VE Session Instructions
WCARS-VE Sessions are conducted following procedures outlined in Chapter 6 of Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) VE Manual (2014), with few exceptions.
NOTE: Text of ARRL/VEC Chapter 6 displayed in White; WCARS-VEC text displayed in Light Blue
Chapter 6
Conducting the Test Session






The Big Day! 

All of your hard work is about to come to fruition at a real test session. If you are a new VE, try to join an experienced VE Team for a session or two. No matter how well you think you understand the material in this manual, you'll benefit greatly from other, more experienced VEs.


The Candidates Arrive


Any candidates who have pre-registered for your test session should be guaranteed a place at your session.


Because some teams limit the number of applicants to whom they'll administer exams (permitted by FCC Rule 97.509) they may not be able to accommodate all walk-in candidates who show up. Because the pre-registered candidates who arrive on time for their exam(s) made prior arrangements, they should be set up for their tests before the team processes any walk-in candidates.


ARRL Paragraph deleted.

Collecting the Test Fee

Any person sitting for an exam, or having a new license or upgrade processed at your test sessions, must pay the test fee applicable for the calendar year. A charge also applies for paperwork-only upgrades (see “Instant Upgrade CSCEs” section below), even though no test is actually taken.   Each time an examinee retakes an exam element, another test fee is charged. For example, if a candidate comes in as a Technician licensee, then takes the General test and fails it, in order to try the General test again (using a different version of the General test, assuming the VEs have another version available) the candidate will pay a second test fee. The candidate will be entered on the Candidate Roster a second time, just as if he/she were a new candidate who had just arrived.   Each time a candidate pays one test fee, he/she is entitled to take tests for Elements 2, 3 and 4 as needed, up to all three under the single test fee.   WCARS-VE rates for current year application fees are found on WCARS-VEC VE Fees and Filing Schedule.   The ARRL/VEC informs all VEs of the current test fee at the beginning of each year and publicizes the test fee information on the Web at www.arrl.org/arrl-vec-exam-fees.




No one may take an amateur exam for another person. It is essential that the VE Team checks a candidate's identification (ID) before allowing the candidate to sit for an exam.


The candidate must present a legal photo ID. This requirement is usually met with a driver's license, but it can be a passport or other legal identification card with the candidate's photo on it.


When no photo ID is available, the candidate must present any two of the following:


Non-photo ID/driver's license (some states still have them); Social Security Card; Birth certificate (must have the appropriate seal); Minor‘s work permit, school report card, school ID card or library card; Utility bill, bank statement or other business correspondence that specifically names the person; or Postmarked envelope addressed to the person at his or her current mailing address as it appears on the Form 605.


Taxpayer ID Numbers (TINs)


As a US Citizen, and as an individual (not company), our Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is most often our Social Security Number (SSN). Under the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), the FCC is required to collect a TIN/SSN from each person doing business with them. The SSN is written in the appropriate box (just to the right of the license class box) on WCARS/VEC Quick Form 605.


The FCC indicates that a licensee's SSN, telephone or Fax numbers, or email addresses will not be available to the public. Supplying a telephone or Fax number or email address is optional. Supplying this data to FCC is referred to as "ULS Registration." The ULS system is called the COmmission REgistration System (CORES). For CORES information, see



For persons who submit an application for the first time for a new license grant or for an upgrade, address/call sign change or other changes, or for renewal, ULS Registration is automatic, since your application includes your TIN/SSN data and your name, call sign and address information.


Also acceptable as a TIN are: IRS issued Employer Identification Number (EIN); FCC issued Federal Registration Number (FRN) after initial registration.


At a US FCC license test session, when serving non-US Citizen (foreign) examinees that have no TIN/ SSN, VEs are to write the word "FOREIGN" in the SSN box on WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605.


Taxpayer ID Numbers formats: SSNs will look like "123-45-6789" (nine digits); IRS EINs will look like "12-3456789" (nine digits); FCC-generated FRNs (created by FCC after ULS registration) will look like "0001234567" (10 digits beginning with a "0"). Only TINs of these formats, or the word "FOREIGN", can be written in the SSN box on WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605.


TINs for Foreigners: Some persons who are not US Citizens will have a SSN or IRS assigned TIN for employment purposes. The applicant must supply this TIN number on their future license applications. Others who are not eligible for a SSN, can still obtain a FRN from the FCC under the provision “reason for exemption - the individual is a foreigner”. The FCC has advised VECs that they can file electronically, on behalf of the applicant, for a FRN. For your VE Team's considerations, the WCARS-VEC will have you ask the relevant screening question (see below) of the applicant.


The VE Team asks the examinee: "Are you a United States citizen or national, or have you been lawfully admitted for permanent residence or for US. employment?" If the examinee answers “Yes,” instruct the examinee that he/ she must use his/her social security number (SSN). If the examinee needs to obtain an SSN, he/ she can apply for one separately. If the examinee answers “No” and is not eligible for a SSN, write the word "FOREIGN" in the SSN box on WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605.


Amateur Radio license/upgrade applicants should be advised to use their FRN


WCARS-VEC urges all Amateur Radio license and upgrade applicants to use their FCC Registration Number (FRN), if they have been assigned one, when completing Form 605, not their Social Security number. The FCC asks applicants to register via the FCC's COmmission REgistration System (CORES) https://www.fcc.gov/licensing-databases/commission-registration-system-fcc

to obtain an FRN, and it requires applicants to use their FRNs when filing Form 605. The FRN uniquely identifies an applicant in all transactions with the FCC and avoids the need to continually provide a Social Security number on the application form. WCARS-VEC staff reports that when license data is submitted to the FCC using a Social Security number when the applicant already has an FRN, the FCC rejects the data file because an FRN already exists.


Proof of License Grant


The FCC expects that VEs will identify all license applicants, and that they will determine each applicant's license and/or examination credit status. Expect each examinee to bring you proof of licensing (if you don't already do so, consider including such a statement in your public announcements).


