Thursday, October 15, 2020

Predicting what the e-EQE will look like

[Updated 20.10.20] The UK PEB exams (this week) are the blueprint for e-EQE. Hopefully things run smoothly, and there are few IT issues. 
Based on PEBX detailed info and EPO e- EQE FAQ's, I have tried to fill in some unknowns. I am not in the organization, and have no insider tips, so treat this as my best guess. It will become clearer in the next months, so watch the EPO and epi websites carefully for more official details. EQE & PEB posts are also at The Yellow Sheet

If the EQE system is close to this, it is good news. The IT challenges for the organization seem manageable, so it is almost certain that e-EQE 2021 can go ahead.  
The bad news is the additional effort for candidates to get everything ready, and to become familiar with the digital tools and online editing. The test system is planned for Jan 2021 - if at least one mock exam can be tried, it will ease a lot of concerns.
Also, with any new processes, it may be difficult to distinguish between accidental rule breaches (loss of webcam signal, router reset, pc crash, internet failure) and deliberate ones. In such a case, candidates should collect as much direct evidence as possible to support their case. The PEB provides an email address to apply for Special Consideration by 12 noon on the day following the exam. No details yet on how the EQE will deal with this. 

1. Anywhere suitable - at home or work 

  • PEB invigilation was by video conferencing (Zoom) At home, and by a designated contact at work. Each contact was registered, and had to declare (potential) conflicts of interest. PEB allowed more than one candidate per contact. 
  • EQE has not clarified yet how they invigilate.
2. Hardware 

  • PEB allowed a computer with one physical screen only. Either a laptop (no tablet), a PC with an office-standard monitor, or a laptop (screen off) with one external office-standard monitor. 
  • EQE will also limit to one physical screen only.
  • Broadband internet connection required for whole exam. 
  • PEB only required a webcam for those at home - for initial sweep of desk & room (before exam), to check photo-ID (they also had copies of photo-ID's), and so that the invigilator can see you facing your screen during the exam. PEB allowed a built-in laptop webcam to be used. 
  • PEB allowed full printing to a printer in same room. 
  • EQE has said that you will only be able to print "parts" before the exam start - consideration will be given to ensuring the confidentiality of the questions while enabling candidates to work comfortably and ergonomically. Vague, but it sounds like they are modifying the papers to be more than just a single PDF document. My guess is that at least some drawings, annexes and the calendars will be printable. But this also makes them easier to take digitally. For comparison, the full EQE 2019 lengths were: Pre-Exam: 30p, A: 13p, B: 18p, C: 37p, D: 14p

3. Software

  • PEB used a browser-based PEBX web portal to log in, to indicate that that you are starting, to digitally sign a declaration that you will not cheat, to download the paper PDF and a Word template for answers, and to allow a PDF answer to be uploaded up to the end of the exam. PEB required Word, a PDF viewer & PDF printer.
  • EQE indicates a text editor will be provided in a locked browser window. The papers will be shown in a PDF viewer. Copy/paste will be available of text from the exam, or within your own answer. This seems similar to the Computer-Based (CB) EQE software used before, with browser-based text editor (left) and PDF viewer (right).
  • EQE indicates Windows 7 or MacOS/X10.10, or higher with Administrator rights.
  • PEB did not require Zoom to be installed - they used a browser version started from PEBX. I recommend installing the free desktop application anyway - if there is a problem, you can paste the link into Zoom itself.
  • Some common problems with PEBX, such as the possibility that answers from an earlier test could be accidentally uploaded during the exam if the candidate had not deleted them. Also possible: If you see an error message that indicates your file has not uploaded, you may need to log out of the PEBX system and log back in and try uploading your answer document again. There is a View Document button which allows you to see what you have uploaded. 
  • EQE will not require manual uploading (it uses online auto save), but no details on verification of what has been uploaded or whether you can make a copy/print of your own answers during the exam.

4. Timing

  • PEB provided extra time for screen breaks (5 mins every hour), printing, scanning & uploading. So, 3 hrs 30m for a 3 hr exam, 4 hrs 40m for a 4 hr exam, 5hrs 45m for a 5hr exam. 
  • PEB exam times were: 1000-1330, 1400-1730, 1000-1440 or 1000-1545. EQE times have not yet been announced, but the exams are now divided over 5 days.
  • PEB screen breaks were not enforced, and candidates were allowed to decide when to upload their answer, but upload was no longer possible when exam ended. 
  • EQE will use a text editor in a locked browser - no manual uploading required. No details yet on what happens at the end - the CB EQE software just stopped accepting inputs when the exam ended.
CLICK BELOW FOR MORE [Updated 20.10.20]