VE Testing Information
FCC Providing Flexibility to Volunteer Examiners in Developing Remote Testing Methods
In response to questions from the amateur radio community, the FCC has clarified that nothing in its rules prohibits remote amateur radio testing, and no prior approval is needed to conduct remote exam sessions.
"The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place," the FCC said in an April 30 news release. "We recognize that some volunteer examiner coordinators may not have the immediate capacity for widespread remote testing. We expect those volunteer examiner coordinators with limited remote testing capacity to work closely with those requesting such testing to prioritize any available remote testing slots."
In a tweet the next day, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the announcement "Good news for aspiring amateur radio operators."
The FCC opened the door to remotely administered examinations in a June 5, 2014, FCC Report and Order, noting that, since the VE system was established, "remote testing methods have been developed, including audio and video links, either hard-wired to a site or available through internet or satellite technologies, which would allow a VE team to observe an examinee from afar." The FCC ruled that allowing VEs and VECs the option of administering examinations remotely was warranted. The FCC declined to incorporate any specific requirements or conditions for remote testing i nto the rules, and made it clear that VECs and VEs were not required to offer remote testing.
ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said she's gratified to see that the FCC appreciates the need for remote testing. "Many of our VEs and VE teams have been employing remotely proctored exam sessions with both video and in-person components, and following social-distancing protocols, where necessary," she said. "Some ARRL VE teams have shown great promise in administering exams remotely." Somma also said that as states begin to lift restrictions, the possibility exists to restart in-person amateur radio exam opportunities.
"We urge our VE teams to keep up to date so they can make informed decisions based on local community guidelines, as each community is unique," she said. "Our volunteers should use their best judgement when deciding whether or not to begin conducting in-person exam sessions. It is important to us that you feel confident when choosing your course of action, because the health and safety of our VEs and the examinees is the top priority. VE teams that choose to conduct in-person sessions should restart consistent with local restrictions and guidelines."
To find amateur radio license exam sessions in your area, visit the ARRL website. Candidates should verify with their VE teams that the exam session is being held and if any special procedures are required to attend.
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