Why Learning To Use an Index is Key for the Ontario Bar
As some of my readers may know, I'm currently in the process of studying for both the Ontario Bar and the New York Bar with plans to complete both exams this fall. Tackling two bar exams in the span of a few months comes with its own challenges, but it has also forced me to find the most efficient ways to study and memorize materials (the NY Bar, unlike Ontario, is closed book!).
On the Ontario front, I recently had the privilege of working with LexPD’s Ontario Bar Indexing group to index the 2020/21 LSO Bar materials. Under the guidance of two Ontario licensed lawyers, this team of Ontario Bar students collectively read through the official LSO Bar materials to identify and index keywords and phrases that would be essential to success on both the Solicitor and Barrister exams. We then peer-reviewed the index by having each group member use it on a sample bar exam in a subject they did not personally index. Finally, the index was reviewed by a few sets of eyes outside the team for accuracy and completeness.
While I’m still at the outset of the Ontario Bar journey, this exercise has made the value of a well-built index incredibly apparent. While there are a lot of details to memorize for the NY Bar, the questions seem more predicable and concept-baed than in Ontario. In Ontario the detail to which questions may test your knowledge, make memorization incredibly difficult if not impossible. There are simply too many fine details to remember and employ under the exams’ time constraints. For instance, how many days does a defendant have to respond to initial notice of a lawsuit in civil court? What if they live outside Ontario?
The LSO knows this, of course, which is why both the Barrister and Solicitor examinations are open book. Much like they would in actual practice, exam writers are permitted to look-up details they can’t remember in the official Bar materials during the exam. However, without an effective way to find information quickly, this open book format can create a false sense of security. You simply do not have time to self-navigate the incredible volume of material within the time allotted. Having an index, however, which presents the information in easy to navigate alphabetical format, makes finding information quick and efficient thus turning the bar materials into an incredibly valuable resource to have in the exam room.
There is a learning curve, however and using your index is not something you should leave until exam day. Every practice exam you do is an opportunity to get familiar with your index and finesse your index-augmented exam technique for success.
So, I've developed some top tips for tackling Ontario Bar questions based on techniques I picked up during in my NY Bar course and my experience with creating the LexPD Ontario Bar Indexes. If you are looking for an Index to use on your upcoming Bar Exams, you can purchase printable copies of the LexPD Indexes for one or both exams by clicking here.