veclogoThe W5YI-VEC
2016 Volunteer Examiner's Manual

Copyright: 1984,2016 The W5YI-VEC, Arlington, Texas All Rights Reserved

A complete guide covering everything you need to know to examine applicants under the W5YI-VEC Program for all ham radio licenses

Administering examinations in the Amateur Service is not difficult...but there are certain things you must know. This manual is intended to cover even the most special cases!

This guide is published as a detailed explanation of the policies and procedures used in the W5YI-VEC Program. The VE/VEC System tests applicants for all classes of Amateur licenses.  As a VEC, we feel it is important that Volunteer Examiners are well informed of the rules and regulations applicable to the VE/VEC System

VEC Manual Table Of Contents

Click HERE for Printable PDF Version

1. Introduction to the VE/VEC System
1.1 The Mechanism of Amateur Testing
1.2 The Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC)
1.3 The Volunteer Examiner (VE)
2. The W5YI-VEC Program
2.1 The Contact VE
2.2 The Volunteer Examiner
VE Application Statement.
2.3 W5YI-VEC Policies
Written Test Policy
Expense Reimbursement
Allowable Expenses
Rule Books, Question Pools and Manuals
Communicating with the W5YI-VEC Office
3. The Exam Session from Start to Finish
3.1 A Short Overview of the Exam Process
3.2 Organizing an Exam Session
Establishing an Exam Team
Setting up an Examination Session
3.3 Conducting an Exam
Registering Applicants
Administering and Grading the Exams
3.4 Tabulating the Exam Results
Certify the NCVEC Form 605's
Manifest of Applicants
4. Filling Out the NCVEC Form 605
4.1 Section 1 (Filled out by the applicant)
4.2 Section 2 (Filled out by the VEs)
Amateur License Requirements
Technician License Credits
Section Removed
4.3 Examination Element Credit
4.4 Defective Applications
4.5 Amateur Station Vanity Call Sign System
5. The Written Exam
5.1 Administering Written Exams
5.2 Making Your Own Written Exams
5.3 Written Exam Requirements
5.4 Preparing a Written Examination
5.5 Question Pool Topics
5.6 Questions in Pools and Exams
5.7 Preparing your own written examinations
6.0 Section Removed
6.1 Section Removed
6.2 Section Removed
6.3 Section Removed
6.4 Section Removed
7. Grading Examinations
7.1 Written Examination Grading
Questions Needed to Pass, Fail
7.2 Section Removed
7.3 Instant Upgrade & Examination Credit
CSCE Element Credit
Element Credit Based on Holding a License
Temporary Operating Authority
Special Identifiers
8.0 Processing the Paperwork
8.1 Applications for New/Upgraded Licenses
NCVEC Form 605 Handling
Attachments to the NCVEC Form 605
8.2 The Exam Session Report
Certificates of Successful Completion (CSCE)
Manifest of Applicants
Volunteer Examiner's Certification
8.3 The Final Checklist
Mail via First Class
8.4 Retention of Records
8.5 Electronic Filing of Applications
VE to VEC Electronic Filing
Obtaining a New Call Sign
Transmitting Sessions of W5YI-VEC
9. Miscellaneous Topics
9.1 Design of the Questions Pools
9.2 Question Pool Revision Schedule
9.3 Question Pool Numbering System
9.4 Testing of the Handicapped
9.5 Maintaining Examination Integrity
9.6 Distribution of Study Material, Teaching Classes
9.7 Be Familiar with FCC Part 97 Rules
10. W5YI-VE to VEC Electronic Filing
11. FCC Part 97, Amateur Service Rules - Index
12. The Telecommunications Act of 1996
13.0 Samples of Completed Forms
Certificate of Successful Completion of Exam
Manifest of Applicants
14. Available Question Pools


Since the Federal Communications Commission released rules in 2007 that removed CW - Morse Code as a testing requirement from ALL Amateur license examinations in the United States, there have been few if any rule changes that impacted the VEC Program.

Currently there are three license classes that require only written examinations:

Element 2: 35 question written test for a Technician License. Pool effective 7/01/18 to 6/30/22 .....passing score for written exam is 26 questions answered correctly
Element 3: 35-question written test for a General license.Pool effective 7/01/15 to 6/30/19....passing score for written exam is 26 questions answered correctly
Element 4: 50-question written test for an Amateur Extra license. Pool effective 7/01/16 to 6/30/20....passing score for written exam is 37 questions answered correctly

Effective July 21, 2014, a new Report and Order, WT Docket 12-283; FCC 14-74, changes several FCC rules of the VEC Program.

As previously was the case, 97.505 (a) (4) currently licensed Technician Class applicants with an old Technician Class operator license dated before March 21, 1987 automatically qualify for a General Class (Element 3)license without further testing. They must bring their old license document (or other evidence) to a VE exam session, pay the session fee, to "paper upgrade" the current license without examination.
The NEW ruling permits element credit to applicants that can prove that they previously held a now-expired Amateur Extra - to receive credit for elements 3 and 4, and applicants that held a now-expired Advanced Class - receive credit for element 3 and expired General receives Element 3 credit. All applicants must still pass an Element 2 exam and qualify for a Technician license.

The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an examinee holding any of the following license grants:

                                    Unexpired (or Expired and beyond
         Operator class           within the renewal the (grace period)                 
(1) Amateur Extra..............  Not applicable.....   Elements 3 and 4.
(2) Advanced; General; or        Elements 2 and 3...   Element 3.
 Technician granted before
 March 21, 1987.
(3) Technician Plus; or          Element 2..........   No credit.
 Technician granted on or after
 March 21, 1987.

VEs frequently accept documentation to show an individual was a licensee and, therefore, is eligible for examination credit.  For example, VEs accept copies of old licenses, license verification letters from the
Commission and Callbook Magazine listings that show the applicant was licensed at the required license level to receive element credit.
(b) The administering VEs must give credit to an examinee holding a CSCE for each element the CSCE indicates the examinee passed within the previous 365 days. 

Additional NEW Regulations (Sec. 97.507, 97.509 and 97.513) effective July 21, 2014:
97.507 Preparing an examination.
(a)  Each written question set administered to an examinee must be prepared by a VE holding an Amateur Extra Class operator license.
A written question set may also be prepared for the following elements by a VE holding an operator license of the class indicated:

§ 97.509  Administering VE requirements (c)  Each administering VE must observe the examinee throughout the entire examination.  The administering VEs are responsible for the proper conduct and necessary supervision of each examination.  The administering VEs must immediately terminate the examination upon failure of the examinee to comply with their instructions.
(f) No examination that has been compromised shall be administered to any examinee.  The same question set may not be re-administered to the same examinee.

§ 97.513 VE session manager requirements. (b)  The VE session manager may carry on liaison functions between the VE team and the coordinating VEC.

1. Introduction to the VE/VEC System

The purpose of this VE manual is to provide Volunteer Examiners with the information necessary to properly administer examinations in the Amateur Radio Service under the W5YI-VEC program and FCC Rules. It also advises license applicants, potential W5YI-VEC Volunteer Examiners and interested individuals of the present status of the Commission's Volunteer Examination Coordinator System.

1.1 The Mechanism of Amateur Testing

For 70 years the US government prepared and administered amateur exams, but due to budgetary constraints and personnel cutbacks, the FCC discontinued these operations. Congress enacted legislation in 1982 which allowed the FCC to accept the volunteer services of amateur radio operators to prepare and administer Amateur Radio Service examinations.

The FCC then created two levels of exam administration, the Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) and the Volunteer Examiner (VE). The VEC acts as an administrative liaison (or coordinator) between the FCC and the VEs who administer the tests. The FCC directs the entire Amateur Radio testing program through 14 VEC organizations, but the W5YI-VEC and ARRL-VEC account for about 90% of all examination sessions.

A bank of test questions controlled by the amateur community forms the question pools used for all amateur license exams. Only VEC-accredited amateurs having a higher class license than an applicant may administer written or telegraphy examinations. Any qualified General, Advanced or Extra Class radio amateur may participate as a VE as long as their license has not been suspended or revoked. (see 97.509) All VEs must be approved (or "accredited") by a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. (see 97.521) Ham testing is now administered by teams of three or more VEs from the private sector rather than government employees. The FCC no longer administers amateur (or commercial) radio examinations of any type.

The exam results are forwarded by the VE team (along with the appropriate application forms, license photocopies and attachments) to the VEC who screens the applications for completeness and authenticity. To speed things up, W5YI-VEC teams may be authorized to electronically submit the application data of new (first time licensed) applicants to the W5YI-VEC Office. (More on this later.) After review of the electronic documentation, the VEC then electronically submits the application data to the FCC Universal Licensing System and a license is granted.

W5YI-VEC coordinates US amateur exams in almost every state, some US possessions and in a few other countries where the required VE team can be formed. We were the first national-in-scope VEC, although the FCC now permits any VEC to conduct testing anywhere. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) was the second national-in-scope VEC to be accepted, and several smaller organizations were accepted as VECs as well.

1.2 The Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC)

VECs have been given certain duties and responsibilities and have been granted certain authority by the FCC to:
* Recruit and accredit Volunteer Examiners and issue accreditation documents
* Coordinate examination sessions with VEs
* Inform VEs of changes to the examination process
* Provide a source of amateur license testing materials for its VEs
* Provide necessary test session forms such as NCVEC Form 605s, Certificates of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCEs), Manifest of Applicants, etc.
* Collect and archive successful candidates application forms, license copies, answer sheets, CSCE and test results
* Prepare and maintain records of all test sessions per FCC Instructions
* Screen, approve and forward the successful applications for amateur licenses, either on paper form, computer disk or electronically, to the FCC
* Resolve defects in NCVEC Form 605s made by applicants and/or Volunteer Examiners
* Invalidate a test session and disaccredit Volunteer Examiners if the need arises. The W5YI-VEC may disaccredit a VE for any reason - or for no reason at all. All VEs agree to this provision as part of their accreditation application.
* Assist in the development and/or revision of test pool questions
* Evaluate test questions to ensure clarity and accuracy and forward recommendations to the VECs Question Pool Committee. The QPC is a panel of VECs who are elected annually at the National VEC Conference to develop and revise all written license examination questions.
* Determine the amount of out-of-pocket reimbursement expenses for each year


Although VECs must recruit and accredit Volunteer Examiners, they are under no obligation to accredit any particular amateur into their examining program. (see 97.525) VEs, once accredited, may be separated from the program for any reason or for no reason at all. A W5YI-VE candidate must advise a VEC if they have been denied acceptance into, or was separated from, any other VEC testing program. Failure to notify a VEC of these circumstances is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program. The W5YI-VEC may elect to arbitrarily separate a VE from W5YI-VEC testing program based on the dismissal or suspension of that VE by another VEC, or for any complaint received or knowledgement of a complaint regarding any appearance of impropriety by the administering examiner.

1.3 The Volunteer Examiner (VE)

Under the several VEC organizations are the thousands of amateurs who make up the Volunteer Examiners of the VE/VEC System. These are amateurs accredited by the VECs to administer Amateur Radio examinations.

VEs must meet certain minimum criteria established by the FCC (see 97.509) and any additional criteria established by their VEC. Accreditation by one VEC does not automatically guarantee accreditation by other VECs (since each VEC program is a separate entity with its own rules for accrediting). Some VEC programs (including the W5YI-VEC) allow VEs from other VECs to be used under certain conditions. (See Section 2.2 in the next chapter for complete details.)

