Thursday, 15 August 2013

Has the Pre-exam improved D scores?

The results for the D paper are much higher this year.
"Pass":  62% from 1056 candidates - 48.2 % with 50 or more, 13.8% got 45-49
A 45 or higher is now considered a pass because of the new compensable fail system. 

So it is the highest passing rate in 10 years.

Over the years, the "pass" rate has fluctuated. We have also always seen that 1st-time sitters always had a higher chance of passing - for D, the first time you prepare properly and take it it is usually your best chance of passing.
The 1st-time resitter rate is not reliable, because from 2010 there is no official figure any more (the old modular system was abandoned from 2010, making the calculation more difficult). Using the published results, we have made estimations ourselves. For 2013, I have considered only those who passed the Pre-Exam in 2012.
The difference can also be seen in the distribution of the scores.

1. D 2013 candidates who passed Pre-Exam in 2012 (no zero scores considered)
Nr: 302 candidates           Average score: 58.3
less than 45 points = 17.2%           44-49 points = 11.3%        50 points or more = 71.9%
45 points or more = 82.8%

2. D 2013 candidates who did not take Pre-Exam in 2012 (no zero scores considered)
Nr: 754 candidates           Average score:45.0
less than 45 points = 46.3%           44-49 points = 15%        50 points or more = 38.7%
45 points or more = 53.7%

So why is the passing rate suddenly higher? There are at least two factors:
  • Those who did the first Pre-Exam were mostly over-prepared in 2012 because they expected a very difficult exam. They have now had an extra year to raise their knowledge and practice for the Main Exam.
  • Whenever the papers change in format [this year was the first 5-hour paper], candidates put more effort into practicing papers and thinking about time management. I know a lot of people complained in the EQE survey about too little time on B, C and D, but it does not seem to have been a problem. 
It is certainly good to see fewer disappointed candidates - the D paper is one exam that you only want to take once.


  1. The group who did not do Pre-Exam 2012 (includes many re-sitters) also did better than in previous years.

    So was the exam easier?
    I don't think so. The DII had no unusual legal problems, but it was still a lot of work. The DI questions were not easy.
    But with a single 5-hour paper, everybody can concentrate on the part that they do well - 1st-time sitters tend to be legally knowledgeable with little experience (good on DI), and re-sitters tend to have more experience but be slower at finding things in the law (better on DII).

  2. A few remarks

    1. A good measure of the real difficulty of D2013, for comparing it with previous years, is the pass rate for resitters. This was 53.7% (if we equate your ‘D 2013 candidates who did not take the Pre-Exam’ with ‘resitters’, which is not fully correct)

    I notice from your data that this appears to be similar to (only) 2003 and 2008, so it is fair to say that D2013 was relatively easy compared to most recent years.

    2.My own impression is that this is partly due to the fact that marks for partial answers were relatively easily given, perhaps as an adaptation to the new format. Whereas the questions themselves, and the issues, were not particularly easier, collecting marks was (personal opinion).

    3. Let’s also not forget that D2013 was exceptionally lean on PCT topics, which most candidates find very challenging.

    Even considering all that, PE sitters did exceptionally well, so we may certainly say that the new structure has advantages in helping people prepare. Whether this is due to lingering effects of massive overpreparation for the PE2012, as you seem to suggest, or simply due to a need to start studying earlier, is still to be debated.

    The PE supporters will probably use these data to prove their point. However, considering that we are dealing with objective technical stuff on a day to day basis, I find the psychological aspects that appear to underlie the explanations insufficient to defend the PE (high financial cost to EPO as well as to candidates).

    If you study harder and start earlier you have a better chance to pass. Prospective patent attorneys should not need a PE to realise that and act accordingly.

  3. For me personally, I believe paper D was easier than previous years.
    I have to admit that I only decently prepared for papers A, B, and C; and just enrolled for D to have a first experience on the exam, due to lack of time for preparing for it.
    Basically, apart from daily business I have not prepared at all for paper D, and took no specific training courses therefore.
    Also I did not have to take the pre-exam, and thus also no advantage therefrom.
    Nonetheless I scored 46 (of which 31 for DII), which I am able to compensate with the other papers.
    I am convinced, that in previous (more difficult) years I would certainly not have scored 46 for D, without any preparation...

  4. My personal opinion is EQE, according to my own experience and what I heard from different friends, needs not only a good preparation but as well a lot of chance, this parameter of the exam is rarely discussed but it seems it can not be overlooked