Updated March 10, 2016 to reflect improvements to Emond’s online practice tests
This past March I wrote the Ontario bar exams. To prepare, I read the materials provided by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), updated indexes provided by friends, and tested my performance using online practice exam software. After writing (and passing) both bar exams, I wanted to review the various practice exam tests available online.
This article is the first in a sponsored series that reviews each practice exam site’s price, questions, usability, features, and feedback. I hope it helps other students decide what resources match their needs when preparing for the 2015-2016 bar exams in Ontario.
Emond Bar Exam Preparation Software Summary
Overall, I’d recommend purchasing Emond‘s practice tests for a pre-study and/or post-study experiment to see how well you know the material.
Emond’s key strengths are that: (1) answer explanations are provided even if you get them right, (2) the entire test can be taken offline, (3) access is available immediately, and (4) it’s one of the lowest prices on a per-test basis.
I found the questions were good practice for the actual test. Sometimes I studied in coffee shops with spotty internet connections, so it’s nice that Emond’s test still works if you lose internet temporarily. The fact that the questions are available immediately is a big advantage. It means you can use the tests to identify weak areas before you start studying. If you’re self-studying like I did, that helps you focus your limited review time on weak areas, then take the test again near the end to make sure you’re on track for test day.
Emond recently upped the numbers of questions it offers in its practice sets, so its per-question value increased to be among the best online. It also added a “flag question” feature to return to questions you’d like to spend more time on.
The only real weakness of Emond’s online practice tests is that the number of questions is lower than some competitor products. Otherwise, the Emond platform is one of the strongest out there.
Despite this minor shortcoming, I’d very much recommend the Emond exam set as a solid diagnostic tool that you can start using immediately. Since Emond actually provides answers for its questions, it is an overall better learning tool than other mock exams with no answers provided. With the time most students have available outside index-updating, it’s also unlikely that you’ll have much time for additional questions or full seven-hour mock exams. Emond is also attractive if you’re looking for an in-person or online preparation course to complement online practice exams. They have also made an index database available to students upon request, for those running short on time.
For a complete summary, I made this summarized chart of Emond’s 2015 practice test features (updated as of March 2016):
Feature Summary Chart
|Price (CDN tax included)|
|– Single practice test||$90.40|
|– Both practice tests||$180.80|
|– Discount for buying both?||0, or included for free with some course options|
|– Individual sections?||Not available|
|– Price per Q (barrister)||$0.65|
|– Price per Q (solicitor)||$0.65|
|In-Class Course Available?||Yes|
|Online Course Available?||Yes|
|Free sample available?||Yes|
|What if you still fail?||Free access|
|– Number (barrister)||140|
|– Number (solicitor)||140|
|– Number per section||About 35|
|– Multiple Q’s on same case?||Yes|
|– Additional Q’s available?||No|
|– Time provided||Unlimited|
|– Starts||First click|
|– Pauses||By button click or automatically when browser closes|
|– Counts down or up?||Up from 0|
|– Question flag||Yes|
|– Unanswered Q’s highlighted||Yes|
|– Usable offline||Yes|
|– Returns to last Q answered||Yes|
|– Quick keys||No|
|– By section||Yes|
|– Answers provided||Always|
|– Filter by section||Yes|
|– Filter by correct/incorrect||Yes|
|– Time per Q provided||No|
|– Drop down Q list||Yes|
|– By section||No|
Emond’s practice exam sets are priced similar to their competitors: Emond’s exams are $90.40 after tax each (for just the barrister or just the solicitor exam). Other competitors offer online practice sets for anywhere from $96.00 to $113.00 after tax each. When purchasing both tests, the competitors’ prices drop to $90.40 to $93.25 per test. This year Emond increased the number of practice questions offered on its solicitor exam to 140, reducing its price to $0.65 per question. So, if you’re only looking for a single test and about three hours of questions, Emond has the best price. If you’re purchasing both tests and prefer more than three hours of questions, then Emond’s competitors similar deals.