Minimum FCC requirements for VEs in the VE/VEC System as specified in Part 97.509 are:

A VE must be 18 years of age or older. (See 97.509(b))
A VE cannot administer an exam to any relative by blood or marriage (See 97.509(d))
VEs and VECs may be reimbursed by examinees for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing, processing, administering, or coordinating an examination for an amateur operator license. ( 97.527)
A VE must be accredited by a VEC. (See 97.509(b))
A VE must never have had an amateur radio station or operator license revoked or suspended. (See 97.509(b)(4))
The administering VEs must accommodate an examinee whose physical disabilities require a special examination procedure. The administering VEs may require a physician's certification indicating the nature of the disability before determining which, if any, special procedures must be used. (See 97.509(k))
Each administering VE must: (1) Be accredited by the coordinating VEC; (2) Be at least 18 years of age; (3) Be a person who holds an amateur operator license of the class specified below: (i) Amateur Extra, Advanced or General Class in order to administer a Technician Class operator license examination; (ii) Amateur Extra or Advanced Class in order to administer a General Class operator license examination; (iii) Amateur Extra Class in order to administer an Amateur Extra Class operator license examination. (See 97.509(b)(3))
A VE session manager may be selected by the VE team for each examination session. The VE session manager must be accredited as a VE by the same VEC that coordinates the examination session. The VE session manager may serve concurrently as an administering VE.(See 97.513)
Each administering VE must observe the examinee throughout the entire examination. The administering VEs are responsible for the proper conduct and necessary supervision of each examination. The administering VEs must immediately terminate the examination upon failure of the examinee to comply with their instructions.(See 97.509(c))
Each examination for an amateur operator license must be administered by a team of at least 3 VEs at an examination session coordinated by a VEC. The number of examinees at the session may be limited. (See 97.509(a))

Volunteer examiners are under no obligation to test anyone should they desire not to for any reason. VEs are not considered employees or agents of the government or the VEC. They have no licensing or enforcement authority. They merely volunteer their services as a private citizen.

VEs agree to hold their VEC harmless in all disputes that might arise and agree to abide by VEC decisions which are final without appeal.

Guidance concerning the activities of volunteer examiners can be found in Part 97, Subpart F. Every Volunteer Examiner must be thoroughly familiar with these Rules.

2.1 The Contact VE

Any group of three or more W5YI-VEC accredited VEs who administer an exam are considered a team. One of these VEs is designated by the team as its leader (or "Session Manager." We call this individual the "Contact VE" or CVE. The CVE is responsible for maintaining test integrity, especially the security of the test materials and the conduct of the test session itself. Any communications to or from the team will be focused through the CVE. All VEs who certify NCVEC Form 605 applications are equally responsible for the integrity of the exam(s). (See § 97.509(i)

Ordinarily the CVE will attend every test session administered by his/her testing team. If the CVE is unable to attend a session, the session may be conducted using the CVE’s test materials provided the CVE has confidence in another VE of the appropriate license class being responsible for test security. The regular CVE’s accreditation number must be shown and circled on the session’s Manifest report form so the session may be associated with the regular CVE and appropriate testing team. A short memo/note must be attached indicating the reason for the CVE’s absence. Otherwise, the test session paperwork will be returned to the administering VE team without action by W5YI-VEC. All test session correspondence will be sent to the CVE, present at the exam or not; the CVE must also resolve exam discrepancies (if any).

2.2 The Volunteer Examiner

General, Advanced and Extra Class radio amateurs may be accredited as Volunteer Examiners and may form examination teams

Accredited General Class VEs may certify only applications for examinees administered the Technician (Element 2) examination. A General Class VE's serial number is appended with the letter "G"

Accredited Advanced Class VEs may certify only applications for examinees administered the Technician (Element 2), General (Element 3) examination. An Advanced Class VE's serial number is appended with the letter "A".

Accredited Extra Class VEs may certify all applications of examinees administered the Technician (Element 2), General (Element 3), Extra Class (Element 4) examination.

To be a VE under our program, mail a VE application form along with a photocopy of your current FCC General, Advanced or Extra Class license. You may request a VE application, by phone, mail, or online by filling out the application request form for a Volunteer Examiner Application.

The FCC does not allow VECs to accredit VEs until their operator license grant appears in the FCC database. The accreditation will be mailed in a couple of weeks after receipt and is valid for an indefinite time period.

All accredited CVE (Contact VE Team Leaders) must update their accreditation every 2 years and/or upon renewal of their FCC license.. The W5YI-VEC will contact each CVE periodically to update information on their active VE team members and renew their accreditation. Active CVEs will receive a newly-dated ID card with each renewal of their accreditation.

If a CVE has been totally inactive for a period of two years, accreditation with the W5YI-VEC will be suspended and the CVE contacted by mail to determine their intention to remain active or be dropped as a CVE ...even if he/she continues to meet the statutory prerequisites as a VE.

Although anyone that is qualified may apply for VE status, the W5YI-VEC accredits volunteer exam teams ...rather than indiscriminately accrediting individuals who may or may not participate in examination sessions. Ideally, VE applications submitted for examiner status should be sponsored by an existing active CVE Team Leader to become part of that testing team. However, a VE may be part of as many different teams as they wish but must remain active to maintain their accreditation.

Contact Volunteer Examiners (CVE) should submit new VE applications of prospective team members and maintain an updated roster of their team with our office. A CVE may accept or not accept the VE services of anyone. CVEs must not use the services of any VE whose past status is questionable or who has had their operator license suspended or revoked. (See 97.509(a)(4))

VE Application Statement

I am a currently licensed:___General Class, ____ Advanced Class;___ Extra Class amateur radio operator and wish to participate in the W5YI-VEC Amateur Radio operator Volunteer Examination program. I have never had my station or operator license revoked or suspended, nor have I ever been disaccredited or refused accreditation by another VEC. I am at least 18 years old.

I am familiar with the FCC Rules concerning Amateur Radio operator license testing as indicated in Title 47 CFR, Part 97, Subpart F. I agree to conduct all amateur radio examinations in accordance with these Rules and the procedures established by the W5YI-VEC.

I understand that failure to comply with these procedures could result in my being separated from the W5YI-VEC Volunteer Examination program. Serious violations of the FCC Rules may result in suspension or revocation of my amateur operator/primary station license.

I understand the relationship between the VE and VEC is one of responsibility and trust. Each of us is free to terminate that relationship at any time and for any (or no) reason or circumstance.

I agree to accept the decisions of the VEC and to release them from any liability associated with those decisions.

No examinations may be administered without three W5YI-VEC accredited VEs (see exception below). Both large and small test sessions (as few as a single applicant) may be conducted. It is the responsibility of the CVE to ensure that the other VEs are accredited with W5YI-VEC as part of their team. CVEs should not use any VE whose past status as a VE is questionable.

EXCEPTION: If a team holds an exam and three W5YI-VEC accredited VEs are not available for some unforeseen reason, a VE currently accredited under another VEC program may be used. IMPORTANT: A photocopy of their current accreditation document , amateur license and a copy of a completed W5YI-VE application must be attached with the test session documents or the exams will be invalidated and return all NCVEC Form 605 applications to the VE team without action.

VEs must not be related (by blood or marriage) to any applicant they examine (see 97.509(d)). Applicants who are relatives of VEs or the CVE must have their exams selected and/or designed by non-related VEs. Related VEs or CVEs must not know which examinations will be administered to relatives and should be excused from the testing room during an exam. Exams for the related applicants should be generated by computer software at the session and pre-printed paper exams should not be administered. It is very important that no one perceive that any applicant has an increased chance of passing an exam due to knowing a VE.

Handicapped General, Advanced and Extra Class VEs may be utilized if, in the opinion of the Contact VE, they are able to properly carry out the duties of a VE as outlined in Part 97, Subpart F. The CVE is under no obligation to accept the services of any VE.

2.3 W5YI-VEC Policies

The W5YI-VEC is committed to a simple, yet effective VEC/VE mechanism while abiding within the rules set forth by the FCC. We have seven principles designed to minimize administration and maximize the participation of our VEs:

• Simple, streamlined procedures
• Widespread availability
• Immediate accreditation and eligibility to test;
• Easy exam administration
• Inexpensive cost; expense reimbursement immediately shared with VE teams (no expense lists to submit)
• Fast handling by the VEC
• Well publicized availability

Written Tests Policy

The W5YI-VEC provides examination software to generate written tests for CVEs at no cost. This software should be used to generate all exams as needed for a test session. Each written exam is unique but should be used only once in any given test session to any one applicant. At a minimum, we suggest at least three different versions of tests for each license class should be generated from the software and duplicated for use in the actual session. We require that the CVE periodically change exams, at least every 90 days, to help insure greater exam integrity. All reprinted written tests are to be retained by the CVE and kept in a secure/locked location.

It is very important (even after a test session) that the contents of the tests are not disclosed to anyone. We strongly suggest giving applicants sitting next to each other a different version of the test. The CVE must keep track of tests failed so that a different examination will be administered to an applicant during subsequent test sessions. This is an FCC rule. (See 97.509(f))

NOTE: Concerns about preprinted or copied written examinations exists. However, individually unique, computer-generated exams, such as the ones produced by our exam software, pose no integrity problem if used properly and new exams are regularly generated.

The initial set of forms, software and exam materials are sent at no cost to the CVE Team Leader. Additional or replacement CDs are available upon request to our VEC office.

Expense reimbursement policy

VEs may not be compensated for their examination services -- only reimbursed for expenses. (See 97.527) The FCC allows only one reimbursement amount which can't exceed the maximum allowed regardless of the number of elements passed. An amateur passing any number of test elements in a single exam session sitting pays only the one testing fee. Retesting because of failure of an element, however, requires a second fee, see (See Retesting), below.

The reimbursement fee is the only fee that may be charged to a candidate for an exam. Applicants must not be required to purchase license preparation material, participate in an instruction class for which a fee is charged or to purchase a ticket to an event of any kind as a prerequisite to taking an amateur examination.

If exams are held at an instruction class, hamfest, convention or other gathering, any fee charged for admission must be separate and apart from the exam reimbursement fee. A candidate must not be required to purchase an admission ticket just to take an exam. (One way around this problem which has worked many times in the past is to gather exam applicants outside the "admission fee required" area and escort them to and from the testing area.) The availability of amateur exams inside hamfest grounds is an excellent promotional tool and allows teams to test many applicants that normally would not be reached.

We require all VE teams to charge the full established exam fee to all applicants. The fee may be collected in advance or at the time of testing. W5YI-VEC shares this exam fee with its VEs since they must pay for postage, photocopying, etc. There are no expense lists to submit.

The breakdown of the test fee reimbursement between the W5YI-VEC and our VEs is:

Number of Applicants VE Team Reimbursement Share W5YI-VEC Share Total Fee
Any Number $7.00 ea. $7.00 ea. $14.00 ea.

The W5YI-VEC fee share may be paid by check, money order, cash or credit card. If the VE team conducts exam sessions sponsored by a club, excess test fees may not be deposited in a ham club treasury. Any excess funds must be spent and relate to test session expenses.

Many VE teams open bank checking accounts into which they deposit all test fees. The W5YI-VEC fee share is simply paid by check from that account. Other teams pay the VEC fee share by a personal check from one of the examiners. (It is not necessary to pay by cashier's check or money order to W5YI-VEC.)

Out-of-Pocket Allowable Expenses

Costs such as telephone calls, pencils, room rentals, postage, test session promotion, printing, travel costs, supplies, gasoline, even food or refreshments for your testing session... are all reimbursable. The FCC no longer announces the maximum allowable reimbursement amount every fall. The test fee amount is now determined by the VECs and effective at the beginning of the calendar year. All VECs generally use this agreed upon reimbursement amount when administering exams during the coming year.

