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Transcript From May 9 - Licensing Examination Update

SPEAKERS:  
Teresa Donnelly, Treasurer
Priya Bhatia
Ken Osborne
Gina Haros
Peninah Brickman
 
TERESA DONNELLY: 

Good morning, my name is Teresa Donnelly, and I am the treasurer of the Law Society of Ontario.  Thank you so much for attending today’s webcast.  I’m so pleased to be here with you.

Today members of the Law Society leadership team will be providing you with information about the key requirements to facilitate your lawyer or paralegal licensing examination at the Law Society for the upcoming 2022/2023 licensing cycle.

Not only are we looking forward to providing you with information we are also looking forward to answering your questions, and we can see that you’ve already started populating the Q and A function.  We’ve set aside 30 minutes for questions and hope to get through as many of them as possible.

With us this morning are Priya Bhatia, Executive Director of the Professional Development and Competence Department at the Law Society, Ken Osborne, Director of Licensing and Accreditation, Gina Haros, Manager of the Licensing Process and Experiential Training Program and Peninah Brickman, Senior Counsel and Manager in the Licensing and Accreditation Department.

I’m going to turn it over to Priya at this point to provide some additional information regarding recent events relating to the licensing examinations for both lawyer and paralegal licensing candidates. 

PRIYA BHATIA: 

Thank you Treasurer and good morning everyone.  Before we begin, I’d like to offer an acknowledgment in the spirit of reconciliation.  The Law Society of Ontario is located at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

Toronto is a Mohawk word that means where there are trees standing in the water.  Toronto is on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.  All of us here recognize the long history of all of the First Nations in Ontario, the Inuit, and Metis peoples.

Today we have candidates participating from across the province and elsewhere and across many First Nations territories.  We thank all Indigenous peoples who lived and live in these lands for sharing them with us in peace.

Quite a bit has occurred over the last few weeks at the Law Society of Ontario and for candidates taking licensure in Ontario.  As you are aware the licensing examinations have recently been moved from an online to in-person delivery.

And in addition, summer examination dates for lawyer and paralegal candidates have shifted.  These changes are required to maintain the integrity of the licensing examinations in light of an ongoing cheating investigation.  As a public interest regulator, we must ensure that our exams are valid and defensible.

The Law Society really understands the impacts that these changes have had on many of you, and we don’t take the changes lightly.  We understand that some of you have been stressed by the rescheduling of the summer lawyer examinations, particularly where this is requiring you to make difficult decisions about your personal and professional commitments.

Before we shift from June to July for the summer lawyer examinations it was necessary to deliver in-person examinations safely and effectively at five cities across the province.  The Pivot in-person examinations requires a complex array of logistics, including securing venues, implementing security, and proctoring measures, preparing materials, and implementing COVID-19 protocols.

We also have to ensure there are specific plans in place for candidates who require accommodations on Human Rights grounds  and now that difficult decision has been made to return to  in-person examinations. Plans are underway to ensure that you are safely and securely able to complete the examinations and to move on to the next part of your career training and licensure. 

So what do these in-person exams look like, what do you need to do to prepare? We will answer those and all of your other questions today.  I’d like to start by inviting Gina Haros to take us through some items about the webcast and how you can participate in today’s session.  Thank you.

 
GINA HAROS:

Thank you and good morning everyone.  I’ll start by taking you all through some brief housekeeping items that will apply to today’s webcast.  As the treasurer mentioned this session is about an hour or so.

Our agenda, which includes some helpful hints about the licensing examination should be available to you on the upper right-hand corner of your screen.  Feel free to submit your questions.  I see we already have some in que through the Q and A tab on your screen that is located on the top left section that says “conference.”  And questions will be addressed at the end, but again, feel free to submit them to us at any point during the webcast.  We’re monitoring the questions and we’ll endeavour to get to as many as we can today.  

Some of your questions will likely be answered by the formal presentation part of this webcast or the Q and A portion, but if we do not get to all of your questions and you still need information about the Law Society’s licensing exam, we invite you to check the LSO website under the licensing examination section for important information regarding the in-person examination.

And of course, you can always reach out to licensing and accreditation staff via your on-line account or by telephone.  If you’re not able to watch or participate in the entire webcast today you can access the archived version of the webcast which will be available to you on the Law Society’s website within a few weeks time following broadcasting today.

And lastly, of course we want to maintain a respectful and professional environment, and I encourage participants to respectfully phrase and submit their questions at any time throughout today’s session. I’ll now turn it over to Ken to start us off and share information about the licensing examination. 

 
KEN OSBORNE: 

Thank you, Gina, and good morning, everyone.  As many of you are aware it was announced last month that Ontario lawyer and paralegal licensing examinations have returned to an in-person delivery for the entire 2022/2023 licensing year, as dates for summer sittings have been revised and posted online.

