Perfectionism as a cost driver of the EQE

Perfectionism as a cost driver of the EQE

by Hendrik Promies -
Number of replies: 2

From the comments, in particular those made by members of the examination committees here (and elsewhere) and from what is known publicly about the way the EQE papers are drafted I conclude that there is a very high standard when it comes to the drafting of the EQE papers. They must be impeccable in all three official languages.

(Apologies to all involved in creating the papers for using the derogative term "perfectionism" in the title to attract attention -- the criticism therein relates to the process/system that has evolved over time, and expressly not to the superb job you are all doing!)

As a result, the process of creating a single paper is tedious and expensive. And the result is a paper that is often criticized for being a jig-saw like puzzle that can be solved by mastering a methodology rather than patent attorney skills.

Since we are discussing nothing less than the future of the EQE, why not have a debate on that point.

Let me start the debate with saying: the papers do not need to be perfect. If there is a flaw in the paper, give the markers the freedom to assess how the candidates dealt with the flaw -- did the candidates even notice and if yes, is their response in line with "fit to practice"?

In other words, I think there needs to be a "culture of error" that provides room for imperfect papers which will then be assessed with sense of proportion, always keeping in mind: is the candidate's answer/proposal a reasonable choice in view of the EPC and the client's wishes, or does it fail to comply with either and if yes, is that failure of compliance corrigible or final?

If we were to accept errors in the exam papers there will most likely be more appeals, in particular in the first years after the change. But once candidates realize that the errors in the papers are part of the process and that they are not losing marks for not finding the "envisaged" answer because of some ambiguity in the problem (and that instead they lost the marks for providing an answer which is unacceptable under any sensible interpretation of the ambiguity) I expect the appeals to abate.

And yes, this requires that the EQE overseers and the appeals body also accept that future exam papers are less perfect.

But in my eyes this is a better approach to reducing cost than reducing the number of papers and/or relying on an AI that in my eyes will not exist for many years, possibly even decades, to come.

In reply to Hendrik Promies

Re: Perfectionism as a cost driver of the EQE

by - Anonymous -
As a member of one of the Examination Committees, I also think that quite some time could be saved by being less perfectionist – in my view, in the way of marking the papers.

Every paper is marked by two co-markers – which is fair for the candidates and from my experience absolutely required. However, there are quite strict constraints regarding the agreement on awarded points between the co-markers. This leads to time-consuming discussions between the co-markers.

My proposal is to remove such strict constraints at least in cases where a candidate clearly failed (e.g. < 35 points) and in cases where a candidate clearly passed (> 55 points).

In addition to that, the way of marking could be improved by re-thinking the distribution of points. As an example, the points could be concentrated much more on key issues and awarded when a candidate understands the key issue and provides a sound argumentation. Distributing a lot of easy points for simple statements should be avoided.

I further think that the possiblity of compensating a failed exam should be abolished. Thereby, the time required for marking can be very much reduced, because instead of two critical thresholds only one threshold has to be observed. By the way, I do not think it is unfair to a candidate when he fails because only a small number of points “is missing”. From my experience, there is a good reason why a candidate fails by only a small number of points. Often, these candidates have scored easy points but not seen the key issues.

Overall, in my view, there is much potential for reducing the time required for correction work and improve marking already within the existing format.
In reply to Hendrik Promies

Re: Perfectionism as a cost driver of the EQE

by - Anonymous -
There are very few appeals *decided</b>* by the Board of Appeal, because most are dealt with by the Examination Board using interlocutory revision. The Board of Appeal does not judge whether the exam paper contained errors, but whether the Examination Board applied the REE and IPREE, thus if these are properly drafted (and followed by the Examination Board) there should be no problem. Easier said than done.

Incidentally, there is no "envisaged" answer a priori, because of the marking process of today: each marker reviews a sample of papers, then the markers meet to decide on the marking scheme; thus, any ambiguity is spotted and taken into account. Translation errors can then also be taken into account.