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Feeling extremely behind on bar exam studying - tips to speed through


lawstudent382

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lawstudent382
  • Law Student

I've gone through most of the barrister materials however I have not even touched the solicitor materials. I have the barrister exam on June 2nd and solicitor exam on June 13th. I'm wondering if I'm not going through the materials as efficiently as I could be. Does anyone have any tips please?

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yunglawyer
  • Lawyer

Don't get caught up in the minutiae. You don't need to memorize or even internalize any of the specific topics, just read for a very broad understanding. That should speed up your reading. Once you finish reading barrister and up until the exam, spend half your days doing practice exams/questions and half reading solicitor.

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MapleLeafs
  • Law Student

Is it even necessary to read the materials? I’m running out of time as well and am leaning towards just doing practice tests to get familiar with indices. 

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yunglawyer
  • Lawyer

I would give them a fast read if you're running out of time. Important to at least know where topics are in the materials.

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QueensDenning
  • Lawyer

Just want to add that I'm also falling behind, and currently struggling to see how reading the materials is necessary...

It's just SO FUCKING BORING. I much prefer studying for law school exams. 

Edited by QueensDenning
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Bachtowork
  • Articling Student

I've only finished "reading" the barrister materials so far, and ended up skimming quite a bit (except for professional responsibility). I'll have to leave most of the solicitor materials for after the barrister exam. I have seen numerous people say they barely read/skipped many chapters and passed, but the claims that recent exams have gotten harder really unnerved me, so I feel that taking at least a cursory glance at all the materials is important. 

 

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Bachtowork
  • Articling Student

Is it necessary to read the Rules of Professional Conduct and LSO By-laws? I wasn't sure because those are in the appendices. 

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2 hours ago, MapleLeafs said:

Is it even necessary to read the materials? I’m running out of time as well and am leaning towards just doing practice tests to get familiar with indices. 

People pass without reading. But I know at least a couple of people who failed and said they felt it was because they didn’t read the materials and so they couldn’t understand the questions. That’s the risk. If you have no background familiarity with the material, some of the questions aren’t going to make any sense. You won’t know where to look for the answers or be able to identify them in the multiple choices.

There’s no rule about this stuff. If you want to give yourself the best chance to pass, yeah, you should probably do some reading. If you’re willing to pay and take the time to redo the exams, go ahead and write the tests without. 

Edited by realpseudonym
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ruthlessfox
  • Law Student

How many pages are you getting through a day? You still have a lot of time to read Solicitor and do a bunch of PTs. 

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lawstudent382
  • Law Student
On 5/17/2023 at 3:36 PM, yunglawyer said:

Don't get caught up in the minutiae. You don't need to memorize or even internalize any of the specific topics, just read for a very broad understanding. That should speed up your reading. Once you finish reading barrister and up until the exam, spend half your days doing practice exams/questions and half reading solicitor.

How would you suggest going upon highlighting? I’ve been highlighting dates, time periods, key terms as well as statutes and cases but I’m not sure if that’s as important to highlight

On 5/17/2023 at 5:53 PM, Bachtowork said:

I've only finished "reading" the barrister materials so far, and ended up skimming quite a bit (except for professional responsibility). I'll have to leave most of the solicitor materials for after the barrister exam. I have seen numerous people say they barely read/skipped many chapters and passed, but the claims that recent exams have gotten harder really unnerved me, so I feel that taking at least a cursory glance at all the materials is important. 

 

Yeah the fact that the exams have gotten harder is what’s making me more nervous…

21 hours ago, ruthlessfox said:

How many pages are you getting through a day? You still have a lot of time to read Solicitor and do a bunch of PTs. 

About 50-60 per day and I’ve been studying almost every single day.

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MapleLeafs
  • Law Student
21 hours ago, ruthlessfox said:

do a bunch of PTs

What are the best PTs to do? I've heard Emond is really good, but conflicted on what else to get. I'm considering Bar Exam Crackers and OLE also 

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ruthlessfox
  • Law Student
13 minutes ago, MapleLeafs said:

What are the best PTs to do? I've heard Emond is really good, but conflicted on what else to get. I'm considering Bar Exam Crackers and OLE also 

I'm in the same boat as you but I've heard Emond/OLE are the hardest, and then Bar Exam Crackers on the easier side. I tried the Emond one recently and I found it to be more difficult than other exams; I would attribute half of that to cleverly designed questions and half of that to poorly written questions.  I'll probably save OLE for later.

I've also heard some others recommend Ontario Bar Prep because it allows you to compare yourself to others who wrote it. Access Bar Prep also has a free 80 question sample exam.

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TobyFlenderson
  • Lawyer

I liked Ontario Bar Prep for the comparison against other test takers. I scored a few points above the average on each of my practice tests, and that gave me some confidence. If you’re scoring below the average, I would take that as an indication that you need to revise your strategy.

