Dealing with Stress

Today’s topic is about an important subject: stress and stress management.  Stress is one of those things that doesn’t need a definition or a Wikipedia entry – everyone knows what it is and knows how they feel when they are stressed, especially law school students at the tail end of the semester before finals.

Stress Reduction” by The Roaming Picture Taker is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Hobbies can be a wonderful form of escapism if one puts in a little time.  Not only that, but undertaking hobbies can activate areas of the brain that may not be stimulated by a casebook or hypos.  My two main hobbies are guitar and photography.  Some things I like about guitar is it pulls me into a mindset where the only things that matter are the melody, the sound, and the transition to the next note or song.  Photography I enjoy as well because of my focus on landscape photography, which is also a great excuse to get outside away from the books and screens and get some sun.  There’s always the old faithfuls like movies and video games too.  If not into any of those, YouTube and the internet can teach you just about anything you want to know these days.  Origami? Crochet? Cooking? The internet’s got you.  Cooking is my own personal favorite “hobby du jour”…I’ve finally reached a place where I prefer my own cooking to eating out sometimes, and it’s cheaper! Below is a picture of the Atlanta skyline I took this week with some quick and dirty edits, didn’t have much time to shoot or edit but even 30 mins felt wonderful:

Iconic Jackson Street Bridge view, a panorama of two images taken with a black and white camera in the infrared spectrum. Copyright T.C. Deveau 2023, all rights reserved. Used with permission.


Maybe not the most popular or most fun of the stress-managers, exercise definitely should have a place in everyone’s daily routine…or at least weekly routine.  It can be physically exhausting but a little sweat and endorphins can be great for one’s mental state.  My first “run” at grad school I took up running, which ended up being fantastic.  Got me outside and thinking about things that weren’t school….plus it doesn’t cost any money to just go outside and run.  Atlanta has lots to offer here if one is so inclined (please excuse the running pun, you’ll learn how “inclined” (or hilly) the city is if you ever start running)..  Sure there are gyms and yoga studios all over the place, but there’s so much more around here as well.  There’s the Beltline, where one can get out and walk or bike…same with the Silver Comet Trail.  The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is another great place to get outside and walk, run, bike, kayak, float, etc (parking passes are also only $40/year, one of the best deals around).  Cochran Shoals and the bamboo grove off the East Palisades trail are two of my favorite spots. Sope Creek is another great spot.  There are plenty of sports leagues around too for adults (some more serious than others) if you’re feeling the itch for team sports.  If one feels so inclined to get out of the city a little, there’s also the North Georgia Mountains (and the start of the Appalachian Trail) if one wants to get out and hike and camp.  

Food and Drink

Everyone loves food and drink, right?  Atlanta is a great food town with great restaurants across the metro area.  

Can’t make up your mind?  The food court is making a comeback and coming back fast.  Krog Street Market, Ponce City Market, Sweet Auburn Market, Chattahoochee Food Works, Ph’East (at the Battery), Politan Row at Colony Square – all of these food courts (er, um, markets) provide a little something for everyone with tastier food and more variety than the mall food courts we all grew up with.  

Atlanta is also having its “live-work-play” moment, and one can even combine food and drink with other activities like sports, retail, movie theaters (remember those?) and the like.  The Battery, Avalon, Halcyon, Atlantic Station, Streets of Buckhead, Ponce City Market – all of these locations have a little something for everyone.

There’s also no shortage of watering holes around town either.  From Decatur to Kirkwood, Dunwoody to Marietta, and southwest Atl as well, there are plenty of bars and breweries one can go to relax as well.  Many of these spots offer things like trivia nights as well, which are a great excuse to go and socialize.

Friends and Family

Saving the best for last…last but not least, don’t forget to make time for your friends and family.  Yes, making time for friends and family will leave less time to finish that brief that’s due in three days, but the gain in emotional capital often makes the sacrifice of time worth it.  Please do lean on your friends and family to help support you when you feel stressed.  At the very least, remember that when you apply to take the bar exam, you’ll have to add references to your Character and Fitness application.  So if you need an excuse to hang out with your friends one night you think you should be doing work, keeping your friends in your life will make this portion or the bar exam application easy…and it’s good for your mental health.