If an applicant comes to your session claiming to hold a license but has no written proof with him/her, and if you have access to Internet call sign servers, you can verify the license claim directly on line. If you don't have access to the Internet, but believe the claim to be valid, and you can clearly identify the applicant, test the person and issue two CSCEs for any successful exams (issue a credit-only CSCE to the applicant at the time of the test and send the VEC a complete credit-and-upgrade-earned CSCE--don't separate the carbons--which the WCARS-VEC will then hold until its staff can verify the applicant's license claims). Tell the candidate that he/she is responsible for sending a photocopy of the missing license or any other needed documentation to the WCARS-VEC office. When the WCARS-VEC receives it, its staff will compare the data on the license with that on the candidate's Form 605 and CSCE and if everything is in order, the WCARS-VEC will send the upgrade data to FCC and release the white copy of the complete CSCE to the candidate.


The team should always compare the signature on the license, ID or CSCE presented with any photocopies supplied.


The original license and/or original CSCE(s) is to be returned immediately to the licensee after inspection. The FCC issues Amateur Radio licenses using its official license form, FCC Form 660. It includes two official licenses on an 8 l/2xll-inch document. The standard wallet-sized license, which measures approximately 2 U4 inches tall by 6 3/4 inches wide is found at the bottom of the form. Also included is a 5x7-inch license suitable for framing and display. Both of these documents, each of which requires the licensee's signature, are legal license documents. The background in both documents includes hundreds of gray hash marks in vertical and horizontal patterns. The document has been printed on tan/ off white colored stock safety paper, but FCC indicates the background color may vary depending on the color supplied by their printing contractor.


All FCC licenses issued before April 1991 used the small FCC-license format, however. That format was the 2 1A; x 6 3/4-inch wallet size. The background for this form included 150 miniature FCC insignias, printed in yellow.


Alterations that have been made or attempted on either Form 660 document will usually be detected easily.


It's possible that someone may attempt to sneak a neatly modified (forged/altered) license photocopy past the VE Team. If that happens, and if the VE Team or VEC notes that the document was purposely altered, collect a copy and send it to the WCARS-VEC. The VEC will then refer the matter to the FCC for review.


Form: (WCARS-VEC Session Summary)


The Session Summary is used to keep track of applicants tested during an exam session. It specifies a candidates name, current call sign, current license class, element(s) taken by each candidate, passed or failed, valid exam/element credit(s) presented, and license class (if any) were earned. One sheet will accommodate up to 25 candidates.


The VE Team completes and returns the Session Summary to the VEC office with the completed test session results. The VE Team Liaison will file it for future/archive reference.


It's important that a VE Team complete the summary accurately. it may be necessary to reconstruct the test session using the summary compared to each WCARS-VEC 605, and the test cover sheet. If VEC records are lost, it could cost applicants a hard-earned new license or upgrade.


Teams have devised their own "flow control" systems. Your VE Team may create whatever system and/or forms you feel are necessary to make your job more manageable, so long as a completed Session Summary is provided to the VEC office. If your team has a computerized system that provides a report with the VEC required information that is acceptable. (Please share a copy with the VEC for review just to be sure. The WCARS-VEC can usually accept such lists in place of the standard form as long as it supplies the same data as required on the session summary form).


At the top of the summary, write in the location (city and state or country) of the session (this must be the same location as written on the CSCEs) and the test date of the session. Print the name and call sign (if any) of each candidate who tests at your session; use more summary pages as needed. Be sure to indicate that every candidate paid a test fee, or paid a test fee plus another fee for each retest of the same exam element, or paid any fees for administrative actions nor requiring an exam.


LICENSE CLASS BEFORE TEST -- Place a single letter in the box to indicate the candidate’s license class upon arrival at the session (e.g., “G” for General class). If none, leave the box blank.


A licensee who holds a CSCE that upgrades his/her license should be reflected on the summary by notating the current class of license held, and then the element credit (CSCE) by writing a "C" in the applicable box. To be given such credit, however, the applicant must show the VE Team license proof and original CSCE(s) that document the upgrade. (Credit must be evidenced by an original CSCE only; a photocopied document is not to be honored but it could be deferred to the WCARS-VEC for verification).


ELEMENTS TAKEN -- Indicate how the candidate fared on the element(s) by placing a "x" (passed), "x" (failed), "x" (CSCE credit), "CT" (Element 3 General exam credit for pre-3/21/ 87 Technician) under each box as appropriate. Boxes for elements not taken should be left blank.


LICENSE CLASS EARNED -- Place a single letter in the box to indicate the highest class of license the candidate earned at the test session, based on (1) the element(s) passed during the session, and (2) the actual license and CSCE documents or other credits the applicant showed the VE Team at the beginning of the session (be sure to send the WCARS-VEC a copy of every credit document the VE Team reviewed and accepted as valid credit). Place an “x” in the appropriate column to indicate the class earned. Leave the box blank or put a dash in the box if the applicant did not upgrade or earn a new license at the session.  

A WCARS-VEC Session Summary is available at wcars-ve-session-summary-2017.pdf.


Seating the Candidates

  A gesture that's always appreciated is to have the members of the VE Team introduce themselves to the candidates. The candidates are usually aware that the examiners are hams, but a little reassurance from them may have a calming effect.


Separate Rooms


Some VE Teams that have access to at least one other room may opt to separate candidates for noise reduction purposes. This is fine as long as each room in which there is one or more exams given has a minimum of three VEs on hand to administer and supervise exams, and that the VEs in each testing area only make certifications for the element(s) that they personally administer. The three or more VEs required to oversee the separate examination area must each hold the appropriate class of FCC license as well as WCARS-VE accreditation.