Prior to the pandemic examinations were delivered in this manner.  And we have returned to the in-person modality in order to preserve the integrity and the security of the examinations.  Like online examinations over the last two years in-person licensing examinations will continue to be self-study, multiple choice, open book examinations that are created on a pass/fail basis.

The competencies that are tested on the examinations are those competencies that are required for entry level practice that have the most direct impact on the protection of the public, and that influence and effective and ethical practice.  

As communicated in April, since the dates of the examination exams have been modified, they will now be held in July.  The dates for registering or deferring an examination have also changed and are slightly later.  

The registration deadlines are posted online in the licensing examination deadlines and date section of the website, so please review those to ensure that you meet the registration timeline specified.  Paralegal summer examination dates have only been moved to a few days later, and therefore the registration and deferral deadlines remain the same.

Once you meet the registration deadline for an examination and select your location for the summer examination you will be assigned to a specific date within the summer exam window.  We know that this date may not be your prepared date, but in order to maintain strict security protocols, proctoring requirements and COVID-19 measures at the examination site we have smaller groups of candidates being proctored on multiple exam days, and there is a need to maintain certain numbers on each of those dates.

Some of you may have been assigned a date that is not your preferred date, and if that is the case, please message us through your online account with details.  Note that changes to your sign date may not be possible and are subject to venue capacity limits.

In March of this year we hosted a webcast where we outlined some strategies on how to prepare for an examination, how to study and some strategies for studying and organizing your study materials.  Those concepts still apply despite the examination now being delivered in person.

Thorough preparation and review is key.  And I encourage you to listen to the archive recordings if you haven’t already.  It is available on the main licensing process landing page, and the concepts reviewed are also on the licensing examination section of the website for both paralegal and lawyer licensing candidates.

In addition to the study materials candidates are strongly encouraged to review the barrister licensing examination competences, the solicitor licensing examination competencies and the paralegal licensing examination competencies as applicable.

And now I will hand it back to Gina who will outline some important points included in the guide to licensing examinations. 

 
GINA HAROS: 

Thank you, Ken.  Online you’ll find the guide to licensing examinations applicable to the in-person exams.  This guide, along with the rules and protocol sections is your first stop in terms of preparing for the day of the exam, in addition of course to reviewing your study materials. 

A note before I go any further regarding the study materials because it seems we’ve gotten a couple of questions on that already, candidates are expected to bring in their printed materials, so their study materials, their textbooks and what have you, prepared for the purpose of assisting them in the writing of a licensing examination into the testing area.

You’re expected to print your own materials in advance of the examination date since no electronic versions of the study materials are permitted at the testing area.  During the exams you must chose the best answer from four possible options provided.  Each item or question has only one best answer  and you’ll receive credit only when you have selected the best answer.  

The questions on each licensing examination assessed the following three levels of cognitive abilities, number one is knowledge, comprehension, the ability to basically recall facts, policies procedures and standards.  For example, citing the appropriate rule in the Rules of Professional Conduct or the Paralegal Rules of Conduct as applicable to you.

Second, application, which is the ability to apply knowledge or comprehension in a straightforward applied situation.  So for example, recognizing the appropriate procedure to employ when faced with a routine situation.

And third, critical thinking, which is the ability to apply knowledge and comprehension in complex applied situations requiring analytical problem solving in addition to knowledge and comprehension and application.  So, for example, selecting and prioritizing appropriate courses of action when faced with complex situations or recognizing the relative importance of conflicting pieces of information and arriving at a conclusion requiring sound judgment.

Each licensing exam will include questions in both independent, multiple choice and case-based multiple-choice format.  There are no all of the above or none of the above multiple-choice options in the licensing examination.  Candidates are to select the correct answer.

For in-person licensing examinations correct answers must be input into the Scantron answer sheet and I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Scantron or bubble sheets as we call them where you darken either A, B, C or D according to the answer you select.

The licensing examinations are marked on a pass/fail basis  so scores equal to or higher than the established passing mark receive a pass result.  Scores lower than that passing mark receive a fail result.  Advisory groups set and approve the passing mark for each licensing examination.  

The passing mark is the same for each different version of those same licensing examinations.  And it represents a single overall score of the licensing exam.  And you’re not required to individually pass separate sections or areas of law on a licensing examination. 

The passing mark represents the expected performance as a minimally competent entry level lawyer or paralegal as applicable.  To ensure consistency across each sitting of the licensing examination the advisory groups apply this very same standard to the particular set of questions on each listening examination.

The setting of a passing mark is based on the judgment of these informed subject matter experts and is determined through rigorous consultation and dialogue.  This approach to setting the pass mark helps to ensure that the same performance standard is applied consistently for each licensing exam so that only those candidates who meet or exceed this standard will pass the licensing exam.

Only an individual candidate’s performance compared to this standard determines whether that candidate passes the exam.  The Law Society does not use a bell curve and there is no predetermined rate for the proportion of candidates who will pass an exam.

And now a little bit more about the scoring process for the exam.  The scoring process confirms to established best practices for professional licensing examination.  And a candidate score is based on the number of correct answers chosen.  There are no penalties for failing to chose an answer or for choosing an incorrect answer.

