Fully-Remote Amateur Radio Licensing Exam Administration
Published : 2021-05-28
Author : JD Delancy, W1JD - Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Synopsis: JD Delancy (W1JD) provides information regarding fully remote amateur (ham) radio license exam testing via the Internet. You will need to have a good webcam on your computer - you may be asked to use a cell phone or similar as a second camera. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarified that there is nothing in its rules that prohibits remote amateur radio testing, and no prior approval is needed to conduct remote exam sessions.
Been studying and waiting for HamFests, club sponsored VE test sessions or regular in-person testing sessions to open up after the COVID-19 restrictions gets relaxed or goes away? There's hope!
Fully-Remote Amateur Radio License Exam Administration capability DOES exists. The Anchorage Amateur Radio Club Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (AARC VEC), the Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group VEC, W5YI-VEC, and the Las Vegas ARRL VE Team are a few of the VEC's offering Remote license testing. I'm a Volunteer Examiner (VE) with the AARC VEC.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarified that there is nothing in its rules that prohibits remote amateur radio testing, and no prior approval is needed to conduct remote exam sessions. The FCC provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators "who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place," the FCC said in an April 30, 2020 news release. All of this stems from a request from the Anchorage ARC VEC for a very minor change to Part 97 back in 2014 which effectively allowed for "remote" testing.
The Anchorage ARC VEC made the request due to the challenges of administering license examinations in the many remote areas of Alaska. Hence, they've been administering remote examinations since 2014, albeit not to the scale they are now, and all over the country and even the world! As a trivia note, on April 14, 1984 AARC was approved as the FIRST VEC Coordinator Program in the nation.
What You Need to Know
Basically, here's what you need to know:
First, you need to have a good Internet connection capable of doing video conferencing via Zoom or Skype. The AARC VEC uses Zoom.
You will need to have a good webcam on your computer - you may be asked to use a cell phone or similar as a second camera. You'll need to be able to prove your test area is "clean." If you don't have that capability, the AARC VEC can use an on-site proctor so long as the proctor, selected by the examinee, meets the stringent qualifications requirements as specified by the AARC VEC. Proctors are carefully vetted before being approved.
The specific video conferencing software used will depend on the VE team, but you'll need to be able to install it.
You will need a "clean" environment to take the exam in - one with nothing around that could be hiding cheat methods and one where nobody will be entering the room unexpectedly (which would probably void the exam). Amusingly, many people have started using a bathroom/washroom for this - a little weird, but who's to judge?
If you decide you'd like to test with the AARC VEC, simply visit kl7aa.org/vec/remote-testing/ to get started. That page describes Fully Remote Testing (proctorless) and Proctored testing. At the bottom of that page is the link to start the registration process. It will take you to the page that lists available exam sessions where you can register on the examination platform. After that, you'll be directed to another page to pay for your session seat and to complete the administrative registration.
On exam day, you should expect a call from the Lead VE on your session to do a quick dry run to make sure any technical issues are resolved.
The AARC VEC holds two test sessions a day (0930-1030 and 1330-1430 AK time) Monday thru Saturday.
NOTE: Please do not contact the author as he is not involved with scheduling time and sourcing examiners.
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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: JD Delancy, W1JD. Electronic Publication Date: 2021-05-28. Title: Fully-Remote Amateur Radio Licensing Exam Administration, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/communication/w1jd.php>Fully-Remote Amateur Radio Licensing Exam Administration</a>. Retrieved 2021-06-25, from https://www.disabled-world.com/communication/w1jd.php - Reference: DW#210-13974.