Monday, 27 October 2014

Exams and stuff

23 October 2014, 11.30 am

I meet with the Chairman of the PEB Governance Board.  We put the world to rights.  This is most satisfying.  (For us.  Probably not for the rest of the world.)

The Chairman used to work in school-level education, so we talk about how things have changed since we were young.  Not that I can remember being young properly but there is evidence to suggest it did happen once.  We talk about whether A-levels and those funny things that replaced O-levels have been dumbed down at all, but I think they can’t have been because these days people are so good they get stars as well as A grades, and in my day we never did well enough to get stars.

We also ponder over how difficult it must be to write a five-hour exam using a blotchy pen and paper when you are used to downloading text just by swiping your finger across a screen.  We decide this might be putting people off joining the patent profession.  I say it is not the only thing putting them off.  But it might be one of them.

The nice Chairman says he would like to gather feedback from the candidates and their trainers, about how well the exams have gone in the PEB’s first year.  I think perhaps he has misunderstood the exams a bit.  They are not there to give customer satisfaction; they are there to cause pain and misery and to separate those who can be strong and British about pain and misery from those who go all soppy.  What is he going to ask people, I wonder?  “How would you rate your examination experience, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is orgasmic and 10 is the worst few hours of your life?”  Or perhaps: “Would you recommend these exams to a friend?”  Hmm.  I think not.

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