A quality control verification process is also employed, as a result candidates are not able to request any further review or appeal of their licensing examination once results have been reported.

And before our Q and A explodes with questions on what the pass score is, what is the passing mark, in keeping with established best practices for professional licensing examinations the Law Society does not release the passing score for each licensing examination, nor does it release your individual scores to you.  The only result that is published to you is your pass or fail result.

So within approximately eight weeks after each sitting of the licensing examination, you’ll receive a results message in your LSO online account providing you with your results and instructions on next steps.  

The Law Society provides all candidates who receive a fail result on a licensing examination with an examination profile.  This is a detailed performance profile depicting the candidate’s performance across different categories.

Candidates who receive a licensing examination profile are encouraged to carefully review their performance in order to assist them in focusing their study efforts for a future attempt at the licensing examination.  You should also review the licensing process policies for more information on the examinations and your permitted number of attempts during your licensing term.

I’m now going to hand it over to Peninah to speak to us about some of the examination rules and protocols relating to the in-person examination. 

 
PENINAH BRICKMAN: 

Thank you, Gina, and good morning everyone.  As most of you are likely already aware the rules and protocols posted on the Law Society’s website cover many aspects of the licensing examinations.  All candidates in both the lawyer and paralegal licensing processes are required to comply with these rules and protocols.

For the next few minutes, I will briefly discuss first the confidentiality of examination content and the integrity of the examination process.  Second, what you should expect when you arrive at the licensing examination site. And finally, the format of the licensing examination.

Let me turn now to the confidentiality of examination content, as well as protocols to enhance the integrity of the examination process.  Several measures are in place to support the maintenance of the confidentiality of the licensing examination content.  These measures are designed to eliminate any potential unfair advantage among candidates and to avoid the high cost associated with replacing examination content.

These measures have been implemented at all phases of the examination process, including questions about review and translation, examination printing, transportation and storage, implementation and delivery of the examination and associated security protocols and disposal of the examination papers after the examination.

The Law Society requires that candidates maintain the strict confidentiality and security of the examination content.  For example, candidates are prohibited at all times from receiving from or disclosing to any person or organization examination content.  Candidates are also prohibited from retaining, reproducing or publishing any examination content.  All examination content is the exclusive property of the Law Society and it is protected by copyright.

To ensure fairness and to maintain the trust of the public it is important that all candidates who are determined to have passed the licensing examination in fact meet the standard of entry level competence.  Candidates who receive, retain or give to others licensing examination content, even if it’s only partially accurate, violate not only the rules and protocol, but also the public trust.

As set out in the rules and protocol candidates have an obligation to notify the Law Society immediately should they become aware of the existence or use of an unauthorized source, such as a copy of the Law Society license examination or licensing examination questions.  

You may bring materials on which you wish to rely during a licensing examination into the testing area prior to the start of the examination, but you are prohibited from removing materials after you have completed the examination, except for those materials specifically permitted by the rules and protocol, such as your identification and medication.

No electronic devices are permitted into the testing area, including watches, recording devices, cameras, cellphones, computers, et cetera.  Similarly, you must not bring any writing instruments into the testing area.  The Law Society will provide you with pencils, highlighter, an eraser and a calculator at your desk.

Please pay very close attention to the list of prohibited items set out in the rules and protocol.  In some cases contents that may not appear to be of concern to you may be of concern to the Law Society, such content includes practice questions that may contain Law Society examination content, lists that contain numbers followed by letters, et cetera. 

Depending on the specific content those items may not be permitted into the testing area.  You are encouraged not to try to bring these types of content into the testing area.  Please bear in mind that although dictionaries, study materials, books, et cetera, are permitted into the testing area they cannot be taken out, so copies should be made and left at home.

Let’s turn now to the second topic, what you should expect at the licensing examination site.  You must arrive at the examination site on the specific date to which you have been assigned.  You must arrive at least 90 minutes before the scheduled start time for the licensing examination to ensure sufficient time for registration and security protocols.

Candidates who do not arrive in sufficient time to complete these steps prior to the start of the examination will lose time from the examination itself.  Those candidates will not be granted additional time to complete the exam if they did not arrive at least 90 minutes before the scheduled start time and begin the processes that I will describe in a moment.

You will first proceed to the coat check area to check all personal items that are not permitted in the testing area.  Cellphones are not permitted in the testing area, and you are encouraged not to bring them into the site.  If they are checked at the coat check they should be powered off. 

The Law Society is not responsible for lost, stolen, broken or misplaced property, and strongly recommend that you do not bring items not related to the licensing examination to the examination site, specifically valuable items should not be brought to the examination site.

Once you have stored the personal items not needed for the exam itself you must proceed to the registration area and present your Law Society identification.  If you have not been issued a Law Society identification card, government issued photo ID may also be used.

