QLTS: Your Ultimate Guide
To sit for the QLTS, you must be fully qualified and entitled to practice as a lawyer (or the local equivalent) in your home jurisdiction. There is no minimum practise experience requirement. Your home jurisdiction must be a Recognised Jurisdiction appearing in the list published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (most of the world’s jurisdictions appear on this list). You must also satisfy the SRA that your personal character is suitable for the practice of law.
The QLTS assessment is composed of two sections:
(i) a 180-item Multiple Choice Test (MCT), which tests academic skills and
(ii) the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), which tests practical skills. You must pass the MCT before you can enroll for the OSCE, and you must pass both sections to qualify (under very limited circumstances, such as if the applicant is qualified to practice in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the MCT requirement can be waived).
What subjects and skills are tested on the QLTS?
There are a number of subjects and skills tested on the QLTS, in two 90-question sessions of two hours and forty-five minutes each:
Legal institutions of England, Wales and the EU;
Constitutional law and judicial review;
Ethics and professional conduct;
Business, legal and financial regulation;
Equitable rights and obligations;
Human rights; and
Business and corporate law.
The OSCE is divided into two parts. Part I tests interviewing and advocacy/oral presentations, while Part II tests online legal research, legal drafting and writing. All of the skills tested in Part I and Part II will be tested (including the use of actors as “clients”) in the context of Business, Civil and Criminal Litigation, and Property and Probate, for a total of 18 assessments over six half-day exams.
When should I take the QLTS?
The MCT is offered in July 2020 and January 2021. Certain overseas testing sites will be available for the MCT including New York, continental Europe, China and India. The OSCE must be taken in central London during the May, July or November sittings. Please note that the QLTS will be replaced with a new system after the last administration of the MCT in July 2021 (see below for details).
The new qualifying system
Once the current QLTS system expires in 2021, all solicitors, whether from England, Wales or elsewhere in the world, will qualify by passing the Solicitors Qualifying Exam. Those who pass the MCT by the last administration in July 2021 will have one additional year to pass the OSCE and qualify under the QLTS system.
Most students take six to eight months to prepare for the QLTS, and first-time passage is not uncommon with this level of preparation. Most prep courses advise a study schedule of about 15 hours per week during this period.
How can I afford the QLTS?
QLTS scholarships are difficult to find, because applicants are typically lawyers who are employed full-time. QLTS expenses are typically funded in two ways: (i) the applicant funds themselves, or (ii) the applicant’s employer provides funding.
Where can I study the QLTS?
It is essential that you prepare thoroughly for the QLTS exams, and a number of organisations provide the necessary training. The most prominent among these is QLTSchool, which trains about 75 percent of the students who pass the MCT. Other training courses exist as well, and they offer varying degrees of quality. You do not have to come to the UK to take this course -- you can study at home using online resources.
Prices range from just under £1,000 to well over £2,000, depending on how extensively you wish to prepare. A second language speaker of English or an applicant from a civil law jurisdiction, for example, may require more preparation time.
How competitive is the QLTS?
The QLTS is very competitive. If anything, expectations are higher than they are for UK law students seeking to qualify as solicitors for the first time. Even though all QLTS students must be qualified lawyers in their home jurisdictions, the overall pass rate is only about 50 percent.
When and how should I apply?
Application deadlines vary by test location, but they typically fall between six and eight weeks before the exam date. You must book the MCT and the OSCE separately. Please note that booking for the OSCE is competitive, and seats may be filled several months before the exam date.
You can book an MCT assessment by creating a Pearson Vue Web Account and then booking a seat via your account, or by calling the Pearson Customer Service Centre (+44 161 855 7584). MCT applicants taking the MCT for the first time must submit the Kaplan QLTS MCT Registration Form before they can book an MCT assessment.
If you have already sat for the MCT, you can book the OSCE by submitting an online Kaplan QLTS OSCE Booking Request.
The rules are slightly different for applicants who have yet to sit for the MCT, who have already sat for the assessment before, or who have been granted an exemption from taking the MCT.
Don’t wait for the new qualifying procedure to come into effect
Most observers recommend that you sit for the QLTS while it is still available, rather than waiting to qualify under the upcoming SQE system, because (i) the SQE is likely to be more difficult and more expensive than the QLTS, (ii) the SRA may impose a practice experience requirement, (iii) an English language test may be required for some applicants, and (iv) it is unlikely that the SQE will be offered overseas.