Personal Accountability & Preparing for the Patent Bar Exam

Preparing for the patent bar exam is more than a little overwhelming. There are a lot of complex details to learn. But if you’re open to taking responsibility for the results and hold yourself accountable, you’re already on your way to being successful. With the patent bar exam and in life, one thing that predicts success is how much accountability you take for your own actions.

A Little About the Exam

Before we talk about proper preparation and the role of personal accountability, let’s take a closer look at the exam itself. If you want to practice as a patent agent or attorney, you have to pass the bar exam. Before you can prepare for an exam, you have to know a little bit about it.

The patent bar exam is structured like many exams with 100 multiple choice questions. The total time to take the exam is 6 hours, but it’s broken down into two sessions. There’s a 3-hour morning session, a 3-hour afternoon session, and an hour break in between. If you do the math, that leaves you with about 3 minutes and 45 seconds per question. That might seem like a lot of time, but most of the questions are long and include a lot of detail.

You must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly to pass. There’s no penalty for getting an answer wrong, so it’s best to make an educated guess, even if you’re not sure.

This test is notoriously difficult. In fact, on average, only 50% of people pass. The pass rate has actually been slightly below that in recent years.

What can you do to give you the best chance of passing? There is no shortcut or trick. You just have to prepare.

How to Prepare

Now for some better news. During your exam, you’re allowed access to the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP). It just so happens that the patent bar exam tests your knowledge of the MPEP and how well you apply it. That said, some people mistakenly think that since the patent exam is an open test they don’t bother to prepare properly.

While it’s technically true that the exam is open book, it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to be able to look up all the questions on test day. However, figuring out how to use the MPEP efficiently is a good start toward preparing for the exam.

On exam day, the best way to approach the questions is to assume that you’ll need to spend time looking up the concepts that you don’t know.

One really important thing about preparing is that you actually have to do it. That’s where personal accountability comes in.

Personal Accountability and Passing (or Failing) the Patent Bar Exam

Generally, personal accountability can be explained with one simple question. How much of your success in life do you think is in your control?

Believe it or not, if you think that your actions, behaviors, and choices are responsible for your own success, you’re more likely to be successful. If you believe that you are at least 85% responsible for your own success and that only 15% is left to chance or luck, you have a good chance of being successful in whatever you’re trying to achieve.

Therefore, if you believe that your preparation, knowledge, and skill are going to contribute to passing the bar exam, then you’re more likely to pass. It’s not hard to see why. People who have personal accountability know that the time they put into preparing for the patent bar exam is more important than just hoping for a good score or a run of good luck. These are the people who are more likely to do the work needed to succeed.

Not everyone has this much personal accountability, though. The good news? It’s a skill you can learn.

The first step is to take responsibility for your actions. Responsible people know what they need to do, and they do it. That applies to both good and bad situations. It’s easy to take responsibility for hard work or a job that turned out well; but you also have to accept responsibility when the outcomes are not what you expected.

An important way to focus on learning how to take responsibility is to not focus on the past. You can’t change the past. Dwelling on it often leads to regret and what-if’s. Instead, focus on what you can actively do about it. If you’ve failed exams in that past, try not to dwell on it or have the mindset that you’re just a bad test taker. Instead, ask yourself what you can do to have the best chance of passing.

Personal accountability also has an element of self-empowerment. This helps you realize that you really do have the ability to change things and you can start to take the actions necessary to get what you want. It’s one thing to know what you have to do. It’s another thing altogether to actually do it.

By taking responsibility for your own success and seeing that you have the power to change, you’ll be able to make things happen.

The patent bar exam is not easy, but it’s not impossible. Preparing is your best shot at passing.  Whether or not you do the proper prep work is completely in your hands.