Essay FAQs

Answers to common queries when applying through the Essay Route.

What are the entry criteria?

You can enrol onto the Essay Route if you have at least five years’ experience and a relevant qualification. This may range from a relevant professional membership to a degree in a relevant field (e.g. law).

Is there a deadline for enrolling?

No, enrolment is open all year round. Once enrolled, there are deadlines for paper registration and submission, which you can find at under the ‘Timetable’ tab.

How long will I have to complete the route?

Upon enrolment, you will have up to three years to complete three essays. After this, you may apply for a one-year extension for a fee of GBP100.

Are course materials or a reading list provided?

No, not on this route. The Essay Route encourages independent research, and requires you to draw upon your existing experience. STEP provides guidance around essay writing, including how to reference your work, how to structure your essay, and a model answer. All resources can be found at

Can I submit more than one essay at a time?

Yes, you can register and submit as many essays as you would like for any given deadline. However, we recommend you only register as many as you are likely to have time to complete, so as not to lose your fee in the event of a non-submission.

Can I defer my essay to a later date?

No, the paper registration fee is not transferable, so if you are unable to submit your essay for the deadline, you will lose your payment. However, non-submission will not affect your overall enrolment on the Essay Route and you will be free to register a new paper for the next submission deadline.

If you find yourself in extenuating circumstances, then short extensions or a deferral may be offered. Please contact STEP at your earliest convenience.

Can I use essays I have written previously towards the Essay Route?

Only essays based on current topics can be accepted towards the Essay Route. If you have written earlier pieces that closely mirror one of the current topics, please contact STEP to enquire how these may be used towards the route.

Can I address a previous year’s topic?

No, essay submissions must address current topics, found at

Can I submit my essay electronically?

Yes, electronic submission is preferred. You should email your essay to [email protected] and a hard copy by post is not necessary.

What if I go over the word limit?

The word limit is only a guideline. You will not be penalised for going over or under the word limit, provided you have answered the question in full, and the content of your essay is relevant to the topic.

If I fail an essay, can I resit it?

There is no limit to how many times you can submit essays. However, the topics change year on year, so if your essay is unsuccessful, your next attempt will need to be based on a new question.