PATENT BAR EXAM CHANGES 2004
Prepared by PLI (Practising Law Institute) Patent Bar Review Department
· 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.)
1. Requirements to sit for the Exam
2. Application process
4. The Exam
5. Exam Scope
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
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
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