Candidates without proper identification will not be admitted into the testing area.  After you have signed the registration sheet a proctor of the registration desk will issue you a registration wristband that indicates your preassigned seat number.

The proctor will secure the wristband to your right wrist.  You must wear the registration wristband for the duration of the examination sitting.  You are not permitted to enter the testing area without that registration wristband.

After that you will proceed to the security screening area.  There a proctor will review all items that you have brought with you, including not only your printed items, but also the zip lock bag where you will keep your snacks and other permitted personal items.

The rules and protocol outline what can and cannot be brought into the testing area, so it is important that you review that webpage in great detail.  These rules are in place for the security of the examination and for practical reasons.  For example, the rule about beverages being in resealable containers is to prevent spills that may prevent the Scantron answer sheet from being read.

The rule about noisy foods is to ensure that other candidates are not disturbed by excessive noise.  Please note that the examination locations are not nut-free.

COVID-19 protocols are in place for the licensing examination.  You are required to wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose while at the examination site, except when a proctor asks for a mask to be briefly pulled down or removed for identification and security purposes, and when you’re actively writing the licensing examination.

You are required to put your mask on when you leave your assigned licensing examination seat, for example, to use the restroom.  You’re required to put your mask on immediately prior to or upon raising your hand in order to communicate with a proctor in the testing area, even if this occurs while you’re writing the licensing examination.

And you are also required to put your mask on for the duration of the communication with the proctor, again even if this occurs while you’re writing your licensing examination.  You may keep your mask on at all times, other than for security and identification purposes if you so wish.

You are not required to be vaccinated to write the licensing examination, but you are expected to stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even if the symptoms are mild, or if you answer, “yes” to any of the COVID-19 screening questions outlined on a provincial COVID-19 self-assessment webpage.  In such circumstances you should send a message through your online account as soon as possible and submit a request for examination registration or deferment form.

If it appears to the Law Society that you have symptoms of COVID-19 the Law Society will require that you leave the examination site, in which case you’ll be permitted to defer the licensing examination to a future sitting.  

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, not COVID-19 that produces symptoms that may occur at the site that are similar to those associated with COVID-19 you should obtain a note from your doctor confirming the presence of a pre-existing condition and be prepared to submit such a note for review at the site.

The rules and protocol may be updated in relation to COVID-19 or other aspects, so you should ensure that you review the rules and protocol a second time in a week or two before your examination.  And you should also regularly check the licensing examination’s webpage and your online accounts for the most current information about the examinations.

I’ll turn now to the format of the licensing examinations. They may be written in either French or English and are four hours and thirty minutes in duration.  Each licensing examination contains 160 questions.  There is no scheduled break.  And the amount of time allotted for the licensing examination contemplates that you may need to use some of that time to visit the restroom, and that you have to use some of that time to fill out your Scantron answer sheets.

Once the time for the examination is up no further writing is permitted and pencils must be placed back on the desk.  You will not be permitted to leave the testing area during the final 30 minutes of the time allotted for the licensing examination, even if you have completed your examination.

As a reminder you must ensure that you mark your multiple-choice answers on the Scantron answer sheet provided during the allotted examination time.  Answers marked within the examination question booklet will not be reviewed or scored.  

You are encouraged to enter the answers onto the Scantron answer sheet as you move through the examination and to consider doing so in groups of five or ten questions at a time.  Please keep careful track of what you are doing so that you don’t accidentally skip a number or run out of time. 

And now I will turn this over to Gina for more information on the testing area. 

GINA HAROS:

Thank you Peninah.  Once you pass through the security screening area you will move to the testing area, and you’ll find your assigned seat number that corresponds to your wristband number, so take a moment to relax and acclimate yourself to your surroundings at that point, unpack your materials, put your ID card on the desk, get yourself settled basically and organized to make access to our study materials quick and easy during the exam.

Put your snacks on your desk or under your chair as you must be seated in your assigned seats within the testing area by no later than 30 minutes to the scheduled start of the examination.  We encourage everyone to be early or at least at the very least on time.

You won’t be permitted to leave the testing area after you’ve entered the testing area unless you’ve completed your licensing examination in which case you must follow the required exit procedures which will be discussed in a moment. Candidates will not be permitted entry into the testing area after the first hour of the licensing examination has elapsed.  

Candidates who are denied entry because they arrive at the exam site more than one hour late or did not complete the required screening protocols will be deemed to have failed to attend the examination sitting, so please be sure to be on time.

And a note about the physical examination site, be mindful that the temperature of the examination site and the testing area itself may be different from what is most comfortable for each individual.  You’re encouraged to dress appropriately for any temperature fluctuations, and please review the list of permitted dress code items at the site.  For example, outerwear is not permitted in the testing area, so I encourage everyone to dress in light layers if they need to accommodate for the temperature fluctuation at the site as needed.

You should also be prepared for minor distractions in the testing area, the ventilation system turning on and off, things like footsteps of other people going to the washroom, people unwrapping their food, proctors communicating with you and each other in hushed tones.  These are all expected minor disturbances when you’re writing at a large venue with other students.

