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OSCE Objective Structured Clinical Examination

Description of the OSCE

The OSCE examines Outcomes C, D and F of the SRA's Day One Outcomes. Candidates are examined in the 3 practice areas of:

  • Business
  • Property and Probate
  • Civil and Criminal Litigation

In each of these practice areas candidates do each of the following exercises once:

  • Client interview
  • Completion of attendance note/case analysis
  • Advocacy/oral presentation
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Legal drafting

In total therefore candidates undertake 18 assessed exercises: 6 in Business, 6 in Property and Probate, and 6 in Civil and Criminal Litigation.

The client interview and completion of attendance note /case analysis are linked in that the attendance note/ case analysis is based on the information acquired during the client interview. The other exercises are based on scenarios that are not linked.

Organisation and timing of the OSCE

For practical purposes the OSCE is divided into 2 parts as follows:

OSCE Part 1

  • Client interview
  • Completion of attendance note/case analysis
  • Advocacy/oral presentation

OSCE Part 2

  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Legal drafting

OSCE Part 1

The following table illustrates how OSCE Part 1 is organised for each of the 3 practice areas of Business, Property and Probate, and Civil and Criminal Litigation:

Activity Timings
Client interview  
Preparation 10 minutes
Client Interview 25 minutes
Completion of attendance note/case analysis  
Completion of attendance note/case analysis 25 minutes
Advocacy/Oral Presentation  
Preparation 45 minutes
Advocacy/oral presentation 15 minutes

Please note that different candidates complete the OSCE Part 1 exercises in different orders. Candidates may therefore start with either the advocacy/oral presentation station or the client interview. The attendance note/case analysis is always the exercise immediately after the client interview.

It is anticipated that candidates will undertake OSCE Part 1 in the 3 practice areas in the morning or afternoon on 3 separate but consecutive days. Further details of this are given for each sitting.

OSCE Part 2

The following table shows the timings for the different exercises:

Activity Timings
On-line legal research 60 minutes
Legal Writing 30 minutes
Legal Drafting 45 minutes

Candidates undertake this cycle 3 times, once for each of the practice areas of Business, Property and Probate, and Civil and Criminal Litigation. It is anticipated that candidates will undertake OSCE Part 2 in the 3 practice areas in the morning or afternoon on 3 separate but consecutive days. Further details of this are given for each sitting. Please note that OSCE Part 2 is a computer based assessment and if there are technical difficulties candidates may be recalled on the day following the end of OSCE Part 2.

Please note also that OSCE Part 1 takes place on different days (and in a different venue) from OSCE Part 2. However candidates must take Parts 1 and 2 at the same sitting.

Marking the OSCE

An assessor who has been trained in playing the role of the client assesses candidates' performance during the interviews. These assessors mark candidates purely on skills, not on the law. All other exercises are marked by solicitors and are marked on both skills and law. For further detail and an outline of the assessment criteria see the Marking and Moderation Policy.

Passing the OSCE

In order to pass the OSCE candidates must obtain the overall pass mark for the OSCE. This overall passmark will be set using the borderline regression method. For the avoidance of doubt please note that there is NOT a separate pass mark for Part 1 and Part 2 of the OSCE. There is 1 pass mark for the OSCE as a whole.

Please note also that this is not primarily a skills assessment, and law and skills are weighted equally.

For further details see the Marking and Moderation Policy.

Permitted Materials

There are no permitted materials for the OSCE.

Fit to Sit

Candidates should be aware that a "Fit to Sit" Policy is in operation for all QLTS assessments. Essentially by attending an assessment candidates are certifying themselves as being fit to sit it and candidates are required to sign a form to this effect at the beginning of each part of the OSCE assessment. Details of the Fit to Sit Policy are in the Assessment Regulations.

Exemptions

Provision is made for candidates with exemptions. Please refer to the SRA website for further details regarding exemptions.

Applicable law

Unless otherwise stated in advance candidates are assessed on the law in force at the time of the assessment.

Please note that at the end of each exercise in the OSCE any paperwork, including all rough work, is collected in. Candidates are not allowed to remove anything from the assessment.

The Assessments: Part 1

1. Client interview

Preparation (10 minutes)

Candidates are given an email from a partner or a secretary indicating who the client is and something about what the client has come to discuss. The email may, but will not necessarily, be accompanied by documents.

The email also gives guidance on whether candidates should deal with client care, funding or money laundering issues in the interview and subsequent attendance note/case analysis. If the email tells candidates not to deal with these issues then there is no need to do so. The email may also indicate specific legal issues which candidates should have particular regard to in the interview and the subsequent attendance note/case analysis.

Candidates can make notes during the preparation.

Interview (25 minutes)

The client is already present in the room and the interview commences when the candidate enters the room. The client may, but will not necessarily, bring documents with them. During the interview candidates are able to refer to the notes made during preparation and to make additional notes.

