Preparing for the Licensing Exams - Top Ten Tips
The Top Ten Tips for preparing for the Ontario licensing exams are arranged in sequence from the end of law school to the end of the exam period.

1. Assemble an indexing group

At some point prior to receiving your licensing exam materials from the Law Society, assemble fellow students into an indexing group. While there are always a handful of individuals who decide to go-it alone, there is a lot of material to index and your time is better spent reading the material than inputting page numbers into a table. Working in a group has its own challenges so make sure you pick fellow students who are detail oriented, need little to no supervision, and will adhere to whatever timelines the group establishes. With that in mind, pick a group size that’s not too small (so there is less indexing work per individual) and not so large that it becomes unmanageable. We’ve seen group size vary from as little as 2 to as large as 13, and while we suggest aiming for at least 7 individuals, the key is to pick whatever group size works for you given the amount of work to complete.

2. Divide up the indexing work

Once you’ve received the licensing exam materials from the Law Society, divide up the indexing work amongst the indexing group. The licensing exam materials are divided into sections (for example, the Barrister materials include Criminal Law and Family Law, while the Solicitor materials include Real Estate and Business) with some sections, not surprisingly, being larger than others. You can divide up the material in whatever way works best for you, but keep in mind the challenges with each system. For example, if you decide to divide the material based on topic it will result in uneven distribution of work between group members. In contrast, if you decide to divide the material equally between all members of the group, those individuals assigned to a larger section will need to coordinate amongst them to merge the material into one file.

3. Schedule your time

The licensing exam materials are released shortly prior to the licensing exams when many of you will likely be in school finishing up the last term of the school year. Thus, you’ll have to get through a lot of material in a fairly short amount of time. When you receive your licensing exam materials you should calculate how many pages you must read per day in order to read through all of the materials in time for the licensing exams. Some individuals aim to read through each of the Barrister and Solicitor materials twice, while others just once. From our experience, the most likely scenario is that you will manage to read the Barrister material twice and the Solicitor materials once. In truth, it doesn’t matter how many times you read the materials. What matters is that you understand what you are reading and you have a good grasp of where things are located. We’ve heard of students skipping portions of the materials, either as a study strategy or because of poor time management skills, and we would recommend against it; the last thing you want is to find yourself reading materials for the first time during the licensing exam itself.

4. Index the licensing exam materials

To index the licensing exam materials means to create a very detailed table of contents. Instead of creating the indices table from scratch, we recommend asking students in the years above you for a copy of their indexing table. The content and page numbers of the licensing exam materials changes from year to year, so the indexing table will need to be revised. However, having a ready-made table that needs to be updated is more efficient than starting from nothing. You’ll find that some indices are more detailed than others, so feel free to make additions and revisions as you see fit. What you want to take with you into the licensing exams is a table of contents that is sufficiently detailed such that you can pin-point the material quickly without flipping through copious amounts of pages.

5. Bind the licensing exam materials

As previously mentioned, the licensing exam materials are divided into topic sections with some sections being larger than others. Likewise, licensing exam questions are grouped together into topic sections (with the exception of the Professional Responsibility content that can appear throughout all of the licensing exams). Accordingly, many students bind their materials into topic sections for ease of reference. That way, for example, when answering a Criminal Law question, students have to flip only through their bound Criminal Law content as opposed to all of the Barrister material. That said choice of binding comes down to personal preference; we’ve seen many students forgo separate bindings, opting instead for one large, tabbed binder. Whatever you do, make sure you have a system that’s easy for you to use.

6. Read the licensing exam materials

There really is no magic way to prepare for the licensing exams. Apart from reading the Law Society supplied licensing exam materials and taking our practice exams, there is little more you can do to prepare. When reading the licensing exam materials focus on understanding the content, not memorizing it (they are open book exams!). Many students find it helpful to take notes while reading, but be aware of your time as note taking will slow down the rate at which you read. Try and find a balance between the rate at which you absorb the material and the rate at which you read. Focus on understanding the “big picture”, don’t get bogged down in the details, and above all become familiar with the index created by your group and the table of contents supplied with the licensing exam materials.

7. Take the LawExams.ca practice exams

Once you’ve read through the licensing exam materials, take the practice exams on LawExams.ca. One of the cornerstones of our site is the built-in countdown timer that simulates real exam conditions. Effective use of time during the licensing exam is paramount to your success and our built-in timer gives you an opportunity to monitor the speed at which you search and respond to questions. But our site does more than that! Our questions, though different from those of the Law Society, cover a range of difficulty levels and will help you get into the mind-frame of answering legal issues as multiple-choice questions. Like the licensing exam, our Professional Responsibility questions are spread out throughout the practice exams forcing you to practice your ability to switch between the core legal subjects (such as Criminal Law, Family Law, Business Law, etc.) and legal ethics. Lastly, our exam metrics are designed to help you optimize your performance; by knowing your performance overall and broken down by subject matter you can target your weaknesses or bolster your strengths. For more information on the benefits of our practice exams and how we can help you refine your test taking strategy, refer to WHY CHOOSE US?

8. Familiarize yourself with the Law Society licensing exams rules and protocols

The Law Society publishes detailed exam rules and protocols to be observed by all test takers. It’s important you familiarize yourself with these rules and protocols prior to the exams as they detail, among other things, the items prohibited from being brought to the licensing exams, storage of personal belongings during the licensing exams, and expected conduct of all test takers. It cannot be reiterated enough times how important it is to follow the rules and to be courteous to the Law Society proctors administering the licensing exams.

9. Select an appropriate outfit for the licensing exams

The main thing to consider when selecting an outfit for the licensing exams, apart from prohibited personal items indicated by the Law Society licensing exams rules and protocols, is to pick something comfortable. Be sure to have an additional layer of clothes (such as a sweater without a hood) that you can layer on if the test center is cold (both in the winter and summer months). Personal items not worn during the exam (such as the aforementioned sweater) must be stored as per the Law Society rules, which may include storage on the ground below your seat. Thus, try to avoid anything that’s too cumbersome to remove and store with ease.

10. Don’t discuss the licensing exams

Apart from breaching the Law Society licensing exams rules and protocols, discussing the licensing exams with other students serves no purpose but to stress you out. Instead of rehashing your performance, have faith that the time you put in, both in reading the licensing materials and in taking our practice exams, have prepared you well. You’ve raised the bar to your exam success, so take some well deserved time off and enjoy yourself!


Last Tip

Download the LawExams.ca Licensing Exam Timer HERE
Note that this timer is calculated based on a two part exam with each part being 3.5 hours in length and consisting of 120 questions.