Thursday, July 19, 2018

Advice on preparing for EQE 2019 Paper D in about 160 hours

I often get asked about how best to prepare for Paper D. Ideally, you should start no later than September. Here is the minimum you should do before the exam.

The main differences with Pre-Exam:
  • More subjects they can ask about
  • You have to decide based on the question which law to consider and which to apply (no possible answers are given)
  • You have to deal with DII (a very large, open question advising the client worth 60 marks)

1) Study DI methodology - 8 hours
Learn how to efficiently answer = to get the most marks in time available.
  • Ask someone else or get a book (see below). 
  • Do the DI questions of 2013 one-by-one (don't do Q.2 - law is obsolete) and really study them: what is being asked, how is it being asked, what should be in your answer. 
  • Look in the Examiners Report for the minimum required (statements + legal basis) for full marks. 
  • You get marks for giving an answer, and explaining how you got to the answer using the facts you have been given in the question. 
  • Figure out if you missed a major issue or a minor issue - concentrate on learning lessons about major issues. 
  • Study Candidates Solution for tips on writing your answer - the phrasing used, the detail level and organisation. Note that these are candidates getting almost full marks on each answer - you do not need to be at this level on all answers to pass. But you need to be able to get close to full marks on the legal subjects you know well. 
  • You don't need to write full sentences - bulleted short statements are acceptable. 
  • Note that the compendium is never updated, so some legal provisions may be out of date, and the fees will also be incorrect in many cases. 

2) Learn core of legal subjects (EPC and PCT) - 60 hours
Learn how the law fits around them, learn how to find things quickly in your legal book.
  • Knowledge is tested by answering questions
  • Do the 150 selected questions from the DeltaPatents D Book (see page 9 of the Questions part).
  • Do most of them fully, but to save some time do some of them quickly by concentrating on the most relevant part of the answer. 
  • For the modules with 1 or 2 questions, you can do them all. For the ones with 5 or more, just do every other one - you can go back and do the missed ones in a second run through.
  • Copy some of the answers as templates into your legal books.
  • Do additional questions in important area where you may be weak (like PCT)
(** 16 Oct 18: see below for updated comments about doing DII **)

3) Do some Daily Questions at lunch, in the train/bus, during a coffee break etc. - 20 hours
  • Sign up for the Daily D questions from the EPO Academy - 60 questions in total
  • These cover the most important legal issues.
  • Study what is being asked, the facts given, the detail required in the answer and the legal basis.
  • If possible, discuss with colleagues

4) Fine tune answering DI questions and speed up - 20 hours
  • Do the DI questions from the D papers of the last 5 years
  • Practice writing by hand on mock EQE paper
  • The DI part is designed to be done in 2 hours, so log your time for each question. 
  • Note legal subjects that come up often, like priority and European Entry. 
  • Look in the Examiners Report for the minimum required (statements + legal basis) for full marks. 
  • You get marks for giving an answer, and explaining how you got to the answer using the facts you have been given in the question. 
  • Figure out if you missed a major issue or a minor issue - concentrate on learning lessons about major issues. 

5) Study DII methodology - 16 hours
  • See here for how DII compares to real-life, a basic methodology and how to customize it to make it most efficient for you
  • Do DII of 2013 - this is a good balanced DII. 
  • Study it in detail: what is being asked, how is it being asked, what should be in your answer. 
  • Cover the following in your answer:
  1. Situation-as-is (where are we today, what will happen if you don't get involved)
  2. (i) patentability of application/patent legal status, novelty & inventive step of all claims
  3. (ii) exploitation - what can the client do to stop the competitor and how, what can the competitor do to stop the client
  4. Improvements in both patentability and exploitation
  5. Conclusions about freedom to operate (e.g. cross-licence). Pay attention to any dependent patent rights (exploitation of a species requires a licence on a patent covering the genus).
  • Don't go through every procedural detail in your answer - concentrate on things that help the client. 
  • Compare your answer to the official answers, but try not to focus on all the details. Look for the major issues you missed. 
  • Legal basis is not required for full points, but you can use it to write short arguments - e.g. EP1 is an A.54(3) against EP2
  • Each sentence in the Possible Solution is approximately 1 mark. There are 60 marks available on the D paper for DII.

6) Do the DII parts from the D papers of the last 5 years - 30 hours
  • Each is designed to be done in 3 hours. Track your time and be critical with your answers.
  • Practice writing by hand on mock EQE paper.
  • As you do more DII papers, look for the issues that you frequently miss and arguments from the Examiners Reports that pop-up frequently. 
  • Preferably do it with someone else (a group is even better) and have them read your answer to see if they understand it. You can then discuss different options which may have been available. Doing them with your mentor or experienced colleagues is also recommended.