Candidates should have 2 main objectives during the interview: First, to win the client's trust and confidence and to ensure that the client wishes to instruct or continue to instruct their firm. Secondly, candidates should try to obtain all the relevant information and as full an understanding as possible of the client's concerns. Candidates need not provide detailed advice at this stage. They can conduct the interview on the basis that they will be advising the client in detail at a later date. However, candidates do need to give enough preliminary advice and to address enough of the client's concerns to establish the client's trust and confidence.

At the end of 25 minutes if the candidate has not already brought the interview to a close, the client will do so.

2. Completion of attendance note/case analysis (25 minutes)

Candidates have 25 minutes to write by hand an attendance note/case analysis of the interview they have just completed. They can consult the notes they made earlier.

All relevant information obtained during the interview should be recorded in the attendance note/case analysis. If candidates choose to they can do this by incorporating the notes made earlier where appropriate. Documents which the client has given the candidate should be attached to the attendance note. Candidates should provide an analysis of any legal issues that arise in the matter and record their initial advice for the client. The attendance note/case analysis should also identify the next steps to be taken by the solicitor and, where applicable, the client. Also record in the attendance note/case analysis any professional conduct issues that arise and how they should be dealt with. If the email from the partner/secretary has asked the candidate to deal with any specific issues then advice on these issues should also be included. Please note that legal issues, advice for the client, next steps and any professional conduct issues should be recorded in the attendance note even if they have already been discussed in the interview.

3. Advocacy/Oral Presentation

Preparation (45 minutes)

Candidates are given a separate case study on which they will conduct a piece of advocacy/make an oral presentation. An email asks the candidate to conduct the advocacy/make the presentation and tells them before whom this will be made. Where relevant candidates are also given a file of documents. This file may contain relevant authorities and cases but only where it is considered that a Day One solicitor would need to look up these authorities and cases.

Candidates can make notes during the preparation. They are given 45 minutes to prepare for the advocacy/presentation but the advocacy/presentation itself should not last longer than 15 minutes.

Advocacy/oral presentation (15 minutes)

Candidates make their submission/presentation to a decision maker who is present in the room. The decision maker may ask questions. Candidates can use the notes made earlier. The presentation should not last longer than 15 minutes and candidates will be stopped at the end of this time.

The Assessments: Part 2

On-line Legal Research

The on-line legal research takes the form of an email from a partner asking candidates to research an issue or issues so that the partner can report back to the client. Candidates are given 60 minutes to complete the on-line legal research.

Candidates are provided with an electronic template on which to write the answer. The template is divided into 2 sections, namely advice to give to the client, and legal reasoning mentioning any key sources or authorities.

Candidates are provided with a computer with the databases Lexis Library (not Lexis PSL) and Westlaw on which to conduct the research. There is no access to other sites. All legal research questions can be answered using either Lexis Library or Westlaw but in any particular case it may be easier to use one of these databases rather than the other. PLEASE NOTE however that in the event of technical difficulties with one of the databases during the exam period candidates are expected to do the legal research on the other database.

PLEASE NOTE All QLTS candidates are eligible for temporary access to Lexis Library and Westlaw at a reduced fee. Candidates should contact Lexis Library and Westlaw for further details.

Answers are written in Microsoft Word using MS Office Professional 2010.

Legal Writing

In the legal writing assessed exercise candidates are given 30 minutes to write a letter or an email as a solicitor acting in or assisting with a matter.

Candidates may be provided with relevant cases and authorities but only where it is considered that a solicitor in practice would need to look up these cases and authorities. Candidates have access to Lexis Library and Westlaw while doing the legal writing but there is not time to do any significant research.

PLEASE NOTE that if, as a result of technical difficulties, one or both of these legal databases are not available during the assessed exercise, candidates are expected to complete the exercise without reference to the database/s.

Answers are written in Microsoft Word using MS Office Professional 2010. Candidates are provided with a template on which to do this.

Legal Drafting

In the legal drafting assessed exercise candidates are given 45 minutes to draft a legal document or parts of a legal document. This may take the form of drafting from a precedent or amending a document already drafted but it may also involve drafting without either of these.

Candidates may be provided with relevant cases and authorities but only where it is considered that a solicitor in practice would need to look up these cases and authorities.

Candidates have access to Lexis Library and Westlaw while doing the legal drafting but there is not time to do any significant research.

PLEASE NOTE that if, as a result of technical difficulties, one or both of these legal databases are not available during the assessed exercise, candidates are expected to complete the exercise without reference to the database/s.

Answers are written in Microsoft Word using MS Office Professional 2010 or on an electronic form or by hand depending on the task.

Sample OSCE Materials

Please note that these sample exercises do not represent all the material that will be covered by the OSCE. The sample materials are based on questions that have been used in the past on the QLTS assessment. However, future questions may not take exactly the same format.

Sample Materials for client interview/attendance note

  1. Sarah Maddock (Criminal)
  2. Jason Miller (Property)

Sample materials for advocacy /oral presentation

Sample Materials for legal research

Sample Materials for legal writing

Sample Materials for legal drafting