The best part of the Emond exams is that they’re available for purchase immediately. Other competitors limit access to their exams until a couple weeks before the test. Personally I liked being able to take a diagnostic test early on to see what areas I should spend the most time on. In this regard, Emond is superior to other online tests out there.
The Emond test (including its timer) also works while disconnected from the Internet. This means you can load up the test and then complete it offline if WiFi is unavailable.
Number of attempts allowed
The practice exams from Emond allow four complete attempts. Each test can be paused and resumed at later times. However, to see feedback you need to submit an attempt. When I was using the test as a diagnostic, I’d submit partial exams to test my timing for certain sections. Unlimited attempts would be nice, but I don’t think I used all four re-submits. Other competitors have unlimited submissions, while others only allow a single marked test to be submitted. I found Emond’s four submissions were enough.
Timer and pause feature
Emond’s timer counts “up” from zero once you click on the first answer. That makes it easy on the go to record how many minutes you’ve spent on the questions you’ve answered.
The downside is that Emond’s “upward” timer is unlike the actual timer on test day. The barrister and solicitor exams have a giant timer on the wall that counts down from three hours and thirty minutes. Does this really matter? It didn’t for me. It’s easy enough to run your own countdown timer on a standard cell phone alarm app.
The Emond online practice exam has 140 barrister questions and 140 solicitor questions. There are about 35 questions per section. Emond’s questions are good; they seemed representative of the real exam. 140 questions on each test, when you take 90 seconds to answer each one, takes seven hours. This is exactly the number of questions required to simulate a full 7-hour test day, if you choose to approach it that way.
Flagging questions to return to later
While writing a mock bar exam, you may want to simulate the real experience by flagging questions to return to. The Emond test highlights unanswered questions in the drop-down list to make them easy to return to. Just this year, the Emond platform also added a flag question feature which allows you to return to previous difficult questions. This simulates the live test accurately, where you will be able to mark questions or “dog ear” pages in order to return to them later. I am glad Emond added this feature and wish it had been available when I was studying for the test.
Another area that Emond’s test shines is feedback. Answer explanations are provided whether you get the questions right or wrong. That’s ideal because if you’re doing the exam for the first time, you may be guessing at some questions to finish on time. I found that some competitors’ tests didn’t provide correct answers for the questions I guessed at. That meant that unless I looked them up, I didn’t really know why it was right. Emond’s answers are all provided with a detailed explanation; I liked using the answer explanations as a review. Although looking up the answers in your index is good practice, it was nice being able to see the answer right there.
Emond’s feedback can also be filtered by correct/incorrect, or by section for a targeted review section. That’s a nice bonus that saves a little time scrolling. Previous test attempts are all listed on your main login page so you can see improvement. Not every test practice site out there provides that historical data.
For the purposes of this review I tried using Emond’s online test software on my iPhone 5S using Safari and it displayed fine. Although it doesn’t have a specifically mobile-friendly version, I found the online test was still doable when I held my phone sideways (landscape). When I was actually studying for the test I didn’t bother doing practice exams on my phone, so this wasn’t something I really thought about.
Overall I liked using Emond’s practice exam software and I’d recommend it. It’s a good diagnostic that can help identify weak areas and to focus your efforts. Knowing that I was scoring 70-85% on most practice exam questions gave me a confidence boost before writing the real exams. Although Emond’s software doesn’t come with loads of questions, it does offer a great survey of expected test areas. The best part is that it’s available immediately, which can either help you relax with a great score or get super motivated by a terrible score early on.
Note: Since writing this review, Emond has made several improvements to their online testing software. They have added questions, a flag question feature, and continually seek feedback on how they can improve. Overall Emond’s practice exams are an even better product than when I prepared for my exams. I highly recommend.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, study tips, or any different opinions on test prep, please share them in a comment below!
Please note that this is a sponsored post. Sponsored posts are still in my own words and written based on my personal experiences. I use sponsored posts to help pay for the costs of running this website. If you have any questions about what that means, please contact me here.