Prepared by PLI (Practising Law Institute) Patent Bar Review Department

www.patentbarreview.com or 888-296-5973


·        The new computer-based Patent Bar Exam should be available sometime in May.

·        The Application to take the Exam should be available sometime the second half of April.

·        The computer-based testing system seems very well-designed. You will be able to skip questions, mark questions as doubtful, return to questions, and change your answer within the Exam time, etc.

·        You will be able to take the Exam at over 400 independent testing sites (Prometric) across the country, almost any day of the week (and weekends, at some sites).

·        You will not be able to take ANYTHING into the Exam. Not even your MPEP. Not even your own scratch paper. (They'll give you scratch paper, which they'll collect at the end of the Exam. You'll have access to an electronic MPEP, and any other documents they are testing.)

The Details:

1.      Requirements to sit for the Exam

2.      Application process

3.      Fees

4.      The Exam

5.      Exam Scope

6.      Results

7.      Our advice: When to take the Exam

1. Requirements to sit for the Exam: No change. [For detailed information, the most recent “Requirements Bulletin” available via a link from our Website here is your most authoritative guide.]

2. Application process: The new application will look essentially the same as prior applications. (See the application that is posted to the PTO Website for the October 2003 Exam.) The General Requirements Bulletin will be rewritten to be appropriate to the new Exam. The Office is expecting this new application and bulletin to be available in April 2004. (You cannot submit applications from prior Exams.)

In the future, they hope that they will be able to respond with your permission to sit for the Exam within about two weeks for Category “A” applicants, and one month for Category “B” and “C” applicants. (See Requirements Bulletin above for the Category descriptions.) There is no way to be sure for Exams this spring, since they expect a flood of applications as soon as the new application is available. Category “A” applicants can still probably hope for a quick response. Everyone else should just wait to hear from the Office.

There are no longer deadlines for submitting applications. You can submit your application throughout the year, whenever you see fit. So, it’s a strategic question as to when you should submit your application (see our advice on timing below).

If your application is incomplete when submitted, rather than just being rejected (as it was under prior practice), they’ll just send you something (probably a postcard) telling you what they need in order to complete your application. They’ll start to review your application once it is complete.

3. Fees: Your application must be accompanied by an application fee ($40) and examination fee ($200). The applicant will be entitled to a refund of the examination fee ($200), but not the application fee, if the applicant fails to qualify to sit for the Exam.

There is also a separate fee (which will probably be $150) to be paid to the testing site before you sit for the Exam.

4. The Exam: An applicant who is qualified to sit for the Exam will be informed by the PTO and given a 90-day (3-month, more or less) window to take the Exam. The 90-day window will start five (5) days from the date they mail you the letter (so that you have time to receive it).

You will be given in that letter, several ways to contact the test administration company, Prometric, to arrange to take the test. The test must be taken at one of Prometric’s over 400 sites throughout the United States. Once you have received your confirmation, you can use a toll-free number or the Prometric Website (www.prometric.com) to arrange your test date and location within that 90-day window. (If you miss the 90-day window to take the Exam, for any reason, you’ll likely have to start over again to apply for a new authorization.)

The Office is recommending, and we heartily concur that, because of this 90-day window, you should start your preparations even before you submit your application. You will need more than 90 days to study for the Exam, in most cases.

Prometric administers many other computer-based exams, so you shouldn’t have to worry that they won’t be able to handle this Exam professionally. You can check the Prometric site (above) for further information on their locations, policies, etc.

You must appear at the correct Prometric site at the time you have agreed to. (Late and “no show” policies are discussed on the Prometric site.) You must bring a current photo ID (valid state driver’s license, etc., previously identified in your application) in order to be allowed to sit for the Exam. They will also take an electronic photo of you.

No carry-in items of any sort (book-bags, cellphones, laptops, notes, MPEPs, etc.) are allowed into the Exam site. Each candidate will be issued a pencil and scratch paper (or the like) which must be fully accounted for and turned in at the end of the exam.

Each candidate is provided a 15-minute tutorial on the computer (before you start the Exam) to learn the Exam system (e.g., how to skip and return to a question or mark it for later review).

