How I failed one of my NCA exams

How I failed one of my NCA exams

How I failed one of my NCA exams

By: Moyo Sadiq (@NaijaLawyerInCanada)

I remember how prepared I felt on the 14th of May, 2019. I was just excited to get the exams out of the way, after all, I started preparing around the end of March for the three courses: administrative law, foundations of Canadian law and constitutional Law. My biggest fear was administrative Law and the least concern for me was foundations of Canadian law.

Alas, I entered the exam hall and found myself repeatedly turning the question paper over to see if I was given the right exam booklet, I confirmed that it was the right course and I felt dizzy. I was confused, the questions were vague, ambiguous, unclear and for the first time in an examination, I truly did not know where to start from. Can you take a guess, which exam gave me this much worry?  Yes, the almighty foundations that was the least of my concern, I had watched videos on the course and listened to podcasts and read multiple notes but these questions confused me.

In actual fact, administrative law that gave me palpitations had been the easiest of the three papers. I was pleasantly shocked to see just one question touching on multiple areas, it was also the first and only NCA paper that I finished, submitted and walked out of the hall while exams were still holding with raised shoulders like I won a lottery, I was so unburdened after the exam, I felt that I was finally done with the NCA.

The foundations , constitutional law and administrative law exams held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively. By the end of the foundations exam on Tuesday, I felt so deflated and my eyes were bloodshot and I told myself, that has got to be the worst exam I have ever written but I was determined that this deflated morale and blow to my ego would not spill into the next day and I would not let it affect my exam the next day and the day after. My spouse was out of the country but he and other family members found a way to keep in check whenever I ranted about not understanding what happened in the foundations exam, they encouraged me to prepare for constitutional law and I listened.

However, the incident had messed with my psyche, I was paranoid, I called my friends and said, “ if foundations dealt me multiple blows like this, how can I pass the others, which in my opinion were more voluminous and tougher.” My friends and I laughed about it, stating that they felt the same way, one of them was courageous enough to opt out of one of the courses we  all registered for as foundations really made us feel unprepared. We decided to be optimistic, we discussed topic and went for the paper. I left the exam hall a lot better than the day before and I was relieved.

I prayed for the calmness of my nerves, as the disappointment made me second guess my preparedness for the other two courses. I had a discussion with myself, I considered cancelling the administrative law exam like my friend did, as I stated earlier, I was terrified about the course. I decided to maintain status quo and sit for all the exams I registered for because I realized that I didn’t feel unprepared but I was just scared of it and postponing the day you meet with ‘your fear’ will not it make it any less intimidating. I decided to face it and I am so glad that I wrote and passed it.

After sitting for all three exams, when the registration for the August diet of NCA Exams opened, I signed in and tried to pay for foundations for August but the option was not active because the results were not released yet. It was such a burden to carry for a grueling nine and a half week, I thought of foundations so often like a lover who had walked out of a relationship without trying to make it work, what if I passed, what if I didn’t pass? I shook it off and decided to be optimistic and registered with the Law Society of Ontario for the Solicitor’s Exam.

On the 26th of July, 2019, I read a message, “results are out” and it felt like I had a bone in my throat, I honestly didn’t worry about anything else other than foundations. I saw my exam history, four passes and one fail, as I had passed two courses earlier, my eyes were teary, I swallowed the saliva that suddenly felt so prickly, sharp and solid in my throat, I allowed the tears drop. I was not shocked but it didn’t make the blow any less painful. Calls from my parents, hubby and brother clapping for me telling me how proud they are of me for passing the other papers, while schooling and caring for three kids.

I asked my three daughters to get us all a popsicle for a Friday- evening popsicle-date night. I am thankful for the support system.

My mind scurried down the lonely paths I imagined other individuals in my shoes may be on and I felt bad, I wish I could telepathically hug everyone that felt sad about the result. I got over it in few minutes because I kinda expected it and I tend to prepare for the worst-case scenario, I looked at my 2019 goals list, which had “pass NCA exams” and I wondered if I could still make it, I shrugged and told myself that if I couldn’t make my goal list because of this learning process called ‘Fail’, at least I will be happy that I made  almost 95% of the goals list then. I will pass foundation of Canadian Law the next time I sit for it.

I wrote my first two papers – criminal law and Canadian professional responsibility in October 2018 and the other three – foundations of Canadian law, administrative law and constitutional Law in May 2019. I am glad that I am done with four out of five NCA papers and I look forward to getting foundations of Canadian law out of the way very soon. The journey continues, dust it off, shake it off and move on. Never ever forget that failure is but a learning process, accept the blow to your ego, react and move on.

Congratulations to everyone that passed their NCA and Ontario Bar exams.

About the author

Moyo is an experienced Barrister, Solicitor and Mediator from Nigeria. She worked in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, in the Office of the Administrator-General and Public Trustee before her relocation. She holds a Master’s degree in Law with a thesis focused on health law from University of Leicester. She is currently working on getting licensed to practice Law in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys writing and has successfully written and produced three indigenous Yoruba movies, namely Ebi Mi, Asepamo and Isipo. She is a goal-getter and loves a challenge. She intends to make great and positive impacts in her new Home. Moyo landed in Canada in March 2018

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