I’ve found this excellent article on LinkedIn and I asked Nabila if I could share her QLTS success story with you.
Nabila kindly agreed, so enjoy her story and her tips!
This is post is long overdue from Sept….firstly a huge thanks to Rosita for bringing together this group. It was such a big support with info and guidance and most importantly friends that I was able to study with, which I helped me pass the OSCE this Sept. Can’t be more grateful.
I know the OCSEs are just round the corner and I wanted to share some experience with hope that it may assist those appearing. I am sure there are brighter folks here who can finish it in months, however even being common lawyer and it took me almost two years to get through the entire QLTS exam being in full time work. I started MCQ prep in Oct 2014, gave the exam in Feb 2015 and passed in first attempt in April I5. I skipped the June OSCE session is as I felt it was too tight and started preparing at about July 2015 to give the Nov 2015 OSCE. I found friends in this group with whom I studied however when the results came out in March 2016 I marginally failed. With a leap of faith I registered immediately for the June 2016 and finally made it with 74%. The Resit experience really compelled me to delve deep and attain an understanding of this exam and I had to do all this figuring out myself as there is no real guidance on this exam. So here it goes.
1. You need to know the syllabus. OSCE is not an exam which you can prepare for in a month or two (apart from the super bright folks). Rosita’s guidance on the books are great and there are five key books – legal foundation, crim, civ, business, property. These are a must read. Since there is no knowing of past questions, it is unwise to do selective study and frankly I found it impossible. So if you are in full time work and especially had a family please give yourself at least two month to read these books.
2. Conduct – this obscure point is often underestimated. Conduct features, heavily in probate, probate and not to mention both the litigations. Whereas the SRA outcomes tell you what the conduct points are, it is imp to know how to apply them and I found the conduct sections in the oxford books highly beneficial. There are also free online sources http://global.oup.com/uk/orc/law/lpc/ which you can relate with the books and answers and guidance. These resources are great.
3. Practice – I think a lots has been said about practice and this group is great to find mates to practice with. The different assessment require different kind of practice.
a. 1st the interview – you absolutely have to manage time as you will have only 25 mins. Me and my friends used eachothers partners/spouses, and even children and turned them into distressed clients to get the time management right. Also what helps is preparing questionnaires beforehand and with practice you will get the hang of what to ask naturally. For e.g. for a probate interview your questionnaire should feature – client details, deceased details, family members, dependants, wills – when to who and what, assets, liabilities, lifetime gifts, questions from client. You will have 10 mins to prep for the interview and therefore as long as you have the sections in your head you are good and will be able to chalk out the details from the client, however without a basic structure you will fumble, forget or at worst completely lose control of the questioning. Most actors are alright, but some actors, over act and make it extra difficult so when you practice, do so with a structure.
b. 2nd attendance – this is another key time management area. While you practice, divide the lose sheets you will be taking notes on, according to the structure in your head and number the pages. Remember you can incorporate them in your main attendance note, therefore if you have done the sectioning and the questioning right, by the end of the interview your attendance is half ready. This is SO essential because this saves time and then you concentrate on the issue identification and advice in the 25mins you are given to complete the attendance note.
c. Advocacy/presentation – this is quite a deal for many. Besides the knowledge, which you will already be having, the practice should be focused on the skill of being comfortable with the person before you, your body posture, eye contact and flow of speech. If you are not confident about your language or pronunciation, take time and talk substance. This may mean that you are not finishing everything by the 15 mins. One good idea is to signpost at the beginning, so the examiner knows you at least had the point in your head, but couldn’t get around to it because of time. So e.g. of presentation is ‘greet, introduce, set context (we are here to speak about), these are the queries you raised, so I will be speaking about these three point…1st…, 2nd…., 3rd…… and then take any further questions you have .., so starting with the first issue…’.
d. Legal research – practise for research should focus on identifying the search words. You need to give the question a good read and break down the elements to identify the exact key words. Also both lexis and westlaw, have a guidance on the search tools in their help section. Most used are the ‘AND/OR, w/p and n connectors’. As long as you know these four you should be more than ok.
e. Letter writing, drafting – I will start with letter writing. You get 50% on skill and its easy marks if you have the format right. Addressed to, address, file ref, salutation then you have the body and ending. I would quickly type the format even before the exam would start, so in case I ran out of time the examiner will see at least I finished my letter. Simplicity is the key. You do not need to get verbose or show your knowledge of leaglaise. For drafting we are told we can use template, that is when you find out that there is no template for the particular question…lol, which happened for both the lit drafting exams I took. But I really think both these times are exceptions, know your templates in whichever resources you use. For most things I found encyclopaedia in lexis very useful, but you need to identify the ones you are most comfy with. So while you are practising drafting, do know where your sources are. You don’t have time to be searching in the exam.
4. Practice questions – a lots has been said about the lack of past materials. And yes it is horribly difficult. The Kaplan sample questions are good. You need to do those 6 sample questions over and over again, compare them with your friends work and know them by heart. In truth, the difficulty is actually of the same or similar level. So if you want a taste of the level of difficulty, the sample questions are a good taster. For further practice, I used the cilex level 6 questions and some of my friends used level 4 to begin the prep. They were so helpful. Just simple discussions helps u practise for presentation. The suggested answers can help you check your own work and identify errors or omissions. Another extra thing I did was locate a lpc student or recent graduate and spent a few days with her course materials. Remember QLTS is assessed higher than lpc only on the skill set as you are assessed as a qualified lawyer. But the syllabus content and SRA outcomes are the same, so if you can get hold of LPC materials it worth a read to help you understand the quality of questions, and expectation on content. BEWARE of the years of course materials. So the more recent the better and if you are using material even of a year old, beware of the changes so you are not mislead.
5. Resit – this is a key consideration, even after all the preparation, in case you do not make it, don’t beat yourself. Because whether you pass does not depend entire on you. Largely it depends on the quality of the cohort and how everyone else performed as well. As a point of observations, there are more candidates in Nov than in June and only for that, I believe appearing in June is wiser as you have fewer people you are judged on. Most important if you failed, try to appear for it as soon as possible. In my first attempt two on my friends could not make it with me, but all of us passed in our second attempt because we gave it back to back and retained most of the preparation from our first attempt. Monetary considerations is another important factor as it is an expensive exam. Have a pot of money ready, so speak with a friend or family who can loan you, or use your credit facilities. But this is a must, if you fail in first go, appear for it asap, manage the money any way possible. Do not break down or give yourself a break because the law will most definitely change if you wait too long and you lose the stamina and drive. These are so important when you are a mature student and working and have a family.
That’s a lot for now I believe, hope u all will find the suggestions helpful. All the best :)”
You can find her original LinkedIn post here.
Well done Nabila, congratulations and thanks for sharing!