So there it is.  A little bit about stress in a nutshell.  For context, we must also keep in mind that law school is certainly a marathon and not a sprint.  Stress and stress management are behemoths of topics.  Identifying when stress gets in the way of you being you and helping to manage it though will have a tremendous payout, and it’s never too early (or too late) to get working on this if you haven’t already developed your own stress management strategies.

Finally, to minimize stress, try to avoid major life changes during law school…if one can.  I get it.  We’re all here because we’re overachievers on some level, but a lot of life changes and decisions actually can wait until after school is done.  No, no one is getting younger as time goes on and life never really ever gets “simpler” as time goes on, but waiting until school is done to undertake major life decisions is not a bad idea (if it can be managed). 

Best of luck to all of you as you undertake your studies.  Things will get stressful, but, as always…you got this.   


GSU Counseling Services – don’t be ashamed to reach out for help if dealing with stress gets too much, the school has a counseling center to help out.

If you’re experiencing an acute emergency resulting from stress, the suicide and crisis management hotline can also be found by dialing 988.

Celebrate National Poetry Month 2023!

We enjoy you to join the Law Library in celebrating National Poetry Month 2023! Our plans include a poetry contest and a poetry slam.

Picture of bearded student wearing polo shirt and shorts with hands gesticulating as he performed a poem at the 2022 GSU Law Poetry Slam.

Poetry Contest

We invite you to craft poems that are law- or law school-related, submitting a poem daily (if you want) between now and April 17 at 11:59 PM. Poems will be evaluated by a talented pool of students, faculty, and staff who will assist us in recognizing the best contribution in each category (Student, Staff, and Faculty). We will also award a Best in Show poem.

Please submit your poem(s) using this form.

Poetry Slam

The Law Library will host a poetry slam on April 18th at 5 PM. To encourage participation, we are inviting our poets (if you’re reading your own poem) and performers (if you’re reading a poem by another) to participate in person or submit a video of their performance for screening during the event. Please keep performance length to 3 minutes.

You may submit your video files to me at mbutler at gsu . edu) using the Georgia State Send a File tool. To be included, please submit your files no later than 9 AM on April 18, 2023.

The Day RBG Came to Campus

by Alison Guffey, 3L

On this day 20 years ago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited the Georgia State University College of Law to deliver the 32nd Henry J. Miller lecture. The topic of her lecture was “Little Known Pages from the Supreme Court’s History,” and her focus was on re-telling the accounts of two women: Burnita Shelton Matthews, the first woman to be appointed as a Federal District Court judge, and Malvina Harlan, wife of Supreme Court Justice John Harlan and author of a memoir titled, “Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854-1911.”

Justice Ginsberg, Professor Mary Radford, and Dean Knowles converse after the Miller Lecture.

One particular story highlighted by Justice Ginsburg from Malvina’s memoir featured Malvina inspiring her husband to finish his dissent in the Civil Rights cases by swapping his inkstand for one with a different history: the very inkstand that was used by Justice Taney in composing the Dred Scott opinion. Justice Harlan knew of this inkstand’s history, and by writing with the same inkwell that decades earlier had “tighten[ed] the shackles of slavery,” Justice Harlan finished his dissent and powerfully asserted the need to “protect the recently emancipated slaves in the enjoyment of equal civil rights.”[1]

Ginsburg told this story of poetic justice, of an inkstand in need of absolution, and she wondered of the pen in need of absolution in her own career. She determined the next time her thoughts on an opinion refuse to flow easily, she may visit the pen “that Judge Justice Bradley used to write his now-infamous concurring opinion in Myra Bradwell’s case, Bradwell v. Illinois, an 1873 decision upholding a state’s right to exclude women from the practice of law.”

Without ever directly addressing why Justice Bradley’s pen would be in need of absolution, Justice Ginsburg spoke of a photograph that is taken periodically of the Supreme Court Justice’s spouses. The audience knowingly chuckled while Justice Ginsburg explained that, with her and Justice O’Connor on the Supreme Court, “the subject of these photographs have changed beyond anything Justice Bradley or even Justice Harlan would have contemplated.”

