EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Instructions to candidates concerning the conduct of the European qualifying examination
The Examination Secretariat,
Having regard to the Regulation on the European qualifying examination for professional representatives (REE) which entered into force on 1 January 2009 (OJ EPO 2009, 9), and in particular Article 9(2)(b) thereof, has decided with effect from 4 February 2022 as follows:
1. These instructions apply to both the pre-examination and the main examination, which consists of the four papers (A, B, C and D), and to each part of these papers.
2. The European qualifying examination is conducted online using the WISEflow examination system in conjunction with the corresponding FLOWlock browser. The examination is invigilated using online proctoring based on video and audio recordings, with the help of artificial intelligence combined with human invigilation.
3. For the conduct of the pre-examination and main examination, the Examination Secretariat appoints invigilators pursuant to Rule 18(2) of the Implementing provisions to the Regulation on the European qualifying examination (IPREE).
4. Candidates who fail to log on to the FLOWlock browser by the official start time of a particular examination paper or part of a paper may not make up the lost time at the end unless, in exceptional cases, the invigilators decide otherwise.
5. Candidates sitting the pre-examination must submit their answers in the dedicated interface in WISEflow.
6. Candidates sitting the main examination must write and submit (hand in) their answers in the dedicated text editor in WISEflow.
7. Candidates must not use their name or initials in their answers.
8. Candidates wishing to lodge a complaint concerning the conduct of the pre-examination or the main examination can do so at the latest by the end of the day on which the examination takes place by sending an email with a written statement of the facts to the Examination Secretariat (email@example.com) and stating their full name and EQEReg number.
II. Examination environment
1. The examination may be taken at any suitable location chosen by the candidate.
2. The room must be suitable for an examination in terms of light, temperature and noise. The room's doors must remain closed during the examination. Candidates must be alone in the room. No other person is allowed to be in or enter the room during the examination
3. Any see-through wall or door in the room through which another person might be able to see the candidate's screen must be covered. Any window, mirror or other shiny or glossy surface or parts of these which are located behind the candidate (i.e. facing the screen) must also be covered.
4. There must not be any light source pointed at the camera from behind the candidate to ensure that the image is clean. Likewise, the background behind the candidate must not contain any portraits with faces visible to the camera.
5. Listening to the radio or playing any other sound or music is not allowed.
6. Candidates are allowed food, drinks and medication as well as standard, non-electric/non-electronic desk accessories (notepaper, pens, pencils, etc.).
7. Candidates may use any printed materials, e.g. books, and any documents they consider useful for answering the examination papers.
III. Technical requirements
1. To sit the examination, candidates require the necessary technical equipment as set out in the WISEflow documentation available on the WISEflow website. Candidates should follow the WISEflow recommendations for configuring their environment (epo-wiseflow.ladesk.com/772936-Lockdown-computer-recommendations). The use of iPads for the EQE is not allowed.
2. Candidates are responsible for ensuring that the EQE can be sat in full, that their computer or laptop can be monitored at all times and that their microphone and camera are fully functional.
3. Specifically, candidates are responsible for:
(a) the internet connection
(b) the power supply
(c) the proper functioning of hardware and software
(d) the correct, stable positioning of the external camera to ensure their face is visible in the camera image throughout the examination
(e) the computer/laptop they are using (in particular, the computer should not be disrupted by automatic updates or other programs during the examination)
4. The hardware used by candidates must comply in particular with the following requirements:
(a) The microphone must capture the sound around the candidate and must be connected and active throughout the examination.
(b) The camera should be positioned centred above or below the frame of the active screen, but not more than 5 cm away from it. The camera is to be oriented to show a frontal portrait image of the candidate when looking at the screen. It must not be covered at any time.
(c) Speaker audio settings must be adjusted to pick up sounds from the internet browser at audible volume levels.
5. Candidates are not allowed to use shortcuts (Alt+Tab, Ctrl+P or the like), key combinations and touchpad gestures in the FLOWlock browser, except the ones mentioned hereafter. Using shortcuts is seen as an unauthorised action and will cause in the FLOWlock browser to stop your examination.
The following Windows shortcuts are allowed:
Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+Shift+V, Ctrl+F (and the corresponding Mac shortcuts).
IV. Preparation and start of the examination
1. Candidates must activate their user profile in WISEflow. Candidates are not permitted to edit their personal information, i.e. name and email address, in the WISEflow profile.
2. Candidates must ensure that they are using the latest version of the WISEflow software. When opening any of the flows for the first time, candidates must verify the installation of the FLOWlock browser and, if needed, download and install/update to the latest version by clicking Guide to FLOWlock browser on the flow information page. The WISEflow software must be verified at least once before the first flow on the examination day, even if it was already verified on a previous day.
3. The FLOWlock browser is the only software candidates are allowed to run on their computer during the EQE. Candidates must ensure that they are running the same version as the one that is available online on the WISEflow website by clicking Guide to FLOWlock browser.
4. Candidates should prepare their desk with books and any further material they might want to use. They should log on to WISEflow 60 minutes before the start time of the first flow on each examination day.
5. Where possible, candidates wishing to print any parts of an examination paper must do so as soon as the relevant parts are available. To see the printable parts, candidates must refresh the page before launching the FLOWlock browser.
6. Candidates must have a valid official photographic ID (identity card or passport) and keep it within easy reach. For the purpose of verifying their identity, candidates must hold their ID next to their face for a reference photo to be taken each day at the beginning of the examination paper. When prompted by the system, candidates must take a reference photo ensuring that their entire face is visible. In addition, invigilators can ask candidates to hold their identity card or passport up to the camera at any time during an examination.
