The Patent Examination Board (PEB) releases further information on the 2020 UK patent exams

The Patent Examination Board (PEB) has released more information on the arrangements for the UK patent exams this year, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The information is buried on the PEB website, and can be accessed here. The PEB confirm their earlier indications that the UK exams will take place online. The date of the examinations remains unchanged (mid-October). It appears that candidates will have the choice of sitting the exams at home or at work. However, if they wish to sit their exams at work, candidates will need to submit an application for a change of examination venue. The deadline for such applications is 31 August 2020.

The PEB provides a long list of requirements that will need to be satisfied for the PEB to accept a change of exam venue, including the details of a senior member of staff who will supervise the printing of the exam paper. The PEB notice also lists the minimum IT equipment needed for the exam. Candidates will need access to:
  • PC or laptop (NOT tablet device)
  • Email and internet connection – typically broadband speed of 1 Mbit/s minimum
  • Webcam and phone camera (Android 4.1 or iOS (Apple) 8.0 or higher)
  • Microphone and speaker
  • MS Word 2010 or above
  • Printer for printing out the question paper. (Also for FD2, FD3 and FD4 to print out claims sheet and diagrams for annotation by hand.)
  • Scanner (for candidates taking FD2, FD3 and FD4 and those whose application to hand write their answers has been approved)
  • Adobe, or similar pdf viewer, so you can save you answer script as a pdf ready for upload.
The PEB notes that this list of requirements has not yet been finalised. It is this Kat's expectation that most candidates will not have access to a scanner at home, so hopefully the PEB will rethink this requirement.

So what will happen on the day of the exam? The details about this are still sketchy. According to the PEB statement, candidates will be required to give an invigilator access to their webcam during the exam. "The invigilator or proctoring system will also ask you to use to [sic] the webcam to do a 'sweep' of the room and may require you to remove any unauthorised or potentially inappropriate items". Start and stop times on your computer will be logged.

The PEB ends with a dire warning of the consequences if candidates are found to have cheated. In particular, "PEB will investigate all cases of suspected malpractice. A malpractice investigation may involve scrutiny of all relevant information and data, including script evidence, proctoring data logs, webcam recordings and logs of when documents were downloaded and uploaded".

Invigilation
There is no indication in the statement that the exams will be anything other than the usual closed book. Will the logging software therefore monitor whether or not candidates are accessing the internet or their pre-downloaded copy of the manual of patent practice? If the logging software is able to monitor such activity, installation of the software on work computers or laptops may be problematic. It does seem that answers may be typed. The PEB in fact recommends that candidates practice past papers using MS word.

Unfortunately, candidates will be at the mercy of their internet connection. If your internet flickers on the day of the exam, there will not be much that can be done. The PEB indicate that they "will not accept requests for Special Consideration after the examination based on the failure of IT/communications equipment, systems or software". On the basis of this, it seems that patent attorney firms are advising candidates to take the exams at work. This will undoubtedly be easiest for trainees at the largest firms who can put the required arrangements in place. Trainees working at smaller firms or in-house may find it more difficult to satisfy the exam venue requirements.

The PEB's preparations are clearly still a work-in-progress. The PEB will therefore undoubtedly welcome constructive feedback from candidates on the work-ability of the proposed arrangements.

What do readers think?
The Patent Examination Board (PEB) releases further information on the 2020 UK patent exams The Patent Examination Board (PEB) releases further information on the 2020 UK patent exams Reviewed by Rose Hughes on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 Rating: 5

60 comments:

  1. Thank you for this summary of requirements. I am concerned that candidates will be unfairly burdened by these requirements- exams such as FD4 are extremely time pressured and there is no indication that additional time will be provided for the printing and scanning of materials- surely this issue must be addressed to ensure that candidates are not at a disadvantage this year.

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  2. I am additionally saddened by PEBs stance - "PEB will not be able to reply to general queries about how the examinations will run". How can a candidate select the best examination option for them if they are not fully aware of how the examination will be run? PEBs reluctance (as ever) to engage in dialogue with candidates does not seem in the best interest of a fair and well run exam.

