NCA Exam Rules & Information
- NCA Exam Information
- NCA Exam Rules
- NCA Exam Cancellation Policy
- Failed NCA Exams
- Review of Failed NCA Exams
- FAQs about NCA Exams
Only those applicants who have received their NCA assessment can register for NCA examinations.
Applicants cannot register for NCA examinations if they have not been issued their assessment, or if they have been asked to complete the assigned subjects only as part of a Canadian law school program, or if they are required to complete a Canadian law degree.
The style and type of NCA examinations are similar to those in Canadian law schools. You may wish to consult the law library of any Canadian law school to look at past law school examination papers where available to the public. A Guide entitled How to Answer Fact Based Law Exam Questions, similar to the type offered by the NCA is also available.
Each examination is a three hour, open-book examination. Exams are completed by paper and pen; no computers, laptops or any electronic device is permitted in the examinations. Examinations are graded on a pass/fail basis (i.e. 50% is considered a pass).
The NCA examination process is entirely self-study and applicants are responsible for obtaining their own course materials as outlined in the syllabus for each subject, and their own program of study. There is no private tutoring or consultation available through the NCA. A syllabus and practice exam are available for each subject.
The NCA offers four exam sessions per year generally in January, May, August and October. The 2018 NCA Exam Schedule is now available.
Not all exams are offered at each of the four sessions; please consult the NCA Examination Schedule for a list of exams offered at each session.
You may split your examinations between sessions; please consult your assessment report for your deadline to complete the requirements.
Registration for each of the four exam sessions will open approximately 4-6 weeks before the registration deadlines indicated on the schedule. Advance registrations will not be accepted. Please monitor NCA Advisories for notification of the opening and closing dates of each specific registration period.
Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Candidates will generally be accepted, space permitting.
The current examination fee is $300 CDN per exam (plus applicable taxes). Please note: Cost are subject to change without prior notice.
Payment must be made in Canadian funds by credit cards only. Applicants using foreign credit cards are responsible for any difference in transaction fees, or variations that result from fluctuating exchange rates. All registration for NCA examinations must be completed online using your NCA Portal credentials.
The NCA holds its exams in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto, but does have a limited number of approved sites in other locations within Canada and in other countries.
Further information can be obtained from the Examinations Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants may request to write examinations in these other locations, at their own expense. Note, requests for alternate sites will not be approved in all regions/countries or those covered by the six (6) cities listed above or where demand is insufficient.
As the NCA does not manage these other sites, applicants must register for their exam(s) online, and by the set deadline, by selecting one of the Canadian sites available, in the event the location of choice is not able to accommodate NCA exams. The NCA will change the exam location to the one of choice once registration closes and once the approved site confirms they can accommodate the NCA exam(s).
In all cases, applicants must notify the NCA of their intention to write exams in an alternate location by the posted deadlines.
Applicants with a recognized and medically diagnosed condition or disability may apply for accommodation. If you wish to do so, please contact the Examinations Department at email@example.com for an Accommodation Request Form. Each request is reviewed on an individual case-by-case basis. You must submit your request, with up-to-date supporting documentation, as soon as possible and no later than the registration deadline of the exam session for which you are applying.
The NCA reserves the right to designate the location and time of the exam since not all sites can accommodate special requirements. For example, a request for use of a computer might mean that a candidate would be required to take the exam at a site other than their preferred city.
Writing exams in French
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is a bilingual organization. Services in French are provided. If an Applicant prefers to write their NCA exam in French, the request must be submitted to the Examinations Department ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) by the published registration deadline of the exam session.
Examinations are graded on a pass/fail basis (i.e. 50% is considered a pass). Results will be released approximately 10-12 weeks from the date of the last scheduled exam of each session.
Candidates must present valid government issued photo ID at the examination site. Candidates must also have their NCA file number to record on each examination. To maintain anonymity, please do not record your name on any portion of the examination materials.
All examinations are open-book. Candidates are permitted to use any reference materials during the examination, including personal hand-written or typed notes. Materials may be annotated, highlighted, tabbed, indexed etc.
Cell phones, laptop computers, electronic devices, any type of personal digital assistant (e.g. smart phones), mp3 players, head phones or head sets of any kind, pagers, cameras, radios, recording devices, wireless email or hand-held computers are not permitted in the examinations.
