Conducting a GLAARG VE Session

See this new (and frequently updated) page for How to Conduct a Remotely Administered GLAARG VE Session: http://glaarg.org/administration-of-remote-exams/

Kiosk Mode for GLAARG Fire Tablets: Information for Session Managers using GLAARG Fire Tablets in Kiosk Mode


The following is an update of the document written by R.C. Smith on January 1, 2009.  Smitty is now a Silent Key – his VEC duties have been allocated between the four members of the staff: Chairman, Accreditation, Materials and Treasurer.  The Chairman, processes the exam results and transmits them to the FCC. But the GLAARG exam process has been pretty much the same for a decade!

We have tried to describe most of the procedures that have worked for our teams in the past. Of course, each team may make adjustments to suit their particular circumstances. For example, if you have many VEs present at a session, you might want to organize the operation differently than when you have only three. All VEs participating in a GLAARG VE Session have to be accredited in advance by GLAARG – due to the simplicity of our workflow, we have no way to use non-GLAARG accredited VEs in a GLAARG session.

  • Responsibility for Compliance with Part 97

You, as a VE, are personally responsible for compliance with Part 97 rules applicable to Conducting VE Sessions. Nothing in these notes should be construed as excusing you from that compliance. Your privileges as a VE, and the reputation of GLAARG VEC are at risk if you fail to comply with the laws governing VE Sessions. Ref: Part 97(Subpart F), available on the NCVEC.org website: http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=320.

  • VEs and Certifying VEs

There is a difference between a Volunteer Examiner (VE) and a Certifying VE. The Certifying VEs are the three VEs that sign the Form 605. The VE-in-Charge (Part 97 calls this the “session manager”) may delegate authority for various tasks to other qualified VEs but they cannot delegate their accountability for the task – see Part 97.509(i). It is best (not mandatory) that the same three Certifying VEs sign all of the 605 forms and the CSCEs. Non-Certifying VEs may execute delegated tasks, such as registration, grading or proctoring exams.

Certifying VEs must remember that they are granted examination administration privileges based on their class of license. Technician Class may not administer examinations for any class of license. General Class may only administer Technician Class examinations. Advanced Class may only administer General and Technician Class examinations. It makes no difference that an examinee fails the examination – it is the Administrative Task that the Certifying VE is signing for. When a VE has signed improperly, that application will be returned to the team for correction.

  • Environment, Examiner-in-Charge, Disruptions

A successful session begins with having a quiet environment and examiners who are pleasant, yet firm, courteous at all times and at ease when dealing with the public. The public can be very trying at times and examiners must keep their temper and deal with problems quietly and rationally.

The Examiner-in-Charge is just that — In Charge!  He will settle disagreements, quietly and aside, between examiners and with the public. He might need to frequently caution his fellow VEs to be quiet during examinations. We hams dearly love to talk and tend to get carried away at a session.

Applicants who are disruptive and/or fail to obey reasonable instructions should be ejected and must forfeit their fee. Applicants who are observed cheating should be called to the attention of the Examiner-in-Charge, ejected from the session, and a note describing the details and the VE#s of the observers attached to his Form 605. The VEC will forward the case to the FCC ’s Enforcement Branch.

  • Advertising Your Session

You should make it known in your community that your session is about to take place. Notify radio clubs in the area, make announcements on local repeaters, contact local high schools, place notices in public places, etc. This is no longer legally required but it is common sense. Note that the GLAARG webmaster (webmaster@glaarg.org) will post your sessions to the GLAARG Website (http://glaarg.org). You may also use the ARRL’s database to advertise your session – start here: http://www.arrl.org/non-arrl-exam-session-registration

When a session allowing walk-ins is advertised, examinees should be advised of the time to appear. For instance you might have pre-registered applicants arrive between 0800 & 0830 and accept walk-ins between 0830 & 1030. Without a firm cut-off time, you can expect stragglers to come waltzing in just as you are folding the tent for the day!  Most sessions these days can finish up by noon.

  • Examination Area

No one is to be permitted in the examining area except the applicants, examiners and representatives of the FCC or VEC. No exceptions! Be aware that the FCC may send in a “ringer” in to take a test and observe the procedures. On occasion the VEC may send in a representative unannounced.

ARRL “Official Observers” have no standing in the GLAARG VEC Program and may be excluded at the discretion of the Examiner-in-Charge.

