Although many of your peers may be starting off the year with several #3LOL posts, it is important that you take some time to start thinking about a strategy to pass the Ontario Bar exams. The goal of this post is to provide you with three strategies to passing the Bar exams.
STEP #1: PREPARING AN INDEX
Don’t get stuck on the indexing portion of your preparation. During your second semester, it is likely that indexing groups will naturally start to form among your peers. These groups will usually update an index that was passed down to a student from a recent graduate to ensure the content in the index matches the revised page numbers of the new Bar materials. These groups are inherently flawed because you either choose to work with a small group of trusted peers (e.g., 5-20) and take a week out of your preparation time to complete the index, or work with a larger group (e.g., 21-50) and face the risk of errors being made and some people not completing their assigned portion of the indexing. Either way, you will be investing valuable study time on a tedious task that does not really help you retain knowledge for the Bar exams.
That being said, having an index is necessary to do well on the Bar exams, and so the recommendation is to purchase indices from a reputable Bar indexing company (e.g., Ontario Law Exam), which costs around $150 for both the Barrister and Solicitor indices. Another benefit of purchasing indices is they will usually come with a practice exam, which is an effective tool for study preparation. Comparing a purchased index against the one created by students demonstrated the purchased index was more detailed.
STEP #2: USING A STUDY SCHEDULE
Take some time to rest and relax after finishing your final exams – you’ll need the rest to make it through the marathon of studying ahead! When creating your study schedule, set realistic weekly goals. You may also consider finding one or two study partners and committing to follow the same study schedule so that you are able to encourage one another to stay on track. Keep in mind that preparing for the Bar exams is not a race or a competition, so try not to get distracted by your peers sharing how many pages they are reading a day or how much material they have gotten through; instead, remain confident with the schedule you have created for yourself and find comfort in reaching your weekly goal.
Remember there will be days that you do not finish as much reading as you had intended, which is why it is helpful to set realistic weekly benchmarks. If you follow a study schedule, you should be left with five days before each exam for review.
STEP #3: REVIEWING THE MATERIAL
To make the most of the few review days in your study schedule, work with a partner to review the detailed table of contents in the bar materials. You’ll be amazed at how much material you retained!
Once you are finished, spend a day to complete a practice exam and using the remainder of your time reviewing the questions you struggled with. When working on your practice test, use a hardcopy of your index as you will not have access to an electronic version during the Bar exams. Using the index on the practice exam was helpful because it feels comfortable referencing key terms and you become familiar with where material was located.
Lastly, work with a partner to create a chart with relevant dates, times, and appeal routes to cut down on the amount of index referencing you will need to do on the Bar exams.
FINAL ADVICE: BE COMMITTED!
Studying for the Bar exams will be one of the most psychologically and physically draining experiences most of you will have faced at this point in your life. However, remember that getting to this point in your academic journey required a great deal of hard work. To pass the Bar exams you need to apply the same level of commitment – you have it in you!