Each administering VE must clearly identify the examinee (comparing the original license or credit document{s} against any photocopy presented to ensure that neither has been altered); administer all examinations to the examinee in accordance with FCC Rules and procedures; grade the examination--in conjunction with the grading being conducted by the other two VEs, or has agreed with the grade reached by the other VEs and has informed the examinee of the grade; and be present and observe the examinee throughout the entire examination process. If the three administering VEs can meet these requirements, proctoring the examinee throughout the entire examination process, then the testing areas can be separated.


Only one WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605 need be completed for separated testing areas: The VEs from the final testing area in which the applicant earned a new license would typically be the VEs to sign the Form 605.


Only one Candidate Roster need be completed; although it would be appropriate for all teams (groups of three VEs) to maintain a working copy in their own testing area. Only one fee is charged at the beginning of the test session--unless the applicant fails a particular examination element and a retest is offered using a different exam version.


Separate CSCEs should be issued in each testing area. Although more CSCEs are used in this example to ensure that VE administrative accountability is met, this is a workable solution for VE Teams as one way that they may separate their testing areas.


Check the WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605 Early


The WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605 is addressed thoroughly in Chapter 5; however, a few points should be re-emphasized:


The top half of the WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605 should be checked early in the session--preferably before the candidates begin their exams--to allow candidates to make corrections or to provide missing information with minimum interruptions during the session. Even if you don't find any problems with the applications, it may help if you return the already completed Forms 605 to the candidates who submitted their forms prior to the day of the test session. In some cases, the candidates may have submitted their Forms 605 weeks or months before the session. During that time, events may have occurred that will require changes on the form to be made.


If an item on the front of the Form 605 has to be changed, have the candidate make the change (if possible). The candidate should mark a single line through the item to be changed, make the correction above or beside the item and then initial the correction.


If the session has ended and the candidate is no longer available to make the appropriate change(s), one of the VEs can make the minor correction and initial it as described above as long as the correction does not cause a critical change to the application (such as a name change or call sign change request).


Element Credit


Element credit to be given applicants, as show in the following table, is based on FCC Rule 97.505. At VE test sessions it is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of credit.


Each applicant who holds an amateur license and/ or a valid CSCE is to receive credit for the elements conveyed by the license and/ or CSCE issued. To receive the credit, the applicant must present proof of his or her current license and the original of any valid CSCE, or proof of any other element credit being claimed, to the administering VE Team for its inspection.


Each applicant must provide the original and a copy of all necessary documents for credit being sought. The VEs are to return the original copy of any license and/ or any original CSCE(s) to the applicant after they are satisfied with the documents' authenticity. The copies will be retained by the VE Team for forwarding to the VEC with the session results package.


Element Credit

License Class Elements

Technician License 2

Technician license (issued before 03/21/1987) 2 and 3 along with a current Technician license. (See additional “Valid Forms of Examination Credit” information below.)


Expired Technician license issued before 03/21/1987, 3 only

but presently expired and beyond the two-year grace period. (See additional “Valid Forms of Examination Credit” information below.)


Applicant Must pass Element 2 before General class license can be issued).


General license 2 and 3


Advanced license 2 and 3


Valid Forms of Examination Element Credit


The following are means to verify the credit status of someone eligible for credit. At a test session, the VEs will review all documents presented by applicants. FCC does not require the applicant to have been continuously licensed.


Such valid credit documents may include:


1. For any credit, a CSCE issued within the previous 365 days for Element Credit (credit as indicated) is acceptable.


2. For General written test (Element 3) credit, persons who took a 50-question Technician/ General written test before March 21, 1987 receive “grandfather” Technician licensees’ credit. This can be verified if an applicant presents any of the following:


a. Per FCC Rules, an FCC Technician license issued before March 21, 1987, as indicated on the license.

b. An original Element 3 CSCE issued before March 21, 1987, is acceptable as proof

c. If licensed in the mid-'70s or after, FCC will issue a License Verification Letter indicating that the applicant was licensed as a Technician licensee prior to March 21, 1987. To request such a letter, write to FCC, ATTN: Amateur Section, 1270 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325 (or fax 717-338-2696).

d. For 1966 or more recent records, an FCC Records Contractor extract/certification from FCC Fiche Records can be obtained. There is a charge for this service. For assistance in acquiring copies of FCC documents, please contact "Best Copy & Printing, Inc" (BCPI) at: Telephone 202-488-5300; TTY 202-488-5562; Fax 202-488-5563; Email requests, help & orders: fcc@bcpiweb.com or via the Web at www.bcpiweb.com/fcciresearchhtml.

e. A 1987 Edition, or earlier, Radio Amateur Callbook listing is acceptable as proof (be sure to include the year of publication reference, if not printed on the page) so long as the license m is shown in the listing (only Callbooks Fall 1967 or later show license class).

f. QRZ has posted a copy from their archives of their very first CD ROM product on their Web page www.grz.com, as originally published in 1993. This data includes licensees from 1983 to 1993. A printout of such a listing from this CD ROM, showing a Technician license effective/ begin date prior to 3/21/ 87 is acceptable.


Credit from CSCEs


FCC Rule 97.505 provides for a candidate to be given credit for elements passed at earlier VEC-coordinated sessions. A Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) is valid for 365 days beginning on the date it is issued. A CSCE conveys credit only for elements and the upgrade indicated. (Not all CSCEs validate an upgrade.) The team must collect a copy of every CSCE reviewed and include the copy with the test session package being sent to the WCARS-VEC.


Day one of 365 is the day the CSCE is issued (in other words, if you test on a Saturday morning and get a CSCE, you can take that same CSCE to a noon, afternoon or evening test that same day. In a non-leap-year, a CSCE issued on July 1 (for example), expires at midnight June 30 of the following year.


To be given CSCE credit for any element(s) claimed at your test session, the candidate must present your team with the actual original valid CSCE document issued within the previous 365 days. A candidate may hold more than one valid CSCE at test time. Also, the CSCE(s) may have been issued by any one of the current 14 VECs—-all of which must be accepted in the WCARS-VEC Program.


