UPDATED FOR THE NEW BAR EXAM FORMAT
Maybe the Quebec Bar Exam didn’t go exactly as you would have liked or you just want to prepare better for this first round of the exam, this post will look at some strategies to improve your score on the Bar exam. The rewrite or “la reprise” is a mulligan, a quick second shot at passing the Quebec Bar. It’s a whirlwind. You have around a month after receiving your mark on the first round to learn the new subjects and then write the exam again. It’s the time to really knuckle and buckle down to try to get through the Bar.
The first step is to evaluate what went wrong on the first writing of the exam. There is a session organized by the Barreau du Québec where you can see your exam and the associated solutions sheet. Your goal at this stage is to try to identify what the main issues were. Simply put, where did you go wrong: Did you not know the material well enough? Did you fall into too many traps? Were you unable to find the sections of the applicable law even though you knew the answer? These are just some of the possibilities.
The Bar also offers sessions with a Bar school professor which you can register for if you want to get more feedback on your exam. If you remain unsure after looking at your exam, consider registering for one of these sessions.
You have the option of getting your exam regraded. It costs around $120 for the exam to be graded a second time. I have been involved with some students who successfully got their exams regraded, but it is exceptionally rare, so it’s probably not worth your time or money to go this route. Moreover, you’ll only hear back about the regrading just before the rewrite, which is after you’ve already done most of your studying.
Often times, the issue on the first round of the exam was that you fell into too many traps and got questions wrong which you should have gotten right. You knew the material, but something in the question led you astray. The best advice I can give you on this front is to get into the habit of taking notes as you are reading the Bar exam questions. Start practising this habit immediately while doing practice exams (which may be found here: Quebec Bar Past Exams).
What do I mean by taking notes on questions? Just jot down the important information that you see in the question and organize any facts associated with a date in chronological order. This is particularly important for subjects where dates are quite important such as Prior Claims and Hypothecs or Law of Persons. This is very helpful in Hypothecs to determine whether there is a valid builder’s lien or seller’s lien. For civil liability, identify the relationships between the parties. Do any of the parties have contracts with each other? (Which therefore means that you might be outside of the extra-contractual liability framework and instead in the contractual liability framework.)
Here’s an example of some notes which I took on a past exam with respect to the law of persons. More precisely, it’s on the third file on the reprise exam in Civil I. (French: C1-Reprise-Fra-2003-04, English:C1-Reprise-Ang-2003-04) The notes have been colour-coded according for information which came from each of the three questions in the file (blue for the first question, green for the second, and red for the third). It’s good to get into the habit of laying out the information to organize your thoughts (even if ultimately some of the information is not useful to answer the question) and to not miss anything. But try not to get carried away as you don’t want to waste too much exam time on the exam. Use the past exams as your testing ground to figure out your personal happy medium.
Finally, if you have to do the rewrite, don’t panic. Roughly half of the people who write the Bar exam are in the same boat as you, so you’re in good company. Good luck!