During the examination time is kept by a digital timer and clock visible to all candidates at the front of the testing area.  The lead proctor will start and stop the timer and instruct you when you are to start and stop writing the exam.  No verbal cues will be provided during the writing of the exam in order to minimize disruption at the large main site.

You may make sure of the projected digital timer and clock to track your progress through the licensing examination since any type of time keeping device is not permitted in the testing area.  In other words, no watches of any kind, cellphones, electronic bracelets, Fitbits, things of that nature.

And now a little bit more on the prohibited items at the examination.  The following are some of the prohibited items, but a more expansive list which is available online to you, so I encourage you to check those out as you prepare in the days and weeks coming up to the examination sitting.  

So in terms of prohibited items, these items include but are not limited to any device or technology that can photograph, receive, transmit or record any information, mechanical, electric and similar devices including computers, USB keys, tablets, cellphones, pagers, if anyone still has those, calculators, e-readers, electronic paging devices, recording or filming devices, cameras, MP3 players, a whole host of items that are prohibited, and they’re listed online, so please review those as you prepared for the exam.

As I mentioned a little earlier, watches, stopwatches, electronic bracelets of any kind are also prohibited from the web -- from the testing area rather.  Also, luggage, including book bags, backpacks, handbags, tote bags, purses, suitcases, briefcases, anything of that nature is prohibited from being brought into the testing area.  And I believe Peninah mentioned earlier that writing and marking supplies, other than those supplied by the Law Society for the examination sitting are also prohibited from being brought into the testing area.  

In terms of your snacks and your food, that needs to be contained in the clear storage bag that’s also mentioned online, so read up on that as you prepared your snacks and nourishment for the examination sitting, as well as glass containers are prohibited from being brought into the testing area.

And lastly, of course weapons of any kind are not permitted, as well as things like outwear, including coats, ponchos, hats, toques, head gear, gloves, except for religious attire of course.

And now a few words from Ken regarding the conclusion of the examination and what will occur at that time.  

KEN OSBORNE: 

Thank you Gina.  When the lead proctor makes the announcement that the allotted time for the examination sitting is over you must immediately stop writing, put down your pencils and erasers and close your licensing examination booklets.

Candidates who do not follow these instructions to stop will receive an automatic fail for the licensing examination, so it is important to be mindful of your proctor’s announcements and their requests.  At the conclusion of the examination sitting, you must remain seated until the proctors have collected all materials required and have advised you that you may leave your seats and leave the testing area. 

The lead proctor will provide instructions for dismissal from the testing area.  The dismissal process involves a security screening and can take up upwards of 30 minutes if it’s a large group that is being dismissed.  And our summer examinations are large groups, so please expect to wait and be patient as we process everyone out of the testing area.

As previously mentioned, you must leave all paper-based and printed materials, including the Law Society study materials, other study materials, dictionaries, books, texts, as well as binders and other items that you brought into the testing area, other than clothing, a wallet, medication, keys, beverages, non-paper items that are permitted by the rules and protocol that would be in your storage bag. Everything else must be left in the testing area on the desk before you leave the testing area.

After the examination sitting the Law Society will arrange for shredding, disposable or destruction of these materials.  You will be dismissed by the proctor and given an exit pass and you may leave the site at that time.

I’d like to turn attention to the repayable allowance program.  Some candidates have mentioned that they are having some difficulty in respect of attending the in-person examinations at the various locations that the LSO is hosting them.  

So just as a final note regarding the travelling to the exams, if you are coming to an examination site for more than 100 kilometres away the Law Society has created a modified repayable allowance program application that allows candidates who demonstrate financial need and are travelling from a great distance to an in-person examination site to borrow money from the Law Society to cover specific travel and lodging expenses that they incurred to get to the exam.

This is a loan program that allows you to request a loan to cover the permitted expenses for travelling to an in-person examination.  And more information is available online under “candidate support” section, “financial assistance” section of our webpage, and I encourage you to take a look at the programs eligibility requirements and its parameters.

So just by way of conclusion to the presentation, I’ve realized that we’ve highlighted quite a bit of information in the last half hour or so relating to in-person examinations, and I really do encourage our participants to review the information on the Law Society’s website for further information as they prepare for the sitting.

I’d like everyone to note the various ways with which you can reach out to the Law Society and to the licensing accreditation team after this session, and we invite our listeners to submit any questions if they haven’t already been addressed through the Q and A tab, that they can reach out to licensing and accreditation with their questions and we’d be happy to respond to them, and they could do that at any time.

So looking at the time, it’s 10:36 and we’ve had a number of questions that have come through the Q and A tab, so I’d like to turn attention to those questions.  And I’ll refer them to the panelists as we go.  The first question, Priya, is for you.  And this question relates to the scheduling for the November 2022, the fall examinations, as well as the March or winter examination process.  And the question is (as read): Will the licensing examinations be delivered in-person during this time period?

