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Radio Wrangler 17th Feb 2021 12:09 pm

Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Just a heads-up

The RSGB are running a survey on the idea of having two examination routes to a licence. The existing three tier system, and a new single exam direct to the full licence. The direct to full is purely a multiple choice exam, no practical tests are needed... pretty much as the old RAE was.

Both routes are intended to coexist. You can choose to either go through the stages, or take the direct route.

It has been seen that the level of the staged route looked to be purely aimed at schoolkids and absolute beginners, so it was discouraging people with either serious hobby interests or professional electronics/RF involvement.

If you're interested, licensed or not, RSGB member or not, why not go and fill in the survey. It's a short one, and there is a copy of the syllabus for bed-time reading.


sortedradio 17th Feb 2021 12:22 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Here is a link to the survey

merlinmaxwell 17th Feb 2021 12:31 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
I agree with the one step exam, filled in the survey too.

Radio Wrangler 17th Feb 2021 12:33 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
And the RSGB page that links to the syllabus as well


ChristianFletcher 17th Feb 2021 1:20 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Terrible idea. The staggered timing of the old license system allows a period of experience to be built by working station etc. It also allows for mentoring from other hams and amateur radio clubs. I’m all for encouraging new blood into the hobby but The RSGB is clearly in the final death spasms of its ever declining membership

I just filled in the survey and made my objection known.

G6Tanuki 17th Feb 2021 3:14 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Have filled in the questionnaire - and support the return of the 'do it in one shot' exam - in the past when I've tried to encourage others to get licensed they've been interested - until I explain the need to go through the 3-stage process.

[The potential-hams have generally been professional/technical types - typically with a Degree in something scientific, significant Military electronics experience, or years working in the likes of the avionics/cellphone/broadcast industries - they don't take kindly to the prospect of sitting in a class with a bunch of kids]

AdrianH 17th Feb 2021 4:41 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Good idea, the hobby needs different routes into it. As people will vary in their knowledge from very good to only an interest there needs to be varied routes to cater for this. When I took mine, although I trained for the written, I think it was the first multiple choice exam in the UK.

The hobby does not have any particular good standing in my mind, the general populous will probably hate the idea of a radio ham living next door to them with the expected aerial farms blighting the skyline and interference to TV and Hi-Fi systems. So I think the interest needs all the help it can get to survive and going back to an exam system that was in place nearly 42 years ago is one of them.


MrBungle 18th Feb 2021 9:28 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
I think there should be three tiers still. It’s a more effective filter for people who shouldn’t be operating a radio.

What really puts people off is not the RSGB or the exams but how awfully disorganised the clubs are. It was damn near impossible to find any that did any exams near me or even could work their email. Ended up using ML&S who were great.

The key thing is not restructuring the exams but making them more accessible. The practical stuff was nearly pointless so blow past the clubs and let people do stuff via usual rented test centres like IT certs and online and job done.

Modernising is actually recognising what the problem is and fixing it, not trying to reorganise the same turd again.

Edit: if you’re reasonably competent the first two exams are very easy but I did learn a lot getting them done. It’s important not to skip that learning.

Radio Wrangler 18th Feb 2021 10:58 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
The syllabus for the all in one version is the superset of the syllabi for the three level ones. plus some stuff not covered.

They say the total number of questions gives the same coverage whether you do three steps or all at once.

The exam will be online and not through clubs, so you don't have to find an exam centre.

The three tiers were put in place because the single big step was seen as too much of a filter. It turned out that they too were too much of a filter, just for different backgrounds of individuals.


Restoration73 19th Feb 2021 12:35 am

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Clubs cannot offer ad hoc training or exams easily for very small candidate numbers.

It should be noted that there is NO link on the RSGB site to the training and exams
held under normal circumstances at the Martin Lynch & Sons HQ website.

I have reported this to RSGB, as usual nothing has been done.

SiriusHardware 19th Feb 2021 1:10 am

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
I have to say I support this move for the reasons some have suggested, if you already have some degree of technical ability you don't necessarily want to be force-taught how to solder or how to put a plug on a cable, although there is some merit in the idea that any such people lumped in with a group of beginners will (hopefully) have a positive effect and generously assist the learners in the group to the best of their ability.

When I originally sat the R.A.E, which at the time was very similar to the one-shot process proposed now, I didn't do the one year C&G course and instead just bought the 'book of the course' and worked through that paying particular attention to the operating procedure and rules bits, and then got myself booked for the exam which I passed first time. At the time I had already been working as a repair technician for decades and been interested in 2-way radio since my teens.