If you have a cell phone contained within your personal belongings, it must not be at your desk and must be turned off so that it does not disrupt anyone during the examination.
Please note that proctors cannot respond to any questions regarding the content of the examination.
When time is called, you must immediately put down your pen or pencil and stop writing.
When the examination has ended, examination booklet containing questions and answers must be immediately placed back inside the envelope that you received them in. If the examination booklet containing the questions is not found within the envelope at the end of the examination, the candidate’s exam will be automatically disqualified.
You are permitted to leave the examination after the first two hours. You may NOT leave the examination during the final 15 minutes. All candidates must remain seated until proctors have collected an examination envelope from each of the candidates present.
Please remember to complete the information at the top right of each page of your examination pad. Please ensure you print your candidate file number on the top of each page in the space provided, and print the question number and page for each answer you complete (e.g. 1/1 for question 1, page 1 and 1/2 for question 1 page 2, etc.). Failure to complete this information is not fatal to your exam results; it is merely a tool to assist the examiner with following the sequence of your responses.
Friends, relatives or children who accompany a candidate to the NCA examination site will not be permitted to wait in the examination area or to contact the candidate while the candidate is taking the NCA exam.
Time management during the exam is the responsibility of each candidate; therefore you may wish to wear a watch in order to monitor your time. The official time will be maintained by the staff invigilating the exams. Cell phones or other electronic devices may not be used for the purposes of keeping time.
Candidates must be considerate of other candidates at all times, ensuring that they are quiet and respectful of the other candidates who may still be writing. As a courtesy to your fellow examinees, please keep distractions to a minimum. Distractions may include constant movement in your seat, low murmuring while reading the exam questions, tapping or flicking of pens, strong scents or odours, etc. If the behaviour is found to be distracting, the proctors may request that you stop the distracting behaviour. If you persist, other measures may be taken as deemed necessary.
Candidates cannot be physically or verbally abusive towards the staff and volunteers administering (proctoring) the NCA exams. Candidates must comply with requests or instructions made by a staff or volunteer administering the exam, including but not limited to, a request to leave the examination testing area. The staff and volunteers administering the exams on behalf of the NCA have been instructed to inform the Examinations Department of the NCA of any behaviour contrary to the instructions and general rules of conduct given during the NCA exams or any other incident which requires NCA attention.
Failure to act appropriately may result in the completion of an incident report which will be placed in your NCA file for future reference and action.
The NCA does not accept advance registrations nor retain fees in trust. The NCA no longer accepts deferrals. You must now cancel your exam and re-register for a future session.
Exam fees may be refunded upon request. In all cases, administrative fees apply. Please note the NCA and Federation accept credit card payments only.
All exam cancellations must be completed online using the NCA candidate portal (see Online Cancellation Process below for details). An administrative fee of $50 Canadian (plus applicable taxes) is required for each exam cancellation. Refunds will be applied, in Canadian dollars only, to the same credit card the exam was charged against, without exception. Cancellations must be made no later than the day before the exam is scheduled to take place. Failure to cancel your exam by the deadline will result in the forfeiture of your exam fees. No refunds will be issued once your scheduled exam has taken place.
Applicants using foreign credit cards are responsible for any difference in transaction fees, or variations that result from fluctuating exchange rates. Once a refund has been processed, the transaction cannot be reversed and a refund of any administrative fees charged cannot be issued.
Online Cancellation Process
Once you have signed into your portal, select the “Refund” option under the “Exam history” heading of the “My Course Info” tab. Make your cancellation request by clicking on the “Refund” button located beside the exam(s) you wish to cancel. A refund request must be made for each exam individually. You cannot select multiple exams at the same time.
If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Failed NCA Exams
Applicants may retake an NCA examination twice in a failed subject. The exam fee in effect at the time of registration for the subsequent attempt(s) will be required. The new examination will not always be based on identical course materials, so candidates may have to prepare for the exam on the basis of a new syllabus. In the event of a third failure, applicants may request a fourth attempt subject to the requirements in section 1.4.5 of the current NCA Policies and Guidelines.
