The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every business and community in Canada, and the NCA is no exception. In the Spring of 2020, the NCA made the decision to move all in-person NCA exams to an online format. The shift saw its fair share of hiccups and glitches with online hosting and capacity issues which were all very well documented. What did not appear to be talked about much was how the fundamentals of preparation and studying for NCA exams would change. Are you prepared to write a four-hour exam on your computer? Do you have a home environment that gives you the best chance to succeed in an exam? I recently spoke to Dr. Steeve Joordens, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Director of the Advanced Learning Technologies Lab, who said:
“If you can find old tests or work with someone to create your own questions, that is what I would really recommend. Pretend you’re the assessor and make part of your studying the creation of questions. That’s going to make you think about the material the way the markers think about it. You’ll start realizing that you’re actually interacting with the content a little differently and that will really set you up well. It’s called ‘Transfer Appropriate Processing’, meaning your mind is in the same place when you’re studying as it will be when it’s test day.
Find out the structure and of your online exam. Understand that the rules are the same for everyone and, to the extent that you can, practice that format. Give yourself what we call ‘Retrieval Practice’. We all think it’s about stuffing information into our heads (which we call ‘Encoding’), and while Encoding well is important, so is practicing getting that encoded information out of your head and on to the test paper/computer (Retrieval Practice).
We know there is something called the ‘Testing Effect’, which is if you make testing yourself part of your studying. This is much more powerful than just studying ‘more’.”
Practice, practice, practice! According to other NCA candidates I’ve spoken to, as well as Professor Joordens, finding a small group to practice NCA exam questions in exam specific conditions is the best way to assess where you are in your learning and studying. Recreating those NCA exam specific settings is essential in making sure you aren’t surprised by any hiccups that can and likely will occur. This will also ensure you’re comfortable in your own unique environment on exam day.
You can find sample NCA exams on the NCA.Legal website: https://nca.legal/exams/content/
The rules for online NCA exams can be found here: (https://nca.legal/exams/online-exam-rules/ ).