Rule books, Question Pools and VE Manuals

The W5YI-VEC Office offers up-to-date, low-cost Part 97 Rulebooks for purchase in quantity of as few as 6 plus UPS shipping cost. Consult your CVE Supply Order Form for current pricing. Your VE team or ham club may wish to make these Rule Books available to new licensees. It is legal to offer these Rule Books to your applicants either before or after their examination. The toll free order line is: 800-669-9594.

Additional copies of this VE Manual are available from the VEC Office for a nominal cost. Consult your CVE Supply Order Form for current year pricing or call 800-669-9594. This VE Manual is also posted online to our website which allows for easy viewing and printing.


There is no waiting period to retake a failed examination with W5YI-VEC; we permit applicants to retake failed examinations immediately. At the option of the VE team, this may be accomplished one or more times at the same test session. If the applicant requests additional (a second, third, or more) exams, it is up to the exam team, not the applicant to decide if a retest will be given.

NOTE: An applicant may NOT be given an examination identical to one previously failed. See 97.509(f).

Applicants immediately retaking failed examinations must pay another test fee since it is considered another test session. The second test fee (like the first) is good for as many exam elements as the applicant goes on to pass. The decision is up to the VE team.

For example, an applicant is charged the fee for taking Element 2 and fails it, but then requests a retest. If the VE team agrees that the applicant could reasonably pass another exam, a second exam fee is charged. This time the applicant passes Element 2 and then requests Element 3. The Element 3 exam is covered under the second test fee and may be administered at no charge. To extend the example, suppose the applicant now fails Element 3. It will require both the agreement of the exam team and another test fee to administer another Element 3 exam to the applicant.

Communicating with the W5YI-VEC office

Contact with the W5YI-VEC office may be by mail to the following address:
P.O. Box 200065
Arlington, Texas 76006-0065

or by e-mail to:

or by telephone to:
(817) 860-3800 - or (800) 669-9594 (Regular business hours)

or by facsimile to:
817- 548-9594 - FAX

If you are shipping us a package via U.P.S. or overnight courier, our office address is:

2000 E. Randol Mill Road, Suite 608-A
Arlington, Texas 76011

We normally answer all email within 24 hours. The W5YI VEC Office is open only during regular business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

IMPORTANT: ALWAYS include the Contact VE's accreditation number, the date and the city and state of the exam session in any message concerning an exam. If you inquire about an individual applicant, ALWAYS include the date and the city and state of the exam session in your message. All of our test session records are filed by VE number, session date, and city/state.

3.1 A Short Overview of the Exam Process

First, pick an exam team of three or more W5YI-VEC accredited VEs and choose a Contact VE (CVE) from among the group. This person is also referred to in the Part 97 Rules as the Session Manager. ( See 97.513 )

Determine a time and place for your first exam session and have the CVE contact W5YI-VEC. VE teams must agree to conduct four or more examination sessions annually. If the team wants to make its own tests, prepare them before the exam date. Make a public announcement of the test session's location and time.

On the exam date, all team members and the CVE will meet at the testing location; the CVE will have (and is responsible for) the testing materials. As applicants arrive, log them in, determine which elements they will be taking and help them fill out the Applicant Section of the NCVEC Form 605.

Note that the NCVEC Form 605 (Application Form) must be used and not the FCC Form 605 since the FCC Form does not provide for information to be entered by the Administering VEs.

Administer the appropriate written tests, grade them and advise each applicant whether they passed or failed. Give a Certificate of Successful Completion to anyone passing a test. (See 97.509(l)

Near the end of the exam session, process the NCVEC Form 605's and prepare the Manifest of Applicants. Each VE certifying a NCVEC Form 605 is responsible for the correctness and integrity of that application. Some documents will be kept by the CVE and some will be sent to W5YI-VEC.

3.2 Organizing an Exam Session

Choose an Examination Team

Any three or more W5YI-VEC accredited VEs may be chosen to make up an exam team (see Chapter 2). Once at least three VEs are selected, a test session may be planned. We ask that our VE teams conduct at least four examination sessions per year. It is not necessary that the test session be sponsored by an amateur club or other group.

Select a Contact VE

A Contact VE (CVE) -- or Session Manager -- must be chosen as our liaison to the VE team. Usually this will be the individual who requests to conduct examination sessions on a continuing basis. The CVE is responsible for heading up the test session and for test material security. He/she must be certain that the test location, needed exam materials, and VEs are available when needed ...and that all W5YI-VEC and FCC testing rules are followed.

The CVE must ensure that every VE on the team is accredited and is qualified to administer the appropriate class of license exam. ( See 97.509(b) (A General Class VE may administer only Element 2, an Advanced VE may administer Elements 2 and 3 and an Extra Class VE may administer Elements 2, 3 and 4.) The CVE should ask to see a VE's accreditation documents and accreditation number if not certain of a VE's status. We must invalidate a test session if three properly accredited VEs are not in attendance and observing the exam session from start to finish.

Select a test site

Preferably, all exam sessions are to be held in a public meeting room or facility, such as a library, church, fraternal organization, or school room. Although a person's home may be used, approval must be obtained from W5YI-VEC and prior notification to our office is required. Sometimes a firm such as a bank, utility company, etc. will allow their facilities to be used on a weekend or evening when they are not normally in use. Some VE teams administer exams before a monthly club meeting.
Applicants may be examined at a hamfest, but they must not be required to purchase a ticket to be examined. The only fee an applicant is required to pay is the current established examination fee.

Set a registration deadline

The registration deadline is the date by which applicants must notify the VE team that they will attend an exam. In general, the deadline should be the same day as the test session to allow for walk-in license upgrade candidates. We strongly recommend that you allow walk-in candidates. It is not necessary that the W5YI-VEC Office be notified in advance of the date of your examination session.

Publicize the examination

As of December 15, 2006, the FCC by rule making no longer requires that the date, location and time of a test session be publicized. (See 97.509(a)) Although a public announcement is no longer necessary, we encourage VE teams to promote attendance at testing sessions by making the public aware of normally scheduled testing sessions. This may be in any form including a club newsletter, an announcement on a local repeater, or a posted handbill at a local ham equipment supplier. Even if testing is not open to the public, such as a special exam for a handicapped individual or a graduating ham radio class, we suggest that you promote your sessions by public announcement.

The W5YI-VEC maintains a database of all accredited Contact VE Team Leaders on our web site at: Your exam session schedule may be sent via electronic mail to:

It may be also mailed to: W5YI-VEC
POB 200065
Arlington, TX 76006-0065

or by fax to: 817-548-9594.

We will refer applicants to your testing team by location / zip code and instruct them to contact you directly to preregister or appear at a normally scheduled session. The following is the information to report to us:

Date of exam session
City and state
Telephone number of CVE
Name and call sign of CVE

3.3 Conducting an Exam

Register the Applicants

FCC guidelines require that two identification documents be inspected on all applicants. If at all possible, at least one of them should be a state driver's license with a photograph on it. Although rare, some people have tried posing as another person to pass an exam for them. After the VE team is satisfied that each applicant has been positively identified, the applicant's name, call sign (if any) and telephone number should be recorded on the Manifest of Applicants.

Be certain to advise applicants of the mandatory fee. Each applicant must be charged the currently established full test fee. Since both the VE team and the VEC Office have expenses that must be paid, both share the test fees. The test fee is charged even if the candidate fails the test or pays in advance and fails to appear for the exam. See Chapter 8. Processing the Paperwork for further information.

Fill Out NCVEC Form 605

Each applicant should fill out Section 1 of an NCVEC Form 605. Be aware that only the July 2017 or newer version of the NCVEC Form 605 may be used. This form is available from the VEC Office at a nominal cost for 50 or 100 copies. The NCVEC 605 Form may also be downloaded and printed locally. If you print them yourself we prefer that it be printed on "buff" or "ivory" color paper rather than white paper.

Perhaps the most important of all the administrative chores is the proper completion of the NCVEC Form 605 application. The greatest cause of VE exam session errors (and license delay) by far is defective NCVEC Form 605s. The next chapter, 4. Filling Out the NCVEC Form 605, gives all the details.

Administer the Exams

Use a quiet, distraction-free room for your exams. The written exams for different license classes may be administered simultaneously. See Chapter 5: The Written Exam

Grade the Exams

As each individual completes a test element, it should be brought to the VE team for grading. We recommend that applicants leave the room or sit somewhere away from the exam team while they grade applicant answer sheets. When the results are in, tell each person whether they passed or failed and how many questions they missed. See Chapter 7. Grading Examinations.

Fill Out the CSCE's

Those who pass one or more test elements are given a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) indicating the element(s) they passed and the license class qualified. The VEs certifying the NCVEC Form 605 must also be the ones who certify the CSCE. See Processing the Paperwork.

3.4 Tabulating the Exam Results

Certify the NCVEC Form 605's

Before the session is over, review all NCVEC Form 605s for accuracy and completeness. Three members of the VE team who observed their completion by the applicant must certify Section 2 of NCVEC Form 605 (see 97.509(f)).

"The certifying VEs are jointly and individually accountable for the proper administration of each examination element reported. The certifying VEs may delegate to other qualified VEs their authority, but not their accountability, to administer individual elements of an examination."

This means that all three certifying VEs are equally responsible for the accuracy of the scores, and the credibility of the exam session and its paperwork even if there were other VEs assisting with the examinations. It is the certifying VEs, not just the CVE, who are the responsible parties.

Manifest of Applicants

All VEs who attend and assist at the exam session should ensure that their names, call signs and VE accreditation number are entered on the Manifest of Applicants. There is no longer a requirement that VEs fill out an expense certification section on the Manifest of Applicants form since this requirement was abolished in the Spring of 1996. (See Chapter 8, Processing the Paperwork.)

Send the Results to the VEC Office

The fully-completed NCVEC Form 605s, PASSING answer sheets, scratch papers, and copies of any operator licenses or CSCE(s) used for element credit of applicants who pass all the requirements for any class of license must be sent to W5YI-VEC, along with the Manifest of Applicants report(s) and a check for the W5YI-VEC portion of the exam fees. This paperwork must be promptly forwarded even if you have electronically transmitted your session results into the VEC Office's computer. Photocopies of the front of the Form 605s sent to W5YI-VEC should be made and kept with the other session papers for your records. (Again, see Chapter 8, Processing the Paperwork.)


4.1 Section 1 (Filled out by the applicant)

NOTE: The top section of NCVEC Form 605 is filled out by the applicant, not the VE team.

Applicant's name
Applicants should carefully print their name, LAST NAME FIRST followed by any suffix (Jr., Sr., etc.), first name and a single middle initial letter. Illegible handwriting causes many applications to be rejected by the FCC's electronic comparison of old license information to the 605. For enforcement reasons, all applications are compared against the FCC's database in Washington, DC, before a license is granted. Applicants can anticipate long reprocessing delays if applications are rejected during the comparison process because they do not match up with a previously submitted and approved application.

Station Call Sign
Applicant should enter his/her current station call sign. Leave blank if applicant is not licensed.

Mailing address, City and State
Applicant must show a mailing address where the U.S. Postal Service can deliver mail. It is not necessary that the applicant operate an amateur station at or even live at this address. It may be a post office box, general delivery, rural route or AE, AP (U.S. military in foreign country) address. Use 2-letter state codes and either a 5 or 9-digit zip code. Applicants residing in foreign countries MUST show a U.S. mailing address.

