According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the assessment mode for each part of the compulsory core is as follows:
• Financial and Business Skills. Written Standards Element 1 – no assessment. Written Standards Elements 2-6, one 90-minute examination.
• Advocacy and Communication Skills. Skills appraisal.
• Client Care and Professional Standards. No assessment.
The PSC elective modules have no prescribed written standards and do not include assessments.
The SRA requires that the Financial and Business Skills module be assessed through a 90 minute, graded, written examination. The examination is “open book”, meaning that the candidates are allowed to take any materials that the provider considers appropriate into the examination. The completed written examination must meet the following standards:
• An overall passing mark of 60%.
• Not more than 30% of the marks attributed to multiple-choice questions.
The format of the examination is a combination of case studies and multiple-choice questions. In most cases, the results of the examination will be sent to you via your work postal or email address approximately six weeks after taking the exam.
Prior to beginning the PSC, you usually must have completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC), although there may be circumstances when the SRA will approve an individual applicant to begin the PSC before completing the LPC.
It is recommended that The Client Care and Professional Standards module not be completed until you have spent at least six months full-time (or full-time equivalent) in a training contract.
Once you have successfully completed academic training, the LPC, the PSC and your training period, you are ready to apply for admittance to the roll of solicitors in England and Wales, which will entitle you to practise as a solicitor. It is the SRA’s responsibility to ensure that anyone admitted to the roll has complied with all training regulations and is of satisfactory character and suitability.