Practice exams that don’t offer this feature are much less helpful, imo. Yes, you get the practice using your indices/DTOC, and yes, it’s practice reading exam questions. But you have no idea how much easier (and they will be easier) those questions are than the real deal, so it’s much harder to put any weight on your score.

I used Access Bar Prep for the free half length tests to try my indices before burning a paid practice test and found that they were much, much easier than OBP and the real exam. The half length tests are OK for indices/DTOC practice but don’t let a good score lull you into overconfidence because it’s way, way easier.

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Aureliuse
  • Lawyer

Now, I passed my exams BEFORE the whole cheating scandal, so take my advice with some grain of salt.

I found it helpful to understand the materials. This helped me to know what section the answer will likely be in, and understand what is being asked in the questions better.

I read my barrister and solicitor materials twice.

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QueensDenning
  • Lawyer
14 minutes ago, Aureliuse said:

I read my barrister and solicitor materials twice.

In six weeks? 

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Obi-wan
  • Articling Student

I am debating between purchasing OLE or Ontario Bar Prep practice exams. Does anyone prefer one over the other? I’ve already purchased Emond.

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yunglawyer
  • Lawyer

I preferred Ontario Bar Prep. For any practice exam provider, I would check to see if they have school specific coupon codes before purchasing. 

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lawstudent382
  • Law Student

Also wondering which indices people found the most helpful. I know there's the UofT ones for free but I'm hearing of quite a few people buying from third party companies.

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Bachtowork
  • Articling Student

How many practice exams should one do? I guess the more the better, but if I get all of them, it'll be quite costly...

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goosie
  • Lawyer

I wrote the bar exams in July 2022 (i.e. post-cheating scandal, with the "harder" exams). I didn't get through all of the materials before the barrister exam (my plan was to read solicitor first, then barrister so it was fresh, then PR right before the first exam, then refresh both solicitor and PR before the solicitor exam). The part I didn't get to was the entire Civil Litigation section, minus the very first chapter. I passed on my first write. When I realized I was running out of time (I believe about 1 week before the exam), I prioritized getting through PR because it was shorter and I needed it for both exams, and doing practice tests, first untimed, then timed about 4 days before the exam. I think I did about one exam a day.

Maybe it can help alleviate your stress a bit to know that it might not be necessary to read every single word of the materials, though of course different things will work for different people. I definitely felt like the practice tests were crucial to me getting comfortable with the index (I used the UofT one). The other good thing about doing lots of practice tests is that I was able to notice a couple of errors in the index and put in a sticky note with a correction.

Another thing that was critical to me, which I don't see as many people mention, is having a question tracker. I printed out a sheet that basically told me which question I should be on at what time. Without it I definitely would have lost track of time.

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TobyFlenderson
  • Lawyer
17 minutes ago, goosie said:

Another thing that was critical to me, which I don't see as many people mention, is having a question tracker. I printed out a sheet that basically told me which question I should be on at what time. Without it I definitely would have lost track of time.

I did the same and found it helpful. When I was ahead of time, it was a good confidence boost, and when I was behind it helped me get back on track.

I recommend a time marker for at least 25%, 50%, and 75% of the exam but feel free to get as granular as you like. I settled on intervals of 20.

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Bachtowork
  • Articling Student
30 minutes ago, goosie said:

I wrote the bar exams in July 2022 (i.e. post-cheating scandal, with the "harder" exams). I didn't get through all of the materials before the barrister exam (my plan was to read solicitor first, then barrister so it was fresh, then PR right before the first exam, then refresh both solicitor and PR before the solicitor exam). The part I didn't get to was the entire Civil Litigation section, minus the very first chapter. I passed on my first write. When I realized I was running out of time (I believe about 1 week before the exam), I prioritized getting through PR because it was shorter and I needed it for both exams, and doing practice tests, first untimed, then timed about 4 days before the exam. I think I did about one exam a day.

Maybe it can help alleviate your stress a bit to know that it might not be necessary to read every single word of the materials, though of course different things will work for different people. I definitely felt like the practice tests were crucial to me getting comfortable with the index (I used the UofT one). The other good thing about doing lots of practice tests is that I was able to notice a couple of errors in the index and put in a sticky note with a correction.

Another thing that was critical to me, which I don't see as many people mention, is having a question tracker. I printed out a sheet that basically told me which question I should be on at what time. Without it I definitely would have lost track of time.

Would you recommend using charts (for appeal routes, civil litigation timelines, etc.)? I'm finding the indices quite unwieldy, because of how often the same keywords show up multiple times; moreover, I sometimes think of different keywords than what they used. For those reasons, I'm thinking of just annotating my detailed table of contents and mainly relying on that (as some have done in the past), but not sure if that's a good idea. 

