Not knowing how exam days are going to run significantly aggravates my already frayed nerves (hello, anxiety). Somehow the worry about where to leave my things, who I’m supposed to speak to, where the testing centre is, etc. just adds to my stress. So I hope this run down of what happened when I took the QLTS OSCE Part 2 will be helpful for you. I’ll write about Part 1 separately.
I took the QLTS OSCE in August 2020 – in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
TIP 1: If you’re taking the QLTS in August, be warned that August is a really hot time of the year in England. I am Filipino, and I was struggling with the heat. I think people enjoy being outdoors in the heat because the rest of the year is really cold. But as someone who grew up in a tropical country, I was always looking for the AC.
All the covid restrictions and safety requirements (mask, social distancing, hand sanitising) were all followed so I wasn’t too worried about it. Kaplan sent us an email detailing all the instructions so that was really helpful.
TIP 2: Remember to read and re-read all the emails from Kaplan (as well as any attachments they send) because you don’t want to have any hassle just because you didn’t know about a certain bit of the process. That said, don’t stress. The people there are really nice and helpful.
I took Part 2 – the computer-based one – first. I didn’t really have a choice about which part I could take first. I signed up for the May 2020 one but it was postponed because of the pandemic. The slots were just assigned to the people who wanted to retake the exam in August. I think it turned out really well despite my OC tendency to do things in the right order.
TIP 3: If you have a choice, take Part 2 first because it’s easier on the nerves to dive into a computer-based exam (where you have access to research databases) before the more stressful oral exams.
Getting to the Test Centre
On the first day, I arrived at the test centre really haggard and stressed out. I miscalculated the time it would take to get there, mainly because I thought I was going to where Part 1 was supposed to be. I took an Uber because I thought that might be safer (in terms of covid transmission) than taking public transport.
TIP 4: Make sure you check and double check where you’re supposed to go and how long it will take to get there! Figure out where it is in relation to where you’re coming from.
TIP 5: If you are taking public transport, remember to check your train or bus routes, and make sure they are running on the day. I think there are apps that can tell you if certain routes won’t be running. Make sure to check the day before each exam.
Signing in Process
I was assigned to the noon time slot and we weren’t a lot – maybe about 20ish people. The process was all streamlined – the staff were all very helpful and kind. Someone meets you at the door and takes your name. I walked in the building, sanitised my hands, picked up my ID for the day (which had my candidate number and photo), and went through the ID check. I showed my passport and took my mask off briefly to show them my face.
Then, I went to the locker area where I was able to leave my things. They asked me to leave everything in the locker, including my watch. I was able to bring along my own hand sanitiser, some migraine medicine (as I get them often), and bottled water (which should be unopened).
TIP 6: Make sure you are comfortable with wearing a mask for hours. If foggy glasses bother you, you can wear contacts. I also know some people who stuck bandage tape at the top of their masks to stop their breath going up to their glasses. The bottom bit obviously remained open. Just make sure you are as comfortable as you can be because these little annoyances can add to the nerves and anxiety you will probably have during the exams.
We weren’t required to wear formal clothes for both Parts of the QLTS OSCE. But I think during normal times, you wouldn’t be required to do so for Part 2 anyway as you’re just sat in front of the computer the whole time.
TIP 7: Since you will be seated the whole time, make sure to wear something comfortable. You will not be judged (by anyone).
I brought a blazer on the first day in case I got cold but I was told that the temperature is regulated in the room and I could just ask one of the examiners for help in case I do feel cold. I didn’t have to.
Because of the covid restrictions, Kaplan had special rules regarding bathroom breaks. Instead of having breaks between exams, they added an extra 10 minutes to each test to give us time to go to the bathroom. Yes, there were no real breaks between tests and no one was allowed to go out of the room at those times. It was only on the first day that two of us in my room used the bathroom during one test. The rest of the time, no one else stood up.
TIP 8: Use all the time you are given, especially for the Part 2 exams. You won’t have a lot of time. So if you are given an extra 10 minutes, use all of it wisely. I’ll write another post about how you can prepare to make sure you are able to maximise the time you are given.
Before and after each test, the examiner will read out a set of instructions. The instructions were all the same and straightforward. If you encounter any problems, the examiners will help you.
TIP 9: Listen to the instructions carefully. There are instructions about naming the file and saving. It’s easy enough but somehow some people had trouble with it.
We were assigned a computer space that was far enough from the other examinees. On the table, we were given a laminated sheet, a marker, and a calculator.
The order of subjects were —
Day 1 – Business Law
Day 2 – Probate and Property Law
Day 3 – Civil and Criminal Litigation
So far, this is the same order that I’ve heard from other people as well.
On each day, you’ll go through three tests: legal research, legal writing, and legal drafting. The order in which you take them will be the same for all three days, so you’ll find out what the order is on the first day.
We had access to WestLaw and LexisNexis. Kaplan says in all their caveats that you should know both databases in case one fails, but I haven’t heard of any time that happened. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that. In any case, it’s easy enough to navigate both databases.
I’ll write about how I prepared for the tests in another post.
At the end of each day, we took our things out of the locker and walked out of the centre through a different door.
A friend of mine suggested that I try to speak to my fellow examinees so I won’t feel so alone in taking the exams. But there just wasn’t any opportunity to do so for this part because everyone just left the centre on their own. I didn’t mind though, I was also lost in thought myself.
I realised I made a few mistakes after the exams, but I reminded myself that I just needed to pass the test, and that didn’t require a perfect score. In the end, I did a lot better than I expected.
TIP 10: Don’t be so hard on yourself. You don’t need to have all the correct answers.
It was such a relief walking out of the testing centre on the third day. I had such a big smile on my face (behind my mask, of course).
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or need any advice. Good luck!