The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) was contracted to undertake the external quality assurance of the PEB’s policies, procedures and processes. Interestingly, in the section on the examinations, the report notes that the “examination papers sat in 2014 do not take a standard form and different questions appear to require different orders of cognitive skill, despite attracting similar marks“, particularly with respect to the Foundation papers.
Patent trainees and their trainers might be interested in reading the PEB’s Self Assessment Report (http://www.cipa.org.uk/download/PEB-Self-assessment-report-2014.pdf) and the External Validation Report (http://www.cipa.org.uk/download/External-assurance-PEB-2015.pdf).
The Informals’ recently requested that the PEB provide a much broader spread of the ‘sample pass scripts’ for each paper, so that candidates can see the difference between the best answer and one which is awarded 50 marks. We are pleased to note that the QAA’s report also puts forward a similar suggestion (see page 12).
The QAA report also asks the PEB to “investigate carefully the reasons why P6 should have had such a poor candidate success rate over an extended period” (page 13). We are sure that trainees would be interested to hear PEB’s explanation for this too!
Turning now to the PEB’s report, this includes the results of the survey conducted by the PEB after the 2014 exams. (The survey conducted by the PEB is not quite as comprehensive as that conducted by the EPO after the EQEs, but it is a good sign that the PEB is interested in gaining feedback from students. See here for the 2015 EQE survey.
The Informals’ asked the PEB to publish more detailed and specific mark schemes, which would enable students to better understand how marks are awarded and to mark their own past paper attempts with more confidence. As the PEB report notes, more detailed mark schemes were published for the 2014 examinations (page 10).
As mentioned above, the Informals and the PEB are working closely to put improve aspects of the UK examination process. For example, we asked the PEB to consider reducing the time between the exams and the results, though the PEB have decided they cannot do this at present (see here https://yellowsheet.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/timing-of-peb-exam-results/).
More recently, the Informals have asked the PEB if they could provide candidates with a more detailed breakdown of their marks, in a similar manner to that provided by the EPO for the EQEs. This could aid trainees who pass the exams as well as those who need to resit, as they can determine what they are good at and what they could improve either the next time they sit the exam or in their day-to-day work. We will let you know the outcome of this request.