The Exam will still be comprised of two 3-hour blocks of 50, 5-answer multiple-choice questions, with a 1-hour lunch break in between sessions. The Exam room will be proctored AND videotaped. The distribution of questions is expected to follow that of previous Exams (chapters 700 and 2100 will still be key, still no questions from chapter 2400, etc.). Although they may move to another scheme at a (much) later date, in the initial stages, the questions will all be weighted equally, and will be drawn randomly (except for the distribution aspect noted above). The system will not weight questions or draw particular questions later in the Exam based on your answers to prior questions. The good news is that they are striving to eliminate the “double negative” questions (i.e., “which of the following is not true…”), and there won’t be multiple questions based on the same fact pattern (i.e., each question will be completely discrete).

There should be a clock on the screen that gives you the elapsed and remaining time in each session.

You will have to sign out and sign in for the lunch break, and any other break you decide to take during the day. (You’ll also have to turn in your scratch paper at each break and at the end of the test.)

There will be an optional evaluation form that you can fill out at the end of your Exam (not included in the Exam time), giving your feedback on the test and the test site.

5. Exam Scope: At the time the PTO notifies a candidate of their successful application, they will also indicate the exact scope of the materials to be covered on the Exam. This material will be identified as “this version of the MPEP, and these Official Gazette notices, etc.”. These materials will be available in electronic form at the Exam site on the same terminal screen as is the Exam. The electronic MPEP (at least) should be indexed and keyword searchable.

The PTO cannot announce that new laws or rules will be tested without at least 90 days advance notice.

6. Results: The plan is that the passing score will still be 70 (out of 100) questions.

Initially, there will be about a six-week lag time between the date you take your test and the date you get notice as to whether you passed or failed. This is expected to shorten to virtually instant results once the system has been in place for a period of time. In all circumstances, you will only get a score; you will not get a report on what questions you got wrong, or the right to go back and look at the questions you got wrong.

If you fail the Exam, there will be a 60-day waiting period before re-taking the exam.

There are no longer any rights to appeal your score.

7. Our advice: When to take the Exam:

The short and easy answer is: when you’re ready! Okay, what else is there? Clearly, being ready means you’ve prepared adequately. Finding the time to study for the Exam is much more important than finding the time to take the Exam itself. (The Exam itself will be over before you know it.) Adequate preparation requires at least 200 hours of study in chunks of 3-4 hours at a time, spread over a period of about two months. [It usually doesn’t work to start even further in advance; you just forget what you learned first.] In addition, from the end of the preparation period until the Exam day, you need to remain prepared and ready.

Look over your schedule for the coming year, and determine when you can find the necessary time. Next, determine what type of course suits your personality. Some people need the regimen of a live course to study and prepare most efficiently and effectively. Some people learn better by talking things out. For those people, a live course would be preferable. Others manage just as well, if not better, being left to their own schedule and discipline. (Even our homestudy students always have the ability to contact our faculty via phone and e-mail.)

Order your course in time to start preparations at the start of your preparation window. Even if you’re going to attend a live course, order the materials well in advance of that date so that you can do at least some preparation in advance of the live course. The more preparation you do in advance of the course, the more benefit you will get out of it.

When the basic course plus about 50 hours of post-course preparation are done (still 50-100 hours from the finish), send in your application to register for the Exam. (You may need to start the application well before this time….maybe even before you start to study for the Exam. Get the application early, and start to request the documents you will need to complete your application early in your studies, especially if you are a Category “B” or “C” student, or require transcripts from overseas.)

The PTO, once they are through the initial wave of applicants in April/May 2004, expects to take no more than 2-4 weeks to review and approve an application. Upon approval, the 90-day Exam window begins. By this time, you should be prepared and mentally ready. An exam date may be available right away at a site near you geographically and you’ll want to be able to take the Exam while you are still immersed in the subject matter. 

Preparation for this Exam will take considerable time. But with the proper preparation that you get from taking our course seriously, our students have always done very well, and these changes to the Exam won’t change that. Some things never change: PLI students pass!

For more information, come to www.patentbarreview.com or call 888-296-5973

PLI Patent Bar Review