If applicants are to be allowed to retest at the session it must be announced before examining starts and all applicants must be offered the opportunity. If the applicant elects to retest, he must pay an additional fee and must be given a different test version.

We charge the additional fee to discourage retesting because we have found that most applicants who retest are not successful the second time either. We permit only one retest so we do not waste our VE teams’ time.

We have divided the Examination session into five segments:

  1. Registration
  2. Examination
  3. Grading
  4. Signatures Required
  5. Sending the paperwork to the VEC.

Segment 1 – Registration

1.1.     Applicant ID

The applicant must produce a photo ID that will prove to an examiner’s satisfaction that he is the person he says he is.  Have the applicant remove the ID from its container and examine both sides to make reasonably sure it is valid. You may find Driver’s Licenses that appear valid on the face but when you turn them over they are either blank or have no magnetic stripe!  The name and signature on the ID & Form 605 should match. Do not make notes of any kind relative to the numbers or other data on the ID – it is illegal.

1.2.     Examination and/or Administrative Fee

The examination fee is $10 for in-person exams, $10 for remotely administered exams.

The administration fee is $2.00.  An administrative action is a change of address or name or renewal. Renewals can only be processed if the date is within the renewal window: 90 days before the expiration date to 2 years after the expiration date.  You can advise the ham that he can upgrade his information himself on the FCC website at no charge.

We do not do renewals for Vanity Calls. The applicant must go on-line to the FCC site.  If a non-vanity applicant comes to a session and takes an examination and fails, and if his license is within the Grace Period for renewal we will process his renewal as a part of the examination fee – no additional fee is required.

1.3.     Roster – Form 207

Have the applicant sign in on the Roster, form 207.  Remind him that you need to be able to read it, so he should PRINT rather than sign. The VE in-Charge will have filled in the header information. The right-hand side is used by the examiners to keep track of the action. Applicants who retest do not sign the log again.

Make sure the VE-in-Charge knows if an applicant requests to be examined on more than one element.

1.4.     Application – Form 605

Collect the completed 605 from the applicant if he has done it ahead of time, if not, give them Form 605 and instruct him to fill it out. Fill out the top half and sign. Instructions can be on the back of the Form 605. You can remind the person to make it legible! The applicant must supply either an FCC Reference Number (FRN) or his Social Security Number (SSN). He need not enter the SSN if he doesn’t pass the exam. If the application is not readable give them another form and have him do it over again. If you have a VE who can help him, that would be nice.

The phone number is not required on the form but is useful in case we find problems after the exam. An email address would be also appreciated in case of errors so the VEC can contact the examinee.

Additional documentation for upgrade

An applicant must supply a copy, and show the original of his CSCE if his license has not yet been issued, or License in order to upgrade. The examiners must verify that the copies are true. Attach the copy to the 605 and return the originals to the applicant. If the applicant has lost or otherwise doesn’t have his current license, he must get a copy to the VE in charge before they send his paperwork to the VEC for licensing The applicant may submit a Reference Copy of his signed license, downloaded from the FCC database.  As of Feb 7, 2017, GLAARG VEC does not require a copy of the applicants license for upgrades, because most VE teams can verify a license by looking it up in the FCC ULS database. In remote areas, without Internet access, it might be good to bring a copy of your license, but if the VE team accepts your claim to be licensed, that’s good enough.

1.5.     CSCEs – Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination

A CSCE is good for an element credit for up to 365 days from the date it was issued.  A CSCE is used if their call sign has not appeared in the FCC database yet and he wants to upgrade.  The CSCE has another function – it allows a successful applicant with an existing license to use his privileges newly earned at the session by adding a Temporary ID after his call sign: “/KT ” for a Novice upgrading to Technician, “/AG ” for General Class privileges, “/AE ” for Extra Class privileges.

Segment 2 – Examination             

2.1             Announcement of Exam Procedure

Announce whether you will be allowing retests.  Make sure your VE team will stay the extra time.  Let the applicants know how much time they have and that there will be an additional exam fee.  You can do this to the whole group before you hand out exams, or if you allow people to start once they have registered, than you have to give each applicant the same information.  We would recommend that you finish registration, then do the examination.  You may do what works for you, but make sure that there are three VEs proctoring while one is doing registration.  You would then need 4 or more VEs.

Let applicants know that if they leave before they are finished with their exam that they will forfeit that exam. If they return they must be given a new exam with a different version.

Remind applicants to NOT WRITE on the EXAM BOOKLETS.

