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4 Things carry to your NCA Open Book Exam

Writing your NCA exams is a difficult endeavour. But as I've discussed in this post, there are strategies you can use to feel more confident in writing effectively and efficiently. One of the pieces of advice I share, is to make sure you carry in the right resources to the exam. Below are a list of four key items to have on Exam Day.

Case lists

Law exams are law exams because you need to reference *say it with me*, the law. The thing about knowing the law, is that it is incredibly difficult to have it all memorized. Part of common law systems is the frequent updates and addition to the nuances in the laws. But the NCA exam is not testing your memory -- it is testing your ability to analyze the law.

You should go into this exam with all the most important cases you need for that exam at your fingertips; I don't mean full case summaries, by the way. You want to be able to cite the name of the case, its relevance, and the most important aspects of the case, whether it was the decision or the facts that you need to distinguish. That is it.

Ensuring you have an organized, concis case list helps you to:

1) Find the most relevant case efficiently: with an organized list, you can quickly refer to the tests and precedents you know are there. You don't want to sift through a large bulk of notes to write down a point you remembered.

2) Allows you to analyze an exam question effectively. The crux of the NCA exam is in the analysis. Your focus should be on engaging with the facts as much as possible. You do this by constantly referring to the bank of case law that addresses the nuanced issues that will creep up in the exam.

A List of Potential Issues

NCA exams are long, and they can seem even longer when you are stressing over each question. Perhaps one of the biggest barriers students face when they encounter a law exam question, is not being able to identify the correct issue that needs to be addressed.

A solution to this, is realizing that there is a potentially exhaustive list of issues that you may be tested on in the exam. When you realize that some issues are much more pressing, or at least more crucial to the basic understanding of an area of law, it becomes clearer that examiners have a finite list of specific issues they will test you on.

You can use this to your advantage quite easily:

1) When you draw a blank on a question, refer to a list of issues you identified in this exam. You should be able to, at the very least, eliminate issues that would not be raised.

2) Understand that questions do not necessarily seek to have only one issue addressed. In fact you should be prepared to look for all potential issues in a given questions. Therefore, this list comes in handy if you go through it and notice that a particular exam question has several issues that you can elaborate on.


Many NCA exams come with articles that you are required to read. Understand that the value of these articles is not necessarily in the specific points, or quotes that can be extracted, but rather, their broad themes.

Being able to collect the different themes will give you ammo for a range of different possibilities in how essay style questions may be asked. With broad overviews of what your readings discuss, you will have sufficient reference points throughout the exam to touch on.

"Canned" Answers

I often tell students, you don't want to be thinking about how you describe specific ideas, on exam day. Again, this exam is not about regurgitating knowledge. You want to demonstrate your competence both in understanding the law, and analysing it.

To save time on exam day, I suggest bringing in frameworks or canned answers aid you in quickly describing the rules/law that apply to the question you are answering. Your goal is to give yourself as much time as possible to focus on analyzing and engaging with how the rules/law apply to the facts.

Check out the shop for a packages of these contents to print and go, for exam day.


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