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Emond Exam Prep: Virtual Bar Exam Diaries: Writing On-site Versus Writing Remotely

Presenting the Virtual Bar Exam Diaries: A series specifically written for students, by students. Each article outlines the author’s personal experience writing the Ontario Licensing exam virtually, and is full of insights and advice. Learn from their experiences and write the exam with greater confidence.

 

Writing On-site Vs. Writing Remotely

Writing the exam in 2020 remotely seemed like a nightmare but was actually a blessing in disguise! I wrote my Bar exam in March 2020. It was in person—a full 8-hour day. Due to Covid-19, my Solicitor exam was done remotely. I had the chance to experience both realities and let me tell you that writing your exam remotely is so much better! as much as I was freaking out about writing remotely and overthinking all of the things that could go wrong, including tech issues, but given the choice, I would write remotely every time. The in-person exam atmosphere is very rigid, as you expect a Law Society exam to be. It was nerve-racking to arrive at the exam hall 2-3 hours before, going through security and admission process. If you needed the bathroom, someone had to escort you, taking up valuable time away from writing. The lunch break, which is meant to be 1 hour, was reduced to about 35 minutes, because you could not leave the hall until your row is called, then to return to the exam you have to go through the security process again. All this added so much more stress to an already overwhelming day.

In comparison, the remote exam was much more relaxed as I controlled my entire environment! If I needed the bathroom it was 2 steps down the hall (don’t be afraid to use the bathroom or take a couple minutes to regroup—take this break if you need it). I also did not miss the sound of 600+ students fumbling through their notes, coughing, going to the bathroom, and several other distractions that come with writing in person. It was so much easier when I could control my environment, including the heating/ac situation (I wrote my Bar exam in winter, and it was freezing in the exam hall). It was very helpful that my exam environment was the exact same as my practice exam. This really helped with exam day anxiety. While doing practice exams, I dealt with things exactly as I would on exam day. I brought my snacks, water, everything I would have on exam day.

Yes, technology fails us sometimes, but don’t overstress about this component; the Law Society understands that things can happen. So, should you find yourself in a technical related problem, do not worry! The Law Society are very quick to respond and help you out. Make sure you take alternative measures such as having a contact or email on hand so you can let someone know right away if there is an issue. I also didn’t have to wake up hours early to get to the exam as I wrote it in my home. If you cannot write at home, ask friends or colleagues—they may have a quiet space where you can write uninterrupted. There are also offices that rent by the hour somewhere around $15-20/hr. Just google what is available in your area. The best benefit of writing remotely is that the exam is now condensed to a 4-hour version. Mine was 4 hours over two days, and this really helped me mentally, because writing an 8-hour exam is truly exhausting.

 

My Top 5 Exam Tips:

  1. Try and study in the same place you will write the actual exam; get comfortable with that environment so that the day of the exam just feels like any other prep day
  2. The Emond practice exams were my biggest saviour! Do as many practice exams as possible. These exams really helped me prepare and become comfortable using an online platform to do the exam. I know as students, cost is always in the forefront of our minds, but you have spent years getting here and the couple hundred dollars you may spend on practice exams is WELL worth it!
  3. Review your practice exam answers, jot the answers down in your notes. Emond is great for this as they provide an explanation of each answer, and this is extremely helpful.
  4. Make or buy topic summaries; this is what you should be reviewing the day before and perhaps morning of the exam. Make a second condensed copy for referencing on exam day. I found that in the actual exam, I mostly referred to my shorthand summaries and my indexes.
  5. Use indexes. It is nearly impossible to go through the amount of information we receive in the materials without indexes. You can make your own or buy them, but it is really the thing that will help you digest the information that you have been reading in your Law Society materials.
  6. Allow yourself a day or two to relax, whether this is the day before the exam or few days before (for me I could not disconnect from the exam the day before), and give yourself a day where you are not thinking about the exam. I know this easier said than done, but give yourself that time and do something you enjoy. This break is desperately needed as you have spent weeks/months studying. This will help give your tired brain a much-needed restart.
  7. Make a schedule and stick to it. Study to the best of your ability, and that is all you can really do.
  8. Don’t doubt yourself. You’ve got this! Best of luck.

 

Written by: Madiha Qurashi

Ontario Licensing Exam candidate

UPCOMING ONTARIO BAR EXAMS DATES


Barrister Exam: June 1-4 and 8-11, 2021  |  Solicitor Exam: June 22–25 and June 29-July 2, 2021