Have all desks and tables cleared of all papers, books, cell phones and notes.  Calculators may be used if a VE checks that nothing is in memory.

Cell Phones, PDA s, Pagers and the like are to be turned off and placed out of sight.

2.2.              Handing out exams

You may pre-fill out the top of the answer sheet with the applicants first and last name, the Key #, Element # and Booklet number and have the applicant initial that it is correct or you can have the Applicant fill it out.  It is imperative that it is legible!

When the applicant is finished with his exam, he should turn in the booklet, answer sheet & work papers to the designated VE, or a tray on the desk.  You do not want examinees disturbing the grading process.

If one of the VEs has to leave the examining room, leaving less than 3 VEs, all test activity must stop until he returns.

If the candidate passes his first exam and wants to take next higher license, he should let the VE know when he registers.  Make sure the candidate passes before given the next grade of exam.  For example, if he passes the Tech, then he may take the General, if he passes the general he may take the Extra.  But make sure the candidate has studied and is ready to take those exams.  You don’t want to waste your team’s time having him guess.

GLAARG’s policy is that the applicant must pass the lower exam before they may take the next level.

When an applicant wants to leave the room during a test, the examiners will retrieve his test papers and give him a different version when he returns. The Examiner-in-Charge should make this clear to all before examining begins.

During the exam, VEs who are not engaged in a task should be circulating around observing.

2.3.              Question Pool Disputes

Applicants are expected to have studied the question pool. Examiners must not discuss questions or interpretations of questions with the applicant. They may address problems of readability or typographical errors, but these are extremely rare. VEs may read the questions and answers to examinees if they have difficulty reading.

Correct answers are the correct answers given in the Standard Question Pool for the element, no matter how the applicant may argue otherwise. The pool answer to a question is always more correct than its distractors (incorrect answers.)

Segment 3 – Grading

3.1 GLAARG answer sheets

Make sure that the top of the answer sheet has the applicants name, the key# and element of his test booklet.

3.2 Grading templates

Three overlays are provided in case three examiners want to work simultaneously.

Answer sheets are graded with an overlay key corresponding to the “key” of the test.  The key can be oriented four different ways (flipped over and/or rotated 180 degrees). The number at the top of the key, facing you, should agree with the key number at the top of the answer sheet.

Depending on the number of examiners present, the VE team can elect to grade the exams as they come in or wait until the end of examination session. Grading is an example of a task that can be delegated to non-Certifying VEs by the VE in charge.

3.3 What Graders mark on answer sheet

Three different VEs must grade each answer sheet and sign their initials and VE number.  We suggest that they put the number missed next to their initials. The last grader should verify that the counts are the same. If the graders get different results, they must determine the discrepancy so that all graders agree on the results.  The last grader should also clearly mark an “X” in the correct box – “pass” or “fail”.  Some teams use custom passed/failed stamps and stamp the answer sheet and the Form 605.  The number of correct answers required to pass are indicated on the answer sheet: 26 correct for Technician and General and 37 correct for Amateur Extra.

This information should be added to the Roster, Form 207, by the VE in charge of the grading, along with the CSCE #, if a CSCE was issued.

Comments about grading issues:

We have found that in cases where graders find more than 60% of the questions answered wrong, they may have applied the wrong grading key. It does happen that examinees are totally unprepared and miss more than 60%. Rather than just trying to find a key that gives a better score, double and triple check the key on the answer sheet with the key on the booklet and make sure the grading key is oriented correctly.

In rare cases we have seen that three graders mark an exam as “failed” when they had actually passed!  They had all oriented the key wrong.  The VE in charge or the VEC has caught every case we know of, but please be extra careful with grading, because failing someone who should have passed or passing someone who should have failed is a grievous error! Do not announce to an examinee that he has passed or failed until all three graders have checked the answer sheet and preferably until after someone else has checked over all the paperwork and verified the results.  The VE-in-Charge is responsible to notify the applicant whether they have passed (by giving them a signed CSCE) or failed.  This should be done discretely and privately for those that have failed.

What did I miss?

You may tell only the examinee how many questions he missed, but you may not tell him which questions, because this compromises our exams. You may not tell anyone else whether or not an examinee passed or failed. Do not show the graded answer sheet to the examinee, because it shows him which questions he missed.

Returning the Application, Form 605

If the applicant asks for his application back, we return it – if he doesn’t ask, we don’t volunteer to return it.