Social Security Number
Effective August 1999, all applicants for new, upgraded or renewed Amateur Radio operator licenses (or "Vanity" call signs) MUST submit their Social Security Number (or a corresponding FCC Licensee ID) to the Commission. This is required by Congress (not the FCC) as a result of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134.) The primary purpose of this law is to maximize collections of delinquent debts owed the Government at minimum cost. (See 1.923(h))

Most examinees will simply enter their 9-digit Social Security Number (SSN) on their NCVEC Form 605 Applicants who have their SSN registered with the FCC may also enter their corresponding FCC CORES FRN (FCC Registration Number) in its place.

Once an examinee lists their SSN on an NCVEC Form 605, their SSN is automatically registered as part of the FCC's license grant process. This Licensee ID may be used on future NCVEC Form 605 applications in place of the SSN.

The QRZ.COM and ARRL database of amateurs and the FCC's Universal Licensing System site all list applicant Licensee IDs if one has already been assigned.

If an applicant has had a call sign or licensing transaction completed by the FCC since August 1999, he/she will undoubtedly will have an FCC Registration Number (FRN) already assigned.

All U.S. citizens MUST enter their SSN (or FRN) on the NCVEC Form 605. U.S. citizens who refuse to supply this information -- or those who have never applied for an SSN -- should not be examined since the VEC Office is unable to further process their application.

It is possible that you may be asked to examine a youngster who does not have -- and has never applied for -- a Social Security number. These applicants should be referred to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) toll free number, 1-800-772-1213. To get an original card, an applicant will need to supply documents to SSA that show his/her identity, age, and citizenship or lawful alien status. Ask that these applicants re-apply to take an Amateur Radio license examination once they have obtained their SSN.

Foreign nationals (alien applicants) are permitted to hold U.S. Amateur Radio licenses and call signs provided they provide a U.S. mailing address. They need not live at this address. It is merely an address where they may receive mail.
Non-citizen (foreign) aliens, however, are not eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN.) Foreign nationals should first obtain an FRN from the CORES website.

E-Mail Address, Daytime Tel. No. and Fax No.
Submission of this information is optional and need not be filled in. The VEC Office does, however, like to have at least the applicant's daytime telephone number on file in the event that we need to contact him/her to obtain additional information. It is no longer necessary to obtain an applicant's date of birth.

Type of Applicant
Check the "Individual" box if the person is taking an examination, changing their name or address or sequentially changing a call sign. A license may be renewed in the final 90 days before expiration and reinstated up to 2 years after expiration. (The "Amateur Club", "Military Recreation" and "RACES" blanks are used by "Club Station Call Sign Administrators" and not by the VEC System.)

Examination for a New or Upgraded license
Applicants attending an exam session will either have no amateur license and will be applying for a new license, or will have an existing license and will be applying for an upgrade. Those with no license should check "EXAMINATION for a new license" and those with a license should check "EXAMINATION for upgrade".

Licensed applicants requesting a change of name, mailing address or call sign should check the appropriate boxes. They should NOT check "RENEWAL of my license grant" unless their license expires within the next 90 days. Upgrading a license no longer results in an automatic renewal for 10 years. Instead, the applicant will maintain the same expiration date as their current license.

Change my station call sign systematically
New Technician and General Class applicants residing in the continental U.S. are initially assigned Group D (2-by-3) call sign formats in strict alphabetical order. A "2-by-3" call sign format contains two prefix letters, a radio district number, and three suffix letters. (KA7XYZ is an example of a Group D call sign.) Even though these applicants qualify for an "N-by-3" letter format call sign, all of these call signs have been assigned.

Group A ("2-by-2" format beginning with AA-AK) call signs are now assigned to applicants who upgrade to Extra Class since all 1-by-2 and 2-by-1 format call signs have been allocated.

When all call signs within a group are assigned, call signs from the next lower group are then issued.

Applicants with mailing addresses outside of the contiguous U.S. receive initial (2-by-2, 2-by-1 and 1-by-2) call signs appropriate for their license class.

The FCC will not honor requests for specific call signs from applicants being examined under the VEC System. (see 4.5 Vanity Call Signs.)

VERY IMPORTANT: A call sign will not be changed unless the applicant both checks the box and initials the "Applicant's initials" space.

Checking the "Change my station call sign systematically" box will result in the examinee's call sign being changed to a more recent station (Group D or Group A) call sign appropriate for their license class.
Since all of the Group C 1-by-3 "N" prefixed call signs have been assigned, Technician and General Class applicants (residing in the continental U.S.) who check this box will receive the next available (Group D) 2-by-3 format (sequentially issued) call sign beginning with the letter "K."
A call sign will not be changed unless the applicant both checks the box and initials the "Applicant's Initials" space.
Carefully explain to your applicants that if they request a new call sign when they upgrade, the change will be permanent and their old call sign cannot be reinstated. You may wish to double check with any examinee who requests a sequential call sign change.

Applications pending
Fill in this blank only if the applicant has filed another application which is undergoing processing by a VEC or the FCC and has not yet been acted upon. Indicate the purpose of the other application. Common reasons for this include a recent license upgrade or a change of address that has not yet resulted in a new license being mailed to the applicant. Indicate the purpose of the application in process (such as "Technician license", "Change of address", etc.)

Signature and date
The applicant's name on the first line of the NCVEC Form 605 must match the signature. (Signature should be in blue/black ink, not in pencil.) Note that all applicants must read and certify the general statements contained above the signature blank including that "I have read and will comply with Section 97.13(c) of the Commission's Rules regarding radiofrequency (RF) radiation safety and the amateur service section of OST/OET Bulletin No. 65

Rubber stamp signatures cannot be used.
Disabled applicants who are unable to sign their name must have their "mark" witnessed. The witness should also sign on the signature line. We do not accept a "Power of Attorney" authorization.

The "Date Signed" will ordinarily be the same as the day of the test session.

License photocopy
If the applicant holds a current FCC-issued amateur license, a photocopy (preferably) or the original must be stapled to the back of the NCVEC Form 605. Compare operator license photocopies to the original to satisfy yourself that the copy is the same as the original.

4.2 Section 2 (Filled out by the VEs)

The VE team uses this section to indicate the applicant's new class of amateur operator license for which the applicant is now qualified. It is VERY IMPORTANT that the VE team properly complete this section since it is where the team authorizes the successful completion of examinations.

License for which applicant is qualified
Check the appropriate box "TECHNICIAN", "GENERAL", or "AMATEUR EXTRA" depending upon the elements the applicant either passed by exam or for which credit was proven. If the examinee did not qualify for a new or upgraded license, check the box "NO NEW LICENSE OR UPGRADE WAS EARNED." The following are the requirements for each class of amateur license.

Amateur License Requirements
License Class Written Elements
Technician Element 2
General Elements 2 & 3
Extra Elements 2, 3 & 4

4.3 Examination Element Credit

All VEs should be aware of the Part 97 Rules as applies to examination element credit. These rules will be found in 97.505.

The new updated Element Credit regulations (Sec. 97.505) that are effective June 20, 2014]:

97.505 Element credit.


(a) The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an examinee holding any of the following license grants:

Operator class Unexpired (or within the renewal
grace period)
Expired and beyond the renewal
grace period
(1) Amateur Extra Not applicable Elements 3 and 4.
(2) Advanced; General; or Technician granted before March 21, 1987 Elements 2 and 3 Element 3.
(3) Technician Plus; or Technician granted on or after March 21, 1987 Element 2 No credit.

(b) The administering VEs must give credit to an examinee holding a CSCE for each element the CSCE indicates the examinee passed within the previous 365 days.

Proof required to obtain examination credit: The W5YI-VEC will accept any reasonable evidence that an applicant was licensed as of a specific date. Normally a copy of an original FCC license grant should be provided. The FCC will issue a verification - Proof License Letter for old licenses no longer retained in the current ULS database. A copy of that letter, not the original should be attached to the 605 application. Other evidence or documentation may include (but is not limited to) a CSCE copy or original, an old license copy, a page from an a Radio- Amateur's Callbook, a printout from an old electronic database such as the 1993 QRZ database published to the Internet, etc.

IMPORTANT: The exam team must make sure that copies of ALL documents used for element credit are legible and stapled to the back of the applicant's NCVEC Form 605 application, including:

  • CSCEs used for element credit. VEs are required to accept all valid Certificates of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCEs) issued by other VEC organizations. a CSCE is valid for only 365 days following examination.
  • Old license copies, printouts of Callbook pages, etc
  • Amateur licenses used for examination credit.

An amateur with a license that has been expired more than two years must retake all examinations (except as noted above) and will receive a new station call sign. The "grace period" ONLY applies to exam credit, not operating privileges. Applicants with expired licenses may not operate an amateur station until their new license arrives.

If the applicant did not pass all elements necessary to upgrade, the exam team should fill out Section 2, checking the box "NO NEW LICENSE OR UPGRADE WAS EARNED" and return the NCVEC Form 605 to the applicant.

Fill out a 3-Part CSCE form for each passing/upgrading applicant The PINK copy of each CSCE (not the WHITE original) should be stapled to the reverse reverse side of the NCVEC Form 605 forwarded to the VEC. It is advisable that the applicant always retain the original, and a copy of all CSCEs in the event they are needed later to prove a previously passed test element.

Be certain to forward all answer sheets of upgrading applicants to W5YI-VEC for examinations passed at your test session. These written test answer sheets should be attached (paper-clipped - NOT stapled) to the back of the Form 605.

Date of Examination Session
Enter the examination session date in MM-DD-YY format (e.g. 02-05-00).

Exam session location
Enter the city and state of the test site (or other geographical area including the country if outside of the U.S.)

VEC Organization
You must enter the name "W5YI-VEC".

VE receipt date
Leave this line blank. This box is used by W5YI-VEC to date-stamp the NCVEC Form 605.

Certification Section
This is the most important section of the NCVEC Form 605. Without three accredited VE certifications an applicant cannot upgrade. Each accredited Volunteer Examiner must PRINT his/her name and call sign in blue or black ink and SIGN AND DATE in the appropriate place. Photocopies or rubber stamps of signatures will NOT be accepted. VE accreditation numbers should be entered next to each name so that we can easily check their accreditation status (General or Advanced class VEs must append the letter "G" or "A" after their VE number).

4.4 Defective Applications

Defective Form 605 applications cause delays and an unbelievable amount of time-consuming work and expense for everyone. Since each application must be checked by each of the three VEs signing it, no application forms with errors should ever be forwarded to the VEC for processing. Every box on the 605 from should be checked, double checked and triple checked. VEs consistently lax in the review process that result in routine errors may have their accreditation removed.

Applications that are received in our office with errors in Section 1 must be forwarded to the applicant for correction and will result in a long delay in license issuance. Errors by VEs in Section 2 will be resolved with the appropriate Contact VE and the applicant will be notified of the delay. If a VE team has issued a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination in error, the Contact VE will be instructed to amend it or rescind and recover it.

We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that a VE team meeting be held just prior to the actual testing to go over each point covered in these instructions. Contact VEs should routinely require their VEs to read and be thoroughly familiar with the instructions contained herein. These detailed instructions are a result of thousands of sessions being conducted under the W5YI-VEC program. Just about every testing situation that might arise is covered. There is no excuse for any VE on any team not knowing the proper testing procedures.

We expect CVE's to go over the instructions contained herein with their team since not every VE has access to the Internet and these instructions. Additional copies of the VE Manual should be provided to all team members by the CVE. The VE Manuals can be purchased for a nominal cost and be paid for as suppiles out of expense reimbursement funds received from testing fees.

We are available by telephone at 800-669-9594 to answer any question that you might have (please see Chapter 2 for telephone number and availability). We do not accept collect telephone calls.

