[AMRadio] Re: Amateur Radio Exam Question

Jim Wilhite w5jo at brightok.net
Fri Feb 8 11:14:41 EST 2008

Looking for someone to blame in this casts a wider net than just hams. 
I don't remember the exact time line, but over 20 years ago after the 
Freedom of Information Act was passed, some enterprising person filed 
under that act for release of the questions on the Airman's Exam (I 
believe).  The court agreed with the petitioner and the rest of the 
government had to follow the directive and release question pools for 
all exams it administered, saying it fell under public domain.

The FCC, faced with declining budgets, decided to go to question types 
that could be graded quickly either by hand or machine.  So the 
beginning of the multiple choice only exams.  This allowed one clerk to 
grade 50 exams in less time than 10 exams with summation questions or 
drawing diagrams.  Rather they provided the diagram and asked questions 
about what would happen if certain components were bad or deleted, 
identifying types of amplifiers or oscillators, etc.

When testing was turned over to the VECs they also had to release the 
questions pools, so they decided to create a very large pool to reduce 
the number of people who could memorize the questions and answers.  So 
on a 50 question test you have a possibility of them coming out of a 500 
question pool.  The bad thing about the questions is the way different 
people learned the material.  Ohm's law for current, voltage and 
resistance plus the power formula are examples.  Add into the mix the 
additions of Satellite communications, digital modes and Spread Spectrum 
which our license classes allow and you have  a necessity for the 
applicant to have the knowledge to use them.

So some questions about those subjects are included in our exams which 
much be all inclusive since we are allowed to use the modes.  As a 
former teacher who had to grade exams, I can tell you the task is 
daunting taking time into your off hours if you do descriptive type 
questions requiring students to write a summary especially if you have 
more than 10 students in a class.

There are more aspects that what I have described that are taken into 
account in the testing of all federal, university, college and high 
school students.  Another aspect is that all testing must be totally 
subjective.  This reduces the possibility of teachers failing students 
based on other criteria.  So is the current method good?  Not the best 
for creating higher level performers.  Do it produce results, yes.  Is 
it perfect, no.  But we have survived and there are many licensed hams 
out there that do not care or know they don't own a frequency or how to 
even read a multimeter, but they are hams.  They will learn if they 
choose, and sadly, we must tolerate their behavior.


>> Which of the following describes how the loading capacitor and tuning
>> capacitor are to be
>> adjusted when tuning a vacuum tube RF power amplifier that employs a
>> pi-network output
>> circuit?
> Well Bob, at least this and the previous example you posted show that
> the sky really isn't falling after all. I've never cared for the
> 'mulitple guess' exams or some of the modes, but at least we still
> have the privilege of holding a license and enjoying amateur radio.
> What we choose to do with it will be the determining factor.
> ~ Todd,  KA1KAQ

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