Justice Ginsburg’s lecture was poised, clear, and moving as she masterfully led the audience through monumental moments in the Supreme Court’s history that came from the lives of Burnita Shelton Matthews and Malvina Harlan. Georgia State Law’s own Professor Mary Radford was in attendance for Justice Ginsburg’s lecture, and had the opportunity to speak with her one-on-one. Of this experience, Radford reflects on Justice Ginsburg’s “dignity and grace,” her “shy smile, almost embarrassed by the amount of attention that was flowing her way,” and recalls that Justice Ginsburg “greeted each individual, from student to faculty member to judge to local dignitary, with a quiet smile and a light handshake . . . wearing black lace gloves.” Professor Radford sums up the day: “An uninformed observer would probably have been astounded to learn that this unassuming, soft-spoken, petite woman was in fact one of the most powerful, insightful, and influential legal thinkers of our time.”

It is undeniable the impact Ruth Bader Ginsburg left on the nation and the world. On February 13, 2003, she visited our campus in celebration of GSU Law’s 20th anniversary. This year, as GSU Law celebrates its 40th anniversary, we take time to recount her lecture and remember her legacy. To watch Justice Ginsburg’s lecture, learn about other notable visitors, and read about the history of the Georgia State University College of Law, check out GSU Law’s 40th Anniversary Exhibit here.

[1]  Harlan, M.S. and Przybyszewski, L. (2003) in Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854-1911. New York: Modern Library, pp. 113–114.

5 tips for succeeding on the MPRE

by Ralaya Evans, Law Library GRA

The Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is one of the stepping stones that law students must confront at some point on their journey to becoming a licensed attorney. This exam is usually offered three times during each year: March, August, and November. will always provide reliable information on any and all things concerning the MPRE, including upcoming important dates.

Often, law students are overwhelmed when it comes to the MPRE. This is understandable, as there are uncertainties that usually lie around this exam, such as how much one should study, what materials to study with, and more.

Here are five tips to ease some of the uncertainty around taking the MPRE:

(1) Take advantage of free resources. Law school is expensive in every way: tuition, books, BAR prep, etc. There are numerous sources of MPRE prep out there that one can pay for. However, many platforms also offer free resources that are extremely useful for preparation of the exam. For example, Barbri offers free practice exams and numerous modules and explanations to practice questions. In addition, the Short & Happy Guide to the MPRE is available to GSU students through the law library’s online study aid collection.

(2) Practice exams are your best friend. Speaking of free practice exams, these exams will be one of the best resources for your preparation for several reasons, including: (a) the practice exams help you become comfortable with the formatting of the exam, (b) you become aware of how different potential topics are tested, and (c) many of the practice exams are timed. Therefore, they will help you gauge whether your pace at answering needs improvement before taking the official exams.

(3) Be aware of your state’s requirements for a passing rate. Every state has a different threshold for what is passing and failing. Be sure to know what your specific state requires and defines as passing, so that you can measure your readiness on practice exams based on that number.

(4) Take your Professional Responsibility class before you sign up for the MPRE. This class is such a great starting place for preparing for the exam. Though it will not fully prepare you for everything on the exam, this class will introduce you to how this specific area is approached by attorneys and make you comfortable with reading the rules.

(5) During the test, be confident in yourself. Confidence plays a major role in test-taking, and the MPRE is no different. There will always be some answers that you are iffy on. However, if you are familiar with the rules, the best answer will jump out at you. On the other hand of that, there will be some questions that seem too easy to be true. Do not get tripped up on these! If the answer seems easy and obvious to you, that doesn’t automatically mean that it isn’t correct.

Hopefully, these five tips will set you on a path to MPRE success. If you have any tips that have helped you along, feel free to share them in the comments!

Faculty and Staff Book and Movie Recommendations 2022-2023

In honor of Read a New Book Month (December 2022), the Law Library collected recommendations from the GSU Law faculty and staff of books (and movies) to share on our blog. Below is the list of submissions. The name of the nominator, the title, and the creator are followed by a brief description of the work. Some descriptions are publisher blurbs, while others reflect the nomination.

Librarian Professor Pam Brannon recommends Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson.

Basically, the protagonist is asked to take care of the step-children of her former classmate, with whom she has a compilated history. She accepts and discovers that the children have a tendency to… burst into flame when they get upset. It’s an incredibly funny and ultimately sweet story about accepting people as they are.

Professor Julian Hill recommends Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon Nembhard.