PRIYA BHATIA:   

Thanks Ken, I’m happy to answer that.  So at this time the Law Society will be continuing with in-person delivery of the fall 2022 and winter 2023 examinations.  And the specific dates and locations for those examinations will be announced in the coming weeks.

KEN OSBORNE: 

Peninah, this question is for you (as read): For those who are requesting accommodations for licensing examinations when would they be notified of their approved accommodation plan?

PENINAH BRICKMAN: 

So it depends on the individual candidate, the documents provided and where they’re at in the sort of accommodation process.  So candidates are expected to submit request for accommodation when they register into the licensing process.  And then there are also posted deadlines for emerging accommodations. 

And there is a team that looks at all of the documentation, reviews it and communicates back with the candidate. 

KEN OSBORNE: 

Okay.  So I have two questions here, and I’ll respond to both of these.  The first question is, again, “What is the pass mark?”  And we’ve mentioned in our presentation already that we don’t as a matter of policy publicize the pass mark for licensing examinations.  

We do however, post what the passing standard is, and it is entry level competence.  So the minimum acceptable level of performance is performance necessary for entry level competence into either the lawyer or paralegal profession. 

And I just want to sort of offer a little scenario here or an example, and I think it’s important for candidates as they come into the licensing process to begin to switch their minds from the academic experiences that they’ve had at this point to the potential experience and the future experience that they will have in respect of providing legal services for practicing law once they become licensees.

Clients will come to you and they will ask you what can you do for them, and what level of performance can you give to them in the performance of the legal duty that they will ask of you.  And a good professional will not say  I can only do so much because I have so many clients and I cannot divide my time up more than what I can when I consider all of them, and I can only give you a certain degree of performance or work based on the number of candidates that I have. The professional response to that question is I will give you all of my time.  I will give and devote my time to your issue in resolving it and ensuring that it comes to its proper conclusion based on my experience and competence, and I am committed to you to address that issue to the fullest extent.

When you begin to think about the examination as an activity and the practice of law with the provision of legal services you are focused on precision.  There will be 160 questions that are legal issues that will be asked of you.  The goal is to respond to as many of those as accurately and as precisely as you can.  

And if you are focused on precision and you are well prepared the minimum acceptable level of performance will be exceeded.  It will be surpassed.  And that is what you focus on.  You focus on the precision and endeavouring to answer as many of those questions as correctly and as competently as you can, and the minimum standard just falls away as an issue, so don’t focus on pass rates, focus on the examination and providing precision to the questions that you are being asked.

The other question is (as read): Why do results take six to eight weeks when this is a multiple-choice examination?

This was a question that we would get when we were delivering on-line examinations.  It’s certainly a question that we get now when we deliver in-person examinations.  The Law Society conducts a robust post-examination administration process that requires us to go through the examination, to manual mark the examinations, particularly those that have failed the exam.  

And we go through an extensive validation process to make sure that the exam that was implemented is the exam that’s measuring entry level performance and that it accurately reflects that standard and that it is ready for results release.  And we’re also looking at candidate performance on the examination in that period of time.

So the Law Society requires the six to eight weeks in order to collect all that information, assess the examination performance, assess candidate performance, determine if there were any irregularities or anomalies in the conduct of that exam that affects candidate performance.  

And then once we are sure that there are candidates that are not implicated or affected by the examination in any way or its performance we release the results, and it does require upwards of eight weeks for that to happen.  

GINA HAROS: 

I’m seeing a number of questions of students inquiring about the start time for the exams as well as when the specific venues will be posted.  So if you don’t mind, I’d like to address that.

So we’ve just very recently posted the start time of the examinations at the main venue, which will be 10 a.m., so we expect students to be there because registration opens at 8 a.m.  You can start arriving and preparing yourself to go through the screening process any time after 8 a.m.

And with respect to the venues themselves, I expect that in the next couple of weeks at most we will be posting the specific information regarding each examination location and venue information.

KEN OSBORNE: 

I have a couple of questions; these are related to items being brought into the examination testing location (as read): Are you allowed to bring a ruler?  Are you allowed to bring additional pencils, erasers?  

I think we’ve addressed the calculator issue already, but in terms of items that may be brought into the testing area, are there anything in terms of items like rulers, pencils, calculators, paper, that sort of thing that can be brought into the testing area for the exam?

PENINAH BRICKMAN: 

So you are allowed to bring paper products into the examination.  You’re allowed to bring the binders that will hold your paper.  And you’ll see online a list of the permitted items.  Some of the items are not permitted items, for example, the calculator is the one that’s provided by the Law Society.  You may not bring in your own.

You may not bring in your own pencils, pens.  You may not bring in the ruler, etc.  So it’s the items that are in paragraph 7 in the online rules and protocol that let’s you know what you are permitted to bring in.  I hope that answers your question.  If it doesn’t let me know.