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  3. I welcome the step to do the exams online but time must be given for candidates to settle. Printing an exam paper might seem trivial but it does take many minutes. Equally, converting a word doc to a pdf also requires time. Scanning will take even longer. More time needs to be given. It would be better if they make it open book as books usually are there for reference and no one can really learn the materials on the day of the exam. The EQEs are open book and most other law courses are open book so it seems strange still that PEB exams are closed books.

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  4. Surely, taking the exams from home is the best option. There will be other people in the firm that day - are firms will to just let their candidates take the whole building. Many share office space and are open plan.

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  5. But I acknowledge that there may be some difficulties. Printing/scanning will be the main concern. Is there any possibility of releasing the exam paper 15-30 hour before the exam takes place. This should iron out any difficulties in printing. Scanning will be a problem!

    Also - some people like to take notes. Are you allow to write on scrap pieces of paper. I do embrace the step of taking exams remotely - This seems like a good direction to take.

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    1. Releasing the paper (on the day) in a window before the exam seems a good compromise- that way candidates will have the exam paper in front of them at the start of the exam, as they normally would.

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  6. Everyone's biggest fear now is that there could be a power cut/or a printer malfunction on the day (even at the office) then they will be disqualified.

    Also - most offices only have a few printers so are candidates going to queue at the printer to collect their paper?

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  7. I think it is a MUST that they need to extend time or reduce content of the exam to account for these changes. This should be happening anyway but especially this year. PEB adapting to the "new norm" is a welcome step. It may be easier to manage if the exams are open book but even if it is closed books - time needs to be appropriately given.

    Being disturbed during an exam by an invigilator is a definite NO-NO. You cannot distract someone in the middle of an exam every hour and interrupt their thought process, especially for drafting or I & V papers. Telling them to get up and show around the room would severely distract my focus. I would imagine having 2 cameras would solve this issue so that candidates are not interrupted.

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  8. As we have seen with local lockdowns and continuing disruption - taking exams from home is certainly the correct procedure. BUT - candidates need more time (or reduce exam content as the exams are long enough).

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  9. Will the testers of the papers be using the new process? Otherwise, the only thing that has been tested is the content of the paper, and not the entirely new conditions under which the exams will take place.

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  10. Given the significant cost, I think PEB should offer refunds if there is a disruption to internet and a candidate is subsequently disqualified. Seems pretty unfair to candidates (particularly those paying themselves) if their internet connection drops out in the middle of the paper for reasons beyond their control.

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  11. Judging from the comments so far, it seems that most agree that candidates need more time (or less content within the same time period) to cope with the additional burden. I think this is a sensible step to take by PEB. I don't see any reason why releasing a paper 30 minutes before the exam time be a problem.

    Candidates should also be given the opportunity to write on spare blank pieces of paper etc...

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  12. Classic PEB. No offers of refunds or reasonable timeframes for candidates to make a decision as to whether they want to participate in an exam they barely know anything about. Cue the PEB's announcement next March where they avoid apologising for the abysmal pass rates and palm us off with "well at least we didn't cancel them'. Great. Slow clap.

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  13. I don't think it would be reasonable to only provide the exam paper at the start of the exam. Surely they need to release it at least one hour before and simply trust the candidates to behave properly.

    There are a few issues with this approach that I am sure the PEB are addressing. One of them being the potential for injury from spending 5 hours sat in front of a screen typing - the DSE guidelines they reference advise a 5 minute break every hour which is not practical in exams where often one feels barely enough time to nip to the toilet.

    They say they are announcing more guidelines so we will see. One solution would surely have been to postpone the exams to a time when social distancing was not as necessary but I suppose we do not know when that is.

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  14. Can we go to the toilet or does that need to be filmed too? It's almost as if an exam that requires 5 hours of writing isn't practical or sensible...

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  15. As Chief Examiner, my responsibilities with the PEB lie with setting, marking and awarding Foundation and Final exams. However, I have strong feelings about the sitting of the exams this year. The comments below are my own and are designed to provide some illumination on how I see things, which I hope are of some help and solace.