This book changed my life. It covers the long history of cooperative economic practices among African Americans from before the abolition of slavery up to today. It charts how relatively well-known human/civil rights icons like Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, W.E.B. DuBois and A. Phillip Randolph, among others, viewed cooperative economics as key to the fight for equal rights and dignity among all. It highlights some of the trends, such as ongoing political education, that made cooperatives successful throughout the country, particularly among Black women and in the south, and some of the hard truths regarding state sabotage. After reading it, I left the Buenos Aires office of my firm to work at a nonprofit legal services shop to advise worker cooperatives (for a fraction of the salary) and never looked back.

Professor Hill also recommends the film “Moonlight.”

I watch this movie at least once a year. It’s a beautiful story about a Black, masc-identifying person, Chiron, through three stages of his life. Through stunning videography, it shows Chiron’s upbringing in Miami, mixed with pockets of joy, abuse, imagination, care, and struggles around sexuality, and his maturity into adulthood in Atlanta, where self-acceptance, toxic masculinity, and love bubble to the fore. It’s a touching love story with plots, twists, and excellent acting.

Professor Bill Edumndson recommends the Rail Cow Girl YouTube channel.

Rail Cow Girl is a Norwegian railroad engineer (aka “driver”).  

Her “cab view” videos top the charts on YouTube: watch.

There is more about her here:

For relaxation, her videos cannot be beaten.

Her YouTube channel is only one of many cool (pun intended) things about Norway.  

For others, visit

Professor Megan Boyd recommends The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.

In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

Professor Megan Boyd recommends Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster ,Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

Professor Boyd also recommends The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer (a true crime Pulitzer Prize winner).

Arguably the greatest book from America’s most heroically ambitious writer, The Executioner’s Song follows the short, blighted life of Gary Gilmore who became famous after he robbed two men in 1976 and killed them in cold blood. After being tried and convicted, he immediately insisted on being executed for his crime. To do so, he fought a system that seemed intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death. And that fight for the right to die is what made him famous.

Professor Boyd also recommends Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell.

England, 1580: The Black Death creeps across the land, an ever-present threat, infecting the healthy, the sick, the old and the young alike. The end of days is near, but life always goes on. A young Latin tutor—penniless and bullied by a violent father—falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is just taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

Professor Boyd also recommended Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Director of Student Life Cody Teague recommends The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai.

I read this book about a year ago and still think about it often. It explores themes of family (biological and chosen), friendship, and community across generations. The author bounces you between two distinct time periods in a way that keeps you turning the page to find out more. The writing brings the visceral emotions of the time period and people to life. It’s a book I’ve had on my “re-read” list since I finished it!

Professor Deepa Varadarajan recommends Evening Hero by Marie Myung-Ok Lee.

A sweeping, lyrical novel following a Korean immigrant pursuing the American dream who must confront the secrets of the past or risk watching the world he’s worked so hard to build come crumbling down.

Librarian Professor Patrick Parsons recommends The Way of the Runner by Adharanand Finn

Don’t know much about Japanese running culture?  Never of the ultra-popular Japanese style relay called an Ekiden?  Neither did I until I read this book.  It’s everything you need in a jaunty holiday read – short, entertaining, and super interesting.

Librarian Professor Meg Butler recommends Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

Set in the early 1960s, this story reflects love and loss in the life of a woman whose interest in becoming a professional chemist is foiled by some and advanced through her sheer grit. The dog and its ever-expanding vocabulary was one of my favorite aspects of this novel.

Librarian Professor Butler also recommends When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill.

I bought this at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, a book for grownups available in a fabulous bookstore full of books for children. Author Barnill writes stories that are meant to be read out loud, and that is apparent in the quality and character of the description and the dialog—I found the story gripping. If you would like to imagine a world in which women, en masse, turned into dragons and flew away, this is a story for you.

Librarian Terrance Manion recommends Zonal Marking: From Ajax to Zidane, the Making of Modern Soccer by Michael W. Cox.

With the World Cup in full swing, I am reminded how much I enjoyed reading Zonal Marking over the summer (when the World Cup should have been played). The author lays out the current landscape of modern European soccer via a sightseeing tour of its recent history. From Catenaccio to Tiki-taka to Gegenpressing, this book explores tactical soccer trends in digestible chunks so you are never overwhelmed.