KEN OSBORNE: 

I have a question here related to the wearing of masks during the examinations.  The question is (as read): Why are masks not required to be worn at all times?

And the approach the Law Society is taking is that masks need to be worn in the common areas of the examination site.  So as you’re transitioning through registration, through the security aspects into the exam testing area, if you’re transitioning from your desk to the washroom, masks would be worn during this time. 

We are not requiring candidates to wear masks while they’re sitting at their desks doing the examination.  Having said that we’re not discouraging candidates from wearing masks.  In other words, candidates can choose to wear masks while they’re sitting at their desk if they wish to do so, but that is a matter of choice at that point. 

It's only when the candidates are transitioning from the testing area through the common areas of the examination areas that a mask would be worn.  And we’ll be instructing candidates when masks are to be put on and when they can be removed.

I have a question.  Gina, I’ll give this question to you (as read): What is the number of questions for the paralegal licensing exam and how much time does the paralegal licensing exam have to complete?

GINA HAROS:

So it is the same for both examinations, well, all three examinations.  There are 160 questions.  And candidates have four hours and thirty minutes.  It’s important to remember that during that four and a half hours you also have to complete the Scantron answer sheets, and that includes any restroom visits, etc., so that’s the total amount of time from the start to finish.  In other words, the total amount of time from when you can pick up your pencil to when you put down your pencil. 

KEN OSBORNE: 

Gina, this next question is for you.  It’s related to licensing materials (as read): Will the summer or the July 2022 materials and the fall or October/November 2022 study materials be the same?

GINA HAROS: 

Thanks Ken.  Yes, the materials for the entire licensing year are precisely the same.  So whether you are writing in summer or in the fall or winter examination sittings, the materials remain the same.

KEN OSBORNE: 

I have another question here just related to the time of the examination, and I’ll take this one, so (as read): What is the start time for the examination?

The examination starts at 10:00, so that is the formal start time for the examination. Typically, candidates can expect to come into registration, which opens at 8:00.  And candidates will move through registration and move through the security areas.  And typically, that concludes once you know all candidates are through those areas. Typically, that concludes about 9:15 to 9:25 or so.

Typically, by 9:30 candidates are all seated in the testing area and they’re getting ready.  And typically, around 9:30 to 9:40 the lead proctor will start the process of completing the Scantron sheets and walking candidates through the process for the examination and providing instructions.  And usually that’ll take to about 9:50 or so.  Typically, we finish that up about 9:50 or so. 

There’s about a 10-minute period where the candidates can use the washroom before they get started.  And then at 10:00 the examination commences, and time starts.   

PENINAH BRICKMAN: 

So I saw quite a number of questions about materials being brought into the testing sight, so I just want to be very clear that paper products, binders, et cetera, can be brought in, but those cannot be removed, so there were questions about tabs in binders and books and personal notes.  So items can be brought in, but cannot be removed, so the binder will end up getting destroyed.  

So some candidates instead just bring in rings, metal rings, and that way they prevent destruction of a binder.  And the materials that you can bring in in response to one of the questions include the study materials provided by the Law Society

There was also another question about the examination itself and about the question was asking about whether they don’t have to pass every category and that’s correct.  You understood that correctly.  It is not required that you pass every category on the licensing examination.  It is a single mark.  Thank you.

GINA HAROS: 

I’m seeing a number of questions about the webcast that we hosted this past March and how to access that webcast.  And if I may I’d like to let the group know that on the main licensing process landing page, if you scroll to the bottom you will see the link to that archived webcast, as well as an English and French transcript of it, so I encourage everyone as I said earlier to access that as they prepare for their examination.

PRIYA BHATIA: 

I’m just wondering if one of you could clarify when the paralegal licensing exam study materials will be released and whether they are distributed digitally.  I think there’s been some questions about both the date and how those materials are distributed.

GINA HAROS: 

So we expect the paralegal study materials to be released to candidates who have paid their fees on the day of May 24th onward.  

And the other inquiry I also saw was on whether it will be released digitally or in paper format.  And just to confirm that the materials are released in pdf format through your confidential LSO online account.  And you’ll be able to download that pdf and save it and print it as you wish as you’re preparing. 

KEN OSBORNE: 

The next question is (as read): When will the dates be released for the lawyer and paralegal examinations for the fall?

PRIYA BHATIA: 

Yes, so coming back to that again, we are in the process of securing venues for those examinations and expect to release those dates soon.  There will be obviously some changes from the dates that are posted currently because I think the current posted dates relate to the online exams, and so the dates that will be replacing those dates will be the in-person exam dates for lawyer and paralegal examinations for the fall, and they will posted in the next few weeks as we finalize our arrangements with the venues. 

PENINAH BRICKMAN: 

I just thought maybe I could provide some clarification myself, some questions about the kinds of materials that can be brought in and whether you know mass produced indices can be bonded, et cetera.  