Inform the WCARS-VEC in the comments section of the WCARS-VEC Test Session Report form or by attaching a brief note to the applicant's Form 605 if you question a particular certificate's validity; the VEC staff will check their records, or those of the VEC that coordinated the session where the CSCE was issued, and verify the status.


Once you have satisfied yourself that the credit conveyed by the CSCE is legitimate, keep a copy of the CSCE for forwarding to the WCARS-VEC and then, always, return the original certificate to the candidate.


If, at the test session, you doubt the validity of a candidate's CSCE, always allow the candidate to take the elements for which he or she applied, but issue a CSCE to the candidate marked as element credit only for the elements he or she actually passes at your session; don't indicate that an upgrade is earned on the CSCE you give to the candidate. Then, complete a second CSCE that indicates both element and upgrade credit, and send the white and pink copies of that second CSCE to the VEC office with the information about the candidate's CSCE that you're questioning. No doubt you'll be questioned by the candidate as to why you're taking this action. When responding, try to be as informative as possible with the candidate, advising the candidate why the action is being taken--and indicating that you must ensure that all documents or certifications are valid (and if all else fails, indicate that the ARRL VE Manual instructs you to handle it in this manner for any CSCE that is in question).


Questioning a CSCEs Authenticity


If you're presented with an original CSCE (or a photocopy) you believe has been altered, collect a copy of the CSCE from the applicant and send the copy to the WCARS-VEC so that its staff can determine its authenticity. If the CSCE has been altered, the VEC staff will present that document to the FCC for any appropriate follow-up action. Even if the CSCE presented is questionable, your VE Team must still administer any requested examination elements to the examinee. If the examinee passes, issue an element credit only CSCE to that examinee. If any upgrade is earned, complete a second CSCE indicating both element and upgrade credit was earned, and forward that second CSCE to the VEC with the test session. If the candidate's claim for element credit is validated, the WCARS-VEC will mail the white copy of the CSCE (that indicates both element and upgrade credit) directly to the candidate at that time.


Whether your team is challenging a candidate's CSCE or not, be sure to collect a copy of every CSCE you review and include the copy with the test session package being sent to the WCARS-VEC.

  It can't be stressed enough, however, that your team must see the original CSCE, not just a photocopy, for review and acceptance toward element credit for the upgrade being sought; the candidate must provide you with the actual CSCE issued at the earlier session to receive such credit. (This will be the top [white] copy of a CSCE issued at an WCARS-VEC-coordinated session.) Also, the candidate's call sign indicated on the original CSCE issued by the VE Team must be currently valid, or must have been valid when the CSCE was completed.


Order of Exam Elements


An applicant may take a series of exams in any order to qualify for a license. As far as the FCC is concerned, as long as all of the necessary elements are earned toward a class of license or upgrade, no particular order must be followed in earning those elements.


The WCARS-VEC recommends, however, that examiners strive to administer the examination elements in ascending order. If examiners have a special situation where an examinee has prepared for an element that doesn't comply with the WCARS-VEC ascending order recommendation, its office will honor the VE Team's decision.


As an example of when a VE Team may choose to permit examinations to be administered out of ascending order might involve a currently-unlicensed former General class licensee who comes to your examination prepared to take the General written test (Element 3), but is unaware that he will still have to take the Technician written test (Element 2). In this scenario, the VE Team will usually allow Element 3 to be taken before Element 2 since the examinee is prepared to take Element 3, but is probably not prepared to take Element 2, and should not be forced to take Element 2. If this order is permitted, be sure that candidates clearly understand that each CSCE conveying element credit is individually valid for 365 days from the date it was issued. No subsequently-issued CSCE will renew another CSCE's validation period.


If an examinee fails an examination element, it is still recommended that the examinee first retake the failed element and pass it before proceeding to take a higher examination element.


Late Arrivals


Start the session on time, if possible. The decision to accept latecomers is strictly up to the VE Team; candidates who arrive after the appointed starting time may be refused entry if that's what the VEs decide.


Too Many Show Up


Occasionally you may have more candidates show up for an exam than the room will hold. The VEs have to decide whether to schedule an impromptu sitting of that session at a later hour (with versions different from those used at the first session) or to turn away candidates, even if adequate test materials are on hand.


At any VEC-coordinated session, the number of candidates may be limited (FCC Rule 97.509). If you've run short of WCARS-VEC Quick Form 605s or other session paperwork, photocopied forms are acceptable. Because WCARS-VEC CSCEs can't be photocopied however, plan to have extra CSCEs on hand.


When May VEs Refuse Service to an Applicant?


VEs may not refuse service to anyone who is seeking an amateur license or upgrade, with the following exceptions:


-The applicant does not provide adequate identification document(s) to the VE Team;

-The applicant is disruptive during the examination;

-The applicant requires special assistance from the VE Team, such as accommodations for the handicapped that the team is not prepared to make available at that time. In such cases, the VE Team must suggest a convenient alternative date/time/location at which they will provide the requested assistance or accommodation (as required under FCC Rule 97.509). The VE Team should indicate in its public announcements that special testing assistance or needs must be arranged in advance.

-Service can be limited to a person when the VE Team has limited time available to it (such as where the test site must be vacated by a particular time). A VE Team might not be able or prepared to offer retests (where the VE Team has only come prepared to offer one test design per examination element).


Instructions to the Candidates


Now that the candidates have been checked in and the initial paperwork completed, you're almost ready to get the session underway. If you haven't already introduced yourself and your fellow VE Team members, do so at this time. Next, give the candidates your important instructions.