Librarian Manion also recommends Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

The author of The Martian has created my favorite alien since Chewbacca. I am guessing you can wait for the movie to come out if you want because it is only a matter of time, See

Study Aid Spotlight: Acing Evidence

by Ralaya Evans, 2L

As 1Ls, we are often guided on which study aids are good to use to help us prepare for some of the hardest exams we will ever have to take. Once we enter into 2L year, we are aware that study aids are helpful, but not always sure where to find them. I talked with a few friends, and we all are of the opinion that Evidence, during 2L year, is one of the courses in a study aid that could be most helpful. Evidence is such a dense and rule-intensive course. During the semester, we review and learn the rules separately, which is not so bad. However, when it is time for the final exam, we quickly realize we will have to be able to identify which rule applies to each problem and this is not always so easy.

Study Aids for Evidence are important for so many reasons. This area of law is important for litigators and transactional attorneys, and studying it gives us all practice for the bar.

Knowing this, I searched for several Evidence study aids and came across Acing Evidence by Aviva Orenstein. I worked with this guide to study for my upcoming final exam and can honestly say that my confidence greatly increased as a result. The “Acing Evidence” study aid has been extremely helpful for a few reasons:

  • Practice Problems: This study aid provides examples and practice at the end of every lesson. For example, the first chapter discusses Relevance, which is a big part of Evidence. At the end, there is a page titled “Illustrative Problems.” Here, you will find questions and answers to practice. The majority, if not all, Evidence professors will tell you that one of the best ways to get great at Evidence and prepare for exams is to practice.
  • Checklists: There are checklists for the majority of the rules. In Evidence, checklists are your absolute best friend. You can virtually get every question correct if you find/develop the correct check list for that rule and apply it to the question. Character is one of the best parts of Evidence to have a checklist for and Chapter 2 of the study aid provides this checklist. Try it out next time you are practicing evidence
  • Reminders: Another great aspect of this study aid is the Points to Remember after each chapter. This provides a quick highlight of the important parts of the chapter and sometimes acronyms to remember points about Evidence during an exam.

As far as study aids go, I give this one two thumbs up. If you need help finding a study aid for another course, don’t forget that the reference librarians are always here to assist. Good luck with exams!

4 Tips for In-Person Exams

by Alison Guffey, 3L

For many law students, this semester marks the first time you will be taking a law school examination in-person, either because you are a finals novice altogether (welcome 1Ls!) or because you have been a faithful student of the Zoom School of Law. In either case, as you sit for your first in-person exam, here are four tips to prepare you.

Tip 1: Study on campus.

Carve out some time to study on campus before your exam date. Though it is often more comfortable and convenient to study at home, studying at least once in the same environment you will be taking the exam will help improve your overall performance.

Tip 2. Noise is inevitable.

You never realize just how loud someone can type until you’re an hour into an in-person final, reading the same multiple choice question for the third time in a row while the sound of tiny, tap-dancing mice fills the room. Typing, pencils scratching, chairs moving and creaking – these sounds can be distracting during an exam. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to avoid this one. The best tool you have is to mentally prepare yourself that noise will happen, and try not to be caught off guard by it.

Tip 3: Arrive an hour early.

The trek to your in-person final will likely be longer than that from your bed to your laptop. Thus, in addition to triple-checking the start time, plan to be at the COL at least an hour before your final exam begins. You will be grateful for the extra time if Atlanta traffic rears its ugly head or T-deck is inexplicably full. Plus, you will never regret reading through your outline one last time before the exam starts.

Tip 4: Think through what materials you can bring.

The days of sprawling notebooks on your kitchen table are over. In-person exams limit the space you have available to reference other sources, and your professor might further limit those resources. Review what is and is not allowed in your exam and plan accordingly.

Taking exams in person might seem daunting or even scary. Just remember – you are now one in a long line of law students who have taken in-person final examinations. Welcome to the club, and best of luck!

How do you become a USPTO-registered Patent Practitioner?

Agents of Invention, Part 2

Welcome to another installment of Agents of Invention, our series exploring the exciting world of patent agents by the law library’s own T.C. Deveau. T.C. has a PhD in Neuroscience and has worked as a patent agent for almost 7 years. He’s currently in the final year of GSU Law’s part-time program.

( licensed via creative commons).

