Tips & Tricks - Bracing for the NCA

The Application Process

Apply to the NCA process as early as possible! It can take about 8-12 weeks for the NCA to get back to you about your assessment. The NCA’s turnaround rate depends on how many applications they get, so sometimes the NCA might be a lot faster in getting back to you, but when it’s peak season (and I’m guessing I applied then) it can take a bit longer. Regardless, the sooner you apply the better.

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If you are currently studying law abroad and intend to practice in Canada, it is possible to begin your application process within your last semester of law school. As soon as you get your final transcript you just need to send that additional document to the NCA.

Exam Registration Tips

Be mindful that the NCA has a specific time-range for when you can apply for exams. For example,  say you get your NCA application results in September, the next exam session is in October, but the window to apply for October exams was back in August, so you will have to wait till the next application window opens for the January session, which is likely about a week or so in November.

Note, if you fail an NCA exam you will have to wait a session before registering for that exam again. For example, say you wrote Professional Responsibility (PR) in January but you failed (hopefully this doesn’t happen), you’ll find out you failed around March/April (likely when the window to register for the April/May exams has closed). Therefore, you will have to wait to register to write the PR exam in the August session.


The cost of the NCA varies depending on how many exams or courses you have to take or if you opt for the LL.M option.

Currently the 2018/2019 costs are as follows:

Application Fee: $450 + applicable taxes. Note - your application will not be processed until the stipulated application fee has been paid and all required supporting documents have been provided

Exam costs: Each exam costs = $340 + applicable taxes

 An LL.M program is about 10K in tuition for Canadian students and 38K for international students. Some universities have created a “Common Law” LL.M which costs about 25K just in tuition fees for Canadians, and about 38K for international students.

In the event that a student is obligated to take courses as opposed to exams, then one course can range from 2-10K if they decide to take the courses at Osgoode Hall. This price would also range depending on how many credits the course is worth and whether the candidate is a domestic or an international student.

Where to buy textbooks?

You can always purchase new copies of the required textbooks online from Amazon or Thomson Reuters or other reliable online sources. At the end of each NCA syllabi there is a list of publishers who you can contact to inquire about how to purchase their materials. Some of them have online stores. Alternatively, there are some great Facebook groups for NCA candidates where students can sell and purchase textbooks. Such as the “NCA Tutor” or “National Committee on Accreditation – FLSC” Facebook groups, where students also discuss NCA related matters.  


Is it possible to opt-out of an exam? Appeals

Some applicants have written to the NCA to be exempt from writing an exam.


You cannot opt out of any of the 5 core NCA subjects (Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Professional Responsibility and Foundations of Canadian Law). The only way to be exempt from writing these exams with the NCA is to take these courses as credit courses in a Canadian law school.

However, you may be exempt from writing some of the optional courses if you’ve already successfully demonstrated competency in those subjects. For example, business organizations used to be a required subject until a recent change in an assessment policy. Many students automatically received business organizations on their assessment, but they took a similar course in their law degrees abroad. Say you took corporate law or company law. In such an instance you would have to write to the NCA and submit an explanation of how you have demonstrated the required NCA competence for said subject. This would normally involve submitting your course syllabus from your law school and explaining how the course covers topics similar to the NCA module. If your request is successful, you may be exempt from writing the subject.

This does not necessarily mean that you will be exempt from writing the stipulated number of exams that the NCA has assessed you to write. So, if you are assessed to write 7 exams and have shown the competence to successfully appeal writing business organizations, you may or may not still have to write 7 exams. The total number of exams may be based on a number of assessment factors. If the reason business organizations was added to your assessment criteria was because it was an obligatory subject and not because of any other deficiencies in your application, you may be able to reduce the number of exams from 7 to 6.

 Assessed to write an Optional Exam – Which one to choose?

When I was faced with an optional exam, initially I did not know how to decide which exam I should write. Some people told me to write the “easiest” exam, though what is “easy” is quite subjective. Some might recommend you should do what interests you the most. Maybe none of them really interest you or perhaps all of them interest you, so it’s a tough call! My own approach was to do what I thought was the most beneficial for myself in the long haul.  Thus, as I mentioned in my previous post, I based which exam I chose to write upon what I thought would assist me the most with the bar exam. I would encourage students to do the same as well, unless of course you have a particular interest in a subject matter, then take this opportunity to learn more about it!