    The PEB is very much on the side of the candidates and is doing absolutely everything it can to offer UK Foundation and Final exams in 2020 in a fair and reasonable way. I see this from the sheer amount of work that is required to make these exams happen. Not everything can be sorted and finalised at the snap of fingers and so patience is needed while ducks are gradually lined up.

    The PEB has spent a huge amount of time since the beginning of lock down working extremely hard to make the exams happen – it was touch and go for a good few weeks when it looked like the decision would be not to hold the exams this year. Like the EQEs, this is the easiest option. However, the PEB Governance Board (PEB GB) has decided to do what it feels is in the best interests for candidates, which is to offer an on-line exam in the best possible way that it can. I am pleased with the decision and am offering as much support and information to the PEB GB as I am able, not being a member of the Board. I have been taking QM and Nottingham trade mark exams on-line and so I have a some insight into the uncertainty of the situation.

    The machine of the PEB is ridiculously under-staffed and over-stretched. It is also human. In addition, this is a new and very testing situation for everyone. New rules are having to be written, creative ways of doing things need to be found and, in fact, new ways of doing things need to be found. Whatever is offered by the PEB will be researched and tested but please do not assume it will be perfect. Things rarely are first time around. Positive input is always appreciated and I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of the exams in a new format. From experience I can say it is far nicer to take an exam in a familiar space rather than being surrounded by nervous, snuffly and noisy people.

    Typing answers should be much quicker than handwriting and there has been a call for facilities to type for a number of years. It will certainly make my marking job so much easier than having to interpret poor handwriting. For both QM and Nottingham, a portal was opened at 9am for the downloading of the paper. The Nottingham exams were sat to time and, after the clock stopped, the answer paper was uploaded to the portal. Provided the paper was uploaded by 5pm, the exam could be taken at any time within the 9-5 time period. I do not know what the PEB is thinking or even considering but it would make sense for downloading, scanning and uploading to happen outside of the time allocated to write an answer.

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    1. "it was touch and go for a good few weeks when it looked like the decision would be not to hold the exams this year. Like the EQEs, this is the easiest option. However, the PEB Governance Board (PEB GB) has decided to do what it feels is in the best interests for candidates, which is to offer an on-line exam in the best possible way that it can"

      Hmm... calm down. EQE's were cancelled because COVID was kicking off in Europe weeks before the exams. You have over half a year to plan.

      Also each UK exam costs over double an EQE exam, so we should expect more?

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  16. Continued:
    I am sure there will be some contingency for internet disruption. Again, there was with QM and Nottingham.

    I am receiving a lot of queries about sitting the exam at home vs in a firm setting and the concern has been raised in the comments. I encourage candidates from small firms who cannot provide suitable facilities to approach the larger firms who may be able to find extra space. We are all in this together and so need to help one-another. As we do every year, we will be comparing results of candidates from different settings to ensure than no one group is adversely affected by their situation.

    Please look on this as a learning curve for all of us and one that should be taken positively. After all, it does provide an opportunity to resolve some requests that have been around for a while and, who knows, perhaps open book might be next on the list while the process continues to evolve to bring the PEB exams into the modern world.

    Please also remember that everyone is experiencing difficult times. Please do not berate the PEB or the marking examiners. Sarcastic comments do not help either. We are all trying to do our best which is even more trying in the current circumstances. We are human. Whatever the PEB offers will be a great step forward, as well as an amazing achievement - these systems take years to put together and evolve but the PEB has only 6 months. Don't forget, the EQEs have yet to be sorted out on-line and the PEB system is being watched with interest. The EQE system could be worse than what is offered by PEB, no-one knows yet.

    At the end of the day, if the situation feels simply too unpleasant for you, the exams will be offered again next year.

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    1. "Whatever the PEB offers will be a great step forward, as well as an amazing achievement "

      seriously what are you smoking?
      How can you be so sure?
      Please at least have an open mind and consider that they could make exam conditions worse?

