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40. SQE Eligibility: Who Can Sit for the Exam?

SQE Eligibility: Who Can Sit for the Exam?

Are you considering a career in law and looking to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales? If so, you may have heard about the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), a new assessment that will replace the current system of qualification. The SQE is set to launch in September 2021, and it’s important to understand who is eligible to sit for this exam.

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1. Law Graduates

The SQE is primarily designed for law graduates who hold a qualifying law degree or equivalent qualification from a recognized institution. If you have completed your LLB, GDL, or another recognized law degree, you are eligible to sit for the SQE. This includes both UK and international law graduates.

2. Non-Law Graduates

If you do not hold a qualifying law degree, don’t worry! The SQE also allows non-law graduates to qualify as solicitors. To be eligible, you must have obtained a degree in any subject from a recognized university and then complete a conversion course, such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Once you have successfully completed the conversion course, you can proceed to sit for the SQE.

3. Apprentices

The SQE offers an alternative pathway to becoming a solicitor through apprenticeship. If you are currently working as a legal apprentice, you may be eligible to take the SQE. Apprentices must meet certain criteria and complete the necessary apprenticeship training requirements to be eligible to sit for the exam. It’s important to check with your apprenticeship provider and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for specific eligibility requirements.

4. Foreign Lawyers and Qualified Lawyers

If you are a qualified lawyer from a foreign jurisdiction or a qualified lawyer in England and Wales, the SQE provides a pathway for you to qualify as a solicitor. Foreign lawyers can use the SQE to demonstrate their equivalent competence to practice law in England and Wales. Qualified lawyers in England and Wales can also choose to qualify through the SQE rather than the traditional qualification route.

5. Entry-Level Candidates

The SQE is not only for those with existing qualifications or experience in the legal field. Entry-level candidates, such as those without a law degree or legal work experience, can also sit for the exam. However, it’s important to note that entry-level candidates may face additional challenges due to the comprehensive nature of the SQE. Adequate preparation and study resources are crucial for success.

6. English Language Proficiency

Regardless of your educational background or experience, all candidates must demonstrate a proficient level of English language skills. This requirement ensures that all solicitors in England and Wales can effectively communicate with clients and colleagues. Make sure to satisfy the English language proficiency criteria set by the SRA before sitting for the SQE.


The SQE offers a more accessible and flexible route to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales. Whether you are a law graduate, non-law graduate, apprentice, foreign lawyer, qualified lawyer, or an entry-level candidate, the SQE provides an opportunity to prove your competence in the legal profession.

For more information on preparing for the SQE and strategies to excel in the exam, check out these related articles:

If you have any questions about the SQE eligibility criteria or need assistance with your qualification journey, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified solicitor or legal professional who specializes in SQE exam preparation.