In order to represent clients in patent matters in front of the USPTO, one must be a registered agent with the USPTO – either as a patent agent or attorney.  The primary mechanism by which one becomes registered is by passing the USPTO Registration Exam (also colloquially referred to as the “Patent Bar”).  Those interested in patent practice may have heard of this exam, and this post will provide guidance on how to sign up to take the exam.

You may be thinking – what exactly does it mean to represent clients in front of the USPTO?  Generally, this means submitting documents related to patent applications and communicating with the USPTO.  A more detailed definition is provided by the USPTO in 37 C.F.R. 11.5(b) and 37 C.F.R. 11.5(b)(1) for those that are curious. 

Moral Character

( licensed via creative commons)

First, before one can sit to take the U.S.P.T.O. Registration, one must satisfy the eligibility requirements of the USPTO.  To be eligible to sit for the exam, the USPTO requires: (1) good moral character; and (2) sufficient technical background and/or training to demonstrate technical expertise.

Satisfying the moral character portion is generally straightforward for applicants, involving a “yes” or “no” checklist to statements regarding things such as felonies, disciplinary reprimands, federal debt, etc., similar to what one has to deal with on a law school application. 

If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions on the application, then a detailed statement explaining the circumstances is required.  A heightened standard (and application fee) for applicants who previously: (A) faced convictions; (B) were disciplined professionally; or (C) were denied for “Lack of Good Moral Character and Reputation” is required.  If one falls into one of these categories then one is not automatically disqualified, but subject to review based on the information provided on a case-by-case basis.

Technical Background

Satisfying the second eligibility prong – technical background – can be a little confusing.  There is no “one size fits all” educational or experiential model that demonstrates technical expertise, so the USPTO has several categories that it lumps its requirements into – Category A, Category B, and Category C.

CATEGORY A: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree or Doctor of Philosophy Degree in a Recognized Technical Subject.

The following subjects are currently “recognized technical subject” areas by the USPTO.  If your major in college, Master’s degree, or Ph.D. was in any of these subjects, then submit an official transcript showing award of the degree.  The technical subject areas have been expanded in the last few years, and even expanded to include graduate degrees.  The following list is current as of 2022:

CATEGORY B: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree or Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Another Subject.

For people that have a degree in a subject that is not explicitly listed in Category A above (at the time I applied, Neuroscience was not a recognized subject area so my application was a category B application), the USPTO will still qualify it if your transcript demonstrates one of the following options:

  1. Option 1: 24 semester hours in physics. Only physics courses for physics majors will be accepted.
  2. Option 2: 32 semester hours in a combination consisting of the following: Eight semester hours in a combination of chemistry and physics, with at least one course including a lab, and 24 semester hours in biology, botany, microbiology, or molecular biology. Only courses for science or engineering majors will be accepted.
  3. Option 3: 30 semester hours in chemistry. Only chemistry courses for chemistry majors will be accepted.
  4. Option 4: 40 semester hours in a combination consisting of the following: Eight semester hours in a combination of chemistry, physics, and/or biology, with at least one course including a lab, and 32 semester hours of chemistry, physics, biology, botany, microbiology, molecular biology, or engineering.

Unfortunately for individuals trying to qualify under this category, there is a lot more paperwork involved.  In addition to an official transcript showing conference of the degree, a course description from the institution in the same year the course was taken has to be provided, as well at is showing a grade for that class (only grades of C- or better are accepted).

This category is a catch-all, and the USPTO provides more options than those explicitly listed above.  For example, the USPTO, on a case-by-case basis, will consider teaching experience, other training, etc.  If trying to qualify under this category, get in touch with the USPTO and consult with someone about exactly what they’ll want to see so it can be furnished with the application.

CATEGORY C: Practical Engineering or Scientific Experience.

This category is reserved for individuals that do not qualify under Category A or Category B, but have received a bachelor’s degree and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) test.  The official FE results and official bachelors transcript showing the award of a degree must be submitted to the USPTO to qualify under this category.

Additional information can be found in the General Eligibility Bulletin here.

Fill out and Submit the Application

Alright – so now that you’ve read all the fine print and determined that you are eligible and collected any and all relevant paperwork, it’s time to fill out and submit the application.  This part is generally straightforward, and the application is no-nonsense, and will be similar to other applications that you have filled out before. 