      "At the end of the day, if the situation feels simply too unpleasant for you, the exams will be offered again next year."

      This is the most naive comment. Yes, you are right. If you don't want any career progression, pay rises etc. you are welcome to never sit any PEB exams....I can't believe i didnt think of that....

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    2. Since you're here Sarah. Could you please explain why half of the marks in the 2019 P6 advice section related to areas of law that are not even on the syllabus?

      Could you also explain why the PEB changed their complaints procedure so that they would not respond to anonymous complaints after this very question was raised anonymously. I know the PEB think they were being clever by doing this, but google cache had a version of the website from 3 weeks before the email and there was no mention of anonymous complaints not being responded to. So i think you changed the policy because you didn't want to answer the question...

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    3. "At the end of the day, if the situation feels simply too unpleasant for you, the exams will be offered again next year."

      This comment from a Chief Examiner is disappointing and shows a complete lack of empathy. This is not a "simple" matter for candidates- many have no choice at all when to sit exams with the expectations of their firm placed heavily on them. Progression for trainees is often completely dependent on passing these exams and to suggest that a candidate will simply skip a year and the associated career progression and salary increase shows how out of touch the PEB is.

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    4. Why do I get the feeling that Anonymous, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 at 15:23:00 BST, will never get a reply to their question? You would think that an examining body would feel obliged to issue a public statement after releasing a mark scheme that expected candidates to discuss topics that weren't on the syllabus. Not the PEB though. But let's all be nice and not make any sarcastic comments.

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  17. That they are holding the exams online is definitely something that must be applauded. Well done, PEB! Now please don't screw up the execution. Make it open book for starters. Half your invigilation problems will be resolved. Secondly, extra time must be given for printing the question paper. Third, do away with the scanner requirement. Photos of the answer sheets can be taken using the phone and emailed to PEB. Not many people have scanners at home. Extra time must be given for this also at the end of the exam.

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  18. Can PEB or CIPA provide a webinar please and show candidates how it works. A guide/run through would help candidates a lot.

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  19. Moving online is definitely a step in the right direction and PEB should be praised. It should have been modernised a while ago and not due to the pandemic. Going forwards, I encourage PEB to modernise the exam process even more like regular testing and open book. I hope the EQE will also learn to modernise. This profession has been doing the same thing for a long time and it is now time to move on.

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  20. I think what PEB has done this year has been fantastic - moving the exams online and at home is definitely the correct way. I do echo some concerns/issues and agree that extra time will be required but in general, this is good. Look forward to hearing more from PEB.

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  21. I can certainly see that many candidates here think the online move is a positive one and I agree. There will be issues at my firm as it is mostly an open plan office so taking it at home is a big relief. The noise (even with headphones) in an open plan setting is not practicable.

    I do think that making it open book would help ease the burden on everyone and minimise the disruption. As someone mentions above, most law exams are now taken with an open book as memorising pages of law is not the main focus. If its about practice and real life, then lets make the exam as close as real life as possible.

    Moving it online is a gigantic leap after many request for years to move the exams online. Printing, scanning and other tethering problems should hopefully be ironed out.

    Finally, PEB engaging with the students & staff is a good thing and lets hope this may continue. The EQE on the other hand needs to sort themselves out. Cancelling EQE March 2021 would be utterly unacceptable.

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  22. To be fair to PEB, they have done well not to cancel the exams. As an EQE candidate last year, I can tell you the pain suffered when they cancelled it last minute. At least we know it is going ahead albeit in a different format.

    Some practice would help so I welcome the opportunity to do a mock trial first and a step by step guide on what to do (release a document) would be useful. Everyone is learning how to adapt to this new format so hopefully things are not to strict. We want the exams to be fair and reasonable but at the same time, to also be understanding.

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  23. The problem is the potential of local lockdowns and the restrictions on travel. If we sign up to do the exams in the office and then the government bans non-essential travel, those candidates who signed up to do the exam in office will be completely "screwed" and against government guidelines (potentially breaking the law which does not look good as a legal representative).

