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pzabbythesecond

Ontario Bar exams - one month enough to study before the first one?

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Hi all,

I'm trying to figure out travel plans and when to write my Bar (either March or June).

I know that most law students study right after grad in May, and write both in June. So that's a month or so.

My question is (to those who've written) - did you feel rushed with a month? If you could have taken more time, say 6 weeks, would you have done that instead? Or was a committed 9-5/6 for a month (then the two weeks between the two exams) enough? 

As much as I'd like to travel for more, I don't want to pressure myself unnecessarily (if I choose to write March).

Thanks!

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I think it really depends on your working style.

When I wrote the bar a few years ago - yes, a month to study was a rush. It was a full-time job to read, highlight, index, note-take, chart-make, and otherwise study in that time frame to be prepared. It definitely got stressful, particularly on days when I didn't make my reading target.

But would I have preferred a longer study time? Absolutely not. I'm the kind of person who tends to make work take up whatever time is available. If I had 6 weeks instead of 4, I would have procrastinated more, felt less guilty about taking extra breaks, and then felt equally stressed/rushed by the time the exams were coming up. Though a month was tight, it was absolutely doable with a pre-planned schedule (which contemplated break days and catch-up days), and having the tighter timeframe kept me motivated. For me, that would be a better option than spreading the stress out over a longer period. But you may be different.

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I would agree with barelylegal. For me personally the most important thing to do was to have a schedule. My schedule included every Sunday as a break day and then a couple days after the barrister off (for our convocation ceremony and to spend a few days with family who had come out to visit/for my convocation from BC). I treated it, as you say, similar to a (not quite) full time job. I usually would study from 10-5 give or take depending on the day. 

Honestly, I think the time was enough and probably would have just been more lax with the extra time personally and at the end of the day don't think having more time would have changed anything. But it really depends on you and how you handle short (ish) timelines.

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I studied for slightly over four weeks and was very rushed. That said, I was working full time and still passed, despite not being an amazing test taker. I see four weeks FT as doable, if you’re someone who can read for long periods of time and still sorta process boring summaries on estate administration taxes, limitation periods, and the history of subdivision under section 50 of the planning act. But like the posters above, I think that’s gonna depend on you. 

Edited by realpseudonym
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Thanks all.

I just checked dates and this year's first june exam is on the 9th, while the March exam is the third.

I also forgot to account for February being a short month.

Given what I've heard, I think starting the last week of January will be good, not too long, but also close enough to keep me focused.

Now to decide if I should just wait for June like everyone else.

Thanks all!

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I did both Solicitor and Barrister last June. Here is information about my experience.

I finished my last exam around April 23rd or 24th, I can't remember. I ordered the exam materials online and the second they became available I made a schedule to read 50-60 pages per day with one day off every 10 days and stuck to it.  I went to a shop to print them myself. I went on a short holiday in the first week of May, but I stuck to my schedule while on holiday. I guess the only difference was that I was in a warm climate away from all the hype.

I did not work with other people and I ordered the index from that company everyone orders from, I think it's Ontario Law Exam. In the last week before barrister, I made a chart for appeal routes (very useful for public and criminal law sections). I took one full day off after Barrister. In that last week before both exams I took every single practice test available, multiple times, under timed conditions etc. Even the shitty weird ones.

I don't exactly remember how I split up the material but I do remember that I read all of real estate for Solicitor first (it was huge) before getting into Barrister stuff. 

I passed both exams. Looking back I am glad I did the exams like that even though it felt like hell because of how dense, boring, and repetitive the material was. I didn't feel rushed per se, but I definitely felt stressed. I obviously cannot tell you if my way was the right way for you. I had multiple crying breakdowns mainly due to how insanely boring and dense the material was, but I had a good support system. Also it didn't help that I was very tired because I grinded very hard the whole semester (later found out I made Dean's List, so it was worth it). Jumping straight into studying for the bar after working so insanely hard all semester was very tough for me. But you can do it if you have people to rely on and a schedule that you can stick to. And buy the index, don't make your own.

Edited by Disputes
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I was articling full time (8-4ish) while studying for the Bar exams (5-10ish and full day weekends) for the June exams. It sucked but it was a short term pain to just get it over with. I went straight from the solicitor's exam to the airport for a vacation.

I was quite lucky in that I was very hands-on at my articling firm and knew most of the solicitor stuff from work, so I skipped/skimmed a lot of those sections. Cramming for the barrister exam with no litigation experience was definitely harder.

I think it's possible to split them up and e.g. do one in March and one in June, so that might be an option worth exploring if you're concerned about the timeframe.

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I wrote and passed the 2019 June licensing exams. I echo the sentiment above re: more time = more procrastination. For myself, the four weeks from receiving materials to writing the barrister felt like too much time. I would say I studied 6 hours a day, some days less. I didn't receive the materials until about 10 days after ordering (if you're not going to pick the materials up and live in Thunder Bay, or somewhere similarly far away, expect the same delay). IIRC, I read estates/wills before the barrister exam, which certainly helped for the two weeks of hell that is studying the business and real estate materials.

I'd suggest reflecting and being honest with respect to what kind of exam writer you are. If you're fairly confident in your multiple choice exam writing, don't psyche yourself out; buckle down, read (most) of the material, and be thankful when it's over.

Read PR carefully and try to fully understand those materials.

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Thankfully most of my undergrad was multiple choice finals so I'm very familiar with them. That's good news for me.