Applicants may not register to retake any exam until they receive the results of the previous effort, and cannot register in the exam session immediately following the session in which they took the exam the first time. For example, if a candidate fails an exam in January, the earliest opportunity to retake the exam would be in August of the same year.
When a candidate has failed an examination, they will receive a memo from the examiner providing reasons for the failure, and be given an opportunity to review their exam(s) free of charge at a date and time arranged by the NCA. A notice providing the time, date and location of the review session will be posted. Candidates may appeal their exam results in accordance with the Examination Review & Grade Appeal Process and by submitting payment of the applicable fee.
1. When and how can I expect to receive the results from my exams?
The results are generally released 10-12 weeks after the date of the last scheduled exam of each session. If they are available earlier, they will be released as soon as possible. All applicants will be notified by email once all results are available. To ensure the integrity of the grading process, the NCA cannot expedite the grading of individual exams.
2. Is it possible to have my NCA exam(s) graded sooner and released before the 10-12 week period?
No, to ensure the integrity of the grading process, the exams are graded all together so that the examiners can re-read and re-evaluate the exams as they go along and as is appropriate to ensure consistent and fair results for all applicants writing the same exam.
3. How do I obtain the study material contained in the syllabus?
The NCA exams are self-study. Therefore, applicants must obtain the material themselves. A list of publishers is attached to each syllabus so that you may contact them to buy the required texts. However, you may also consider purchasing the material at a local law school bookstore, law library or other bookstore, or by searching the web for other sources (e.g. Google). Always consult the syllabus before purchasing the materials as the textbooks change from time to time. In particular, ensure that you purchase the correct edition of all texts. Required cases and articles can normally be found on the internet. CanLII is a good resource that is free to the public. Other resources are listed in the syllabus.
4. How can I get access to Lexis Nexis (Quicklaw)?
The majority of case law and legislative resources needed by NCA students are available on CanLII, the free legal information resource funded by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. That includes all decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, and all federal, provincial, territorial and appellate courts.
The first time you sign in to Quicklaw you will be asked to change or personalize your password. Remember your User ID and password are personal, and should not be shared with anyone.
5. I have been assigned several exams; how many exams should I/can I attempt in one sitting?
You may attempt as many or as few exams in each exam session as you wish. The factors you may consider in deciding how many exams to write include your familiarity and comfort level with the subject matter, the depth and breadth of the study material, and the time you can devote to studying for each topic given work, family and other commitments. Generally, most applicants attempt 2-4 exams per session with varying degrees of success. You must however complete all the topics assigned within the timeframe indicated in your Assessment Result Report.
6. Does the NCA offer tutorials or classes to help study for the exams?
No, the NCA exams are self-study, however, there are resources available through several Canadian law schools and private tutoring services on the internet which you may wish to explore. The use of these resources is voluntary and is neither required by the NCA or provincial law societies nor endorsed by the NCA.
7. What can I bring into the exam room?
The NCA exams are open-book, therefore you are permitted to bring into the exam any study related material, whether they are original copies, photocopies or hand-written or typed notes. Exams are however, taken by pen and paper, therefore electronic devices of any kind are not permitted into the examinations. Please consult the NCA Exam Rules for more information.
8. Can I mark up my exam material for use during the exams?
Yes, your study material may be highlighted, tabbed, indexed, with notations etc.
9. At the end of the exam can I keep my study material I used during the exam?
Yes, you can keep your study material used during the exam. You cannot, however, retain the exam questions.
10. Can I use a computer to take my exams?
No, the exams are all written with pen and paper. Please ensure you write legibly so the examiners can grade your paper appropriately. Writing considered illegible by the examiner may result in your exam not being fully graded or your exam being disqualified. The NCA recommends that you double space your answers and use blue or black ink (no pencils) to avoid smudging or fading.
11. What do I need to get into the exam?
You will need valid government issued photo ID. Please ensure that the name on your ID is consistent with the name on your NCA file as this is what will appear on the examination roster list when you sign in. If you require a name change to your NCA file, please contact the NCA at firstname.lastname@example.org and include any necessary documentation (e.g., marriage certificate). You will also need your NCA file number to include on all exam materials. To ensure anonymity, DO NOT write your name on the exam, on your answer sheets or on the exam envelope.
