ARCHIVED — Patent Agent Qualifying Examination - 2008 Report
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The Patent Agent Qualifying Examination is the responsibility of the Patent Appeal Board, which provides all administrative and logistical support for the exam. The Board consists of the Chair, four members from the Patent Office and twelve members of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC), and is responsible for setting and marking the four papers that comprise the exam.
The exam is written in April each year as prescribed by Section 14 of the Patent Rules. To be eligible to become a registered patent agent, a candidate must obtain at least 50% on each paper and have a total of 240 marks (60% overall average) on the four papers. Candidates can choose to write all four papers in the same year or to write the exam over several years. A candidate who obtains at least 60 marks on any paper, but does not meet the requirements for passing the examination, will keep credit for that paper.
Overview of the 2008 Exam
The 2008 Patent Agent Qualifying Examination was administered on April 15, 16, 17 and 18 in ten different locations across Canada, namely Calgary, Edmonton, Gatineau, Montréal, Prince George, Québec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Yellowknife.
232 candidates wrote the examination and of those, 89 wrote all four papers, 34 wrote three papers, 69 wrote two papers and 40 wrote only one paper. Therefore, the number of total papers was 636.
The Board considered requests for review from 50 candidates. Of these requests, only two resulted in a changed status from fail to partial pass, and none resulted in a change to the status of a candidate from fail to pass.
In addition to the 40 candidates who passed the examination, one candidate passed three of the four papers, 14 candidates passed two of the papers, 45 candidates passed one of the papers and 132 candidates did not pass any papers. Annex A, Table 1 provides detailed results for each paper.
Graphical Representation of the Results:
The compilation of the exam results data since 2003 is represented in Annex B. Graphs 1 to 4 show the variance over time and the average mark for papers A, B, C and D, since 2003.
Graph 5 illustrates the overall pass rates and first time pass rates. Those rates have been declining over the years, which may indicate that it takes more time now to successfully pass the four papers than it did a few years ago. Graph 6 provides information on the total number of candidates, total full pass and full pass on the first try. They are all declining at a very slow rate. Finally, Graph 7 illustrates the time it takes for successful candidates to pass the exam. It is interesting to observe that about 30% of the successful candidates wrote the exam for the first time and 43% for the second time; finally over four times, the chances to successfully pass the exam are very low. This graph of course does not include data for candidates who unsuccessfully wrote the exam for multiple years.
Recommendations of the Commissioner of Official Languages:
Following a complaint filed with the Commissioner of Official Languages in 2007, and as a result of the investigation, on April 25, 2008, the Commissioner of Official Languages has requested the following corrective measures:
- the answer keys (also called correction grid) will be in a bilingual format and will be used by both Anglophone and Francophone evaluators;
- to minimize the translation errors that can occur in the English and French versions of exams, CIPO has added the following in the instructions sent to applicants before exam sessions:
"The papers will be available in both official language and applicants may answer questions in their official language of choice. Please note that the English and French versions of the exam may include linguistic differences because of the technical content and the specialized nature of the subject matter. The answer keys were developed taking this into considerations".
Since most of the work was already completed when we received these recommendations, these corrective measures were partially implemented for the 2008 exam. However, the improvements will be fully implemented for the 2009 Exam.
Preparation for the 2009 exam:
Over the last months, many improvements for the preparation of the 2009 exam have been identified and initiated to ensure efficiency, consistency, fairness and timeliness of the process. It includes:
- revision of the timeline to ensure completion of the exam marking by June 30, 2009;
- signing of an MOU with the Patent Branch to ensure timely completion of the exam scanning
- revision of all the communication material with candidates and invigilators
- enforcement of the minimal requirements for the rooms rented
- printing of copies of the Patent Act and Rules for all candidates
- proposal to change the Patent Rules in relation to the exam
- implementation of the Commissioner of Official Languages recommendations
- standardization of the format of the four papers, marking guides and correction grids
- posting of the 2008 exam on the CIPO web site
Additionally, the IPIC Exam Revision Committee, formed of senior member of the organisation, has continued to work and improve the set of tools for the four papers of the examination in order to assist both the Board members in setting and marking the exam, as well as the candidates in preparing and writing the exam.
I want to thank all the persons who participated to this collaborative effort to ensure that the 2008 exam was successfully completed, but most importantly, for their contribution in ensuring that only qualified candidates can become registered patent agents and recognised as members of the Patent Profession.
Chair, Patent Agent Examination Board
|Paper A||Paper B||Paper C||Paper D|
|# of papers||160||164||144||168|
|marks 60 +||33||19||39||41|
|50 to 59||56||45||47||44|
|40 to 49||45||53||26||56|
Paper A has a low variance over time and the average mark is trending upwards
Paper B has a high variance over time and the average mark is trending downwards
Paper C has a low variance over time and the average mark is trending downwards
Paper D has a high variance over time and the average mark is trending downwards
Overall and First Try Pass Rates (full pass)
Overall pass rates (blue) and first time pass rates (yellow) have been declining, with overall rates dropping faster.
Total number of candidates, total full pass and pass on first try
The total number of writes (blue), passes (green) and pass on first try (yellow) are declining, but at a slow rate.
Years needed to pass the four papers
The average successful candidate takes 2 years to pass all four papers. 96% of successful candidates pass all four within 4 years and 88% within 3 years