Determine if any Applicant Requires Special Assistance


No person who requires a special examination procedural accommodation or who requires assistance may be refused service by a VE Team (FCC Rule 97.509). If your VE Team is unclear whether a person has a handicap that requires such an accommodation or assistance, the VE Team may require that person obtain a written statement from his or her Physician that indicates the nature of the handicap or disability (FCC Rule 97.509). The VE Team determines which accommodative procedure(s), if any, must be used. Any person who does not appear to have difficulty reading, writing or speaking may be an example of when the VE Team should require that a Physician's statement be provided.


For sight-impaired persons, seat them in an area where the lighting is best. Don't be afraid to ask the examinees if anyone has difficulty reading or seeing their test booklets.


For mobility impaired persons, seat them nearest to the VEs or the entrance. Offer to drop off and pick up any test booklet(s), Form 605 or CSCE for these persons.


At check-in, determine if any mobility limited persons are standing/ waiting in line and make every effort to help them get checked in and seated early. Be sure to ask regularly, at the beginning of and during each session check-in.


If accommodations are permitted, the VE Team should indicate this on the back of the Test Session Report form. Including the names of non-VEs who will read or copy the candidate's answers is recommended. The Doctor's Statement should be submitted to the VEC with the candidate's test booklets and papers, which will be retained in session records.


The accommodations may include administering the examination at a place and time convenient and comfortable to the examinee, even at bedside. Other procedures can include reading or writing for candidates who can't do so themselves. Even illiteracy is considered a reading handicap. Other reading handicaps can be experienced by those who are very young (and may not yet be old enough to read or understand certain words or sentence structure) or the elderly whose eyesight may be failing. Enlarging materials to two or three times their normal size will sometimes be effective. Writing handicaps may also affect the young or elderly.


If the candidate doesn't have a readily identifiable handicap/disability and if the candidate doesn't provide a Doctor's Statement describing the handicap/disability he/ she suffers from, you can decline to offer the more flexible accommodations.


Other Procedures for Testing the Disabled


In addition to the accommodative procedures discussed above, the following information is provided by the Courage HANDI-HAM System to assist you in providing examinations to people with disabilities. The main thing to remember is to adapt the test procedure to the methods the candidate uses for normal day to day activity. The more independent the candidate can be in the testing process, the more valid the test results. Many people with disabilities have their own methods of dealing with day to day activities such as writing letters and checks. Asking the candidate how he or she normally deals with these activities will help you provide a more professional testing session.


Please call the WCARS-VEC if you have any question about testing the physically disabled and if they aren't answered here. If we don't have the answer when you call, we will discuss your question with the staff of the Courage HANDI-HAM System and get an answer as soon as possible. If you'd like more information about the Courage HAN DI-HAM System, contact them at 3915 Golden Valley Rd, Golden Valley, MN 55422; Tel 763-520-0520; email: handiham@courage.org; Web:



Visually Impaired.

The major modification usually needed for testing the visually impaired is that the tests are given orally. Read the exam questions and multiple-choice selections to the candidate and then record the candidate's response on the answer sheet. Try to allow the candidate the same opportunity sighted people enjoy: process of elimination; reading the questions and remaining answers again; narrowing down the possibilities, skipping a question and returning later; and guessing. This will require a much longer time than most exams so plan accordingly. If you use someone other than a VE or trusted ham to be the reader, be sure the reader is familiar with the correct pronunciation of amateur radio terms.


The WCARS-VEC has a supply of written-element examinations written in Braille; check with the WCARS-VEC for availability.


It is HAN DI-HAMS’ experience that it is more efficient and effective to read the test to an applicant, rather than to arrange for the Braille materials, unless there are special circumstances that require it.


Cerebral Palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a disability with extreme variations ranging from quadriplegia (paralysis of all limbs) and no speech communication to a slight limp. Persons who are unable to speak or have a slowed speech often need to find other means by which to dictate information to the VEs. The use of devices, such as word boards, large cards with the individual multiple-choice letters printed on them so they can be pointed at by the candidate and a keyboard that can be activated by head wand or mouth stick are common alternatives to oral communication.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis has many variations depending on which part of the body is affected. The ability to read or write varies, depending on the extent of disability. Blurred or double vision is often present. The primary difficulty for most MS candidates is fatigue. Because of medication and fatigue, the time of the day when the person is most alert is the best time for him or her to be tested. For this reason, home testing or special arrangements are sometimes appropriate for people with MS.


Muscular Dystrophy.

People with muscular dystrophy experience muscle weakness and fatigue. They're generally able to read and write their own exams. People with muscular dystrophy may find home testing or special arrangements by VE Teams necessary, depending on the level of muscular weakness.



Arthritis can make it difficult for people to sit in one position for long periods so VEs need to keep in mind that they need to allow breaks so that the candidate may stretch or move around. This should be done at a convenient time between exam elements.


Heart and Lung Conditions.

People with serious heart or lung conditions may find travel to exam sites too strenuous. Although they probably won't have other special requirements, arranging to hold the exam session in the home is often necessary.


Spinal Cord Injury.

People who have spinal cord injuries usually experience some degree of paralysis. For the candidate able to use his or her hands effectively enough to write, no modification is necessary, other than the site being accessible to wheelchair applicants. For a quadriplegic candidate (with no use of hands or feet) unable to write, it's necessary for him or her to read the exam (it doesn't need to be read to them) and let him or her dictate the answers.



People who have suffered one or more strokes may require someone to write the test answers for them because they may suffer from partial paralysis. If aphasia (loss or impairment of the ability to use words) is a problem, VEs may need to have the candidate physically point at the answer for a particular question.



Some epileptic seizure activity can be triggered through anxiety and nervousness. Therefore, keeping a relaxed and calm environment during the test session, without undue waiting to take the exams, is important. If candidates adjust their medication, through consultation with their physician, they can control anxiety and/or nervousness. Testing epileptic candidates in their homes to keep down stress is sometimes necessary.


