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Must My Notes Match the NCA Syllabus?



Quick Answer: No.


Longer Answer: No, of course not.


Often times the apprehension with candidates using the free notes I provide, is their concern that it seemingly doesn't align with the NCA syllabus. I suggest this is a misguided understanding of two things: 1) what the NCA exams are about, and 2) the purpose of notes.


  1. The NCA Exams Your exams are definitely testing you on the substance and [arguably] the content, of the syllabus. However, it is incumbent that you appreciate that the syllabus is only a skeleton for what you should be learning AND for what is testable on the exam. In any higher education course, the syllabus sets out the expectations of what you should be learning by breaking the course down into small components. To understand those components, you may have required or suggested readings that take the form of books or articles. Often times you are not necessarily tested on your reading of these books or articles, but rather, your understanding of the components (in the case of law, unique legal issues) relevant to the exam. The significance of the syllabus to exam day, is that you should understand the substance of what is found in the syllabus.

  2. The Purpose of Notes The core purpose of notes is to distill information from primary or secondary sources. Notes are meant to reduce the amount of information to be learned, by sifting through the most significant pieces and recording them. I discuss why this exam is a game a familiarity and not one of memorization here. This also affects the significance of your notes; they are for helping you learn and understand the law, not for you to be regurgitating the syllabus. That means that notes must simply communicate to you in the most meaningful way, how you engage with the law to answer an exam question.


The understanding of this means you should not be limited in how the information is presented to you in note form.


Your primary goal when studying should be to understand the information you will be tested on. While the syllabus tells you what you will be tested on, the NCA does not set parameters on how you should go about learning it -- which is a liberating revelation.

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