An example application can be found with the General Eligibility Requirements, and hey, because it’s the 21st century, can even be filled out and filed online with the USPTO here.

The exam will have to be submitted with an application fee along with all the relevant documentation.  After submission, it will be reviewed by the USPTO and approved or rejected, generally within about 14 days.  If approved, proceed to register, if not, get in touch with the USPTO and they can help you rectify any application defects.

Register to Take the Exam

Unfortunately, you can’t simply register to take the exam.  As we discussed above, you have to be approved to take it by the USPTO after demonstrating your eligibility. 

After receiving your approval letter, you proceed to the Prometric website here to register and take your exam.  This isn’t a “offered twice a year” type exam, and there will be just about any time of year you can sign up and take it. 

The only caveat to registering for the exam is, after approval, you only have a certain amount of time to register and take the exam.  This time period may range from about 90 days or more.  The USPTO does know that life happens, and this time period may be extendable.  It is extendable with the payment of additional fees to the USPTO, and note that prometric may also want a rescheduling fee.

90 days is probably a suitable preparation period for most but this is something to keep in mind.  It’s not worth filling out and submitting the application if you plan to take it a year later, for example.

Currently, Prometric is the vendor but this may be subject to change.

The Exam Itself

The Exam itself is 100 multiple choice questions broken up into two 50-question/three-hour chunks.  Only 90 of these questions are graded and 10 may be experimental.

Preparation and Study

The Registration Exam generally tests one on the laws, rules, regulations, and procedure of patent prosecution.  These can range from to overcoming Examiner rejections, post-grant proceedings, and more mundane questions like “what can/can’t you fax into the USPTO?”  Yes, you might be thinking it’s crazy for them to asking a question about fax in 2022, but, computers/computer systems are not infallible and there may be a time in practice where you have to actually snail mail and fax things into the USPTO.  Some items the USPTO still won’t accept electronically either. 

The Exam sources questions from the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other sources, such as the Federal Register.  The MPEP and CFR is where the overwhelming majority of questions will be coming from. 

To prep and study for the exam, there are a variety of prep courses one can take.  No, it’s not necessary to take a prep course, but, like the actual bar exam, you’re not going to find many practitioners out there that recommend a DIY “go at it yourself” approach.  Most will say just suck it up and spend the money for the course and get to work.

There are a lot of advantages to prep courses too.  One of the main ones is prep courses often have large proprietary question banks and computer software that emulates the display you will see on test day.  This alone is worth the price of admission in my mind, because it tends to be an area where “practice makes perfect.”  Prep courses also do the organizational work for you or organize the material in a readily digestible format and provide a study timeline.

GSU’s courses in Patent Law and Patent Drafting and Prosecution can be very valuable resources and help one prep for the exam as well.  Definitely take them if you get the chance.  These courses, however, are not a substitute for exam prep. 

Please note no valuable consideration is provided by any outside source in writing the above advice; it is simply based on the author’s personal experience.

I’ve Taken the Exam – Now What?

After submitting your completed exam, you’ll immediately get a notification at the test center as to whether or not you passed.  This is unofficial, and you should wait for the official USPTO communication to let you know, but I’ve not heard of anyone getting a pass at Prometric and an official notification or vice-versa. 

This official notice from the USPTO generally comes 10-14 business days after the exam, but could be sooner or later.  If you passed, congrats! 

If you didn’t pass – not a big deal.  It’s a tricky test with a low pass that is generally taken by very intelligent people.  Not uncommon for people to have to take it more than once, especially people with technical backgrounds and no legal backgrounds.  Hope back on the horse, re-apply (you don’t have to submit all the application addendums with the re-application), register to take it again, and get back to the books.  You got this.

The Fine Print

Please keep in mind that the purpose of this blog post is a good faith effort to provide information relating to the exam.  As anyone trying to be a patent agent or attorney should be aware, this blog post should be a guide, but should not be a substitute for doing your own due diligence.  Please double check the official USPTO and Prometric guidelines before proceeding to apply for and take the exam. 

Additional information regarding the USPTO Registration Exam can be found here:

Meet Dan Quiggin

This post is the continuation of an “in-depth” interview series with new librarians and staff at Georgia State University College of Law Library. See earlier installments here.

