QLTS in General: Qualifying as a Solicitor in England & Wales

I took the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. I passed the MCT in January 2019 and I am currently waiting for my results for the OSCE, which I took in August 2020.

desk setup with coffee by bright window

The QLTS is soon going to be replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). If you pass the MCT before September 2021, you can still take the OSCE or you have the option to take the SQE2. I think the benefit of taking the OSCE is that a lot of people have taken it so you have a better chance of understanding how to prepare and pass that exam. I think the stress and difficulty in taking any exam comes from the unknown – not knowing how to prepare, not knowing what will come out in the exam, etc.

This is why I decided to write about my experience, things I wish I had known before taking the exams, and tips that I picked up while preparing. A lot of people found the QLTS (particularly the OSCE) a lot more difficult than any other exam (including bar exams in other countries). But I think if I had prepared properly knowing what I know now, it wouldn’t have been as stressful as it was.

WHAT IS THE QLTS?

The QLTS is an exam that lawyers from these jurisdictions can pass to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales. Kaplan QLTS is the sole authorised assessment provider so it’s best to check their website often for updates regarding test dates, requirements, and fees.

There are two sets of tests you’ll take: (1) the Multiple Choice Test (MCT), and (2) the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

MUTIPLE CHOICE TEST (MCT)

The MCT is a one day test held in different parts of the world. Check here to see where your nearest testing centre is.

I took the one in Glasgow in January 2019.

As the name suggests, the test is a multiple choice exam. It’s a computer-based test. You won’t have access to any other program. They’ll just give you a piece of paper or an erasable board to write notes on or do some computation (yes, there’s a tiny bit of maths involved). The main subjects are:

  • The English Legal System & EU Law
  • Constitutional Law & Judicial Review
  • Professional Conduct & Solicitors’ Accounts
  • Financial Regulation
  • Tax
  • Property
  • Contracts Law
  • Torts
  • Criminal Law
  • Equity & Trusts
  • Business Law
  • Human Rights

The MCT is divided into two parts of 2 hours and 45 minutes each. You’ll be asked to answer 90 questions in each part, and the coverage is pretty broad. It helped that I signed up with an course provider that gave the materials I needed to study (revise, as they say here in the U.K.) to make sure I was able to go over everything.

I know of a few people though who did not sign up with a provider and passed the MCT. You just need to research online about where to get your materials. As this isn’t something I did, I can’t really say which books are good. However, (as I only recently found out) there are Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups for people who are taking the MCT or OSCE. I suggest joining those so you can be up to date about materials or tips that can help.

OBJECTIVE STRUCTURED CLINICAL EXAMINATION (OSCE)

The OSCE is based on and similar to the OSCE taken by medical students. It’s basically a practical test where they test your skills (and knowledge, of course).

There are two parts. Part 1 is a client interview, the completion of an attendance note or case analysis, and advocacy or oral presentation. Part 2 involves legal drafting, legal research, and legal writing.

You’ll be tested on three subjects for each test: Business Law, Property and Probate Laws, and Civil and Criminal Litigation.

The exam will look like this:

OSCE Part 1

Day 1: Business Law – client interview, completion of an attendance note, and oral presentation.

Day 2: Property Law and Probate Law – client interview, completion of an attendance note, and oral presentation.

Day 3: Civil and Criminal Litigation – client interview, completion of a case analysis, and advocacy .

OSCE Part 2

Day 1: Business Law – legal drafting, legal research, and legal writing

Day 2: Property and Probate Laws – legal drafting, legal research, and legal writing

Day 3: Civil and Criminal Litigation – legal drafting, legal research, and legal writing

Day 4: Reserve (in the event that you have any technical difficulties)

Kaplan will send you an email before the exams to let you know the order of the subjects you’ll get each day. But from my experience and from the experience of other people who’ve written or spoke about the OSCE on the internet, the subjects are usually in this order.

I hope this general overview was helpful. I’ll go into more detail about how the exams went (I took the OSCE during the coronavirus pandemic so that might be useful) and how I prepared for them later.

If you have any questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them as best as I can. I understand what it’s like not knowing what to expect.