How Rote Memorization Helps with the Patent Bar Exam

The patent bar exam is a challenging obstacle for anyone aspiring to be a patent attorney. According to the General Requirements Bulletin of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED), the exam tests applicants’ knowledge of patent laws, rules, and procedures. Their ability to analyze them such that they can advise and assist patent applicants. Therefore, an applicant must possess knowledge of the USPTO rules of practice under the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP) and other published USPTO policies and procedures.

Considering the extent of information an applicant needs to grasp, many have to resort to rote memorization to pass the exam. Here we will look at what it is and how this technique can help such applicants.

Rote memorization

Repetition is at the core of rote memorization. One can use this technique to repeat information such as facts, meanings, and dates to cement them in their memory. It takes time, but it forms the basis of foundational knowledge one may need to pass the patent bar exam. In the long run, it may not be as effective compared to meaningful learning, but many students may have to rely on it, considering they do not have degrees in law when applying for it.


The exam is structured in two sections, with each having 50 multiple-choice questions. 3 hours are allocated per section. This may seem like enough time to answer all of the questions. However, they can span from anywhere in the MPEP and other USPTO reference materials and are generally lengthy questions that require a subtle understanding of the context in which they are presented.

Students have the advantage of referencing an electronic copy of the MPEP during the exam, but it may take time to search all of it. Here is when rote memorization comes in handy. Instead of learning each fact or precedent by heart, applicants can memorize where the information is in the MPEP. During the test, they can refer to that section if need be.

Past exams

Unlike other exams, many source material for the patent bar exam comes from past exams. A good strategy would be to find as many of these past exams as possible and practice the rote memorization searching technique explained above. It will further strengthen your grasp over the material, and muscle memory will help you deal with these questions in the exam quickly, leaving more time to focus on more challenging problems.

The problem with the patent bar exam is that there is no central theme to it. It’s just thousands of pages of details that ultimately represent arbitrary rules. If a person does not have good memory skills, they should explore different memorization techniques along with rote memorization to have a better chance of passing.

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