I'm sure that anyone who is now in the same situation would appreciate the opportunity to self-study and just sit the full exam, just as I did.

M0SOE_Bruce 19th Feb 2021 7:05 am

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
I think it is a good idea to offer the option. It's not designed to replace the 3 tier system. If the scope is the same does it matter if written in one shot or three. I myself held an advanced licence in Canada for over 40 years and a commercial radio operators ticket yet because Canada was not part of Cept 2 there was no reciprical agreement. I had to write all three exams.

lesmw0sec 19th Feb 2021 9:58 am

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Given that the much vaunted 3 tier system did little to encourage either technical advancement or good operating procedure, we might just as well go straight back to the old RAE, without the requirement for morse. Do away with the first two stages completely, thus ensuring that only those with a serious dedication towards a licence would bother.

GMB 19th Feb 2021 10:56 am

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Yes, I have always thought that it was unfortunate that a couple of groups did not have a fast-track way in.

One group are people who already know more about electronics and communcation equipment than the people setting the exams.

The other group less often recognised are those who are already highly experienced radio operators but without electronics training.

The foundation level always looked to me like it was aimed primarily at children.

murphyv310 19th Feb 2021 3:39 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Well I just passed the foundation on Wednesday. I went to Essex Ham for the fast track course. TBH prior to that I got 21-23 in the mock tests but I didn't know the procedures, band plans and regulations. The safety, EMC and rest was obviously a doddle. I've not looked at anything intermediate and get around 40 in the mock tests. I'll sit it ASAP.
To be fair I actually like the three teir approach as I for one get terrible mental blocks in exams so going straight for a single exam would not work for me.

I think to say the foundation is for kids is grossly unfair as we all have different levels and ways of learning. If you are committed it makes no difference what age you are and at what level you attain, people should be encouraged by licensed amateurs to join and enjoy the hobby not be thought of as an annoying kid.

Radio Wrangler 19th Feb 2021 4:54 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
The big benefit these days is that once upon a time exams only ran every six months, you had to book three months in advance and results took approaching three months to come out.

Don't know how lucky you have it :-)


G6Tanuki 19th Feb 2021 6:48 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Yes, I remember the 1970s/80s six-monthly-test cycle, then the seemingly-eternal-wait to hear if you'd passed! Then again the hassle of sending your City&Guilds pass-certificate off to the Authorities, along with a cheque, then the equally-tense wait to find out what call you'd been assigned.

For the future, the ability to do the exams "anytime anyplace, anywhere" - as the 1970s Martini ads used to say - everything done online, with each test being built personally for each candidate from a question-pool - and with you getting a pass/fail [with feedback] the moment you finish the test - is the only sensible way ahead. The commercial IT certification-world has been like that for 15+ years [I did the periodic retest for my Cisco qualifications on a laptop while sitting in the lobby of DFW airport].

"Adaptive testing" could also be adopted - that's been a thing in commercial IT certification for a couple of decades: they pop up a question on-screen and measure the time it takes for you to select an answer. If you show hesitancy that suggests your knowledge of that particular area is perhaps less-than-perfect- so you then get more questions related to that area!

As someone who is not really a "club-type" I've never liked the current scheme where training is provided by clubs and they're used as exam-centres; Doing away with that aspect would also help the youngsters who live in rural areas and would need a parent to drive them to/from training-sessions.

SiriusHardware 19th Feb 2021 7:50 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
My partner thrives in an academic environment so the old 'go to college for a while / sit an exam at the end' system would have been the ideal setup for her.

The shift to it being done in clubs etc would be her idea of Hell, imagine being shut in a room with a whole bunch of nerdy old duffers like me?

If this goes ahead I might finally be able to persuade her to do the exam, it would be really handy for us to be able to use AR from time to time. She's actually quite happy to use PMR446 radios to keep me on an extended lead when we are together-but-apart at places like National Trust properties and big museums / airshows etcetera, but those radios do have limited range so it would be good to be able to hand her something a bit more powerful.

murphyv310 19th Feb 2021 7:56 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
David and G6Tanuki I totally agree.
I'd have never done this if I had to do the clubs training or sit it there.
Like I say exams were never my best times although in my favour I got distinctions in my C&G Radio and TV servicing stuff and merit in the VCR certification. That though was the last many moons ago!!

Radio Wrangler 19th Feb 2021 9:04 pm

Re: Amateur radio licence single exam to full
Anyway, discussing it here doesn't do anything. Go fill in the RSGB questionnaire and let them know. That might make a difference.


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