Each candidate's situation is different and these are only general guidelines. This is not a complete list and there are many other conditions that may call for adaptive testing. In all cases, keeping the test session as non-stressful as possible will result in the best performance by the candidate and will make the examination process easier for everyone.


Real Life Experience Box


For more than 55 years, a chap in our town had been an avid SWL listener. As time progressed, his vision failed. Several of his “Ham” friends gently persuaded him until he agreed to try the ‘Handy-Hams’ resources, With the assistance of members from our newly-formed amateur radio club. As his confidence grew, our determination grew also, until one day our SWL friend declared he was ready. He now signs with his Tech call sign and inspires all of us in the Aerospace Radio Club (W1 NSN). It’s NEVER too late to be a Ham — N1 88, Aerospace RC VE TEAM LIAISON


Quiet Please


VE Teams should strive to keep the test session conducive to a classroom setting for the candidates. The examinees should already be in a quiet posture to concentrate on taking their exams. The team should use good judgment when talking at the session to not disturb the candidates. Do your best to keep noise levels of examiner administrative discussions to a minimum.


Collect All Materials


Instruct the candidates that they're not to leave the test site with any materials, other than what they brought with them. No candidate may be permitted to retain answer sheets, test booklets, scratch paper or any other related exam materials. When a candidate completes any element, he or she is to return all materials pertaining to that test to the administering VEs.


Check to see if the candidate skipped over any section of answers, or perhaps missed the last page, for example. WCARS-VEC-supplied candidate answer sheets have hash marks at the end of each 35-question test segment and at the 50-question test boundary. Be sure each answer sheet includes the applicant's name and test element/design number.


Once the candidate turns in the materials, and assuming the exam is completed, the test may not be returned to the candidate for any reason, including for review or to find out which questions the candidate answered right or wrong. If a candidate doesn't score a passing grade on any examination element, however, the VEs must advise the candidate of his or her grade. If no upgrade is earned, according to the FCC's guidelines, VEs shall return the Form 605 to the candidate. (However, you need not force a candidate to take back the Form 605; in fact, if the candidate doesn't request that the form be returned, please

instead return it to the VEC with the used test materials.)


The three administering VEs must sign all WCARS-VEC 605 Forms where examinees earn a new license or upgrade license at your test session.




Any candidate found cheating on any exam will have his or her examination terminated immediately, and must be issued a failing grade regardless of how well that person is doing on the test. At the team's discretion, a candidate found cheating may or may not receive credit for any other element(s) successfully completed before being discovered. Always ensure that all three (or more) VEs participate in the review and decision--with at least two VEs being involved in the discussion with the applicant. The candidate must then be dismissed from the test session.


If you or your fellow VEs observe cheating or observe other questionable action on the part of any examinee, handle the situation with all the self-control and diplomacy that can be mustered. A candidate may become belligerent when confronted by an accusing VE. Don't tolerate any verbal abuse from the candidate and, by all means, don't reciprocate with your own abusive comments.


If a candidate attempts to pass an altered license or CSCE document, collect a copy of the document and forward it along with a brief statement to the VEC with your test session package. Do not confiscate the original of any altered or questionable document.


Remember that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. It is up to the FCC to make any determination of guilt (VEs or VECs are not in a position to make this determination).


Candidates' Possessions


The candidates must put away any headsets, books, paper or earphones they may have brought with them to the session. Watches that give any kind of alarm or hourly chimes should be disabled so that other candidates won't be distracted during their exams. Candidates who must use hearing aids should be allowed to wear them. Cell phones and pagers should be turned off.


Instruct the candidates that no crib notes or other written assistance is permitted once the exams are begun. Using any kind of aid on the test, other than a calculator (see below), is not allowed. (Slide rules and logarithmic tables are acceptable, as long as they're free of notes.) Candidates found using unauthorized aids will have their exams terminated and will be assigned failing grades. They will then be dismissed from the test session.




Most applicants will bring some type of scientific calculator to use on their exams. Most of these, including some programmable calculators, are acceptable. The candidate must, at the VEs' request, demonstrate that all of the calculator's memories have been cleared. The VE Team has the right to refuse a candidate the use of a calculator if the team isn't convinced that this has been accomplished. (Most calculators clear their memories automatically when they're shut off, but some have an internal backup battery or power source that powers the memories continuously even when the main battery is dead or removed.) Many of today's calculators support programming features, such as built-in formulas.


WCARS-VEC guidelines are that the candidate can use a calculator at the test session, provided they can prove to the VE Team that the memory has been cleared. Many of today's calculators support programming features, such as built-in formulas which cannot be 'cleared' from memory. If a calculator has hardwired formula capabilities (that is, formulas which can neither be added nor removed by the user) then the calculator cannot be used during a test. If the VE Team feels a calculator may contain formulas that could be used on the exam, the VE Team has the right to refuse the use of the calculator by the candidate. Slide rules and logarithmic tables (math tables) are acceptable, as long as they're free of notes and formulas.


No other electronic appliances are to be used with exams. Cell phone must be silenced or turned off during the exam session. A cell phone, smartphone (a mobile phone offering advanced capabilities, often with PC-like functionality) or other device that has a calculator function or feature may not be used. Answers to exam questions could easily be accessed on the internet, via text or in memory locations on the phone. There is no practical way for the VE Team to monitor these devices. Allowing a candidate to use the calculator function on their phone creates the potential for abuse.


Bottom line, if it contains a formula it must be disallowed and phones may not be used at the test session. Please also refer to information included in the previous section "Candidates’ Possessions".


Rest Breaks Between Exam Elements


Once a candidate completes an exam element and is then waiting to take the next element, he or she may leave the room if the VE Team allows it. This is entirely up to the VE Team, not the candidate. If it's permitted, it's the best time for candidates to 'run down the hall' without having to be escorted.


