Students will “likely” pay between £3,000 – £4,500 to sit the new solicitor super-exam, according to The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
As part of the update last week, a revised launch date was confirmed for September 2021 – a year later than was previously proposed.
The regulator published a breakdown of the provisional fee range for both parts of the new centralised Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), also known as the super-exam. The regulator stressed the costs are “indicative” as the SRA continues to work with Kaplan to develop and test the assessment.
According to Legal Cheek, SQE1, which centres around black-letter law and takes the form of a computer-based, multiple choice assessment, will likely cost between £1,100 and £1,650. SQE2, which tests practical legal skills such as advocacy, could cost between £1,900 to £2,850.
Factors that could affect the costs include the length of assessment and whether it will be offered to both English and Welsh.
The costs indicated focus on the examination itself and exclude preparation course fees. While some law schools have already confirmed they will incorporate SQE prep into their current LLB offerings, others have revealed plans to launch a standalone course, which would of course increase costs on the final bill. Despite this additional cost, the new route to qualification could yet still prove much cheaper than the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
The regulator also confirmed it has pushed back the SQE’s implementation date until September 2021, having previously proposed a launch date of September 2020. It said the additional time was in response to “strong” feedback from law firms and education providers. The revised date means that students who have started a law degree before September 2021 will have the option to qualify under the old system up until 2032.
Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: “We want everyone to be ready to make the most of the SQE. We have listened to law firms and universities, who have told us that 2021 gives them the right amount of time to prepare. Our priority is creating a rigorous, value for money assessment that drives consistent high standards. The SQE also offers a fresh opportunity to increase access to the profession. A competitive training market, offering real choices, will help the profession attract the best talent.”
The SRA confirmed Kaplan will be running pilots from next year to test the effectiveness of the assessment, and has already made some tweaks to the original proposals. Following a review of SQE1, the pilot will be much shorter than originally planned. It will include just 360 questions split over three separate examination papers, instead of 680 questions split over six separate examination papers.
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