4.5 Amateur Vanity Call Sign System

Beginning in 1996, licensed amateur radio operators were able to select a call sign of their choice. The key word is "licensed." Although the "Vanity Call Sign System" is completely separate from the VEC System, we feel it important that you advise your examinees about its existence. Here is what they need to know about call signs:
All first-time and previously-licensed amateurs whose two-year call sign grace period has expired will receive a new call sign. This call sign will be systematically issued at no charge from the alphabetized "Group" appropriate for the examinee's license class. When all sequential call signs are allocated within a "Group," call signs are assigned from the next lower group
Upgrading amateurs who select a new call sign will receive a sequential call sign at no cost from the appropriate call sign "Group."
Under the Vanity Call Sign System, a specific unassigned call sign may be chosen by new and upgrading amateurs who have already been assigned a sequential call sign. Unlike sequentially issued call signs, the call sign is not free. It must be selected from a "Group" that coincides with the applicants license class or a lower license class.
Amateur Extra Class licensees may select Group A, B, C or D format station call signs. Advanced Class licensees may select Group B, C or D call signs. General and Technician Class licensees may select Group C or D format call signs. And Novice Class licensees may select only Group D (2-by-3) format call signs.
By definition, a "Vanity" call sign is a station call sign that is selected by the FCC from a list of up to 25 call signs requested by a station licensee. The request is made on FCC Form 605. The W5YI VEC/Group offers a service to licensees who wish to apply for a Vanity call sign. Call 1-800-669-9594 for further information.

5.1 Administering Written Exams

The testing area for written exams should be as free as possible from distractions. Have the applicants sit as far from each other as is practical to avoid distracting each other and to preclude cheating. Give them instructions such as how to fill out the answer sheets, no talking to others, no books or study materials within the test area, etc. Calculators (with memories cleared) are allowed. Give only one test element at a time if the applicant plans on taking more than one. Grade one test before giving another.

Written exam elements should be administered to applicants in ascending order of difficulty. If a candidate fails a written element, no additional written elements should be administered. Generic answer sheets are permitted but we suggest use of the printed answer sheet generated from the W5YI-VEC software.

Applicants must turn off their handi-talkies during a test and they cannot leave the room once a test has started until all their test materials have been turned over to the VE team. Be especially alert for "crib sheets" (scraps of paper with answers to previous examinations), or any other form of cheating. ALL VEs are responsible for ensuring test session integrity.

If your team’s instructions are not followed or if any signs of cheating are seen, §Part 97.509(c) requires that you terminate the individual’s exam immediately. VEs should constantly watch applicants during the test-taking process, preferably from the back of the room. As each exam is completed, collect all test papers (including any scratch paper) and grade them (see Chapter 7). It is a good idea to put all papers belonging to an applicant (the NCVEC Form 605 any answer sheets, etc.) into a single folder for the duration of the exam session.

5.2 Making Your Own Written Exams

While CVEs may design their own written tests, it is highly recommended that our exam software be used to generate exams. The answer key and a copy of the exam must be submitted to the VEC Office if you design your own written tests. All custom designed examinations must be constructed by selecting questions from the appropriate question pool according to a formula which is now determined by the NCVEC Question Pool Committee.

The questions used on written amateur tests given by VEs may be selected by:

  • A VE on your examining team (see 97.507)
  • The VEC
  • A qualified supplier outside of the VEC provided they meet the 97.507 requirements. (Your team must be convinced that these exams have been held in confidence by the supplier.)

Written exams may be given on a computer that has been programmed with the proper test selection formula. We offer easy-to-use PC-compatible software to W5YI-VEC-accredited VEs which not only allows exams for any class of license to be taken at the keyboard, but also makes any number of unique printed copies of tests. A Windows PC with CDROM and any Windows operating system, WIn98 through Win7-8.1 is required. Call the VEC Office to order additional copies of the software or printed exams.

5.3 Written Exam Requirements

As of April 15, 2000, there are three different written examination elements. As of February 23, 2007, the FCC no longer requires a Morse code exam for any level of amateur license.

The Technician and General Class exams contain 35 questions, the Extra Class: 50 questions. A different written examination is required for the Element 2 (Technician), Element 3 (General), and Element 4 (Extra Class) licenses. (See 97.503(b).

Each of these examinations consists of a specific number of questions that must be selected from each of nine (or ten) topics known as sub elements. These sub elements are designated with a numeral "1" through "0" (see Table 5-1).

5.4 Preparing a Written Examination

Part 97.507(a) states which licensed amateurs may design which written amateur license examinations and submit questions to be considered as candidates for future examination question pools. The following table shows the class of license required for the design of each written exam:

Exam Preparer's License Class:
Element: Tech/Tech Plus General Advanced Extra
2 - Tech. X X X X
3 - Gen. X X
4 - Extra X

NOTE: A Technician Plus Class radio amateur may prepare a Technician written examination, but may not administer it.

5.5 Question Pool Topics

Questions from each sub-element are contained in the various Amateur Radio Service written examinations. The sub-element number follows the Element designation in the question number. For example: A question in the General question pool might start with "G3", meaning that this is a General Class (Element 3) question on Radio Wave Propagation, topic "3". An Extra Class question might start with the prefix "E4", indicating that this is an Extra Class (Element 4) question on Amateur radio practices, topic "4".

Topic: Subelement Description:
1 FCC Rules for the Amateur Radio Service
2 Amateur station operating procedures
3 Radio wave propagation characteristics of amateur frequency bands
4 Amateur Radio practices
5 Electrical principles as applied to amateur station equipment
6 Amateur station equipment circuit components
7 Practical circuits employed in amateur station equipment
8 Signals and emissions transmitted by amateur stations
9 Amateur station feedlines and antennas
0 Radiofrequency environmental safety practices at an amateur station

Sub-element 10 (designated as "zero" [0] in the question pool numbering scheme) is a new topic added in 1998 as a result of the FCC's updated RF safety standards. Currently there were only 9 topic areas in the Element 4 question pool that expired 6/30/08. Subsequent Element 4 question pools have 10 subtopic areas.

5.6 Questions in Pools and Exams

The NCVEC QPC may remove questions from any of the pools due to FCC rule makings or questions that are found to be invalid for use in examinations. The Element 2 (Technician) written examinations contain 35 questions, the Element 3 (General Class) contains 35 questions and the Element 4 (Extra Class) exam contains 50 questions. The passing mark is 26 correct (Element 2 and 3) and 37 correct (Element 4). (See 97.501)

The W5YI-VEC, for ease and convenience to our exam teams, provides examination software that provides random generated exams for all 3 current question pools. We encourage all CVE Team Leaders to use our HamExam Software for exam generation and printing of tests. CVEs are allowed to make up their own custom tests from the public domain question pool, but a copy of the custom test and grading key must be submitted to us prior to use, preferably in digital form, and a hard copy with the session documents when that custom test is used.

5.7 Preparing your own written examinations

When making your own written exams you must select exactly the number of questions from each sub-element letter as specified in current question pool.

Example, to prepare a General Class written examination, you would use the Element 3 question pool to select questions from the pool according to the number of questions specified in the pool. When you are done you should have a test containing 35 of the 385 possible Element 3 questions.

All questions and multiple choices are required to be taken verbatim from the question pools. You may not concentrate on one topic at the expense of another.

FCC Rules, (§Part 97, Subpart F) requires that regardless of the origination of the written exam: §Part 97.509

• Test designs must be held in confidence against disclosure

• No examination which has been compromised shall be administered to any candidate

• The exam must contain question designs not known to the applicant

• No question set may be administered to any examinee more than once. Records must be kept to preclude an applicant from being readministered the same examination at your test sessions.

6.1 Administering Telegraphy Exams

Section removed by FCC (R&O) WT Docket 05-235, deleting any Morse code examination requirement for Amateur Radio license applicants effective, February 23, 2007.

6.2 Special Accommodations for the Handicapped

Section removed by FCC (R&O) WT Docket 05-235, deleting any Morse code examination requirement for Amateur Radio license applicants effective, February 23, 2007.

6.3 Making Your Own Telegraphy Exams

Section removed by FCC (R&O) WT Docket 05-235, deleting any Morse code examination requirement for Amateur Radio license applicants effective, February 23, 2007.

6.4 Telegraphy Exam Requirements

Section removed by FCC (R&O) WT Docket 05-235, deleting any Morse code examination requirement for Amateur Radio license applicants effective, February 23, 2007.

7.1 Written Examination Grading

As each person finishes an exam, collect all their papers, including any scratch paper. Immediately grade all exams and advise applicants only of the percentage of questions answered correctly and not the specific questions incorrectly answered. Do not return the answer sheets to the applicant. Keep these in your records if they are not submitted to our office. Answer sheets (but not the text selected from the question pools) of new and upgrading candidates must either be forwarded to us along with other test session paperwork or retained by the test team (see Chapter 8).

Retain records indicating versions and/or serial numbers of the actual written/code tests administered at your test session. Records must be kept so that a different test may be administered if the applicant retakes a failed exam. FCC rules prohibit re-administering the same question set or telegraphy exam elements to applicants. (See § 97.509(f) Be certain to protect all testing materials against disclosure.

You and your fellow VEs are the sole judges of the correctness of an applicant’s answers. This is NOT a VEC responsibility. If an applicant gives an answer that does not agree with the answer key but all VEs agree that the response was not in error, collectively the VEs have the authority to credit the answer as correct. Typographical errors are possible that may invalidate correct answers indicated in the question pool. Final authority has been given to the VEs, not the VEC, to maintain test integrity.

Number of Questions Answered Correctly

Upon completion of an exam element the VEs must immediately grade the test. This chart shows the number of correctly answered questions needed to pass each written test element:
Questions Answered Correctly to Pass an Exam
Exam Element License Class Questions on Test Correct to Pass
2 Technician 35 26
3 General 35 26
4 Extra Class 50 37

7.2 Telegraphy Examination Grading

Section removed by FCC (R&O) WT Docket 05-235, deleting any Morse code examination requirement for Amateur Radio license applicants effective, February 23, 2007.

7.3 Instant Upgrade and Examination Credit

VEs must issue a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) to each candidate who scores a passing grade on one or more written tests. (See 97.509(f) The format for these certificates is provided by W5YI-VEC. VE teams are not permitted to make up their own CSCEs. VEs of other VEC organizations are required to accept valid original CSCEs issued by your team. Each Certificate issued must be signed by three VEs. (See the example in the Appendix.)

VEs must use our current 3-part NCR CSCE form. These forms are available for re-order using your CVE Supply Order From or by calling the VEC office at 800-669-9594. For security reasons it is VERY important that all 3 copies be accounted for if any CSCE is voided or destroyed.

CSCE and/or Written Element Credit

A CSCE serves as evidence of credit for a written exam at a subsequent exam session and is valid for 365 days from the date of issue. (See Part 97.505(a)(6) CSCEs are issued when an applicant passes a required written element for a higher class operator license.

A copy of the credit certificate must be stapled to the back of the applicant Form 605 when written credit from a previous exam is claimed. (Do not send the original CSCE to W5YI-VEC.) Applicants should retain the original copy of their CSCE as permanent proof of exam completion.

A CSCE also grants operating authority. (See Part 97.303(e)

This same CSCE, however, only carries examination credit for 365 days.

Element Credit Based on Holding a Specific License

All volunteer examiners should be familiar with Part 97.505 since it details which currently or previously licensed amateurs qualify for examination credit. Examination credit due Technician Class amateurs is especially complex since there has been several different versions over the past several years and each is accorded different exam credit.

The following chart lists examination credit due certain classes of amateurs who currently or previously held various Amateur Radio operator licenses.