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OzLaw16
  • Lawyer
17 minutes ago, Bachtowork said:

For those reasons, I'm thinking of just annotating my detailed table of contents and mainly relying on that (as some have done in the past), but not sure if that's a good idea. 

This is what I did and it worked very well for me. I found it way more intuitive than trying to rely on an index. The DTOC is (mostly) already in a logical order, so figuring out the general subject matter of a question and then going to that part of the DTOC felt like it used way less brainpower than trying to solve a mini puzzle in my head of what specific keywords out of hundreds of options from the index were meant to capture the topic of a question. I used practice tests to essentially memorize the order of the DTOC and to add some notes whenever I felt the DTOC wasn't specific enough for a certain topic (which honestly didn't happen very much considering how most items in the DTOC cover a very small range of pages).

Everyone's learning styles are different, so maybe an index is the better method for some people, but if I'm being completely honest, my personal theory after taking the bar exams is that the index method is the more popular method purely because of herd mentality. It's the method that everyone talks about, so students assume it must be the "right" way to do it. I'm convinced that if people actually compared using an index vs. using the DTOC without any outside influence, an overwhelming majority of people would find the DTOC to be the more intuitive method to use. 

Edited by OzLaw16
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Bachtowork
  • Articling Student
11 hours ago, OzLaw16 said:

This is what I did and it worked very well for me. I found it way more intuitive than trying to rely on an index. The DTOC is (mostly) already in a logical order, so figuring out the general subject matter of a question and then going to that part of the DTOC felt like it used way less brainpower than trying to solve a mini puzzle in my head of what specific keywords out of hundreds of options from the index were meant to capture the topic of a question. I used practice tests to essentially memorize the order of the DTOC and to add some notes whenever I felt the DTOC wasn't specific enough for a certain topic (which honestly didn't happen very much considering how most items in the DTOC cover a very small range of pages).

Everyone's learning styles are different, so maybe an index is the better method for some people, but if I'm being completely honest, my personal theory after taking the bar exams is that the index method is the more popular method purely because of herd mentality. It's the method that everyone talks about, so students assume it must be the "right" way to do it. I'm convinced that if people actually compared using an index vs. using the DTOC without any outside influence, an overwhelming majority of people would find the DTOC to be the more intuitive method to use. 

Yes, I agree. I've found the indices helpful sometimes, but most of the time, using it takes more time and confuses me. Only thing is sometimes, I can't find the right answer with either method, so I think I should make the DTOC more detailed. Also I'm worried that the DTOC alone may not be sufficient these days, since the exams are allegedly less straightforward now. When did you write the exams?

I thought that too - just like how many law students think they need to read every case, make outlines from scratch, and take verbatim notes in class. 

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epeeist
  • Lawyer

I'm a volunteer tutor through the LSO for people who've failed the barrister exam (LSO offers up to 5 hours of tutoring in subjects, I tutor only in civil litigation and professional responsibility).

I've posted before but not recently so to summarize:

1. Your goal is to pass not understand. View the materials in that context. Not a good idea for life or the practice of law, but for the exam, you just want enough correct answers, not to understand why. Like if in the exam you know all the answers but one are wrong, don't try to figure out why it's correct or waste time looking up, just choose and move on. If memorization, or good indices, or diagrams and flowcharts, help you answer enough questions efficiently, then do whatever works for you (e.g. preparing diagrams/flowcharts for appeal routes or steps in action may be faster in exam than looking up). For some civil litigation topics I think the Rules of Civil Procedure are much clearer and more direct (and quicker) way to look up answers on some topics (e.g. simplified procedure, in my view). But also, and I think a good reason to read the materials even though some topics not explained very well, every answer to the bar exam is in the materials. If you've read them, even if not highlighting/tabbing/etc. like you'd want to, something might come to mind even if you don't have time to look something up in the exam.

2. Practice tests, based on the questions candidates have shared with me, are easier than the actual exam and more poorly written (e.g. I've seen practice test questions that had more than one correct answer, or zero correct answers). But they are helpful to test how well your index/charts/time management techniques work and if you're adding the Rules to your materials for some topics. Meaning you want to do at least some under timed conditions with phone off and family/friends/roommates/whoever leaving you alone.

3. Time management is most common reason people tell me they failed. My usual advice is to practice answering easier questions that don't require looking things up (or are a quick lookup because you're familiar) first, taking less than the average time per question, so then you have more time on the rest and if you end up rushing and guessing you're rushing and guessing on questions you were less likely to get correct. If you just answer every question in order, maybe the last 20 questions you rush through would have been really easy for you...

4.  Evening before exam, not my original advice but I agree, relax. See a fun movie, have a nice dinner with family or friends (ONLY if they are willing to not talk about anything stressful or ask you if you're ready for the exam tomorrow...), whatever.

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