RSGB Online Examinations.
Unless you’ve been sat in a Syrian cave contemplating spiritual enlightenment over the past two years, ( I know someone who did) you will have noticed a change in the RSGB’s requirements for obtaining all three tiers of Amateur radio licences. Rather than set out a bullet point presentation, I’ll give a quick overview of the salient points.Due to Covid lockdown rules, from 6th April 2020 it was possible to take a Foundation licence online. Basically by using a computer, downloading exam software and utilising a webcam and microphone to allow invigilation and communication, it became the route to gaining a licence. An indicative score was immediately issued followed by a posted certificate confirming the candidates pass, provided they had passed. Then the usual online visit to Ofcom provided a call sign and a new M7 was able to access the airwaves.
This came about due to the fact that the RSGB had been promoting online exams at Foundation level prior to the social distancing/ lockdown measures introduced by HM Government. Covid restrictions now required the suspension of both practical elements required pre-pandemic to take the written exam. This allowed candidates to take the exam without attending a practical session at a club or demonstrating to an assesor that they had the required knowledge for a practical Certificate.
Prior to the Covid restrictions the Isle of Wight Radio Society had succesfully run its first online exam at the clubs premises and it seemed to all a good future direction to take. The RSGB had made known its wishes to, one day, only have paper exams in special circumstances. In July 2020 the suspended Intermediate practical was scrapped followed in October 2021 by the Foundation practical. 4,500 Foundation exams were taken after the initial lockdown and suspension of the practical requirement. Eventually all tiers were opened up to online examination, with slight changes to security levels for Intermediate and Full licence.
The Intermediate practical had long been the subject of discussion as to its relevance to modern radio amateurs. I don’t have to reiterate the diverse views of the practicals by radio amateurs, I’ll let Practical Wireless ( other wireless magazines are availiable) fill up their readers letters page with that contentious issue. There is another syllabus review anticipated later in the year. This will probably settle the issue of practical assesments one way or the other. Emerging information seems to indicate a rise in examinations taken during Covid restrictions. It is currently a matter of conjecture whether the removal of the practical element was in any way a factor.
A quick search of the internet shows the increase of online tuition availiable and mock exam testing. A link will be attached for the EssexHam website’s excellent YouTube video on taking an exam online. Requirements for online exams are, Windows 7+ or Mac (OS 10.8+) Desktop or Laptop with either 2GB or 4GB RAM. No tablets or smartphones or Linux. Stable internet connection with at least 512 kbps. Working webcam, microphone and speakers. Headphones optional.
The online exam link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvNljhR88gA
With thanks to Pete, M0PSX Essex Ham Training Manager for permission to link to video and for information online.
On Friday 15th April, my Wife Tracy took and passed her Foundation exam online.
I had taught her at home shadowing candidates undergoing tuition at IOWRS.
She booked online via the RSGB site and then followed the directions given by the emails sent by the RSGB and then the adjudicator for the exam.
Required, Laptop, Test reach software, good WiFi signal and a smartphone, used as laptop audio wasn’t very good.
Tracy said the whole experience was about as smooth and simple as it probably could be.
It did not add any stress to the test and having the result there and then meant the rest of our weekend was good. It was Good Friday, long bank holiday and it could have seemed longer😃