Jan 30, 2024

Written By Helena Kudiabor

Should I self-study the SQE?

Jan 30, 2024

Written By Helena Kudiabor

The SQE exams were designed to replace the GDL/LPC methods of qualifying as a solicitor. The SQE is the cheaper option, with the two sets of assessments totalling £4,564, compared to the £10,000+ required for both the law conversion course and the LPC. However, the cost of the SQE can quickly add up with the preparation courses offered for each exam. If you are interested in self-studying for the exams, here’s what you should know.

How much do the preparation courses cost?

The cost of SQE preparation courses depends on how confident you are about the exam and how much legal knowledge you already have. Someone who has been working as a paralegal for years will need less preparation than someone who has never studied law before. Law schools offer a variety of different practice courses: from the LLM LPC (SQE1&2), which combines a Masters degree with preparation for both SQE1 and SQE2, to an SQE1-specific practice course.

These options are provided part-time as well as full-time, with evening or weekend options available. Course fees range from £3,500 for online SQE1 preparation courses, to £16,000 to study the LLM LPC (SQE1&2). Courses tend to be cheaper outside of London or when taken online. Both the SQE1 and the SQE2 cover different topics, so you will need to take different courses for each one.

What are the advantages of taking the preparation courses?

While the high cost is a disadvantage, taking a preparation course has several benefits. You are only allowed to take each part of the SQE three times, and you will have to pay again each time. If you continue to fail it, you will have to wait six years. Furthermore, unlike exams at university which were often long essays, the SQE tests you on practical skills as well as timed multiple choice questions.

Preparation courses will not just teach you the content, but also valuable study skills. Many law schools recognise the difficulty of the SQE as well as its cost, and have included several incentives as a result. Some offer mock exams to allow you to prepare, and include eBooks or a discount on print versions. A few even offer introductory offers with money off, or the chance to re-take the preparation course for free if you fail the exam.

Who would benefit most from self-studying?

Those who would benefit most from self-studying are those who have an extensive knowledge of law, for instance law graduates with work experience, paralegals, or chartered legal executives. If you have not studied law before, it's probably a better idea to take a practice course so you can learn legal terminology as well as gaining a general law background. Doing a practice course also allows you to learn about different areas of law and work out whether a career in law is right for you.

I’m going to self-study, how should I prepare?

First things first, take a look at the assessment specification on the official website. Then, depending on how much law experience you have, try a few of the sample questions so you can get a sense of their difficulty and where your weak spots are. It’s a good idea to try and do a full paper at least once or twice just so you can get a sense of time constraints.


With regard to your weaknesses, many law schools sell textbooks on each aspect of the SQE, with discounts if you buy several. Consider what kind of learner you are (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) and adapt your study methods to that, for example by using videos or flashcards. There are a variety of different resources available online to help you, although some require additional payment. While self-studying, it’s vital to remain disciplined and to avoid procrastination. If you are interested in self-studying, be sure to carefully consider whether it is right for you. Whichever method you choose, we wish you the best of luck.