12. What is the NCA exam cancellation policy?
An administrative fee of $50 Canadian (plus applicable taxes) per exam will be applied to all cancellation requests. Cancellations must be made no later than the day before the exam is scheduled to take place. Failure to cancel your exam by the deadline will result in the forfeiture of your exam fees. No refunds will be issued once your scheduled exam has taken place.
Refunds will be issued in Canadian funds and applied to the same credit card used at the time of exam registration, without exception. Applicants using foreign credit cards are responsible for any difference in transaction fees, or variations that result from fluctuating exchange rates. All cancellations for NCA exams are completed online using the NCA portal.
The NCA does not accept advance registrations nor retain fees in trust. Exams may not be deferred to a later session.
13. Can I defer my exam?
The NCA no longer accepts deferrals. You must now cancel your exam and re-register for a future session.
14. How do I cancel my exam?
If you have registered and wish to cancel your exam(s), you must make your request through the NCA portal. Once you have signed into your portal, you will find the refund option under the “Exam history” heading of the “My Course Info” tab. Make your cancellation request by clicking on the “Refund” button located beside the exam(s) you wish to cancel. You will need to request a refund for each exam individually. You cannot select multiple exams at the same time.
A administrative fee of $50 Canadian (plus applicable taxes) is required for each exam cancellation. Refunds will be applied, in Canadian dollars, to the same credit card the exam was charged against. Applicants using foreign credit cards are responsible for any difference in transaction fees, or variations that result from fluctuating exchange rates. Once a refund has been processed, the transaction cannot be reversed and a refund of any administrative fees charged cannot be issued.
If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
15. If I do not cancel my exam(s) by the deadline or I fail to notify you of my cancellation, will this count as an attempt?
If you do not attend your exam or fail to notify the NCA by the specified deadline, you will forfeit your exam fees and will be required to re-register and pay the full exam fee in order to take the exam. Your failure to appear for an exam will not be recorded as an attempt.
16. What happens if, for personal or medical reasons, I miss an exam that I have registered to take?
The NCA does not set make-up exams. The exams are scheduled only four times a year. If you miss an exam for any reason (whether personal, professional, medical or other), you will be required to reschedule that exam to another exam session. No special exam sessions will be set.
Missing the exam in such cases will not count as an attempt and will not prevent you from registering to write the exam at the next session, provided you meet the registration deadlines and comply with all other assessment and exam policies.
17. What happens if I fail to return the exam questions at the end of the exam?
You must return the exam questions in the envelope provided along with your answers. Failure to return the questions will result in the automatic disqualification of your exam. Your attempt will be recorded, however, you will not obtain any result (pass or fail). To re-take the exam, you will be required to re-register for the exam and pay the applicable exam fee.
18. Can I write my exams in another location, other than Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Vancouver or Winnipeg?
Applicants may be able to arrange to write examinations in other locations within Canada and in other countries, at their own expense. Further information on approved sites can be obtained by contacting the Examinations Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Not all requests will be approved particularly where a site already exists. Sites will not be approved in regions covered by the six cities listed above.
19. I am a student with a disability, how do I apply for accommodations for my exams?
The NCA accommodates applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring accommodation must submit their request by completing the Accommodations Request Form and providing supporting documentation. Accommodations will be determined on an individual basis. For information concerning exam accommodations, please contact the NCA Examinations Manager (email@example.com).
20. If I am unsuccessful and fail an exam, will I be able to register for the exam session immediately following?
Applicants may not register to retake an exam until they receive the results of the prior effort, and cannot register in the session immediately following the one in which they most recently wrote the exam. For example, if a candidate fails an exam in January, the earliest opportunity to retake the exam would be in August of the same year.
21. How many times may I attempt an exam?
Applicants may retake a failed NCA examination twice. In the event of a third failure, applicants are required to take the failed subject at a Canadian law school. A fourth and final attempt may be granted at the discretion of the NCA Executive Director, as detailed in Section 1.4.5 (Page 9) of the current NCA Policies and Guidelines.
22. I am writing my last exam and have articling lined up/want to write the next law society bar exams, can the results of my exam be expedited?
No, exams must be graded as a group to ensure consistency and fairness in the grading process. Results are released as soon as they are available but generally not until 10-12 weeks after the date of the last exam of the session.