Exam Specifications – Syllabus 2019

An update on the amateur radio licence exams

The new amateur radio licence has now been in effect for a few weeks. Changes to the licence conditions have necessitated revision to the examination syllabus. We are pleased to release v1.6 of the syllabus including these revisions. Compared to v1.5 in current use, the only section that has seen major changes is Section 1: Licensing and station identification. Section 7: Operating practices and procedures, has seen some minor changes, e.g. with regard to suffixes. We will begin examining to v1.6 of the syllabus on 1 September 2024.

Timing explanation

Some members of the tutor community have raised questions about the RSGB’s decision to move the start of exams to the new licence conditions to 1 September 2024 from the original target of 1 April 2024 which had been proposed in a Tonight @ 8 webinar in August 2023. This note is to explain the reasoning behind this change.

In the webinar, it was stated that meeting the 1 April 2024 target was dependent on both the timetable for the consultation and representation process in the Ofcom consultation document and publishing the new syllabus (v1.6) in the first week of January (giving about three months’ notice to tutors and candidates).

Ofcom had originally planned to publish the results of the consultation in November 2023, but this was delayed until December 2023. The knock-on effect of this was the representation period went over the Christmas/New Year holidays into January 2024. As there could be changes to the licence following the representation period, we were unable to finalise the syllabus for the start of January 2024.

The Ofcom consultation document did not give a precise date for the adoption of the new licence. We had worked on the assumption that it would be towards the end of the final quarter of the financial year 2023/24 leading to the 1 April 2024 target. We later learned that the new licence will be in effect before 1 March 2024, so even with the 1 April 2024 date there would still have been a period after the start of the new licence when we examined to the old licence conditions or had to suspend exams.

Although we didn’t know the details, we were aware that there were some representations taking place which could affect the syllabus. We had also received feedback from tutors and ESC members on the first draft, which suggested more work was needed on the syllabus. These meant that the earliest the new syllabus would be ready for publication would be March 2024. Allowing three months’ notice would then put the start of exams to the new licence conditions in June 2024, for which we would need Ofcom approval. However, given that June to August is traditionally a quieter time for exams, it made sense to request from Ofcom approval to continue to examine to the old licence conditions until 1 September 2024 instead. We thought this would give plenty of notice to tutors and candidates and allow sufficient time for careful vetting of the question bank to make sure no questions on the old licence conditions slip through the net. We released news of the change of date immediately after Ofcom gave its approval.

In the end, we made the decision that the quality of the syllabus and exam was more important than rushing the process to try to get close to a target date based on an assumption that turned out to be incorrect.

We hope that this helps to answer the questions that have been raised about the timing and that we can now work together as a exam and training community to ensure everything is in place for 1 September 2024.

Tony Kent, G8PBH
Examinations Standards Committee Chair


Exam specifications v1.5 – For exams sat before 1 September 2024

Exam specifications v1.6 – For exams sat from 1 September 2024

Changes from the previous version

The following document shows the differences from version 1.5 of the syllabus, to help tutors to identify what has changed


Direct to Full

Direct Entry to Full – revised specification

We are pleased to release version 1.1 of the Direct to Full Examination Syllabus which has been updated to include the new licence conditions. The new licensing conditions will be examined from 1 October 2024. Please see the information released with the three part syllabus for a summary of things that have changed in the exams following the licensing changes


Exam overview

Summary of exam questions; pass mark, percentage and time

Exam  Questions   Passmark   Percentage     Time (mins)
Foundation  26  19  73  60
Intermediate      46  28  61  90
Full   58  35  60  120
Direct to Full  Part 1 – 18
  Part 2 – 57
  Part 1 – 14
  Part 2 – 36
  Part 1 – 77.7
  Part 2 – 63.2