The new updated Element Credit regulations (Sec. 97.505) that are effective February 23, 2007:

(a) The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an examinee holding any of the following license grants or license documents:

(1) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal) FCC-granted Advanced Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.

(2) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal) FCC-granted General Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.

(3) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal) FCC-granted Technician or Technician Plus Class operator (including a Technician Class operator license granted before February 14, 1991) license grant: Element 2.

(4) An expired FCC-issued Technician Class operator license document granted before March 21, 1987: Element 3.

(5) A CSCE: Each element the CSCE indicates the examinee passed within the previous 365 days.

(b) No examination credit, except as herein provided, shall be allowed on the basis of holding or having held any other license grant or document.

Temporary Operating Authority

If a candidate possesses an FCC-issued amateur license and scores a passing grade on all exam elements required for a higher class operator license, the CSCE serves as evidence that the candidate is authorized by Part 97.9(b) of the FCC Rules to operate on a temporary basis with the rights and privileges of the higher operating class for up to 365 days while awaiting receipt of the upgraded license.

Applicants who pass their first license requirements at your test session may be issued a CSCE, but must be advised that they cannot transmit on the amateur airwaves until they receive their station call sign from the FCC. It is no longer necessary, however, that they receive their license document before beginning on-the-air operation. Applicants may obtain their new call signs from the "New Hams" or the FCC's Universal Licensing System websites.

The CSCE is not a license, or permit. It is simply an acknowledgment that the holder has passed certain exam elements. This one all-purpose document covers both the "instant upgrade" and "written credit" needs of the program.

The CSCE may be used in future tests as evidence of passing a required element. VE teams are required to accept original CSCEs from any other authorized VEC not just those from W5YI-VEC.

Special On-the-Air Identifiers

VEs must advise every successful candidate operating under temporary authority (i.e. until the FCC database indicates their new license grant) that the applicant must append to their call sign a two-letter identifier preceded by either the slant bar (/) when using a telegraphy mode or the word "temporary" when using a voice mode whenever operating outside the privileges of their previous license. No special identifier is required when operating within the privileges of the previous license. The following is a table containing the special identifiers for each license class:

Special Identifiers When Operating on a CSCE
Upgrade to: On the Air
(See 97.119(f)
Technician KT (AT is not used as the identifier for the Technician Class since this could be mistaken for a DX prefix.
General AG
Extra Class AE AE & AG are US prefixes

8.1 Applications for New/Upgraded Licenses

VEs are required to send us the completed NCVEC Form 605 of any applicant who earns a new license or who upgrades, along with a copy of any document (such as a copy of their current license or copy of a CSCE) used for exam element credit and all answer sheets. NCVEC Form 605 of applicants who fail all exams are returned to the examine. All other papers associated with a passed or failed exam element must be retained by the test team for a minimum of 15 months in the event they are needed by the VEC or FCC. (See Part 97.519(b)(3)

The documents submitted for each applicant earning a new license or upgrading consist of a fully completed NCVEC Form 605 and its attachments. There are two categories of attachments:

(1) Element credit documents (if any) stapled to the back of Form 605, such as:

A photocopy of a current amateur license

A photocopy of any CSCE(s)

(2) Examination documents stapled to the back of NCVEC Form 605

Written exam answer sheets with Exam Series # written at the top

The NCVEC Form 605

Filling out the NCVEC Form 605 was covered in Chapter 4. Be aware that there is also an FCC Form 605 which may used by the amateur community for applications not involving license examinations. The FCC's version of the Form 605 may not be used to apply for any function handled by a VEC including name, address, systematic call sign changes, renewals and amateur examinations and upgrades. The FCC Rules (See Part 97.17(b)(1) permit the VE/VEC community to create their own application forms.

Attachments to the NCVEC Form 605

The current license

A photocopy of the applicant's current amateur license must be stapled to the back of the completed NCVEC Form 605 (see exception) since this license is used as credit for examinations already passed. An applicant may obtain license duplicate copies by writing the FCC Consumer Assistance Branch, 1270 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg, PA, 17325-7245, telephoning 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322.), or by filing for a duplicate license on the W5YI-VEC website, or the FCC ULS site.

Most VE teams will also accept license copy print-outs from the various online amateur service databases (such as the QRZ, WM7D, ARRL or Buckmaster websites) as evidence of holding a current amateur service license.

EXCEPTION: If the applicant presents a CSCE indicating a recent license upgrade but has not yet received the license from the FCC, you may test the applicant and forward the application to VEC without the license photocopy. (Complete details are given in Chapter 4.)

CSCEs and other exam credits

If a CSCE from a prior examination session was used by the applicant for credit for one or more exam elements, a copy of the CSCE must be stapled to the back of NCVEC Form 605.

Answer sheets, etc.

The applicant's original answer sheet(s) for written exams with a passing grade and a copy of the CSCE issued must be paper clipped to the back of NCVEC Form 605 (also include any scratch paper(s), if used). Answer sheets of examinations that do not result in a license are not submitted to the W5YI-VEC Office and must be retained by the exam team for a minimum of 15 months. Applications for new or upgraded amateur licenses submitted without applicant written answer sheets will be returned to the VE team without VEC/FCC action.

IMPORTANT: Be certain that the applicant's name and the date appears on all answer sheets. It is also desirable to have the VEs who administer the examination sign or initial the answer sheet. Be certain that the applicant's name and the date appears on all answer sheets. It is also desirable to have the VEs who administer and grade the examination sign or initial the answer sheet.

8.2 The Exam Session Report

Blank copies of the forms mentioned below will be sent to a test team when a request to administer an examination is received. We send two copies of each form; additional copies may be photocopied. VE teams who test regularly under our W5YI-VEC program are sent a supply of these forms to use as necessary. Additional forms may be requested from the VEC Office.

Certificates of Completion (CSCE)

Candidates who pass either a written or telegraphy test are issued an examination credit document called a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE). (See Part 97.509(f) This gives the bearer credit for passing one or more examination elements and confers examination credit for a period of 365 days from the date of issue. If applicable, it will also show the license class to which the bearer has upgraded and has been given temporary operating privileges until the actual license arrives..

IMPORTANT: The three VEs who certify the 605 MUST be the same ones to sign the CSCE. No original copy of this form should be sent to W5YI-VEC; it is given to the applicant. This document must be marked in such a way as to prevent any amendment once it has been issued. Carefully safeguard all blank copies of these certificates so that they can not be used improperly. All VE signatures and VE serial numbers must be legible.

Applicants should show the original CSCE to examiners at a subsequent exam session but only give copies of it to them, not the original. A copy of the CSCE must be attached to the NCVEC Form 605 when upgrading if code or written credit from a previous session is claimed. VEs of all VECs are required to accept the examination credit certificates of all other authorized VECs.

Manifest of Applicants

The name, call sign and telephone number (including area code) of every applicant administered an examination at a test session (or upgrades without taking an examination) are listed on the Manifest. The applicable "pass/fail" boxes are checked indicating the exams attempted and their results. (Enter the letter "C" if credit is claimed for a specific exam element without examination.)

Two (or more) Manifest sheets are completed if there is not enough room for all applicants on one Manifest. The totals from the form(s) are recorded on the first sheet, along with the signatures of the VE team. This short-form Manifest serves as a list of the VEs who assisted at your exam session, a test session summary, and a pass/fail/credit record by test element of each applicant (in the event a session packet goes astray) and allows us to identify issuance of CSCEs. A properly completed Manifest of Applicants is shown here.

Helpful ideas: Although not required, if the Manifest is recopied by hand in alphabetical order by applicant last names, both W5YI and the VE team will have an easier time referencing names on the Manifest. (Note: If your VE team uses the W5YI-VE software described in Chapter 10 to fill out the Manifest, it automatically prints names in alphabetical order.
Also just as handy but not required, putting the submitted 605s in the same order as they appear in the Manifest saves us time when we process a test session.

Applicants who are retested (if any) are listed at least twice (each retest listed separately) and are charged an additional exam fee for each retest. (See Retesting, in Section 2.3).

Check the "UPGRADE" box "YES" if an applicant meets ALL requirements for a license. Applicants who have no license and qualify for a first license (such as Technician) but do not upgrade to a higher class license are considered to have upgraded.

Use the "Class" box to Indicate the class of license held by the applicant after the exam session, pass or fail. (Use N=None, T=Technician, G=General, A=Advanced and E=Extra Class) If no upgrade occurred, just write in the applicant's current license class.

If more than one Manifest page is used, enter the "Page Total" and the "Grand Total - All Pages." The number of "Applicants Upgrading" is the is the total number of applicants that are to be granted a license by the FCC. The "Failed to Upgrade" is the number of applicants tested who are not to be issued a new license. The "Total Applicants" is the sum of these two figures.

The number of "Elements Passed" is the is the total number of exam elements that were passed by all applicants at your session The "Elements Failed" is the number of exam elements attempted but not passed. The "Total Elements" is the sum of these two figures.

The "Test Fee" to be sent to the W5YI-VEC is the "Total Applicants" examined at the session (pass or fail) times $7.00 per applicant. A personal check or money order should be made payable to "W5YI-VEC" and attached to the front of the Manifest for the W5YI-VEC portion of Expense Reimbursement (see Section 2.3, for details.)

The Contact VE and other VEs who participated in the exam session should sign the Manifest form at the bottom and record their call signs and VE serial numbers.

Volunteer Examiners Certification

The FCC removed Section 97.527 (c), (d), (e) and (f) from the Part 97 Rules in February 1996. This rule previously required VEs and VECs to keep out-of-pocket expense records for a period of 3 years and to file a written certification annually. There is no longer any requirement that VEs or VECs complete expense certifications or to keep records of how they disbursed their share of the examination fees.

8.3 The Final Checklist


Recount the successful applications

Does this figure match the APPLICANTS UPGRADING line on the Manifest? Do NOT send a NCVEC Form 605 application unless an FCC license is to be issued.

Attach a check for W5YI-VEC

Is a personal check made out to W5YI-VEC paper clipped to the front of the Manifest for the amount of test fee calculated on the Manifest? The TOTAL APPLICANTS line on the Manifest is multiplied by the current year exam fee split.

Recheck the NCVEC Form 605

Are all the credit documents (if any) for each applicant attached to each NCVEC Form 605? Included should be a copy of any current license, and a copy of any CSCEs See Technician License Credits and Element Credit section for details. Also See Part 97.505.

Is the applicant's license stapled to the back of the NCVEC Form 605, facing out, along with copies of any CSCEs used for element credit? Are all test papers for each passed written and/or code element paper-clipped to the back of the 605? Is the "operator license qualified for" properly checked with the correct class of license? The NCVEC Form 605 should not be sent to the VEC Office if the applicant did not qualify for a new or upgraded license..

IMPORTANT: It is the VE team responsibility (the three VEs who sign the NCVEC Form 605 -- not just the CVE) to:

(1.) certify that an applicant is qualified for a new or upgraded license and
(2.) to ensure that the appropriate proof of qualification documents (either element credit documents or graded answer sheets) are stapled to the Form 605.

Mail via First Class

All the forms and documents comprising the test session package should be mailed First Class (not Certified, Registered or Special Delivery) to the W5YI-VEC Office, P.O. Box 200065, Arlington, TX 76006 or to W5YI-VEC, 2000 E Randol Mill Rd 608A, Arlington, TX 76011, as soon as possible after the examination session. The FCC Rules (Section 97.509(m) effective 12/15/2006 no longer require that test session paperwork be forwarded to the coordinating VEC within 10 days of administering the examinations. However, to foster prompt service to the applicants, it is still our VEC policy that session results and documents be forwarded to our office within 10 days of the session date. If for some reason there is a delay in the mailing of session results the CVE should contact our office and advise us of the delay. This rule applies even if the data is electronically transmitted to the VEC Office.

