If you’ve just recently passed the QLTS MCT, congratulations! Here are some tips to help you prepare for the QLTS OSCE. My post on how to prepare for the QLTS OSCE (Legal Content) might be useful to you as well. I wrote about how I prepared in terms of learning the law.
In this post, I want to focus on how I prepared (and how I wish I prepared) for the non-legal aspects of the OSCE. If you look at the marking criteria, half your points will come from the legal aspects, the other half will come from the non-legal side. This is a skills test, so they will be testing your communication and writing skills as well.
IMPORTANT: this exam doesn’t give you a lot of time so you’ll want to be able to automate some parts of your answers.
Your answer will probably be in the form of a client letter. Draft and memorise the beginning and end (e.g. I trust this addresses you concerns. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Yours sincerely, xxx). This script will help you quickly input the skeleton automatically so you can spend more time writing the actual content of the letter. The mock tests are useful for this. Choose which forms look good to you and adjust according to your style as necessary.
I had two outlines for the middle section: one had different paragraphs for facts, issues, and advice. The other was to address each question, mixing the relevant facts and law into the advice. I found the second one more useful and less time consuming as you can immediately apply the law to the facts.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: make sure that the advice you write is client specific. In other words, weave the facts in as you apply the law. You don’t want to just copy/paste the law you find from the database.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: write down all the facts from the problem given to you. You’ll be graded on how correct and complete your facts are, so write all the facts down in the letter (either in the facts section or mingled in with the advice as you apply the law to the facts). These are easy points and they do accumulate.
Unfortunately, you can’t really prepare for this very well. You won’t need to memorise the forms because Lexis Nexis or Westlaw will be available to you. But familiarise yourself with the forms that the mock tests offer anyway and figure out where to find them in the databases.
I thought it was easier to find forms in Lexis Nexis than in Westlaw. But if you filter for “precedent” in Westlaw, you’ll find them there, too.
The main thing is not to panic if you’ve never heard of the form. Rest with the knowledge that you know where the forms are.
QUICK TIP: figure out also where to find contract clauses and company resolutions in the databases. Also figure out how to combine keywords (e.g. how to use & and quotation mark functions). More on this in another post.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: It will be obvious when a conduct issue appears. Make sure to address it. You can do this at the end of the letter (e.g. Finally, we understand that you would like to xxx. However, xxx)
This consists of two parts: legal advice and sources. The legal advice section is the part where you apply the facts to the law – this should be client-focused. On another page, you’ll have to show that you found the important sources and authorities.
Some answers to the mock tests copy and pasted the law, other summarized it and applied it to the facts. I copy and pasted the law and then added a short one liner about how this applied to the facts (e.g. Thus, a majority vote to xxx is required). Remember that you won’t have a lot of time, so do whatever is quickest for you.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: I don’t think you really need to apply the law to the facts in the sources section since you’ll only be graded on the fact that you found the important source and authority.
It’s important that you are familiar with the databases. You won’t have a lot of time to mess about and figure things out. It’s not as daunting as it sounds, though. You just need to know: where to search (e.g. which search bars to use for forms or books, etc.), how to search (e.g. using & or “”), and which books are the general authorities of the subject so you can link to other sources.
Your provider should have videos on how to use the databases. I’m pretty sure a quick Google or YouTube search will also help you find resources on this.
Similar to legal writing, draft and memorise a script for the beginning (e.g. Hi xxx, how are you today? xxx) and end of interviews (e.g. thank you for your time xxx). This will help you ease into the conversation and ease out of it without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. As I’ve said before, you’ll want to be as comfortable as you can because you don’t need any additional stress.
You can use the mock tests to draft a script. Copy the language that you are comfortable with and then adjust according to your personal preference. I also had key phrases for transitions (e.g. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go back to xxx). I’m not uncomfortable speaking in English, but when I’m nervous, my mind goes blank and I can’t form proper sentences, so it was helpful for me to have key words and phrases to say to get back to the rhythm of things.
QUICK TIP: If you signed up with a provider, make sure to watch any videos they have of sample interviews, presentations, and advocacy. They were quite helpful in creating scripts.
Make sure you are able to get all the basic information – name, address, contact details, etc. If you’re unsure, ask how to spell names or places. This is perfectly fine to do because you want to make sure the information in your Attendance Note will be accurate.
QUICK TIP: If the interviewee is speaking quickly, you can ask them to slow down or stop so you can take time to write down your notes.
IMPORTANT: take note of the information you’ll need to get from the client per topic (not just per subject). The mock tests are helpful for this. If you don’t have access to mock tests, think about the issues and information you’d need to get for each topic. You can use the Cilex papers to see which topics are important.
In my first interview, I finished A LOT earlier than I should have because I ran out of questions to ask. The interviewee even asked if I had any more questions for her! Also, in my third interview, I had to ask the interviewee numerous times if there was any other issue or problem because he would only give me one issue at a time. The interviewees will purposely withhold a lot of the information because they are testing you about whether you ask all the necessary questions to get all the important information.
If you see that you still have a lot of time left, use it to go over your notes and see if you missed anything. Don’t worry if you’re taking a long time to look over your notes. It’s awkward but this is an exam, not real life. They won’t judge you if the silence is too long.
Don’t write anything down on the attendance note sheet. I know a lot of people advised that you should write the basic form down, but during my OSCE, people were called out for doing it.
You can use the mock tests to figure out the structure of the attendance note. After you have all the basic information, write down all the facts, the issues, and your legal advice. But watch the time! I remember not having enough time sometimes because the facts were so long so I mixed the legal advice into the facts when I had to.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: Make sure you write down all the facts you have and draft a section on “next steps” as these are part of the marking criteria.
Presentation & Advocacy
As with the interview and legal writing, draft a script for the beginning and end of your presentation and advocacy. That’s two scripts because one will be with a client, the other will be in front of a judge. Having a set first and last few sentences will help with your confidence and it’ll guide you into the meat of the presentation.
You’ll also want to decide on the basic structure of your presentation and advocacy. What I found helpful was to state all the facts first so the easy points are out of the way, and then tackle each issue separately.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: Say all the facts that are given to you. They have to be complete and comprehensive. These are easy points to get so take advantage of this.
The mock tests are helpful here. You can choose which sentences and phrases would be helpful when structuring your presentation and advocacy. The examiner won’t be asking questions so you want to be able to say everything you need to say clearly and in a structured m
QUICK TIP: note the language used in advocacy (e.g. “my friend” refers to opposing counsel and how you should properly address a judge).
One of the most important points here is to memorise important sections and laws. As I mentioned in How to Prepare for the QLTS OSCE (Legal Content), I used the Cilex papers and mock tests to figure out the important topics. You can immediately tell which laws and sections were important because they kept repeating. So just make sure you know those ones well. You don’t need to memorise the content of the law word for word. You just want to be able mention the law and section (e.g. under section xxx of the xxx) as you explain the law. Personally, I only really memorised things the day before each exam so it was only stored in my short-term memory. I’ll share in another post my notes and which laws I memorised.
MARKING CRITERIA NOTE: Take note of possible code of conduct issues you encounter in the Cilex papers and mock tests and how you might address them. These ones seem to be quite repetitive as well, so just make sure you know what to answer when it comes up.
FINAL NOTE on USING MOCK TESTS: Don’t stress out that the answers are so long. They are IDEAL answers so it’s impossible to write or say everything written there. But they are complete so in that sense, they are useful for your legal content revision.
I think I can write a few more shorter posts about tips on how to practice for the OSCE and the notes that I memorised. I hope this was helpful!