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Author Topic: Questions  (Read 879 times)
W5DWH
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Posts: 43




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« on: September 20, 2008, 10:24:32 AM »

What year did the FCC stop giving the exams themselves?

What year did the FCC start using question banks for the ham exams?

Thanks
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KB3LSR
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Posts: 297




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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2008, 03:32:43 PM »

The FCC doesn't give a question bank, the NCVEC approves a question pool for all of the FCC accredited VECs to use for administering the tests.
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W5DWH
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2008, 05:56:55 PM »

My question was WHEN did the FCC stop giving the exams?

And WHEN did they start using test banks v.s. actually having to study for an exam.

I know how it works now.............
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2008, 06:45:10 PM »

Here's one of your two questions as you originally posted them:

"What year did the FCC start using question banks for the ham exams? "

The FCC never used question pools when they were giving the exams; that came into being with the VEC program.

FWIW, the FCC never conducted the exam for the Novice class license. It was always done by a volunteer examiner, generally the prospective ham's elmer.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
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W5DWH
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2008, 07:15:27 PM »

So the question is, in what year were question banks first used?

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K2YO
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Posts: 436




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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2008, 10:07:16 AM »

Don,

Google is your friend;

http://www.alaskalist.com/VEC/vecmain.html
http://ham-shack.com/history.html
http://ac6v.com/history.htm

All three of these links give the same year for the beginning of the VEC system. The definition of the VEC system dictates they, the VEC, generate and mandate the question pool.

If the FCC used a standardized question pool before the switch to VEC, I don't know. My quick Google search gave no indication either way. If you are really interested I suspect a more intense search could give you answers.

Bernie
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N2EY
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Posts: 3879




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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2008, 07:24:25 PM »

W3LK writes:

"the FCC never conducted the exam for the Novice class license. It was always done by a volunteer examiner, generally the prospective ham's elmer."

No, that's not true. At least not for the first couple of years the Novice existed.

The Novice license was created as part of the 1951 restructuring (the Novice and Technician licenses were first offered July 1, 1951). For the first few years Novice exams were given at FCC offices just like all the other license classes. In those days, a Novice, Technician or Conditional could be earned via volunteer examiner only if the prospective ham lived more than 125 miles from an FCC exam point or was disabled in such a way as to make it impractical to go to the FCC office.

In 1954 the FCC changed the rules for Novice and Technician exams so that they were only given by-mail, regardless of where the applicant lived. The same changes reduced the distance for a Conditional license (General-by-mail) to 75 miles. Those changes went into effect June 10, 1954. One big reason was that the Novice was so popular back then that the FCC exam sessions were jammed with would-be Novices.

So for almost 3 years, most Novice exams were given at FCC offices.

--

As for when the FCC went to question pools:

Under the old system, the FCC prepared the exams and graded them. By-mail written exams came and were returned in sealed envelopes. The exams were "secret", or were supposed to be. (See discussion of Bash books, below).

Before about 1961 the exams higher than Novice included essay questions, draw-a-diagram questions and show-your-work calculations, as well as multiple choice. By the mid-1960s the written exams were all multiple choice, but the exact questions and answers were not available to the public.

In order for prospective hams to know what to study in those days, the FCC issued "study guides" that were lists of questions covering the general material that would be on the exam. These were not multiple choice, but rather in the old format listed above. The ARRL License Manual included those FCC study guides, reprinted with permission.  

The current system of amateur license exams went into operation December 1, 1983. That's when the exam question pools became officially published, and the job of creating and maintaining the pools and running the tests was handed over to Volunteer Examiner teams.  

The reason for the change was budget cuts. The Reagan Administration had promised to "get the government off your back", and one way that was done was to cut the budgets of agencies like FCC. Instead of paying FCC employees, most of the work was turned over to unpaid volunteers. Soon it will be 25 years since those changes were made.

-----

In the 1970s, a fellow by the name of Dick Bash published a series of books that contained questions and answers for the various amateur license exams that were very close if not identical to the real thing. He gathered this information by asking people who had just taken the exams what they could remember, and paying for the information. Enough people gave him enough info to publish the books.

There were some in the FCC who wanted to prosecute Bash, but they were overruled for some reason. The creation of the VEC system eliminated the market for his books, and they are now but a piece of amateur radio history.

Some may argue that FCC should go back to running the test sessions, but that is extremely unlikely to happen because of the costs involved.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2008, 02:32:25 PM »

<< In those days, a Novice, Technician or Conditional could be earned via volunteer examiner only if the prospective ham lived more than 125 miles from an FCC exam point or was disabled in such a way as to make it impractical to go to the FCC office.

In 1954 the FCC changed the rules for Novice and Technician exams so that they were only given by-mail, regardless of where the applicant lived.>>

You are absolutely correct; I was wrong. I forgot about those three years.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
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N2EY
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Posts: 3879




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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2008, 03:07:32 PM »

W3LK writes:

"I forgot about those three years."

No biggie, 3 years out of 50+!

The article in QST for May, 1954 says that the reason for the change was that FCC had been unable to operate within budget for a year or so because of all the license exams!

Another by-mail-exam change took place in the early 1950s but I'm not sure about the date.

It used to be that if someone had a license earned "by mail", it was only good as long as they lived more than the specified distance from an FCC exam point. If they later moved closer, they had 90 days to show up at an FCC session and be re-tested by the FCC examiner. That requirement was abolished some time in the early 1950s.

About 1964-65, FCC increased the by-mail distance to 175 miles and added more exam points so that very little of CONUS was eligible for a Conditional license.


73 de Jim, N2EY
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WA7PML
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2008, 04:08:10 PM »

I did not see a response to the first question.  The FCC never stopped giving exams. It is just that today, the only exam they usually perform is to require any licensee to appear at any FCC office to re-take the exam, in order to prove they are still proficient.
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