So what we’re looking for when we look at the materials you bring in is whether they are legitimate materials or whether they are materials that violate the rules and protocol.  There was one question about bringing in lists of numbers and answers.  And if we see a list that says you know 1A, 2B, 3C we’re going to take a very close look at that because we can’t tell on its face what that list might be.  

So given that it does not particularly provide you with any assistance, if it’s a legitimate document that you were preparing for at home study, we would encourage you not to bring that document into the licensing examination site.  So when you’re looking through your materials bring in your legitimately prepared and produced materials.

KEN OSBORNE: 

Here’s a question that follows on that, Peninah, to some extent, and I can address this if you’d like.  And if you have some additional comments feel free to offer that, but the question is you know (as read): What’s the LSO’s take on study materials other than the ones that are offered by the LSO?

And I think generally our approach is you don’t need additional study materials.  What you need to know is the materials that the Law Society has provided to you.  

That is the material that contains the competency items that were built for the purposes of assessing the competency items, so their  purpose- built for assisting the candidate in the examination.  That’s the material that’s testable and that’s the material that you need to know extremely well in order to move through the examination.   

The Law Society does not work with providers in any way to provide materials to support services that may deliver some of the materials to candidates.  We discourage those activities because they are not reflective of our materials and our approach to item-writing development. 

So really the only thing that candidates need is LSO study materials.  It was a self-study activity.  That said there are some indices out there that candidates bring in.  Most candidates bring in very similar types of documents.  You know candidates can review them for their preparations for the exam, but at the end of the day it’s the materials that is the examinable material.   Peninah, I don’t know if you had any additional comment that you’d like to offer in respect of the materials generally.

PENINAH BRICKMAN: 

No, I think your comments were quite complete and fair.  I did note that there were some questions about ID cards, and that might be something that Gina could respond to.  

And there were some questions about restroom breaks which I could take on, so maybe I’ll start with the restroom breaks which is that that’s included in your time of four and a half hours, so you can use the restroom.  You raise you hand, a proctor will come, gather your materials, escort you, escort you back.  The time of four and a half hours does contemplate that you will potentially require some restroom breaks in the course of that time.  

Maybe I could turn it over to Gina now to answer some of the questions we’re seeing about ID cards.  

GINA HAROS: 

Sure Peninah.  Thank you.  

And just to add on to what you mentioned just now, I did see another couple of questions regarding a lunch area within the exam, and I believe the expectation is that you’ll be seated to have your snacks during the exam.  There’s no designated area within the testing area.  

And so moving on to the candidate ID cards, the LSO cards, those should be arriving by mail to candidates who’ve updated their address.  Typically, probably toward the end of this month, if not into the first week of June, so that you’ll be prepared to sit your examination.  

KEN OSBORNE: 

I think we’ve got about three minutes or so left to the session, but there is one question that -- it’s an interesting question for me, and I think it’s one that I’d like to highlight.  And the question is in the online examination candidates were able to keep their materials, but yet in the in-person examination materials are left behind, and the question is, “Well, why is that?”  

I think it’s important to remember, and many of you of course would not have participated in in-person examinations prior to March of 2020, but the Law Society delivered all its examinations in-person prior to the pandemic, so that the experience that you’re going to have in July is the experience that virtually every candidate has encountered up until the pandemic.

When the pandemic was upon us the Law Society needed to transition quickly in order to ensure candidates could continue their progression towards licensure.  And to do that we implemented the online modality, and that modality had certain limitations in terms of what we could do.  

So for example, materials was something that we couldn’t entirely control to the same extent that we controlled in the in-person domain because we were not present, physically present to remove them from your places of testing, your location, your homes and so on.

So coming back to the in-person or traditional routine delivery modality, we’re re-implementing the approach that we’ve always used, which is materials can come in, but they cannot come out.  And the expectation is that if candidates want anything to be retained from their materials, then they should be saving a copy of that and not bringing it into the testing location, but every scrap of paper that comes into the testing area will be left behind. And we do view that as a significant measure supporting the test integrity and security of the licensing examination. 

I will turn things over to Priya to close out the session.

PRIYA BHATIA: 

Thanks so much.  So as we approach the conclusion of our webcast today, I’d like to thank first of all Ken, Gina and Peninah for all of the information they shared with us on the licensing examinations which I hope was helpful to all of you listening.  And of course, to direct your attention to our website where a lot of the answers to your questions are located.  

And I would encourage all of you to spend some time reviewing all of the protocols so you are prepared for the day of your examination and things go smoothly for you.  I also want to thank our technical staff who work behind the scenes to ensure that these webcasts happen.

And finally, I’d really like to offer the Law Society’s encouragement and thanks to all of you candidates for actively participating and engaging with us today.  Your questions have all been great and shows us that you’re paying attention to the licensing process.  

I would like you to keep track of the developments in the licensing area by of course maintaining connections with your online accounts and watching our website for updates.  I look very forward to welcoming you to the professions in the future.  And on behalf of the Law Society I’d like to wish you all the best of luck in your examinations and in the licensing process.  Thank you.  

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