RSGB Examinations – the gateway to amateur radio

| April 27, 2018

RSGB Strategy 2022The three levels of amateur radio examinations provide access to a progressive and fascinating hobby, building knowledge and experience whilst continuing to enjoy the opportunities and operating privileges at each level.

The entry (Foundation) level provides a straightforward entry to the world of amateur radio. It is recognised that amateur radio is a technology-based pastime but prospective entrants may not have a technical background, so the technical content at this level is limited. The Foundation exam is pitched to allow the newcomer to participate in the hobby whilst safely operating radio receivers and transmitters. Building on the Foundation licence, new licensees are encouraged to increase their knowledge and experience by progressing to the Intermediate and Full licence levels, each of which offer enhanced operating privileges and further opportunities. The Intermediate level focuses on some of the practical skills and takes a closer look at some of the underlying technologies. The Full licence examines new technologies and takes a more in-depth look at the principles of radio technologies, supporting our heritage of leadership in the development of those technologies.

The three RSGB exams are set by the RSGB on behalf of, and approved by, Ofcom for the award of amateur radio operating licences. Regular dialogue takes place with Ofcom to ensure satisfaction with the level and scope of the exams.

The examinations are managed by a small group of volunteers who make up the Examination Standards Committee (ESC). The ESC oversees the examinations processes and procedures and is independently audited. It comprises:

  • An RSGB-appointed Chair
  • The Examination Group (EG) – who set the syllabus, vet and maintain questions and review any challenges. Members are drawn from licensed amateurs with wide experience in teaching and administration of examinations
  • The Examination Quality Assurance and Standards Managers – who set the procedural standards, arrange inspections and investigate irregularities in procedure
  • Representatives from the examination department and the Training and Education Committee (TEC) – who report statistics and collate comment from tutors
  • Three independent representatives from industry and academia
  • A representative from Ofcom

The syllabus underpinning the three examinations has been in review. Much effort has been given to updating it to ensure that the progression though the three levels is appropriate for a modern and accessible hobby encompassing a wide diversity of opportunities. We’ll be making announcements about the next stages over the coming months, including timings for when exams will start using the revised syllabus.

All exams are now available online, which offers significant benefits to the candidate and the RSGB. The candidate receives immediate notification of the result at the end of the exam, together with automatic feedback on their performance. For the RSGB there is a reduction in reliance on paper and post, also less time spent processing results. There are also major benefits to both the Club and local exam staff such as online registrations (shortly to be implemented) and the elimination of local marking. The software also allows us to access automatic and extensive statistics that until now had required major effort over many weeks to produce.

“access to a progressive and fascinating hobby, building knowledge and experience”

The RSGB’s purpose “to protect, promote and enhance the use, understanding and enjoyment of wireless communication” is supported by many factors, not least the amateur radio exam system. The three exams provide a gateway for people to understand and enjoy amateur radio and the new online exam access reflects modern technology and expectations. The revised syllabus will ensure that radio amateurs are introduced to new amateur radio technologies which we hope, in turn, will help to spark new interests as part of life-long learning and experimentation – one of our strategic values.

Ian Shepherd, G4EVK
Board Director

Category: RSGB Notices, RSGB Strategy 2022