    I think doing the exam at home should be preferred and PEB could make this clearer in their statement. The use of the office should only be necessary if doing the exam is truly not possible at home.

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    Replies
    1. Yes good point, but would travelling to an exam be considered "essential" travel? I don't know.

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    2. There is no law against non-essential travel in England. It is a guidleine only. You would not be breaking the law going to the office to sit an exam, because there is no such law in England. The Welsh 5 mile limit is also not law. The law says "local". And, anyway, this "local" limit is due to be lifted in early July. Dont know about Scotland/NI.

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    3. As we have seen with Leicester, local lockdown can occur.

      Although you mentioned that it is only guidelines, going against these guidelines is immoral and irresponsible. There are bigger things than exams.

      PEB should just make it clear that exams taken at home is PREFERABLY and only essential travel into the office if there is no other way of taking it at home.

      Otherwise, we are going to get candidates (and from other firms) travelling all over the place and potentially mixing with others.

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    4. Thta's why the gov't allowed all the shops and restaurants to open then; because they are "essential".

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  24. Although I welcome an online format, I do think screen time is a problem. Yes we can increase the time to accommodate printing etc but it is unfair to expect candidates to stare at the screen constantly for 5-6 hours. There needs to be breaks in between.

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    Replies
    1. It does go against recommended HSE guidelines to look at a screen this long - will PEB provide the recommended 5-10 minute break every hour? https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/vdubreaks.htm

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    2. Food for thought, other possibilities include reducing the exam content if possible so that candidates can still be well within the 4 hours or 5 hours exam time. For example, take 1 question away from FD1 paper or take 1 claim away from FD4.

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    3. Having mini-breaks in between makes sense.

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  25. I would be in favour of reducing exam content so that we stick to the original exam times to accommodate the extra burden rather having an increase in exam time. What do others think.

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  26. Moving the exams online is a smart and popular move by PEB. It will also save costs in the long run as they no longer need to hire out exam venues. One for the future but can they consider reducing exam fees. £500 is a lot of an individual candidate to pay and firms usually pay for 1 sitting or 1 retake. It's a lot of financial burden for an individual candidate.

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    1. I agree with this comment, many candidates pay for the examinations themselves (due to their firms failure to cover resits) and this year the candidates are being burdened with the extra requirement that they must purchase a printer and scanner. I imagine not many candidates in this modern age have a scanner at home.

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    2. Agree with this too. There is a lack of support (finances for exam fees, well-being, training/career progression) in general from firms for candidates especially for re-takers. It is a problem and I guess its another part of the profession that desperately needs modernising/innovating.

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    3. The exams fees is quite a burden on an individual candidate. Needs looking into it.

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    4. Look at IPREGs response to the mercer review. They asked PEB to be more transparent about where the exam fees go. Though that was to encourage competition amongst providers, not because it was costing trainees to much to qualify i believe.

      My guess is that the exam fees need to be high to fund raise for the £200k reserve PEB are building. Not sure why they need that amount of money when no costs are paid after they know demand (e.g. no venue is booked before they know numbers, no marking fees are paid before people have sat the exam). Must be expecting a few years on the naughty step for bad behaviour.

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  27. I appreciate that PEB is trying to modernise and embrace the change to online format, especially from home. There are some concerns as mentioned above. I assume candidates are permitted to have snacks/drinks at home during the exam but I guess further guidance later will make this all clear.

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  28. I'm disappointed that in the context of modernising the logistical arrangements for the paper, the PEB still refuses to discuss whether there remains a need for a closed book exam. My long standing opinion has been that papers which are supposedly (or at least, in accordance with the copy-pasted comments on examiner's reports on an annual basis) there to test fitness for practice should not require an arbitrary amount of memorisation that is not relevant to modern patent practice.

    Allowing open book exams would make this transition far easier and would not necessitate the installation of what amounts essentially to legitimised spyware on a personal computer, with no knowledge of how the data will be stored/used and no guarantee of subsequent data security and privacy.