4 minutes ago, TdK said:

I wrote and passed the 2019 June licensing exams. I echo the sentiment above re: more time = more procrastination. For myself, the four weeks from receiving materials to writing the barrister felt like too much time. I would say I studied 6 hours a day, some days less. I didn't receive the materials until about 10 days after ordering (if you're not going to pick the materials up and live in Thunder Bay, or somewhere similarly far away, expect the same delay). IIRC, I read estates/wills before the barrister exam, which certainly helped for the two weeks of hell that is studying the business and real estate materials.

I'd suggest reflecting and being honest with respect to what kind of exam writer you are. If you're fairly confident in your multiple choice exam writing, don't psyche yourself out; buckle down, read (most) of the material, and be thankful when it's over.

Read PR carefully and try to fully understand those materials.

 

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I am a crammer and have always been good at tests / logic stuff. I took a few weeks completely off after my final law school exam, and maybe four days completely off after the first bar exam. So I probably did about 12 days of ~11 hours worth of review for each bar exam, and relied on the Table of Contents rather than an index. Time was spent doing one read through of the materials (skimming some sections I had a decent handle on) and then practice tests to get a feel for the TOC and a feel for the correct timing (calculate how long you have, on average, for each question and make sure your practice test pace references that). This all worked fine for me, but as @TdK said what works does really depend on personal characteristics. 

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OP - Can you confirm if you are in 3L or articling at the moment? Wondering if you’re talking about the March 2020 and June 2020 exams or June 2020 and March 2021 exams as the materials are realeased in April of each year (valid for June, November and March sittings).

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30 minutes ago, olaf said:

OP - Can you confirm if you are in 3L or articling at the moment? Wondering if you’re talking about the March 2020 and June 2020 exams or June 2020 and March 2021 exams as the materials are realeased in April of each year (valid for June, November and March sittings).

In my last year, graduating in december (McGill is weird and 3.5 years long). So I can either write the march 2020 or june 2020, and weighing my options, since I want to travel in January.

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Wouldn't you have already had to register for the current licensing period, which ends with the March exam?  Or has that changed? It has always been that, with the materials released in April, you were able to write the exams in June, November or the following March. If you haven't written by March, the licensing period starts again (used to be with additional fees, not sure if that has changed).

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3 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

Wouldn't you have already had to register for the current licensing period, which ends with the March exam?  Or has that changed? It has always been that, with the materials released in April, you were able to write the exams in June, November or the following March. If you haven't written by March, the licensing period starts again (used to be with additional fees, not sure if that has changed).

I've checked, you can write the bar exam in March for the first time, and registration is still by the same december date that it is for June.

You forfeit your right to finish licensing in 3 cycles though and instead only get two (because you "start" it at the end of one cycle - march).

Edited by pzabbythesecond

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Registration date aside, won't you have to then pay additional fees if you want to write again in June, or if you do just one in March? Unless something has changed recently, that is how it has always been. 

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21 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

Registration date aside, won't you have to then pay additional fees if you want to write again in June, or if you do just one in March? Unless something has changed recently, that is how it has always been. 

Yes, since it would be new materials, you would have to pay for the new materials.

Thankfully my employer is covering fees so it's not a concern for me (even if they only cover one set of test material fees, I can afford another in case I don't pass).

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On 10/1/2019 at 1:00 PM, pzabbythesecond said:

Hi all,

I'm trying to figure out travel plans and when to write my Bar (either March or June).

I know that most law students study right after grad in May, and write both in June. So that's a month or so.

My question is (to those who've written) - did you feel rushed with a month? If you could have taken more time, say 6 weeks, would you have done that instead? Or was a committed 9-5/6 for a month (then the two weeks between the two exams) enough? 

As much as I'd like to travel for more, I don't want to pressure myself unnecessarily (if I choose to write March).

Thanks!

A large part of the answer to this question is personal.  I wrote with about one and a half weeks per exam and felt very confident.  But I knew going in that I typically do well in standardized testing scenarios. 

If you struggle with these kinds of formats, yes, it is a rush.  If you tend to do well in these kinds of formats, it is more than enough time.  There is no one size fits all answer.

A good indicator of whether or not you'll be well suited for the exam is your LSAT score.  In the U.S., where they track these sorts of things pretty rigorously, there is a very strong correlation between LSAT scores & exam passage rates.  I suspect similar in Ontario.  It makes sense -- these are exams that test very similar things (e.g., quickness in recall or reasoning), even if the content of the questions is different.

Edited by Ruthenium
typo
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I did Nov/ March sittings (split as i was working full time from grad until Jan). Very few McGill students wrote the Nov exams when I wrote in Ottawa. There was a group of 10-15 that I recognized when I wrote in March. I was the only one from my year - most were from the year that had just graduated.

I guess you're doing the 3.5 year path? If so, I'd suggest March because what else are you doing from January until articles? This way, you enter articling with a clean slate. Your April- July will be chill AF. 

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7 hours ago, artsydork said:

I did Nov/ March sittings (split as i was working full time from grad until Jan). Very few McGill students wrote the Nov exams when I wrote in Ottawa. There was a group of 10-15 that I recognized when I wrote in March. I was the only one from my year - most were from the year that had just graduated.

I guess you're doing the 3.5 year path? If so, I'd suggest March because what else are you doing from January until articles? This way, you enter articling with a clean slate. Your April- July will be chill AF. 

Travelling :) I'm a skier so January/february is my travel time as opposed to march/april. That's why I'm trying to figure out if march is feasible while still getting some skiing in.

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