Bar Exam

Bar Exam Dates

Looking for the bar exam dates or questions about the exam? Please contact the Education & Credentials Administrator at baradmission@nsbs.org.

What does the Bar Exam test?

The Bar Examination tests the competence of applicants in the following areas of legal practice:

  • Aboriginal law 
  • administrative law
  • business organizations
  • commercial transactions
  • constitutional law
  • contracts
  • criminal law
  • evidence
  • family law
  • professional responsibility
  • real estate law
  • torts
  • trial procedure, and
  • wills and probate.

What is the Format of the Bar Examination?

The examination is in essay format. It requires applicants to work through hypothetical fact scenarios to identify issues and governing laws, apply them to the facts and reason toward a logical conclusion – in other words, to “think like a lawyer.”

Unlike law school exams, the Bar Examination is the first opportunity for many applicants to put together everything they’ve learned and apply that knowledge, rather than being tested on discrete subject-specific topics.

The exam is not designed primarily to test information, memory or experience. Applicants answer 12 questions over a two-day period, with 45 minutes available per question. Each question is marked out of ten. The pass mark is 70 per cent (84 out of 120).

The Society’s Credentials Committee sets the standards for the Bar Examination. Through the Screening Committee, the Credentials Committee ensures that the examinations are jurisdictionally sound.

In an effort to ensure fairness and consistency, Society staff do not have input in the marking of the exams but they choose the areas from the Master Question List that will be tested on each examination.

Sample Bar Exams

Find a selection of answers to previous Bar Exams below:

How do I Prepare for the Bar Exam?

The Society’s virtual Exam Writing Seminar will help you prepare for the Bar Examination

Bar Review Outlines (find these Bar Review Materials below) are materials under which are synopses of the main areas of law on which the articled clerks are tested, are distributed to all admission applicants. These outlines have been prepared by law practitioners and professors.

Question Goals

A properly drafted question will require applicants to demonstrate:

  • ability to analyze a set of facts, to select material from immaterial facts and to see the points upon which the case turns;
  • ability to articulate and classify the problem presented and place it in its proper category of doctrine;
  • knowledge of the relevant general doctrines of law, their relationship and their qualifications and limitations; and
  • ability to apply the law to the facts and problem presented and to reason logically to a sound conclusion from the premises adopted.

A minimal passing answer

A minimally competent answer demonstrates an adequate understanding of the facts, an adequate recognition of most of the issues and applicable law, and an adequate ability to reason to a conclusion.

All articled clerks must successfully complete all components of the Bar Admission Course before they can be admitted. They should apply to the course only once they have secured an articling position.

Transfer and Change of Category applicants must apply for a ruling to determine what components of the Bar Admission Course they must complete (if any).

Bar Review Materials

These Bar Review Materials assist applicants as they prepare for the Nova Scotia Bar Examination.

These materials are reviewed and updated annually, and published May 1 each year as study materials for the upcoming July and January exams.

The materials below are the study outlines for the July 2019 and January 2020 Bar Examinations and may be relied upon for that sole purpose. The materials are not intended to provide legal advice, and should not be relied upon by articled clerks, transfer applicants, lawyers or members of the public as a current statement of the law.

Bar Review Material

Please note: Members of the public who access these materials are urged to seek legal advice and are specifically warned against reliance on them in any legal matter or for pursuit of any legal remedy. The Society will not be liable for any use you made of these materials,