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  29. Don't understand why P6 isn't just made controlled coursework.

    People sitting it in firms have that "designated person" as the invigilator, people not sitting it in work have to use the virtual invigilator.

    Receive the paper at 9, work on it when you want, rest your eyes when you want, controlled so no discussions, submit by 5 or whenever you want. I've never understood the need to rush P6. Extra time won't save a bad candidate but could help someone around 45-50 who just needs more time to think things through.

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  30. As a relatively small firm owner, my opinion is that our trainee should sit the papers here in our meeting room where we have good (and back-up) broadband. We can set-up everything they need (scanners/printers, web cams). I propose a senior member of the firm (or in-house) (eg a fellow of CIPA) should be sent the paper before the start time so they can print it out for the candidate. I suggest that their mentor within their firm should have the same duty as the candidate not to help the candidate cheat, and that this person should stand as guarantor for their behaviour during the exams. That person would then receive the papers at the end of the time and scan them in/send them off to PEB. I appreciate for people not in firms/in-house other arrangements would be necessary but I can't imagine there are many such people.

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    1. It needs to be done in an office room on their own otherwise noise from computer typing or other interferences will play a part. They are going to need plenty of space and most meeting rooms are not set up to hold 4 or 5 individual big desks (sufficient for a computer and keyboard and space for papers) well spaced apart.

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    2. Since many in the profession are working from home, some - mainly those who have rented a place e. g. in London have actually moved quite far away from the where the firm is based to work from home.

      I'm not against taking the exam in an office setting but taking the exam at home would be much better in order to avoid travelling unnecessarily, especially on public transport in places cities like London. Off course, everyone wants the exams to be fair and I believe no one wants to cheat. The consequences of doing so is clear from PEB announcement.

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  31. There are many things wrong with PEB but I do appreciate PEB (or at least Sarah) is trying to modernise the assessment procedure.

    By way of feedback, an exam is a very outdated method and many now are looking at regular testing or coursework options. This is very true for many other professions and other law courses too. I'm not saying exams have not got a place in future assessments but handwriting for hours is not the way to go.

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  32. Online testing is the way forward and its such a shame it took a pandemic for PEB to realise this. The EQEs have already started modernising a few years ago by having pilot computer schemes. I hope the online assessment sticks around longer after this year and its NOT just being offered for this year only.

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  33. Disband the PEB and move it to a university. They are set up to deal with situations like this (as has already been shown).

    Meanwhile the PEB seem to be congratulating themselves for a job well done despite not releasing any details about how this will actually work. Hope IPREG actually grow some teeth and do something (I've given up on CIPA ever doing anything with regard to the PEB, they are one and the same to me).

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  34. Online examination is definitely a welcome step. Having the exams open book is probably better to discuss for future exams rather than making too many changes now.

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    1. I'm sorry but this comment makes no sense. On the contrary, now that the exams are going to be held online, it's all the more reason to make them open book. It will make life easier for candidates and invigilators. Unless you are seriously suggesting candidates take the webcam into the toilets or are okay with mid-exam interruptions for period sweeps of the room. It's madness not to make them open book it they are going to be online.

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  35. I am a CIPA Fellow. I'm not involved in PEB.
    1. What seems clear from the responses above is that a workplace setting suits some people, home suits others. PEB has provided both options. Consider the pros and cons of each, and take your pick.
    2. Desk size / noise. This is not a new challenge caused by online exams, traditional exam halls also have cramped desks and noise from nearby candidates. Noise can be mitigated by buying quieter keyboards, they are not hugely expensive.
    3. For those based away from the exam centres, the proposed arrangements overcome the disadvantages of being tired from travel, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed and the unpredictability of noise levels in hotels. For those living close to exam centres, you might not be aware of how much these factors can affect performance. So, the proposed arrangements might level the playing field for candidates.
    4. Change is difficult. I do not envy this year's candidates. However, the options are clear: sit the exam this year or wait until next year. Most patent attorneys fail one or more exams. For many of them, it's their first failure, and they soon realise that it is not a disaster, more an inconvenience or slight dent to pride. I accept that it is annoying to have to commit even more personal time to study for the resit(s).
    5. As Sarah Boxall requests, please submit constructive feedback. From my own view: bashing the PEB is not helpful - they are trying to achieve a very difficult thing. They won't achieve perfection. Also, remember that Person A's idea of perfection probably looks rather different to Person B's idea of perfection ... and PEB is trying to create a solution that works for hundreds of candidates. It seems that PEB is still working on the solution, which makes it understandable that they cannot provide all details yet.
    6. I wish everyone success with preparing for and sitting the exams - I appreciate that it is even more challenging than in previous years.

