It can be hard to figure out exactly what you should be doing as you prepare for the NCA exams. Everyone has different styles of studying, and many people have their own ways of preparing for stressful tests. But below are a list of thing you should be avoiding, when it comes to your preparation for your NCA exams.
1. Taking just any exam right away
Don't do it. If you plan to write only a few exams at a time, contemplate which exams may compliment each other. For example, Foundations of Canadian Law has many similar ideas and concepts found in Constitutional Law and Administrative Law.
2. Thinking memorization will get you through the exam
It won't. This isn't the kind of exam where you need to or should be relying on memorization. It is an open book exam, so it is a game of familiarity -- how comfortable are you with the concepts and how quickly can you refer to your notes to aide in completing your answers? Memorizing all that content can be difficult and time consuming. How can you work smarter, instead of harder?
3. Not understanding every item on the syllabus
It would be remiss of you to walk into the exam not understanding items on the syllabus. This is distinct from memorizing these items. If you can understand a concept, you will be able to identify it in the questions asked of you in the exam. Being able to spot the issue that needs to be resolved is the first step in answering a question, and therefore it should be at the forefront of your preparation. Failing to understand items on the syllabus puts you in the awkward and detrimental position of possibly not being able to fully grasp what is asked of you in an exam question.
4. Failing to bring in a "cheat sheet" of some sort
The NCA exams are open book. This means you have time to prepare beforehand, all the tools you want to take into the exam with you. Tools shouldn't be notes or actual books. Rather, they should be concise pieces of information that will be used for quick references throughout the exam.
5. Not practicing exam questions
If you haven't practiced with exam questions, you are in the difficult position on exam day, of having to find the right words you want to address issues asked of you. Practicing before the exams gets you comfortable in identifying and explaining the solutions for issues that are raised. Often, you will practice with questions that have similar issues raised in the exam. This is advantageous because you will recognize a structure to how you should answer particular issues. The importance of carrying in some sort of cheat sheet is significant because you can reference pre-written templates. See point 7.
6. Relying on lengthy notes or books when you go into the exam
Don't fool yourself. Flipping through notes or books to find an answer you are looking for eats up a lot of time (see: 4 things to carry to your NCA exam) . When relying on notes or books to help you understand what is being asked and how to answer a question, it becomes increasingly detrimental to your ability to finish within your limited time. Lengthy notes and books are helpful for studying and preparing if you are developing your understanding. But their significance decreases in an exam setting where you have a limited amount of time.
7. Heading into the exam without answer frameworks
Often, there are an exhaustive amount of issues that may be asked of you in a specific exam. With that understanding, having the structure of an answer pre-made for this list of issues is beneficial, because you no longer need to rely on your memory to help you begin writing. Point 2 highlights this concept, that memorization is not necessary. Especially if you have the chance to copy word for word from a cheat sheet.
8. Failing to predict what you will be tested on
As I mentioned, there is an exhaustive list of issues you may be tested on. This is based on the syllabus you are provided. Reading through the syllabus, you should get a sense of the most fundamental issues that are likely to creep up. Identifying these will help you to predict some of the most likely questions to be asked, consequently, allowing you to prepare extensive resources to take in on exam day in anticipation of them.
9. Getting caught up in the details of articles and other readings
You are being tested on the law and big themes. Don't get caught up in the minutia of things. Remember that these exams are testing your understanding of the law, and not your memory and its recall.
10. Thinking you won't do well You made it through law school already. You are capable of passing these exams as well - never forget that!