7. Candidates will also be prompted to perform audio verification before they can access the flow.
8. After completing the above steps, candidates must immediately launch the FLOWlock browser. The FLOWlock browser launch procedure must be completed no later than 15 minutes after the examination start time. Otherwise, candidates will not be able to sit the EQE.
9. Candidates must ensure that their workstation is well lit and that there is no prohibited equipment (see section IV, point 11, of these instructions) within reach. In addition, candidates are responsible for ensuring that any permitted equipment they use is used only in the permitted manner.
10. Candidates must have the examination monitoring equipment (camera and microphone) activated throughout the entire examination.
11. Other than the computer system required for the examination (PC or laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.) and routers and printers, no other electronic equipment (calculators, digital watches, tablets, smartphones, smart watches, etc.) are permitted unless expressly authorised in advance by the Examination Secretariat. Candidates may not use headphones, headsets or any other non-electronic noise-cancelling items such as earplugs.
12. Candidates must also ensure that the examination is not disrupted by other people, pets, noise, etc.
V. Exam invigilation
1. Candidates must take all steps stipulated in WISEflow to ensure that the software can properly monitor the examination online.
2. Throughout the examination, invigilators will monitor camera and microphone activity. Accordingly, invigilators may perform further checks to inspect the candidates' examination environment.
3. Candidates will have their identity verified in WISEflow. Candidates must work on each examination paper independently with no outside help. They must not share their WISEflow login details with anyone else or otherwise give another person access to them.
4. Candidates should refrain from speaking during the examination since this will be picked up and recorded by the audio monitoring. The recordings will be reviewed to check for any breaches of these instructions.
5. Candidates must not copy or photograph the examination questions or otherwise share them during the examination time in writing or orally.
6. Candidates must be seated facing the computer/laptop/camera. Their face and ears must be clearly discernible and should not be covered by caps, scarves, sunglasses, other body parts, etc. Eyeglasses with clear lenses are permitted but only where used as vision aids.
7. Within the first 45 minutes of the examination or a part (flow) of the examination, candidates must not close the FLOWlock browser, leave the room or leave the camera's field of view, irrespective of whether they wish to submit their answers or end the examination.
8. Candidates should not move away from their desk during the examination; they must remain in the camera's field of view apart from during the specified breaks.
(a) During the examination, candidates may take unscheduled breaks only if absolutely necessary and only in paper A, paper B, both parts of paper C and part D2 of paper D; unscheduled breaks may only be taken once 45 minutes have passed from the official examination start time.
(b) Unscheduled breaks should take no longer than three minutes. Candidates must inform the invigilator via the chat widget when taking an unscheduled break and when they return to their seat. However, candidates need not wait for authorisation from the invigilator before leaving their seat. Candidates must not take any material or documents from their desk with them during an unscheduled break.
(c) During an unscheduled break, the examination clock is not stopped.
9. To contact the invigilator, candidates must use the integrated chat widget that appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen once they are in the FLOWlock environment. The invigilator can also contact candidates via this chat widget. The chat widget is present in the first tab (editor tab) and remains active when candidates are on another tab.
10. Candidates must not ask any questions on the content of the paper or how it should be interpreted. Such questions will not be answered.
11. Candidates must not contact any other person during the examination except the invigilator where necessary.
12. Instructions given by the system or invigilators must be followed in full and at all times. Invigilators will take the names of candidates who do not comply with these instructions and report to the Examination Board any other relevant circumstances. The Examination Board will take any appropriate measures under Rules 19 and 20 IPREE.
13. Candidates can finish the examination before the end time (see also section V, point 7, of these instructions) by submitting (handing in) their answer. Once the examination end time is reached, candidates will no longer be able to write and/or edit their answer. They must then immediately submit their answer and close the FLOWlock browser.
1. The following is a non-exhaustive list of what will or might be considered fraudulent behaviour or misconduct:
(a) impersonation – when a candidate attempts to deceive by pretending to be someone else or has another person take the examination for them
(b) using unauthorised material or electronic or other equipment that is not permitted (see section IV, point 11, of these instructions)
(c) failing to follow invigilators' instructions
(d) receiving, swapping or passing on information that could be related to the examination, whether orally or in writing using paper/notes/online materials on a computer or other electronic equipment
(e) copying from another candidate and discussing or working together with others
(f) disruptive behaviour, including using offensive language
(g) tampering with the examination system
(h) tampering with the equipment used for invigilation, e.g. camera and audio device.
2. The video and audio recordings and, if necessary, the chat logs will be used to check for attempts at cheating and breaches of the EQE regulations and instructions.
3. Suspicious events during the examination pointing to potential cheating, e.g. suspicious looks in a particular direction, that are detected during the retrospective review of the video and audio recordings can be punished by the Examination Board under Rules 19 and 20 IPREE. The Examination Board may do so even after the examinations have been marked and the results published. The same applies to any disruptions that candidates cause either recklessly or intentionally, in particular by not complying with the instructions.
4. Other breaches of the instructions may also lead to consequences for candidates and may attract further consequences under Rules 19 and 20 IPREE.
VII. Withdrawing enrolment
1. Candidates may withdraw their enrolment for an examination paper at any time up to the official start time. If an examination paper consists of several parts (flows), candidates must withdraw before the first part (flow) begins; this will then apply to the entire examination paper. To withdraw their enrolment, candidates must contact the Examination Secretariat in writing (by email), stating their full name and their EQEReg number.
2. If a candidate fails to appear for a particular examination paper or for all parts of a particular paper, their enrolment for that paper will be deemed to have been withdrawn.
3. Enrolled candidates are deemed to have started a paper if they have accessed the relevant part (flow) after the examination paper (or, for the pre-examination and papers C and D, at least one part thereof) has begun or, where applicable, after the examination questions have been released for printing.