Rest Room Breaks


Inform the candidates that once they begin their exams, they won't be permitted to leave the room until they turn in their tests. If a candidate has a genuine emergency, a VE Team helper or a VE who's not one of the three VEs directly involved with administering exams must escort the candidate to the restroom to ensure that the candidate doesn't have access to any notes or books outside the examination room. If this isn't acceptable to the candidate in need, he or she will have to turn in the test papers and the exam will be graded, regardless of how much the candidate has left to do on the exam. To ensure the integrity of each test, there can be no exceptions to this requirement.


Commencing the Exam


Each certifying VE must oversee each applicant throughout each test that they administer, and certify this fact on the Form 605 and/or CSCE (see elsewhere in this manual the discussion on separating testing areas, if applicable).


One at a Time


A candidate may be administered only one element at a time, even if he or she intends to take the entire battery of amateur exams from scratch. As each element is completed, the candidate must turn in the papers for grading. An exam must be graded immediately after the applicant completes it (FCC Rule 97.509). If there will be a delay in grading, you may wish to allow a candidate to start the next requested exam element (at the VEs’ and candidate’s discretion).


Form: Written Element Answer Sheet


The candidates will mark their test answers on the Written Element Answer Sheet Form. They should not write in the exam booklets. Candidates must provide all requested information in the “Candidate Information” section. The test element should be circled and the test design number or serial number must be written on the provided line. VEs should review candidate information for accuracy and completeness.


The VEs must grade the answer sheet and log the score in the VE grading box. Indicate the number of correct answers and check the appropriate box indicating whether the candidate passed or failed. Always clearly mark the candidates’ incorrect answers and make certain the test design number, test serial number or template number is provided.


ARRL paragraph deleted.


Exam Booklets


The WCARS-VEC provides its VE Teams with all three written elements. Each element exam is in booklet form, and each element's booklet is color-coded so that it's easily distinguished from the other elements. Also, the element, test version number and class of license normally associated with the exam are printed on the cover page; the element and the test version number are at the top of each page of text in the booklet. Each booklet has a corresponding answer key.


The elements are designed in booklet form as follows:


Element 2: exam cover of Yellow stock

Element 3: exam cover of Blue stock

Element 4: exam cover of Yellow stock


Answer Keys: all answer keys are on Translucent White stock, be sure to keep them in a secure place.


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Grading Exams


Immediate grading is required: The exam is to be graded after the applicant turns it in to the VE Team (FCC Rule 97.509). Each VE must grade, or agree to the grade given, each examinee on each element taken.


Agreeing to the grade given would be indicated where an automatic grading device is used--all three VEs need not insert the answer sheet to get the same automatically graded score, or where an overlay grading template is used and empty holes are marked by less than three VEs--but all three VEs must agree to the number of correct answers shown (which in the end is the score announced to the examinee).


The VEs must inform the examinee of their grade (pass or fail, and offer his or her score {e.g., 26 out of 35}) upon completion of the grading.


White-colored printed answer sheets are provided to the VE Team for each examination. Translucent White hole-punched overlay grading templates are available for use by your team. They are supplied so that one is available to grade tests (FCC requires each VE to grade, or agree to the grade given, on each exam).


ARRL paragraph deleted.


ARRL paragraph deleted.


If the paper you're grading seems to have a rather high number of wrong answers marked, recheck to make sure you're using the correct answer key or template/template position. If you're not using the right one, don't make an issue of it; simply locate the correct key/template and re-grade the exam. If you're using the correct key/template and the candidate has more than the allowable number of incorrect answers, continue grading the answer sheet until you've completed it, and then (this is mandatory) diplomatically advise the candidate of his or her grade. You can also mention that additional studying may be needed before he or she comes back for retesting. Again, you must always inform the examinee of his or her grade--each and every time.


ARRL paragraph deleted.


Although the FCC Rules require that you return Form 605 applications to candidates who didn't earn an upgrade at the session (FCC Rule 97.509), unless the applicant asks for it, WCARS-VEC encourages you to return these Form 605s to the VEC. This includes candidates who fail or candidates who pass elements without earning an upgrade (this would only apply to candidates who take the exams out of sequence).


If you attempt to return the Form 605, don't be surprised if a candidate who has just failed leaves immediately before you can return his or her form. Most candidates don't know that they can have their applications back; more often, they don't care to get them back. In either case, if a candidate who doesn't upgrade leaves before you can return the Form 605, send it to the WCARS-VEC office with the rest of the used test materials; the VEC will hold on to it.


IMPORTANT: Do not toss out Overlay Grading Templates, ever!


The translucent white plastic overlay grading templates used to grade the exams at test sessions, should never be thrown away or destroyed when new exam versions are introduced. We specifically designed the plastic templates so that they will always be useful, no matter what exams are created. They will never become obsolete.


ARRL paragraph deleted. 


Passing Grades


The FCC requires that the candidate correctly answer the required number of questions for each written element exam to achieve a passing grade (FCC Rule 97.503).


                                    Questions          Minimum     Maximum

Element  Class                on Test               Right          Wrong             

2            Technician            35                    26                    9

3            General                35                    26                    9

4            Extra                    50                    37                   13


Candidates who pass their tests may then be given the next exam element, if they applied for one. If a candidate didn't apply for additional elements, use your discretion whether to offer the candidate the opportunity to continue testing. Base your decision on what materials you have available, the lateness of the exam session and whether you and your team members are willing to continue. Your team makes the decision; the candidate does not.




Debate about a Test Question. Although the FCC recognizes that VEs are responsible for determining the correctness of the answers, the WCARS-VEC's policy is such that the examiners are to grade all exams using the answer keys provided with the test materials. This way, VEs aren't directly held responsible for providing the decision.


Usually, a candidate who fails an element won't make an issue of it. A rare exception, for example, would be if someone who fails by only one question on a 50-question test. If a candidate fails, but sincerely believes that he or she really passed, the VE Team or the candidate may request that the VEC office review the failed exam element. Keep in mind that if a seemingly knowledgeable examinee fails a test with a score of only 25-33% of the answers answered correctly, and if overlay grading templates were used for grading, this may suggest that the incorrect template was used to grade the test-or that the template was incorrectly positioned.


