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Results – Patent Agent Qualifying Examinations

Knowledge Examinations - Results

The purpose of the Patent Knowledge Examination is to ensure that test-takers have the foundational knowledge necessary for patent agent practice. The exam assesses the patent-related knowledge concepts specified in the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents Technical Competencies document. 

Examination Date: March 19, 2024 

Expected Results Release Date: May, 2024 

In May, test-takers will receive a performance report that outlines how they performed on the Patent Knowledge Examination. Their result will indicate either “competency demonstrated” or “competency not yet demonstrated”, based on a minimum standard that was determined through a systematic standard-setting process after the exams were written. 

A result of “competency demonstrated” indicates that they have the entry-level foundational knowledge necessary to support future learning and development in this area. Subject to meeting other requirements, this result means they are eligible to register for the Patent Agent Skills Examinations. 

A result of “competency not yet demonstrated” indicates that they have not yet proven a sufficient understanding of the core concepts associated with patent practice and are not eligible to register for the Patent Agent Skills Examinations. The performance report will indicate how close their performance was to the passing standard, and will detail whether their performance in each knowledge area “meets” (is equal to or exceeds) or is “below” a minimal threshold set for each area. The information in this report can help prioritize their learning and development needs. 

In addition to the result, the performance report includes an “overall performance” descriptor that compares their performance (number of questions answered correctly) to the minimum standard. This information, along with measurement variability data, informs an estimate of how close their performance was to the passing standard.    

Finally, the report lists the knowledge areas tested on the exam, as well as the percentage of questions on the exam related to each area (knowledge areas with more questions have a greater effect on overall performance). The performance details show whether their performance in each knowledge area “meets” (is equal to or exceeds) or is “below” a minimal threshold set for each area. The area-level thresholds were set using data from the standard-setting process.    

FAQ

The purpose of the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents (CPATA) Patent Knowledge Examination is to ensure that test-takers have the foundational knowledge necessary for patent agent practice. The exam assesses the patent-related knowledge concepts specified in the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents Technical Competencies document. 

The performance report outlines how you performed on the Patent Knowledge Examination. CPATA uses this report, along with other criteria, to determine eligibility for the Patent Agent Skills Examinations. You may use the information in this report to help prioritize your learning and development needs. No one should use this report for any other purpose. For example, no one should use this report to make an employment decision.  

Your result, either “competency demonstrated” or “competency not yet demonstrated,” appears in large capital letters near the middle of the performance report.

The overall performance categories are: 

  • Above the standard means that your performance on the exam was above the passing standard, demonstrating competence beyond the minimum requirements. 
  • Just meets the standard means that your performance on the exam just meets the passing standard, demonstrating a satisfactory level of competence. 
  • Approaches the standard means that your performance on the exam was close to the passing standard, showing some potential. However, some improvement is needed to meet the standard. 
  • Below the standard means that your performance on the exam was below the passing standard. Improvement is needed. 

Consistent with other high-stakes examinations, a minimum standard will be determined through a systematic standard-setting process that involves a panel of subject matter experts. These panelists will make ratings based on the expected performance of a minimally competent candidate for each exam item. The total number of scored questions you answer correctly on the examination (each worth one point) will be compared to this minimum standard to determine your result.  

CPATA implements checks and controls in the scoring process to verify the accuracy of results. This includes investigating and resolving any discrepancies or questions before releasing performance reports. In addition, before notifying any test-taker of a result of “competency not yet demonstrated,” CPATA engages in an administrative review of that result. This review is automatic and at no cost to the test-taker. For this reason, performance report results are considered final when published. 

CPATA uses various methods to detect and address issues and irregularities. At the end of each exam administration, CPATA solicits feedback from test-takers about extenuating circumstances (e.g., compassionate consideration, medical reasons, or process anomalies) that a test-taker believes materially impaired their exam performance. Additionally, CPATA actively seeks and analyzes information from test-takers, exam administrators, and experts to identify irregularities in an exam administration, including misconduct. In the case of extenuating circumstances or any irregularity, CPATA reserves the right to withhold any result, to nullify or invalidate any exam submission, to subject any exam (or part thereof) to further review, and take other action (including disciplinary action, if appropriate) in order to preserve the integrity of the licensing process. 

As a class 3 licensee, you can attempt the knowledge examination up to four (4) times. If you do not receive a result of “competency demonstrated” within this time, you must provide the Registrar with a remedial training and education plan prepared in conjunction with your supervisor (if you do not have a supervisor, then the plan would be in accordance with any conditions that the Registrar may impose on your licence). On completion of the plan, you may request to rewrite the exam.

Only your total score determines your result. There is no separate pass mark for each knowledge area; stronger performance in one area can offset weaker performance in another. Keep in mind that the area-level results are based on fewer questions than your overall result, making them less reliable for predicting future performance. For this reason, the “meets” or “below” insights should only be used to help you better self-assess your knowledge of these areas, not as a definitive statement of your ability.   

Use the report information to help prioritize your learning and development needs. As you prepare either to rewrite the Patent Knowledge Examination or to take the Patent Agent Skills Examinations, you should review content in all areas. However, you may want to pay particular attention to those areas in which you fell below the minimum standard.  

We understand that test-takers may be used to seeing specific scores on exams, and that these scores provide a tangible measure of performance. However, the primary purpose of our qualifying exams is not to rank order test-takers or precisely measure their depth of knowledge or skill, but rather to determine whether a test-taker has achieved a certain level of competence. The important question is not “How much better did one person do compared to another?” but “Has this person met the minimum level of competence required to practice safely and effectively?” 

Think of the licensing process in terms of a series of hurdles. The goal of completing these hurdles isn’t necessarily about how much faster one person is than another. The primary objective is to determine whether each person can successfully complete each hurdle. A person who clears the hurdles by one inch is just as successful in this context as a person who clears them by one foot. In a similar vein, our qualifying examinations work more like a series of hurdles rather than a race against other competitors. As such, the “score” isn’t as meaningful as the overall decision of competency demonstrated or competency not yet demonstrated. 

Not directly. The knowledge exam assesses fundamental understanding, while the skills examinations evaluate the application of more complex skills. Once you have a solid understanding of the underlying knowledge concepts, it is important to focus on skill development. Refer to the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents Technical Competencies document for details. 

If you have other questions about the Patent Knowledge Examination or this performance report, please contact CPATA at registration-inscription@cpata-cabamc.ca. 

Skills Examinations - Results

CPATA is now preparing the new Patent Agent Skills Examinations, which will take place on October 28-31, 2024. Information about the release of results will be provided as soon as it is available.