OJ EPO 2021, A13 - Instructions to candidates concerning the conduct of the European qualifying examination 2021

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, paragraph 2, letter b, thereof, has decided with effect from 1 March 2021 as follows:

I. General

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 (EQE) 2021 will be conducted online using the WISEflow platform in conjunction with a LockDown browser. The examination will be 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 will appoint invigilators pursuant to Rule 18(2) of the Implementing provisions to the Regulation on the European qualifying examination (IPREE).

4. 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 can take any appropriate measures under Rules 19 and 20 IPREE.

5. The examination papers will be provided to candidates as PDF files in the EPO's three official languages.

6. Candidates for the pre-examination must submit their answers in the dedicated interface in WISEflow.

7. Candidates for the main examination must write their answers in the dedicated text editor in WISEflow.

8. Candidates must not use their name or initials in their answers.

9. Candidates' answers will be marked exactly as submitted at the end of the relevant examination paper or part of a paper, so any objections raised at a later date will not be considered.

10. Candidates who fail to log on to the LockDown 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.

11. If a candidate wants to file a complaint concerning the conduct of the pre-examination or the main examination, they must do so as soon as possible (at the latest by the end of the day on which the examination was taken) by emailing it together with a written statement of the facts to the Examination Secretariat (helpdesk@eqe.org).

II. Technical requirements

12. To sit the examination, candidates require the necessary technical equipment as set out in the User Guide. The latest version of the User Guide and the Requirements for the e-EQE 2021 (available on eqe.org) are mandatory for candidates and apply in addition to these instructions.

13. Candidates alone 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.

14. Specifically, candidates are responsible for:

a) the internet connection;

b) the power supply;

c) the proper functioning of hardware and software on the computer/laptop they are using;

d) the correct, stable positioning of the external camera to ensure the candidate 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);

f) reading all documents related to the e-EQE, familiarising themselves with the examination software (WISEflow and Zendesk) and testing the necessary technical equipment.

III. Preparing for the examination

15. To be able to sit the EQE, candidates must create user profiles in WISEflow and Zendesk (application for communicating with invigilators during the examination).

16. Candidates must not change their personal data (particularly their name and email address) in their WISEflow and Zendesk user profiles, otherwise their identity cannot be authenticated and they may be unable to correspond with an invigilator during the examination. In that event, candidates will be deemed to have been absent from the examination and their answers will not be marked.

17. For participation in the EQE, candidates must also 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 up to the camera (next to their face) before each examination or part thereof (flow). In addition, invigilators can ask candidates to hold their identity card or passport up to the camera at any time during an examination.

18. Candidates alone are responsible for their workstations. They must ensure that their workstation is well lit and that there is no prohibited equipment (see point 20) within reach. In addition, candidates are personally responsible for ensuring that any permitted equipment they use is used only in the permitted manner.

19. Candidates must have the monitoring equipment (camera and microphone) and the chat function (Zendesk) activated throughout the examination, as set out in the User Guide.

20. 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. 

21. Candidates must also ensure that the examination is not disrupted by other people, pets, noise, etc. In particular, no other persons should enter or be in the room while the examination is under way.

22. Candidates may not listen to the radio or play any other kind of sound or music.

23. Candidates are allowed food, drinks and medication.

IV. Exam invigilation

24. Candidates must take all steps stipulated in WISEflow to ensure that the software can properly monitor the examination online, for example showing their identity card/passport, rotating the camera, etc.

25. Throughout the examination, invigilators will monitor camera and microphone activity.

26. Candidates will have their identity verified in WISEflow. Candidates must work on each examination paper independently with no outside help.

27. Candidates must not share their WISEflow and Zendesk login details with anyone else or otherwise give another person access to them.

28. Candidates should refrain from speaking during the examination since this will be picked up and recorded by the audio monitoring. The recordings may be reviewed to check for any breaches of these instructions.

29. Candidates must not copy or photograph the examination questions or otherwise share them in writing or orally.

30. Candidates must be seated facing the computer/laptop/camera. Their face and ears must be clearly discernible. Eyeglasses are permitted but only where used as vision aids.

31. Candidates should not stand up 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 can only be taken once 30 minutes have passed from the official start of the examination or a part thereof (flow).

b) Unscheduled breaks should take no longer than three minutes. Candidates must inform the invigilator using the chat function (Zendesk) when they take an unscheduled break and when they return to their seat. However, candidates need not wait for authorisation from the invigilator before leaving their seat.

c) During an unscheduled break, candidates are deemed to be offline but the examination clock is not stopped.

32. In the event of any problems, invigilators can be contacted via the chat function. However, candidates must not ask any questions on the content of the paper or how it should be interpreted.

33. Within the first 30 minutes of the examination or a part (flow) of the examination, candidates must not close the LockDown 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.

34. If a candidate receives special permission to use the invigilator password, they should use it only once for the specified purpose. Permission to use the password is granted exclusively to that candidate. Using the password in any other way or sharing it with others will be deemed to be an attempt to cheat.

V. Misconduct

35. The following is a non-exhaustive list of what constitutes fraudulent behaviour or misconduct:

a) impersonation – when a candidate declares that they are 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 point 20 of these instructions);

c) failing to follow invigilators' instructions in relation to the examination regulations;

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 working together with others;

f) disruptive behaviour, including using offensive language.

36. The video and audio recordings and, if necessary, the chat logs can be used retrospectively to check for attempts at cheating and breaches of the EQE regulations and instructions.

37. 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 answer papers 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.

38. Breaches of the instructions that are not unambiguously indicative of attempts to cheat may also lead to consequences for candidates. The first time a candidate breaches the instructions, they may be given a warning; repeated breaches may attract further consequences under Rules 19 and 20 IPREE.

39. Any disruptions during the examination for which candidates are not responsible or which are beyond their control must be reported to the Examination Secretariat within 24 hours of the end of the relevant examination (via email to helpdesk@eqe.org).

VI. Withdrawal

40. Candidates may withdraw from an examination paper at any time up to the official start time. If an examination paper consists of a number of parts (flows), candidates must withdraw before the first part (flow) begins; this will then apply to the entire paper. To withdraw, candidates must contact the Examination Secretariat in writing (by email), stating the EQE registration number.

41. 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.

42. Candidates may not withdraw from an examination that has already started. Once the examination paper has begun, candidates are deemed to have taken that paper. An examination is considered to have started once the relevant part (flow) of the examination has begun (or, for the pre-examination and papers C and D, at least one part of the relevant examination has begun) and, if applicable, the examination questions have been released for printing.

VII. Final provisions

43. By sitting the examination, candidates confirm that they will comply with these instructions and refrain from any behaviour that could be construed as fraudulent or that disrupts the conduct of the examination.