If WCARS-VEC determines that the candidate failed an exam element because of a clerical error, such as a grading error or an error on the answer key, the VEC will contact the administering VE Team with clear facts about the error. The VEC will request that the team review the matter, and if the team concurs with the VEC findings, the VEC will ask the team to issue the candidate the appropriate CSCE, and complete and return the candidate's Form 605 to WCARS-VEC for forwarding to the FCC if a new license or upgrade was earned.


Failing Grades


The VE Team should use good judgment when notifying an examinee of a failing grade. The results should be given quietly, as it may be embarrassing to him or her. The helpful VE may even suggest a re-test if the examinee was close to passing and the VE Team has a different test design.


Important: The applicants’ personal information may not be openly or publicly discussed or publicly posted by the VE Team. This is explained in detail in Chapter 7 under the section titled “Discussion of Applicant Personal Information”.




FCC Rule 97.509(f) states that no examination that has been compromised shall be administered to any examinee and that the same question set may not be re-administered to the same examinee.


An applicant who fails an element at an WCARS-VEC-coordinated session may retake that element at the same session, if (1) the administering VE Team has a different version of that element, which the applicant hasn't taken; (2) the VE Team has the time and resources and is willing to administer the additional version; and (3) the applicant pays an additional test fee. Again, a retest test fee charge is only required if an element is retaken, after being failed at your session.


Issuing CSCEs


The WCARS-VEC's CSCE is designed so that a single certificate may convey credit to the holder for successfully completed elements and where applicable, validation of a new license-class earned. When completing the CSCE, use a ball-point pen. Press hard enough for the information to transfer through to the fourth sheet of paper. When separating the carbon copies of the CSCE, the first sheet (white) and the second sheet (blue) are given to the candidate, the third sheet (pink) must be sent to the WCARS-VEC and the fourth sheet (yellow) is to be retained by the VE Team. (The prior 3-part version of the CSCE is still valid and may also be used at your sessions.) The VE Team must retain the yellow copy for its records.


Applicants who pass one or more exam elements shall be issued a CSCE for the element(s) passed (FCC Rule 97.509). This applies even if the applicant doesn't complete all elements necessary for an upgrade at the session or if the applicant doesn't have the original documentation needed to support a claimed license class.


The candidate is responsible for providing the administering VEs with necessary evidence of having passed the elements he or she claims. Such evidence must be in the form of the original amateur license and any still-valid original CSCE(s) indicating credit for elements passed that aren't otherwise documented by the license.


Another CSCE that can be considered for element-credit proof is an Element 3 CSCE dated before 3/21/ 87. This is valid proof of grandfather Element 3 credit, so long as the applicant qualified for a license grant by passing that test. See the section below on “CSCEs for Instant Upgrade”.


Completing the CSCE


The following information should be filled in on the CSCE: (1) test site (city and state), (2) test date, (3) candidate's signature, (4) candidate's name, call sign (if any; if none, write "none") and complete address, and (5) the signatures and call signs of the three VEs who administered the exams (all three are mandatory).


Any exam element(s) the candidate doesn't successfully complete at the session, even if they weren't taken, must be lined out entirely. Elements passed should be circled. Similarly, if the candidate earns an upgrade at the session, the license class earned should be circled and the other three classes are to be lined out completely (see the sample CSCE in this section).


Upgrade (new license class earned) CSCEs


If an examinee qualifies for a new higher-class license, earned by passing examination element(s) at the test session, the CSCE issued shall indicate the new license class earned.


For example, an applicant who passes Element 2 will have earned a Technician license. The "Technician" earned line shall be circled on the CSCE (with all others lined out). Regardless of whether a current FCC license is held by the applicant, the new license class earned at the test session must be shown on each CSCE.


An applicant who upgrades should be issued a CSCE that indicates the element(s) passed at the session and the new license class he/ she has earned. Because a candidate can upgrade to only one license class at any given session, only one license class should be indicated on the upgrade CSCE, regardless of how many license classes he/ she oversteps; such as progress from Novice to Extra class. All elements that were not taken or passed at the session should be lined out completely.


CSCE Sample Image: 


Instant Upgrade CSCEs


For General written test (Element 3) credit, persons who took a 50-question Technician/ General written test before March 21,1987 receive “grandfather” Technician licensees’ credit under Section 97.505 of FCC Rules.


The paperwork only upgrade forms may not be sent directly to the FCC or the VEC office by the amateur (the upgrade must occur at a test session and follow FCC guidelines). The candidate must hold a current Technician license and present themselves to a VE exam session with valid proof Although no test will be taken, the candidate will pay the test session fee, fill out a 605 form and receive a new CSCE from the examiners before their license may be upgraded to General.


An applicant who has proof of “grandfather” Technician licensees’ credit, but does not hold a current Technician license, must pass the Technician written exam before they can apply the “grandfather” credit towards a license. The candidate will pay the test session fee, fill out a 605 form and receive a new CSCE from the examiners showing a new General license earned.


It is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of holding valid grandfather credit. For detailed information on valid forms of credit see the “Element Credit” Section of Chapter 6.


Candidates with Expired Licenses


The FCC does not allow expired license holders to automatically qualify for a license. Once the license is expired in the FCC system, the licensee must retest to get back in to amateur radio. At a minimum, the applicant must take the current 35-question Technician exam at a VE test session. After the test is passed, FCC will issue a new call sign.


Session Completed, Job Almost Done!


Congratulations! You have concluded your test session and are enjoying the reward of knowing that you have helped a person become a radio amateur or upgraded an existing licensee!


Your job is almost done. See the next chapter on how to prepare the test session summary report, then package and send back the paperwork to the VEC.