Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP and founder of Sharpened.

Pass the Ontario Bar with only 6 Weeks of Preparation

by | Aug 7, 2019 | Ontario Bar | 0 comments

Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP and founder of Sharpened

Is it really possible to pass the Ontario Bar with only six weeks of prep? Most definitely, I did it, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It means studying full time throughout those weeks and putting in the hours. And, very importantly, having an up-to-date index. Don’t want to put yourself in a pressure-cooker situation, give yourself a couple extra weeks or months.

The Ontario Bar Exam is not a difficult exam per se, rather the challenge is that it’s a high-speed open-book exam. You have 3.5 hours to answer 120 multiple-choice questions, which leaves you less than 2 minutes a question. Knowing the challenge from the get-go, you need to adopt a strategy to maximize your changes for success.

The most important tool and I can’t stress it enough is to have an up-to-date index. The Law Society of Ontario’s solicitor and barrister licencing process examination materials change every year and they shift around the chapters, which means that you cannot use an outdated index. The best indexes are around 600 pages long (two columns up) and are incredibly in-depth. I would argue that even if you gave yourself six months to prepare for the exams, but didn’t have an index, you would be at a disadvantage compared to someone who had indexes. To prepare for a high-speed exam, you need a way to figure out the answers you don’t know extremely quickly; an index is essential for that task.

More than that, what is the strategy I recommend? Read the Law Society of Ontario supplied materials once. You can highlight parts which you find interesting and add some small notes in the margins, but there is no need to go crazy. The important part is to grasp the material which you are reading (maybe the exception is some of the business tax concepts for which you only need to understand the main concepts). You should be reading around 80-100 pages of the materials a day. I used a TimeTimer to keep myself on track reading around 15-20 pages an hour.

An annotated page of the Law Society of Ontario Examination Materials.

To be ready in 6 weeks, you need to read all of the barrister materials as well as around 300 pages of the solicitor materials in 3 weeks. Keep in mind that the first 150-odd pages are identical in the barrister and solicitor materials as they cover legal ethics. This means that you have one week to read all the remaining solicitor materials after you write the barrister examination. The end result is that you will have one week before the barrister and the solicitor exams to do practice exams. The Law Society of Ontario doesn’t release past exams like the Barreau du Quebec does, however there are mock examinations available.

You should be reading around 80-100 pages of the materials a day.

When doing the practice exams, use your index and force yourself to answer 40 questions an hour. This needs to be your continuous target. I used a TimeTimer to keep myself at that rate. I would drop my pencil when it rang. This means that it will take you 3 hours to answer the 120 questions, leaving you 30 minutes to find answers to any questions you were unsure about. Good luck!


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