Segment 4 – Preparing Papers to Send to VEC for FCC filing

4.1              Form 605

Make sure that the applicant signed his Form 605 and entered either his FRN or SS# before the end of the session.

The three (3) Certifying VEs need to sign the Form 605 only if the applicant passed his exam or exams.  They can wait until the end of examination session or sign as the exam paperwork is processed. Again, it depends on the number of examiners present and how they want to organize their effort.

Make sure the Session Number, City & State of Session Location, Session Date are entered on Form 605.

Mark the appropriate boxes for the elements for which the CSCE is valid. Transcribe the serial number of the CSCE to the Session Roster, Form 207.

After testing, the applicant is either qualified for the same license he entered with or a higher one. Unless the applicant wasn’t licensed before the exam, he is qualified for the same class license as he had when he entered.

Signers of Form 605 must have the proper class license for the highest exam administered:

  • Element 4 must be administered by Amateur Extra.
  • Element 3 can be administered by Amateur Extra or Advanced.
  • Element 2 can be administered by any accredited VE.

Examples of problems to watch out for:

  • A person takes all elements for Amateur Extra Class but fails Element 4. He qualifies for General.
  • An Advanced Class signs the Form 605 for the Extra Class (Element 4). This is a problem – the Advanced class is certifying that he administered a test he is not legally qualified to administer! The same applies to a General Class signing when Element 3 or 4 was administered and failed.
  • When you have all Amateur Extra Class Certifying VEs these problems disappear, which is a good reason to strive to put together teams with 100% Extra Class VEs and encourage your General Class VEs to upgrade!

4.2.              Preparing and recording the CSCE

Cross out all elements and licenses that the examinee is not qualified for, leaving just the elements that the examinee is qualified for. We usually do this with a wide black marking pen.

The three Certifying VEs should sign the CSCE, but in a large session, any of the VEs (providing they have right class of license) can sign the CSCE. When the CSCE is handed to the applicant, he must sign it in the presence of a VE (He should sign the same as he did on the Form 605.)

Before handing the CSCE to the examinee, the VE-in-Charge should check to see that the CSCE number was transcribed to the Roster, since the examinee takes it with him and it’s the last time he’ll be able to record it. It’s also a good practice to once again check the answer sheet to see that 3 VEs recorded passing scores, that the applicant signed his Form 605, and that all 3 Certifying VEs signed it, and that they each had the proper class license to do so.

Segment 5 – Preparing the Expense Report to the VEC, Form 208, and Shipping

Pulling the package together and shipping it to the VEC is usually done by the VE-in-Charge, who is also usually the custodian of the test kit. The package should be assembled in the following order, top to bottom, with each package stapled together:

  1. Form 208, Team Expenses, on top with a check, made out to “GLAARG ” for fees collected, less team expenses.
  2. Form 207, Session Roster. Keep a copy of the Roster in case of shipping problems. Some make copies of all documents, in case a session is lost in the mail. It is rare that session packages are lost in the mail, but it does happen.
  3. One package for each applicant listed on the Roster, regardless of pass or fail, in the same order as they are listed on the Roster, consisting of:
  • Signed Form 605.
  • If upgrade and the license is not in the FCC ULS database, a copy of license or the CSCE.  (Can be an ARRL or other VEC’s CSCE).
  • Any note about the applicant the team would like the VEC to see.
  • Answer sheet for each written element taken (in order.)

Assembling the package in this order makes things much easier for the VEC.

It is not a good use of GLAARG money to use Priority Mail to ship a package for one or two applicants, but by all means use it for larger packages. It is kind of a “catch-22” to have to enter the team expense for the postage when you haven’t yet gone to the post office to find the cost, unless you are printing your own postage. To avoid this problem you may estimate the postage on Form 208. The current mailing address is included on Form 208. If in doubt, download the latest Form 208 from www.glaarg.org.

When in Doubt, Ask!

This document covers most of the situations we’ve encountered over the years. If there is anything else you are hazy about, don’t hesitate to call or send an e-mail – you will find out contact information on our website. It is best not to guess.

Remember, the information above is a guideline to a successful session. The procedure can be rearranged to fit the individual circumstances of environment and personnel. It is helpful at the end of a session to gather your team together for a debriefing. Make a note of the things you need to do differently and thus be prepared for a better session the next time.

If you have a question about whether something you want to do is legal or not, call us for a reading on it.

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PALMDALE, CA 93591