Wednesday, December 30, 2020

eEQE Mock1 - Experience & Tips - PE & D1/D2

Updated 27 Jan 21: see post on using digital functionality more during exam. Updated 7 Jan 21. Based on Mock1, PE, D1 and D2 seem very doable with a small amount of practice. Important is to find the way that is most efficient for you that results in the fewest mistakes. It is a pity that no highlighting is available in D1/D2 - this would reduce the risk of mistakes. Concentrate on the content (as before) and dont be distracted by additional possibilities to make your answers look nice. Feel free to distribute any materials as long as you indicate the source. There is a separate post for A, B and C.

Hardware - laptop with screen disabled using Windows display settings, 27inch external monitor 1280x1080 connected via USB-C to HDMI converter

Software - Win10, Chrome browser. I created a new user account with user-only privileges (not administrator). But to start Lockdown Browser (Respondus v2.06.08 7 Aug 20), you need to enter administrator password when prompted. The only "problem" I encountered was that local copies (invigilator options in case of problems) were saved in the Downloads folder of the administrator account, not the user account.

General plus points:

  • Repeatedly opening and closing browser (and rebooting) did not affect the editor window - it retained the answer. 
  • Can open many tabs of assignments, zoom and search in them, allowing separate views of pages or parts of pages.
  • Copy/paste from tab useful for words and phrases 
  • PE: allows quick and intuitive highlighting of words & phrases in questions
General minus points:
  • Separate participations passwords are needed for each part, provided by email. But once Lockdown Browser starts, you can no longer read e-mails or print. Make sure you have the right ones available on paper for the whole exam (for split exams, there will be more than one).
  • Selection of specific text in tabs is sometime difficult - copy/paste frequently left pieces behind or copied too much. You waste time reformatting. I dont know if this is related to the pdf. 
  • For D no highlighting. For pages only available on-screen, impossible to keep track of what you used or noticed. 
  • Multiple tabs cannot be named or viewed side-by-side
  • Bug 1: max of 9 additional tabs (in addition to main tab). If you open 11th tab (10th additional tab), browser freezes and PC must be rebooted. It is also possible to click (i) in browser, select "Proctor Exit", and then enter Invigilator Password to exit.
  • Bug 2: with smaller screens (14 inch), tabs can be opened but not accessed as they are off screen. Max. 6 tabs visible on 14 inch screen. 
  • Only one view of your answer available, so for long answers (D2) you may need to scroll around.
Tips - PE
  • Print all the password emails before starting.
  • Use flags for uncertain questions and a sticky note summarizing your uncertainty. 
  • Use notepad to keep claims (or other text) visible during scrolling and/or moving between questions
  • Dont use drawing options - highlighting and sticky notes are superior
Tips - ME D
    • Print all the password emails before starting.
    • Use separate online tabs for at least the non-printable pages. For D, can use 1 tab for each non-printable page. With a 27-inch screen, full page view is easily readable.
    • If several tabs open, use (coloured) tabs on top edge of your monitor to indicate what each one is (Q or Page) so you can click quickly to what you want.
    • It is tempting, but dont copy too much text from assignment to answer to make it nice. 
    • For copy/paste in tabs, try selecting bottom up instead of top down before copying
    • CTRL keys work in answer - C, V, B, U, I etc. "Shift+arrow" works for selection
    • Dont waste time on nicely formatting your answer - use one header, use "-" and "1"etc instead of bullets and numbered lists, dont use font colors or text backgrounds (may be lost if text is converted further)
    • Dont put tables in answer - can just use TAB for aligned lists. They want to see arguments and explanation, not a table for which the interpretation is subjective. 
    • Make any analysis table/matrix/chart on paper - if you put in your answer, it will be slower, take up a lot of room (so you will have to scroll more). This is not getting any marks, so keep it brief and refer to paragraphs in the exam. 
    • Dont use drawing or Latex appendices - these are included as images in your answer and take up a lot of room.
    • Dont use drawing appendix for timelines - does not get marks, much slower than doing on paper.
    • Use a template for each answer, and put the headings in your answer. This prevents you forgetting things and allows you to quickly navigate.
    • Use one or two heading types in answer (Heading3 or Heading4) - this allows you to click on headings in Table of Contents to quickly jump (this worked the first time I used it, but when I went back the clicking did not work anymore).
    • To reduce risk of copying wrong details to paper overviews, read assignment in tabs and select dates or facts (as if you were going to copy) before you not them so that you do not lose your place, making it easier to double check.
    • You don't need complete sentences - answers can be given bullet-style to reduce scrolling.
    Suggested improvements:
    • Send one email with all participation passwords for a whole day in one e-mail
    • PE: Separate languages, not all three. Fix Completed status. Allow unselection of T/F.
    • PE: provide electronic version of assignment and calendars
    • PE: allow resizing of notepad window
    • ME: allow zooming of assignment preview
    • D1 & D2: provide electronic version of calendars
    • ME: allow highlighting of at least non-printable pages, preferably all pages
    • ME: clarify what is expected with drawing & Latex appendices. Drawing is slow way of answering. Text boxes can be inserted with drawings, but this is very slow. Is this to be encouraged? Will these be accepted as part of the answer?
    • ME: allow text-only appendices to be defined and inserted into answer. These would allow different sections of answer to be visible in different tabs.
    • ME: make sure hyperlinks in Table of Contents work reliably

    Monday, December 7, 2020

    e-EQE - major changes in the structure and content

    The EPO has published a major update (2 Dec 2020) about how the exams on 1 March 2021 will be structured, and the parts that can be printed. No announcement yet of a demo of the exam portal, or any example papers to practice. 

    Main points:

    - the LockDown Browser will need to be downloaded and installed.
    You will need Administrator rights. "Browser" is a bit misleading as it does disable a lot of functionality on your computer - it is more like a test portal. I hope the latest version will be available before exam day. I could not find a general demo. 

    - Pre-Exam, C and D split into parts.
    Not being able to go back and review earlier answers is a major restriction. To pass, you need to get at least 50 / 100 marks, so before there was some freedom to use time saved on some parts for others. Now, that freedom is reduced to each part. Some extra time is now given to compensate. 
    If you realise during a later part that you forgot something in an earlier part, that can distract you and cause extra stress. You have to try and forget it, and concentrate of each part separately.

    - Breaks in Pre-Exam, C and D. There is a break between parts, but you still need to be logged in 20 minutes before the next part starts and you may be printing things for the next part.
    You will need some time earlier to check everything is working technically on your computer.
    I assume during the 20 minutes, they will also ask you to do a room sweep with your webcam as you are likely to go to the toilet.
    A maximum of 2 parts per paper would be much more manageable.

    - Limited printing. No extra time has been given for this. No indication of how the files will be sent for printing.
    We don't know whether multiple views of the same document and your answer will be possible in the test portal. In general, you need to have certain things side by side for comparison. Any claims needs to have a dedicated view or be on paper - interpretation can depend on a single feature or a particular word choice for a feature.
    Doing all this on screen needs a lot of practice - it is not a trivial change. Unless you have a photographic memory, scrolling between different parts is pretty inefficient. Most candidates need to read and think about each sentence & word (everything could be important).
    Also no annotation is possible of the non-printable parts (even if available, on-screen annotation is slower than paper annotation).