We introduce our new librarians and staff at Georgia State University College of Law Library with a questionnaire invented by Austin Williams, which is borrowed in spirit, if not in part, from Marcel Proust’s famous questionnaire.

PXL_20221003_124857746.PORTRAITAustin (if he were still here): What is your name and what do you do?

Dan: – My name is Dan Quiggin, and I am a data analyst in the Legal Analytics and Innovation Initiative. Informally, I take care of the math side of legal analytics!

A: How long have you been at Georgia State University College of Law Library? 

D: I have been at the College of Law for about two months, but associated with Georgia State University for a little over nine years.

A: What books are currently on your nightstand (or Kindle)?

D: The book I’ve spent the most time reading recently is Statistical Inference, by George Casella and Roger Berger – but on my nightstand is one of my wife’s favorite books, In The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce.

A: What is an interesting fact about yourself that you would like to share with our readers?

D: Aside from 2020, I have not missed a single DragonCon since moving to Atlanta.

A: What is your favorite place in Atlanta (so far)?

D: My back patio, with a glass of bourbon and a good book (at least at this time of year!)

A: When you are not saving the world here at GSU Law Library, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

D: I like to read, cook, and play video games, and I’m also active in some volunteer circles.

A: Lastly, what is your favorite vacation spot? The place you go to leave it all behind for a few days.

M: My in-laws have a cottage in North Georgia, by Dahlonega (though I don’t get there as often as I’d like!)

There you have it, folks. The complete, unedited, behind-the-scenes interview with Dan Quiggin.

Newbie’s Guide to the Law Library

I walked into my first law library almost fifteen years ago as a 1L. By the end of my first year I was working there. I have since been in dozens of law libraries, worked in five, and received a whole other degree in library science. And still, when I arrived at GSU Law, I found myself a little unsure about the library, its space, and its offerings.  If walking in with all this library street cred I still find myself learning something new every day, I imagine new law students, faculty, and other patrons, might find themselves in the same situation.

A road sign welcoming a driver to the town of Newbie
Image Credit: Anne, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

With that, I offer up some tidbits and advice I have collected the past few months that I hope will help you make the most of the GSU Law Library.

  • Use the maps! Just like the rest of the law school, the Law library has floor maps on each floor. These are incredibly helpful for figuring out where to study, where to hang, and how to find items in the collection!
  • Circulation to the left; Reference to the right- know the difference! When you are standing facing the main desk, the reference folks are on the right. You may recognize us from RMiL or the Professional Librarian program. We can assist with research support, RMiL assistance, or other reference needs. The Circulation staff will be those on your left. They are AMAZING and can help you with questions about checking out everything from study aids to portable monitors!
  • Did I mention the library has TONS of loanable tech and other non-book ‘resources’? There are book stands, games, dry erase marker sets, foldable monitors, headphones, and more. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, so if you need something for the day always check in with Circulation.
  • Don’t get loud on the sixth floor- your peers will not only give you the side-eye, they will complain. The 6th floor is for quiet studying, even if you are in a study room. Be careful not to get too noisy up there because your colleagues really do expect silence!
  • The blinds are adjustable! I had no idea, but if you find yourself sitting at a study table unable to manage the afternoon glare, come talk to the library and let us help you adjust the shades so you can get back to concentrating.
  • The back of the 5th floor has a collaborative work space- need to use the monitors to group share? The Circulation desk can loan you the tech needed to connect your computer(s) to the screens no problem.
  • The library offers an amazing set of trainings and asynchronous programs through the ALERT program. You can attend the in-person session and/or do the online modules to gain research certifications.
  • You can check out some games, but there are also lots of places and ways to use the library for study breaks- from the coffee machine to the lobby puzzles, to our Leisure Collection where you can check out movies for pleasure (Spoiler, they have some law connection, but it’s better than a casebook!)
  • Check out study rooms online! Save yourself time and a headache and make sure to use the QR codes or go to to reserve a room before coming to Circulation to get a key!
  • The GSU Law Library makes improvements based on student needs and feedback. If there is something you wish the library did or offered, let them know by using the feedback form!

This is definitely a non-exhaustive list of the library’s voluminous offerings. If you haven’t yet, take a minute and check explore the terrific resources and materials the library promotes on its website.