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Patent Bar Preparation

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This article is about how to prepare for the USPTO's admission to practice exam, commonly known as the patent bar. If you have any preparation tips or advice, please add them here.


General Study Strategy

You should plan on two main components to your course of study: practice exams and MPEP study. How much time you give to each depends on your personal preference. Each component is important but the practice exams are more so due to the fact that one could learn about the MPEP following the test review method described below.

Practice Exams

Find as many old patent bar exams as you can. Take each exam under real test conditions (3 hours for each group of 50 questions). Do both sessions in a single day, with no more than a 1 hour break between the sessions.

Go to Past Exams Questions and Answers for old exams given before the USPTO switched to the computer exam.

Reviewing the practice exams

This is the most important part of the study strategy. After finishing taking the exam under real test conditions, and correcting your exam with the answer sheet, go through every single quesion (whether you got it right or wrong), and look up the answer in the actual MPEP (not an outline or guidebook). Use a pdf version of the MPEP for this step--when you take the exam, you will only have access to an electronic pdf copy of the MPEP. Read the relevant MPEP section(s); figure out what it says and why the answer was what it was.

Think about how this MPEP sections applies to this test question, and how it would apply under different facts. Follow this method for every single question.

Do not give in to the temptation to merely correct your exam. Because the MPEP is always changing, verify each question and answer in the current tested edition and revision of the MPEP. You will not learn nearly as much if you skip the review step.

This method gives three important benefits:

  • You will learn the layout of the MPEP chapters and sections;
  • You will learn the material; and
  • You will learn the questions know the correct answer when you see it in the exam (many questions are recycled).

NOTE: Some of the answers for the old exam questions may not agree with the current revision of the MPEP. This is why it is so important for you to review each question in the current MPEP revision (using the revision that you will be tested on, currently 8th ed. rev. 4). You need to know what the answer is now, not what it was seven years ago, etc., when that test was administered under an older edition of the MPEP.

MPEP Study

Studying the MPEP is a daunting task. Having an outline or guidebook to study can make this task less intimidating. Creating an outline is an even more effective way to learn, so consider contributing to the Wiki Law School:MPEP Outline project by outlining one or more MPEP chapters.

Some MPEP chapters are much more important for the patent bar than others. MPEP chapters can be separated into four tiers based on their relevance to the exam (starting at the most important chapters and listing in decending order of importance):

  1. Tier One - spend about 25% of your MPEP study time on these three chapters:
  2. Tier Two - spend about 50% of your MPEP study time on these chapters:
  3. Tier Three - Spend your remaining 25% of your MPEP study time on these chapters:
  4. Tier Four - Only spend a very brief review on these chapters: