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Author Topic: Volunteer Examiners - I have a few questions for you!  (Read 7727 times)
KK4APV
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« on: March 28, 2013, 12:50:48 PM »

Ever since I took my first test in March 2011, I've aspired to move up the ranks to VE. I've never seen a woman sitting at that front table. Smiley

Last week, I got my "Extra" (woo-hoo!) and now I'm doing the test and paperwork for the VE.

One, how do you get "into" the pool to be called for an exam session?

Do the local VECs stay with a few favorites, or do they tend to call on new talent?

And on a more practical note, what's the best part of being a VE?

What's the not-so-fun part?

Anything else you can tell me?

I'd love to hear more.

Rose in Norfolk.
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KG6AF
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Posts: 359




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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2013, 01:41:00 PM »

Ever since I took my first test in March 2011, I've aspired to move up the ranks to VE. I've never seen a woman sitting at that front table. Smiley

Last week, I got my "Extra" (woo-hoo!) and now I'm doing the test and paperwork for the VE.

One, how do you get "into" the pool to be called for an exam session?

First, let me back up a bit.  I'm going to describe things from the perspective of a VE affiliated with the ARRL VEC, because that's what I know.  Other VECs may do some things differently.

At the top of the volunteer exam pyramid are the VECs, or Volunteer Exam Coordinators.  There are a dozen or so of these, with the ARRL VEC processing 70% of all exams and W5YI handling much of the rest.  These are the groups that interface with the FCC, and enter information for new or upgraded licenses directly into the FCC online database. 

Next are the local VE groups.  These are collections of volunteer examiners who have decided to work together and hold local exams.  Some VE groups are affiliated with local amateur radio clubs while others are not.  The VE groups determine when and where to hold their exam sessions.  When a VE group decides to hold exams, it lets the VEC know that it plans to hold an exam or exams, and requests the paperwork from the VEC--NC605 application forms, test booklets, answer sheets, CSCEs, and so on.  (Some VE groups just print their own forms.  About the only forms you have to get from the ARRL are the CSCEs, which are multipart.)  Once an exam session is done, the VE group sends a packet of completed exam forms to the VEC, and the VEC personnel check the forms and enter new licenses into the FCC database.

My suggestion would be to look for local groups, perhaps through the ARRL's search-for-exams facility, and contact them to see if they're taking on new VEs.  By the way, there's nothing to say you couldn't start your own VE group.

Do the local VECs stay with a few favorites, or do they tend to call on new talent?

It's all a question of how a given group runs itself.  In our group, anyone who wants to show up can.  We try to make sure that any VE who comes to a session gets something to do.  Sometimes it's 5 candidates and 9 VEs, and sometimes it's 33 candidates and 6 VEs.  Keeps things interesting!

And on a more practical note, what's the best part of being a VE?

Meeting new hams just after they've passed their test has to be the best thing.  It's tough to beat the enthusiasm of someone who really wanted to pass that test and managed to do it.

It's also fun when you're able to come up with your own contribution to the process.  For example, in talking to newly-license hams, I found out that, unlike the way things were when I started out in the hobby, a lot of folks entering the hobby today might not know much about it beyond handie-talkies and repeaters.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I decided to write something to help introduce them to the hobby.  We now hand out the following to new hams:

http://svve.org/The_New_Ham_FAQ.pdf

What's the not-so-fun part?

Telling someone they haven't passed an exam.  But, really, it's not that bad, as long as you give them some positive reinforcement and encourage them to come back and try again.

Anything else you can tell me?

I'd love to hear more.

Rose in Norfolk.

Simply put, it's almost always a lot of fun.
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W5CPT
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Posts: 557




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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2013, 02:47:06 PM »

In the club to which I belong, we test every even month, after the club meeting.  There are more than enough "regulars" who are qualified who show up for the meetings so if we have a candidate for testing Bruce (our VEC) and two others stay and test. Most of the rest of us at the meeting, wait in the common area (we meet in a college) to congratulate those who passed, and offer encouragement to those who did not.

Clint - W5CPT -
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KB3YLQ
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Posts: 57




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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2013, 04:39:30 PM »

FWIW, a female VE was one of the examiners when I got my General last June. Smiley

I just got my VE credentials a few months ago, but I haven't given an exam yet. I'll be sitting for my Extra exam on April 20, and maybe will have a chance to give a Technician exam since I'll already be at the session.

Anyway, good luck with getting the VE credential. And congratulations on getting your Extra!

-Loren
KB3YLQ
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WN2C
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Posts: 466




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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 07:09:36 AM »

Rose, do you have V E credentials from a VEC like the ARRL? If not you can contact them and find out what you need to do to get your VE credentials.  Just send them an email to the VEC Coridinator or visit http://www.arrl.org/become-an-arrl-ve 
I dont think it it a members only page, but not sure.  Good luck.

Rick  wn2c
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KR4BD
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Posts: 225




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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 12:33:10 PM »

We currently have two VERY ACTIVE YLs who are VEs in our area.  There are others, but they are not as active at present.  I think all hams, including the VEs, would love to have more women involved in the hobby at all levels. 

Around here, tests are given monthly rotating among three different VEC organizations (ARRL, W5YI, WCARS).  Most of us, including the women VEs, are certified for all three groups.  We have a "hardcore" group of about a half dozen VEs who usually attend most of the sessions.  Although, General Class licensees CAN be certified as a VE, their value is limited as they can only participate in administering Technician Tests.  Years ago, I was at a small session where only two Extra class and one General class VE showed up.  As a result,we were only able to give Technician tests that day.  For this reason, many of the Contact VEs will prefer having just Extra Class VEs as they can do all tests and functions involved in the testing process.   

I enjoy seeing people pass the tests and join us as new hams.  A few months ago, we actually had a candidate take all three elements going from No License to Extra in just one sitting.  He only missed one or two questions on each of the three elements.  You don't see that happen very often!

Tom, KR4BD
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KK4APV
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 05:45:43 PM »

Thanks for the many thoughtful replies.

Very interesting!!!

Yes, I sent in my paperwork to the V.E., and now must simply wait the 2-3 weeks to get my credentials.  Smiley

I'm movin' on up!

And I'm glad to know that there are women VEs out there. That is happy, happy news.
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N0IU
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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2013, 07:30:26 AM »

First of all, congratulations on upgrading and wanting to become a VE!

By the way, there's nothing to say you couldn't start your own VE group.
Although I am sure there have been first time VE's who have successfully started their own group, I suggest that you find an existing group and work with them for a while before attempting to venture out on your own. There isn't a whole lot of paperwork involved and its not really all that complex, but it is very precise and there is no tolerance for mistakes, especially on the Form 605 and CSCE.

There is nothing more embarrassing than to have sent your examinees and examiners home only later to find out that a Form 605 or CSCE was missing a signature, a box was unchecked or missing some other vital piece of information. Knowing what to look for quickly and accurately only comes with experience and there is no substitute for this.

This is by no means meant to discourage you. Being a VE can be a very rewarding experience. I have been a VE since 1995 and it is still a thrill to see someone get their first license or upgrade.

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SWMAN
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 01:35:55 PM »

 When I took my general test 2 years ago in Mesquite Texas, there was a lady sitting at the front table who gave me my test. A nice lady also.They are out there.
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AA4HA
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Posts: 1482




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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 11:10:01 AM »

As a YL VE I found it was easier to call up the group that was going to host a test session and offer to help. Most are very happy to have an additional VE sit in on the session and you are likely to start out as an observer and after a few sessions, work your way into a slot of grading or completing paperwork. It is good to sit through all facets of a test session.

As with many things many of the VE's are pretty friendly with one-another and they are used to working in a smaller group. It does not appear to be difficult to make some inroads as long as you are not trying to rewrite the entire script that they work from. Each club does have a slightly different way of doing things.

For the last year or so my schedule just has not allowed me to take the time to go sit through some sessions. I would love to do more of them.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
VK5CQ
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Posts: 115




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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2013, 08:39:32 PM »

Hi Rose  :-)

Well, the further you're willing to travel
from centers of Ham radio activity, the
more likely you are to be one of the few
VE's ready to give exam's there... ;-)

In AU, there are lots of smaller towns &
some indigenous communities where
radio hobbyist might be wanting to be
examined, eg, after preparing, by way
of leaving CB behind (or just adding a
new hobby to a growing list: SWL, CB,
scanning, etc.)

(Of course, any time there's an existing
radio club, you can ask for a chance to
go along - as if in "training mode" - as a
willing extra helper. Who would say No?)

Today - more than ever - women would
be welcomed, so you should get a chance
do more than pass-out or collect exam-
papers... but even if you must do that -
at first - I'd say you'd be able to get a
good feeling of a well-run "exam day"
operation, if the one you pick is well-run.

Of course, you could also create a team
of your own, ie, rather than waiting for
an elderly examiner to "fall-off-the-perch"
at an existing team.

Best experiences:  Just seeing the faces
of the folks who've -passed- one or more
of their exam elements, when I tell them
the good news.

Worst experience:  When a well-liked &
hard-working Radio Scout adviser took
some of the exams, that he hoped would
get him a license... -didn't- pass... First,
it hurt to check his exam paper; later, it
hurt again to have to tell him the news. :-/
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W5LZ
Member

Posts: 477




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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2013, 09:59:22 PM »

The one who takes care of the testing for our local club is female.  She get's to do the paper work that the rest of us only have to sign.  There are a number of VEs in the club, who gives the tests is just a matter of who happens to be available and wants to.  That can get 'interesting' all by it's self sometimes! Smiley
One of the 'bad' parts is telling someone that they didn't pass.  It's never pleasant, but still a part of the job.  Another bad part is making a mistake in the paper work and having to re-do it.  Not the testing necessarily, but the paper work and the delay in the testee being licensed.
I think you will have fun at it.  I do.
 - Paul
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K6CPO
Member

Posts: 157




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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2013, 12:16:39 PM »

Ever since I took my first test in March 2011, I've aspired to move up the ranks to VE. I've never seen a woman sitting at that front table. Smiley

Last week, I got my "Extra" (woo-hoo!) and now I'm doing the test and paperwork for the VE.

One, how do you get "into" the pool to be called for an exam session?

Do the local VECs stay with a few favorites, or do they tend to call on new talent?

And on a more practical note, what's the best part of being a VE?

What's the not-so-fun part?

Anything else you can tell me?

I'd love to hear more.

Rose in Norfolk.


I'm a VE with the SANDARC (San Diego Amateur Radio Council) VEC.  The first thing handed to someone who has just passed the exam for Extra is a VE application.  While not everyone passing the exam becomes a VE, a good percentage do.  We have a regular schedule of exams around the county and most active VEs select a location that's convenient for them. 

I thing the best part of being a VE is seeing the joy on someone's face when they pass the exam and the worst part is the disappointment of those that fail.  We have a policy that if a candidate fails the exam by one or two questions they can immediately take a retest.  I've seen people fail the second time as well.
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