7) Make a plan for the exam as you become more confident
  • Track the time it takes you to do the papers, and the DI and DII parts. 
  • Aim to spend no more than 3 minutes per point. The exam is designed to take 2 hrs for DI and 3 hrs for DII. You will be actually given 5.5 hours to do the D paper, but I advise keeping the 30 minutes in reserve in case you need it.
  • On D, you start with 0 marks, and get marks for everything that is relevant for the question.
  • Marks may be scored anywhere - you don't have to do all the DI questions completely. 
  • When practicing, aim to score 55-60 marks (10-15 point margin) anywhere in any combination of DI + DII marks.
  • Your DII is marked as a whole, so it does not matter where you write down a relevant comment in your answer. Hand-in at least 1500 words (10-15 pages) for your DII answer.
  • Optimise your marks for the things you know, and avoid things that take a lot of time to answer
  • DII has up to 60 marks available, DI has only 40 marks. You need at least 2.5 hours to do DII as it takes up to 1 hour to read and sort out the information.
  • There are two recommended options (based on 5 hours):
  1. Do DII first (taking up to 3.5 hours), then do as many DI questions as you can in remaining 1.5 hours. 
  2. Do most of DI first - spend no more than 1.5 hours doing the questions (or part of questions) with legal subjects you know best, then do DII completely (3 - 3.5 hours). Spend the remaining time on DII or any DI questions you missed.
  • Not recommended: Do DI completely in 3 hours, and then attempt DII in 2.5 hours. 
  • See also the comments at the end of this presentation
  • Whatever you plan to do - practice on at least one paper. If you are not sure, try another order on a different paper.

A training course is the most efficient way to learn methodology because you are guided through the material, you can ask your own questions, and you don't need to put so much time into figuring out how the exam is structured, and what you need to hand-in.

If you have little time, it is probably better to get a book than to try and find a course - whatever you learn, you still need to practice the methodology on real papers before the exam. You have to treach yourself how to apply the methodology.

Using DII to become Fit to Practice is a presentation I gave at the EQE Tutor's Meeting in 2018. It shows why you should embrace DII to become a better patent attorney and to pass the D paper. It is a very condensed summary of what you need to do to score high marks on DII, and includes a basic methodology with instructions on how to customize it yourself. Some analysis tools are also briefly explained.

"Goal-oriented Methodologies" by Daniel Herrmann is quite short compared to other books, but I like that. It covers the basics for A, B, C & D and you can read it in a couple of hours. It is actually shorter than it looks because it includes methodologies and examples in both German & English. It is based on his approach when he passed recently. Unfortunately, the website is in German, but the book is really in English as well. It is also available at

"Tactics for D" by Cees Mulder & Nyske Blokhuis is also relatively quick to get through and to understand.
If you are doing more than one paper, you will start to run out of time. Concentrate on D - D takes the most effort, and you don't want to resit it - it is very difficult to motivate yourself to go through everything again. Passing the D paper is about 60% of the Main Exam. Resitting A (10%), B (10%) or C (20%) is much less work.
Good luck!


  1. Hi Pete, why do you recommend doing the 2013 DI and DII questions and not those from later years? Is this still your current advice? Thanks

    1. It does not matter which year you take to start - just pick a year and spend some extra time figuring out how to go frm the question and facts given to the required answers. This is not easy. When you do (in step 6) the past papers of the last 5 years (2014 - 2018), you have to try and refine this, as well as teach yourself about these legal subjects and how you should answer at the exam.
      Unfortunately, the Compendium papers have never been updated, so some questions don't work anymore. (I see that Q.6 on DI 2013 is also old law). You do not need to know the old situations, so try and answer with the up-todate law. The only place you can get updated exams is buy them from DeltaPatents:

  2. Updated to include links to presentation about how DII can be used to become Fit to Practice, including an explanation of a basic methodology and how to customize it.

  3. Hello Mr. Pollard, do you have any English reference books to recommend especially for PCT part? I found it time consuming to answer the questions related to PCT. Thanks in advance.

  4. I always recommend learning through the procedure, and not through the law. This is the organisation of the PCT Applicants Guide:
    Similarly, entry into the EP phase is covered in:$File/euro_pct_guide_2018_en.pdf
    Once you understand how PCT works, you can fine tune your knowledge with the legal provisions

  5. I am working on a new "book" which will deal with PCT in this way - it is an electronic platform which allows you to take a good legal reference, add your own notes and to print it when you need a paper copy:
    The EPC part already exists. The PCT part will be ready in September.