8.4 Retention of Records

The Contact VE Team Leader ( CVE ) MUST keep a paper copy or electronic image of all test results forwarded to W5YI-VEC office until that original documentation is received by the the coordinating VEC. It is an FCC requirement (See Section 97.519(b)(3) that session records be maintained by the VEC for at least fifteen months. And to comply with that mandate, the W5YI-VEC requires the CVE Team Leader to maintain copies until the original is received in our office for processing.

If copies are not retained and should the session documents be lost in the mail, all applicants MUST be re-tested. So at minimum CVEs are required to retain all session records for at least 30 days or until they have confirmed the session has been confirmed to be received and processed in our VEC Office.

As CVE, you must be prepared to answer any questions that might arise concerning the session and produce supporting documentation. You MUST retain a copy of the 605 application, and the test answer sheets and the completed CSCE. Retention of session records is highly important to prevent applicants from having to be re-tested should session records be lost in transit to our office.

8.5 Electronic Filing of Applications by the VEC

On October 24, 1994, the FCC released an Order which contained the ground rules for the electronic filing of FCC Form 610 Amateur Service applications by VECs. This new computer-to-computer procedure greatly speeds up the amateur radio operator license granting process. Electronic filing of amateur radio applications began during the first quarter of 1995.

New FCC Rules 97.519(b)(3) specify that VECs must electronically forward the data contained on the NCVEC Form 605 documents directly into the FCC’s computer. After the data is forwarded electronically, the coordinating VEC retains the NCVEC Form 605 application documents in their files.

VE to VEC Electronic Filing

W5YI-VEC takes electronic filing one step further: We permit our VE teams to electronically file new (first time licensed) applications to the VEC office. The purpose of this is to get new radio amateurs on-the-air faster. After review and proofing, the application data is filed electronically to the FCC. This greatly reduces the time new amateurs have to wait for their first license grant.

We do not allow VE-to-VEC electronic filing of upgraded license applications since these amateurs may immediately operate using their new privileges on the basis of holding a CSCE issued at your test session.

The exam Session and Application data of first time licensed amateurs are keyed into two forms which reside on this website. These forms are password protected. We also accept scanned copies of the original documents in PDF format sent to us via email. Any CVE who wishes to file the applications of new amateurs electronically or in PDF format with the W5YI-VEC Office should send an e-mail to We will review the request based on session volume and history of documentation submission. Upon approval we will forward you instructions and a password so that you may access the VE-to-VEC Electronic Filing web pages.

NOTE: Participation in the electronic filing program is approved on a discretionary basis depending on time of service and accuracy of session paper documents in normal session filings. Teams are considered to participate in filing of new amateur radio operator applications electronically only upon request and after review of their session filing history.

Obtaining a new call sign

New amateurs may get on the air once their license has been granted and their call sign has been assigned. According to 97.9(a), the FCC authorizes operation on the basis of the license data appearing in their amateur service licensee data base. First-time licensees no longer have to wait until they receive the actual "hard copy" license document. The rule requiring licensees to have a "paper" document in their possession when operating on the amateur airwaves has been dropped.

VE teams should advise examinees that some applications may have to be held temporarily at the VEC Office and not filed with the balance of the test session. This may be caused if:

* an applicant has more than one application "in the pipeline" at the same time, or;

* other problems exist ...such as illegible, incomplete, questionable or wrong application information.

Only complete and error-free NCVEC Form 605s may be transmitted to the FCC. The Commission also permits only one NCVEC Form 605 application per applicant to be filed at a time.

All licensees may obtain their new call sign by telephoning W5YI-VEC at: (800) 669-9594 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (CST). As a general rule, new call signs are available about two weeks after testing ...although they could be available in 2 to 3 days depending upon how fast the test session paperwork is sent to the VEC.

The FCC posts all license grants to their web server on the Internet, but it is very difficult to read. All FCC call sign information is compressed and contained in six different files which must be combined into a relational database. An easier way to get new call signs from the Internet is to access the QRZ, WM7D, ARRL or other Internet servers that offer call sign lookups.

The FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS) database lists all license information probably the fastest. On the FCC ULS License Search page click on License Search, then change the pull down to search by name. Then enter applicant's name -- Last name first, followed by a comma and then first name. and FCC's ULS databases also provide the applicant's "FCC Registration Number" (FRN) which may be used in place of a Social Security Number (SSN) on a subsequent application. Most applicant FRN's are initially generated as a result of the "automatic registration" of an applicant's Social Security Number during the VEC electronic filing process.

Transmitting Sessions/Application Data to W5YI-VEC

IMPORTANT: To qualify for electronic filing submission the CVE and team must have a proven track record of error-free session filing by normal paper means. We do not automatically honor all requests for electronic filing access and may deny access to this program for any reason. When filing electronically, you are entering data / information on your keyboard which will actually be submitted to the FCC for license grant in ULS. Although W5YI-VEC carefully reviews all session data and application data, we can't readily detect misspellings of names, dates, places, addresses, etc. It is extremely important that you be careful when you key the information into the electronic forms from the paper 605s. Proof everything three or four times before you press the "Submit" button.

Be meticulous! If there is any doubt about an applicant's information, DO NOT electronically file the 605. Attach a note of explanation and send it to us by mail with the session paperwork. We screen your session/application data and retransmit it to the FCC normally within 24-48 hours from the time we receive it, and the FCC issues a call sign within a 1-2 hours of our transmittal, so any mistakes result in big headaches for W5YI-VEC and the FCC to correct. VE to VEC Electronic filing means quick turnaround, but there is no room for error!

IMPORTANT: Do not transmit the same session or application form twice unless you call the W5YI-VEC Office first and notify us that you are sending the session again. During business hours: 817-860-3800. During non-business hours contact us by email at .

9.1 Design of the Question Pools

In 1986, the FCC turned responsibility for maintenance of the written examination questions over to the National Conference of VECs. The NCVEC then appointed a four-person Question Pool Committee (QPC) to approve all question pool revisions and/or additions according to a schedule. All VEC organizations and their VEs use identical question pools as required by Part 97.523.

The QPC consists of four members who are also representatives of FCC-approved VEC groups.

Up until April 15, 2000 there were five different written examination pools. These pools were revised on a four year cycle with the Novice and Technician being revised together since they were the requirement for the most popular No-Code Technician license class. Effective April 15, 2000, the number of written examination pools was reduced to three; Technician, General and Amateur Extra Class. VEs should check our VE News web page or the website for the latest updates to the question pool schedules or changes to the question pools that would affect examinations.

9.2 Question Pool Revision Schedule

The QPC has chosen a four-year revision cycle for the three question pools. The Element 4 (Extra Class) pool was revised first (2002), followed in subsequent years by the Element 2 (Technician) and Element 3 (General Class) pools.

In order to give the various license preparation producers and developers adequate time to prepare, distribute and sell their publications, the Question Pool Committee has adopted the following revision schedule; The QPC does a review and revision of each of th e existing 3 questoin pools on a rotating 4 year cycle schedule, skipping a year between the Extra Class Pool and the Technician Pool.
License Class: Examination Dates the pools will remain valid as of July1,2018:
Technician Class Element 2 Valid: July 1,2018 to June 30,2022
General Class Element 3 Valid: July 1,2015 to June 30,2019
Extra Class Element 4 Valid: July 1,2016 to June 30,2020

The VEC's Question Pool Committee developed the following transition schedule from the old to the new revised pools.

Month/Day Action t o be taken:
on or about December 1 New Pool released in public domain - See
On or about June 1, New HamExam Software is made available for distribution to CVE Team Leaders via download
June 30 Use of previous question pool discontinued
July 1 New Question Pools MUST be used in examinations.

The W5YI-VEC designs and offers to our VE teams PC software to properly-construct written examinations based on the questions and multiple choice answers agreed on by the QPC. VEs have the option of using our tests or designing their own examinations. We prefer that our teams use our PC-compatible software which permits VE teams to easily and correctly prepare and print needed examinations, answer sheets and keys. The HamExam Software also permits examination by computer, but requires that a printer be connected to the PC for printing of final graded exam results. When using the computer to administer the exams to applicants, the HamExam Software grades the exams. Administering examiners simple proctor/oversee the examination of the applicant. Iff no printer is available, use of Print-to|PDF software on the computer is permitted to archive the exam results for later printing and forwarding to the VEC Office.r

9.3 Question Pool Numbering System

A five-character numbering system has been developed to systematically identify every examination question in every question pool. The five-character designators do not use hyphens. For example: G1A01

The first character identifies the license class of the question pool.
T = Technician
G = General
E = Extra Class

The second character is the subelement number. For example:
1 = FCC rules
2 = Amateur station operating procedures
3 = Radio wave propagation characteristics
4= Amateur radio practices
5 = Electrical principles
6 = Circuit components
7 = Practical circuits
8 = Signals and emissions
9 = Antennas and feedlines
0 = RF / Electrical Safety

The third character is always a letter of the alphabet, and:
refers to the general topic of the question, as specified in the syllabus for the question group. There are always as many subjects (or groups) within a subelement as there are questions from the subelement on an amateur examination.

See Table 5.1 for the number of questions that must be selected from each topic to properly prepare an examination. If the examination is to contain nine questions, then there will also be nine syllabus groups of questions designated with a sequential letter in the subelement. These nine groups are designated: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I.

The fourth and fifth characters are:
the sequential numbers within the syllabus group. Two characters are always used, even for numbers that are normally a single digit. (A zero is used as the "tens" digit for the numbers 1 through 9.) The FCC rules requires that a question pool contain at least ten times the number of questions as will be used on a single examination. While "ten times" rule applies only to the entire question pool, the QPC applies it to each sub-element and even to each syllabus grouping as well. Thus each group has at least ten questions and usually more to allow for future deleted questions caused by changes in technology or FCC rules.

A complete list of the current pools can be found on for download and review.

There are 35 examination questions each in Element 2 and 3, and 50 in Element 4.

9.4 Testing of the Handicapped

VEs may take steps they deem advisable to administer tests to the handicapped which take into consideration the applicant handicap. For example, written tests may be given orally (or dictated). In order to avoid disrupting a test session it is sometimes advisable to test the handicapped separately.

Since a VE team may hold an exam session for just one person, tests for the handicapped are usually held in this manner or can even be held in the applicant's home. Any needed additional equipment (such as tactile or audible transducers) must be supplied by the handicapped candidate.

All normal test session rules still apply to this kind of a session such as three VEs in attendance. A public notice may state that the test session is not open to the public if the session is being conducted in a special place or under special circumstances.

The passing grade for a handicapped person remains the same. However, the important point to consider when grading examinations is: does the handicapped applicant understand the required material? Have they correctly answered the questions on the exam, and do they have a passing score? (See Chapter 4 for detailed information.)

Federal Communications Commission Part 97 Rules & Regulations / VEC to VE Instructions / National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinator Instructions for Examination Procedures & Accommodations

97.503 A written examination must be such as to prove that the applicant possesses the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee. Each written examination must be comprised of a question set as follows:

(1) Element 2: 35 questions concerning the privileges of a Technician Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 26 questions answered correctly.

(2) Element 3: 35 questions concerning the privileges of a General Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 26 questions answered correctly.

(3) Element 4: 50 questions concerning the privileges of an Amateur Extra Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 37 questions answered correctly.

97.509(a) Each examination element for an amateur operator license must be administered by a team of at least 3 VEs at an examination session coordinated by a VEC. Before the session, the administering VEs or the VE session manager must ensure that a public announcement is made giving the location and time of the session. The number of examinees at the session may be limited.