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  36. I'm involved in training my firms trainees for FD4. I've done this for a few years, and I've sat FD4 relatively recently (in the 5 Hour era). This post is specific to FD4, I cannot comment on other exams with shorter questions like FD1.

    I think the use of online exams is good by the PEB, at least this avoids exams being cancelled. But the idea that FD4 can be the same format, just using a computer is ridiculous.

    Our trainees have always had a print out of the paper, and all type their answers up on word. All of them use a monitor greater than 21.5 Inches (so not a small screen). After the first few papers an unusual number of people were not completing the paper. So I decided to sit the latest paper to time using the PC/Printed paper mix.

    What is being asked of people is ridiculous if the format is being kept the same.

    Firstly, it is slower. I'm not sure why, but it is about 20% slower than writing alone.

    Secondly, the strain being put on peoples eyes is dangerous. I'm not sure if this paper/PC combo is being championed or whether the PEB want people to read documents on the computer. But the eye strain, constantly changing focus every 30 seconds for near on 4 hours (1 hour reading) leaves eyes incredibly sore. I finished the past paper at 1 in the afternoon and my eyes were in pain all night, to the point where i couldn't look at another screen and had to go to bed straight after dinner.

    Something that is not being considered is wrist pain as well. My set-up is health and safety compliant. I'm a gamer with a back problem so i've spent alot of money on ergonomic chairs, screen correct height etc. But fingers and wrists start to hurt after about 2 hours of near constant typing. This isn't sensible.

    We are now at the point in time where people have to submit extenuating circumstances. It is not unreasonable to want extra time becuase starring at a screen for 5 hours isnt healthy or safe. When some of the trainess have asked about whether the format is staying the same they just get a blanket reply from the PEB about how they are not answering any questions. So what next? Should we recommend they get a doctors note saying they need more time because this isnt sensible? Will this all be a waste of time because the format is changing? Will they be told anything? Being proactive with comms about the big exams would really help at this time.

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    Replies
    1. I too am in a similar position to the above. I did a past paper yesterday and my eyes are on fire. I had to hold a cold face cloth over one eye afterwards because it hurt.

      In order to request handwriting of scripts (i.e. to return to what was acceptable last year) you need medical evidence. This needs to be paid for by myself and it needs to be ready by 31st Aug.

      It would just be useful if PEB confirm the arrangements, or at least their intention with FD4, because at least then i wont feel like im wasting my own money getting medical evidence.

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    2. Totally agree. I get a large headache from looking at a screen. Do I need to submit medical evidence in order to take a small break on the hour every hour? It is not clear what the PEB requires or how it will operate this year. I am loathe to trouble the NHS in these busy times- they have far greater things to focus on then granting a note in order to ensure that this exam complies with standard practice on screen use.

      Delete
    3. It does seem a bit ridiculous, asking a doctor to write me a note basically confirming the HSE guidelines.

      Delete
  37. I think for all 4 PEB exams - it will be difficult to expect candidates to continously stare at computer screen and typing answers. There really needs to be additional breaks or the exam content needs to be reduced to accommodate for breaks within the allocated time.

    I understand that screen time is also a problem with the EPO computer pilot scheme and perhaps this is why they haven't fully rolled this across the whole EQE.

    Online exams are generally a good thing but I agree that both PEB and EQE exams cannot continue in its current format as we move towards online.

    ReplyDelete

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