Thursday 3 September 2015

Tips for the Bar Exam

So you just wrote your final exam of law school. Inevitably upon completing the exam, you celebrate because you’re about to graduate and finally be done with school. You also begin planning how amazing your time off in the summer will be before you start Articling. However, something just doesn’t seem right. Although you know you should be ecstatic and excited for your summer, you just can’t seem to figure out why the feeling is not of pure joy. Oh right, you registered to write the bar exam in June!

Remember, it’s only 6 weeks of intense studying and then you can relax.

A week after completing your last exam, you might find yourself picking up the materials for the bar. As you’re handed the two separate bundles of materials (barristers and solicitors), the first thing you might do is check how many pages there are in total. That’s right, about 1800 pages but don’t worry, about 300 of them are common to both exams. A week prior you were feeling immensely happy for being done school but now, you quickly begin to feel the stress of having to write two exams that culminate your entire efforts in the past 3 years.

Delayed Reaction
Although writing the bar may seem like a difficult and daunting task, I’m going to tell you that it was certainly not as bad as I made it out to be. One of the more difficult things to come to terms with was that my celebration for being done law school and being able to fully enjoy the summer were to be delayed until the middle of June. Once you come to terms with delaying your summer plans, gain a feel for what the materials are like and set a reading schedule. It’s really all about staying focused and ensuring that you get through the materials at least once, and of course, be sure to have good indices. Remember, it’s only 6 weeks of intense studying and then you can relax.

Exam Day
On exam day, make sure you arrive early, pack nutritious food and most importantly, stay calm. I can’t stress that last point enough. Of course being adequately prepared will also help ensure that you are calm and collected before and during the exam. Try not to rush questions, but also do not spend too much time on one if you just can’t seem to get the answer. Timing is much more important than being stubborn and not moving on from a question when you’ve already dwelled on it for too long. If this happens, I suggest choosing the answer that you think might be correct, or a random one if they all seem equally plausible, and noting it so you can come back if there is some time at the end. The reason I suggest filling in an answer and not leaving it blank is because you may find that you run out of time by the end and it’s better to at least have an answer than to leave it blank. Just don’t press too hard with your pencil, you might need to erase and correct it.

Go for June
The study time and the exams will fly by, just as the last 3 years already have. Before you know it, you’ll be articling and all the stress of law school and the bar will seem distant and inconsequential. In fact, I strongly recommend writing the bar in June if it fits into your schedule because you will likely still be in exam mode from your finals, and you will not have to stress over the exams while you Article.

In summary
Give the materials the time they deserve, try not to stress too much on exam day and remember, if you’re prepared, it should all work out.

Michael G.

February 2018 - In answer to the comment below:  Melissa P replies:

I would suggest taking the following online practice tests as I found them very helpful:
  • Barpreppal
  • Ontario Law Exams
  • Canbarprep