(b) Each administering VE must:

(1) Be accredited by the coordinating VEC;

(2) Be at least 18 years of age;

(3) Be a person who holds an a,mateiur operator license of the class specified below:

(i) Amateur Extra, Advanced, or General Class in order to administer a Technician Class operator license examination;

(ii) Amateur Extra or Advanced Class in order to administer a General Class operator license examination.

(iii) Amateur Extra Class in order to administer an Amateur Extra Class operator license examination.

(4) Not be a person whose grant of an amateur station license or amateur operator license has ever been revoked or suspended.

(c) Each administering VE must obsere the applicant throughout the entire examination. The administering VEs are responsible for the proper conduct and necessary supervision of each examination. The administering VEs must immediately terminate the examination upon failure of the applicant to comply with their instructions.

(d) No VE may administer an examination to his or her spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws.

(e) No VE may administer or certify any examination by fraudulent means or for monetary or other consideration including reimbursement in any amount in excess of that permitted. Violation of this provision may result in the revocation of the grant of the VE's amateur station license and the suspension of the grant of the VE's amateur operator license.

(f) No examination that has been compromised shall be administered to any examinee. The same question set may not be re-administered to the same examinee.

(h) Upon completion of each examination element, the administering VEs must immediately grade the examinee's answers. The administering VEs are responsible for determining the correctness of the examinee's answers.

(i) When the examinee is credited for all examination elements required for the operator license sought, 3 VEs must certify that the examinee is qualified for the license grant and that the VEs have complied with these administering VE requirements. The certifying VEs are jointly and individually accountable for the proper administration of each examination element reported. The certifying VEs may delegate to other qualified VEs their authority, but not their accountability, to administer individual elements of an examination.

(j) When the examinee does not score a passing grade on an examination element, the administering VEs must return the application document to the examinee and inform the examinee of the grade.

(k) The administering VEs must accommodate an examinee whose physical disabilities require a special examination procedure. The administering VEs may require a physician's certification indicating the nature of the disability before determining which, if any, special procedures must be used.

(l) The administering VEs must issue a CSCE to an examinee who scores a passing grade on an examination element.

9.5 Maintaining Examination Integrity

The Volunteer Examiner plays a key role in maintaining the integrity of the amateur service Volunteer Examiner program. VEs also bear an important public relations burden. We expect you to be an "expert" on amateur testing and licensing.

We will not coordinate any exam which we believe is not conducted in accord with high standards. W5YI-VEC has the authority to invalidate any session in which confidence is lacking. We reserve the right to remove a VE accreditation for any reason or for no reason at all. Our decision is final in any dispute without appeal and by accepting a VE appointment you agree to abide by our decisions. We want the reputation of the W5YI-VEC program to be "squeaky clean." Rumors and "innuendo" to the contrary can do nothing but damage the program and amateur self-testing in general.

We are trusting and depending on our VEs to conduct exam sessions in a thoroughly professional manner. Every amateur has worked hard to obtain their amateur operator status. Act accordingly. Being a Volunteer Examiner is the highest calling in the Amateur Radio Service.

The role of the VE is an incredibly important one to the future of amateur radio as we know it. This is your opportunity to influence the caliber of the service and to repay the hobby for the enjoyment it has brought you over the years. It goes without saying that the quality of the person that enters the amateur ranks is directly proportional to the quality of the Volunteer Examiner program.

Be suspicious of exam cheating at all times. It happened during FCC-administered test sessions and still occurs under the VE/VEC System. Be particularly watchful for mistaken identities (a person taking the examination for someone else), micro-recorders, and forged/fraudulent records (particularly amateur operator licenses and Certificates of Successful Completion of Examination). Safeguard all blank certificates and examination materials.

The worst possible situation for a VEC is one in which a VE team assists applicants to pass. It is very difficult to detect, but eventually the "word" gets out about "easy" test situations. We will take firm measures to stop all instances of testing irregularities at once. Unfortunately more than one W5YI accredited volunteer examiner has had their operator/primary station license revoked and/or suspended for the remainder of its term.

The rules require that a VEC report any suspected irregularities in the administering or taking of examinations to the FCC. Report wrongdoing to us immediately, preferably in written form, so that it can be investigated. A number of complaints about the testing procedures of a specific team can mean that something is not being handled properly. We have no alternative but to act on these complaints to safeguard the integrity of the VE system.

We hold Contact VE team leaders particularly responsible for exam integrity since all testing materials are forwarded to them. Team leaders should be very careful about releasing any preprinted test copies to other VEs as control of the testing materials would be lost. It is the Contact VE that will be held personally accountable if there is any question of prior knowledge of test contents.

The rules are very specific about relatives (see 97.509(d)). Be certain that related VE team members, and the CVE are excluded from testing a candidate. Computer generated exams may be allowed for testing of related applicants but the test must be generated on site, at the session and witnessed by 3 unrelated VE team members. If a computer is not available an unrelated VE team member should always generate the actual written paper examinations and not the CVE Team Leader if the applicant is related to the CVE. The VEs should take whatever steps necessary to preclude any appearance of testing "irregularity" in both the generation, administering and grading of the exams.

We monitor "pass/ fail rates" very carefully. Consistent high pass rates give cause for suspicion. We are counting on you not to violate the trust that we have placed in you. We give every VE the benefit of the doubt to begin with. To be accredited as a W5YI-VE is a simple, quick procedure. To retain this accreditation and especially to be a team leader requires that you be a thoroughly respected member of the amateur community. Fair or not, we will have no alternative but to take action if you or your team becomes the object of controversy. More than once we have had to suspend testing by a VE team - even though we lacked concrete evidence of fraud. We also reserve the right to arbitrarily disaccredit W5YI-VEs who have been suspended or disaccredited by other VEC organizations.

97.509(e) reads: "No VE may administer or certify any examination by fraudulent means or for monetary or other consideration including reimbursement in any amount in excess of that permitted. Violation of this provision may result in the revocation of the grant of the VE's amateur station license and the suspension of the grant of the VE's amateur operator license."

We will do everything in our power as the coordinating VEC to have your amateur radio licenses revoked and your involvement publicized should you knowingly participate in a fraudulent session.

9.6 Distribution of Study Material, Teaching Classes

As of February 1996, the FCC permits volunteer examiners to distribute license preparation material to applicants (with or without a profit) and the previous Section 97.509(b)(5) has been removed from the rules.

Volunteer examiners may also teach (paid or unpaid) Amateur Radio license preparation classes and participate in course-ending license examinations. Three VEs are still required and all Part 97 Rules must be followed.

Under no circumstances, however, should an examinee be required to purchase study materials or attend an Instruction Class for which a fee is charged as a prerequisite to taking an Amateur license examination. The only fee that may be charged an examinee is the examination/application fee established by the W5YI-VEC in effect at the time of the exam.

9.7 Be familiar with FCC Part 97

The FCC rules concerning the Commissions Volunteer Examination program are detailed in Part 97, Subpart F. You should make it a point to be completely familiar with the entire Part 97. If you do not have an up-to-date copy of the new Part 97 Rules, these can be obtained from our VEC Office: W5YI-VEC; P.O. Box 200065; Arlington, TX 76006-0065, 800-669-9594. A special reduced cost for quantity purchases is available to our VE Teams that wish to distribute them to applicants or club.

January 2020 FCC Part 97 Rules & Regulations

Subpart A - General Provisions
97.1 Basis and purpose.
97.3 Definitions.
97.5 Station license required.
97.7 Control operator required.
97.9 Operator license.
97.11 Stations aboard ships or aircraft.
97.13 Restrictions on station location.
97.15 Station antenna structures.
97.17 Application for new license grant.
97.19 Application for a vanity call sign.
97.21 Application for a modified or renewed license.
97.23 Mailing address.
97.25 License term.
97.27 FCC modification of station license.
97.29 Replacement license document.
97.31 Cancellation on account of the licensee's death.

Subpart B
- Station Operation Standards
97.101 General standards.
97.103 Station licensee responsibilities.
97.105 Control operator duties.
97.107 Alien control operator privileges.
97.109 Station control.
97.111 Authorized transmissions.
97.113 Prohibited transmissions.
97.115 Third party communications.
97.117 International communications.
97.119 Station identification.
97.121 Restricted operation.

Subpart C
- Special Operations
97.201 Auxiliary station.
97.203 Beacon station.
97.205 Repeater station.
97.207 Space station.
97.209 Earth station.
97.211 Space telecommand station.
97.213 Telecommand of an amateur station.
97.215 Telecommand of model craft.
97.217 Telemetry.
97.219 Message forwarding system.
97.221 Automatically controlled digital station.
Subpart D - Technical Standards
97.301 Authorized frequency bands.
97.303 Frequency sharing requirements.
97.305 Authorized emission types.
97.307 Emission standards.
97.309 RTTY and data emission codes.
97.311 SS emission types.
97.313 Transmitter power standards.
97.315 Certification of external RF power amplifiers.
97.317 Standards for certification of external RF power amplifiers.

Subpart E
- Emergency Communications
97.401 Operation during a disaster.
97.403 Safety of life and protection of property.
97.405 Station in distress.
97.407 Radio amateur civil emergency service.

Subpart F
- Qualifying Examination Systems
97.501 Qualifying for an amateur operator license.
97.503 Element standards.
97.505 Element credit.
97.507 Preparing an examination.
97.509 Administering VE requirements.
97.511 Examinee conduct.
97.513 VE session manager requirements.
97.519 Coordinating examination sessions.
97.521 VEC qualifications.
97.523 Question pools.
97.525 Accrediting VEs.
97.527 Reimbursement for expenses.

Appendix 1 Areas Regulated by the FCC
Appendix 2 VEC Regions
Sec. 1.913 Application requirements and procedures
Sec. 1.923 Content of applications
Sec. 1.1307 When Environmental Assessments (EA) must be prepared
Sec. 1.1310 Radiofrequency radiation exposure limits

12. The Telecommunications Act of 1996

... signed into Public Law 104-104 by President Clinton on February 8, 1996 removed many of the burdensome conflict-of-interest, record keeping and financial certification requirements previously imposed on VEs and VECs.
The following Part 97 Rules were abolished.

97.509(b)(5) Precluded VEs from being involved in the manufacture or distribution of amateur station transmitting equipment or the publication or distribution of license preparation materials

97.521(e) Precluded VECs from being involved in the manufacture of distribution of amateur station transmitting equipment or the publication or distribution of license preparation materials "...unless a persuasive showing is made to the FCC that preventative measures have been taken to preclude any possible conflict of interest."

97.527(c)(d) (e) & (f) This rule previously required VEs and VECs to keep out-of-pocket expense records for a period of 3 years and to file a written certification annually with the FCC verifying "...that all expenses for the period from January 1 to December 31 of the preceding year for which reimbursement was obtained were necessary and prudently incurred." VECs were required to disaccredit any VE who failed to provide this certification and to so advise the FCC
NOTE: There are no longer any regulatory prohibitions preventing VEs or VECs from distributing license preparation materials (with or without profit) to anyone or from being employed by a company that manufactures or sells amateur radio station equipment. VEs may also conduct amateur radio license training classes (with or without compensation) and may participate as one of the three VEs examining the students. You may NOT, however, require examinees to pay any additional cost to take an examination -- such as for license preparation materials, attendance at a meeting or hamfest ...or attending training classes for which additional fees are charged. Applicants are to be administered Amateur license examinations without paying costs in excess of the currently established (expense reimbursement) fee.

Copyright: 1984,2015 The W5YI-VEC, Arlington, Texas All Rights Reserved