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Thread: I took the test, my experience

  1. #1

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    Default I took the test, my experience

    So last November, I went to take my ham exam, the test was being held in a big building, I wander round till I find, what I think the correct room, the room is empty, I wait a minute or two and decide to wait outside the room, a guy with papers under his arm and carrying a briefcase looks like he's heading to the room, so I ask him "Is this the room where the ham exams are being held?" You're early" he replies in a slightly condescending manner, I think to myself, why would I want to be late, so I say ok and tell him I'll be back, I'll just going back out to the car park and tell my wife what's happening.

    I decide to wait 20 minutes with my wife and go back so I'll only be 10 minutes early, when I get back to the room there's another guy on the door, I say I'm hear for the test and he's says, take a seat, so I sit down, there are 3 guys sitting at a table at the head table chatting amongst themselves, I think to myself they must be the examiners, they take no notice of me, it's a small room by the way.
    I fill in the forms and do the test, my paper goes to the 3 guys, after checking one of the guys handed be a piece of paper, he didn't say anything, I read the paper and see I've passed, the 3 guys go back to talking and I say thanks and leave.

    Nobody said welcome or did anything to put one at ease or said well done, welcome to the world of ham radio, I left feeling I'm not sure I want to be part of it.
    I have bought a HT but not done much more.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator 2E0FVL's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum.
    Not a good start but it can only get better you among friends now!!
    Pete - 2EFVL
    The QRM Formally Known As M6PAP!!
    www.selseylifeboats.co.uk
    http://www.wadarc.org.uk

  3. #3
    Super Moderator pmh's Avatar
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    I'm glad to say, this sounds like a rarity, rather than the norm.

    Don't let this bad experience put you off a rewarding hobby.

    Kind regards,



    Phil

  4. #4

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    Sounds like they have become blase' about new hams. I at least got a welcome, until I mentioned I didn't know CW. I can't decipher it above 2 wpm. Anyway, I'm at a new club, after I moved, and this group doesn't care if I know CW or not.
    --
    73, Jim/N4AAB got my General class license in June, 2013. Vanity call in Oct, 2014.
    Ham radio site has no popups, no music, no huge banners.
    'Through the thorns to the stars' from Ghost-in-the-Shell anime.

  5. #5

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    I'm sorry you had this bad experience. I am a VE examiner and when we have put on the test this is not the norm. Sadly I have heard of situations like this. Please do not let a handful of people ruin a great hobby for you. There are a lot of wonderful amateur radio operators ready to help and be friendly.

    Roger
    K5MOW
    Have a great day.
    73
    K5MOW

  6. #6

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    Are the tests run by radio clubs, or business? I assume you have to pay for the test too? If so, then as a customer, they didn't do their job very well. I suppose you are paying for the test, not paying for friendliness, courtesy or politeness, or a caring attitude. If it is a radio club, then wish them well and take your membership fee that maybe you could have pointed in their direction, and tell them to stuff it!

    As I'm also a serial complainer, once I got the pass slip, I'd have asked them for the person in their organisation who deals with complaints!

    I've been a 'proper' exam invigilator, assessor, examiner, senior examiner and principal examiner - and the golden rule is that you support candidates, because you WANT them to pass, so make the experience as stress free as it can be.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator 2E0FVL's Avatar
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    When I took my first exam we were greeted by the 'staff' and tea/coffee & biscuits were provided but you had to make your own, the reason for that was most of us had never met and it seems all good party's are in the kitchen!!
    It worked people started talking to each other and that 30 mins broke the ice a bit and made the whole experience easier.
    Pete - 2EFVL
    The QRM Formally Known As M6PAP!!
    www.selseylifeboats.co.uk
    http://www.wadarc.org.uk

  8. #8

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    This must be one of those "real estate" things....location, location, location. I arrived for my test (Portland, OR area, Tualitin Valley ARC). Couldn't have been happier with the reception and testing.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulears View Post
    I've been a 'proper' exam invigilator, assessor, examiner, senior examiner and principal examiner - and the golden rule is that you support candidates, because you WANT them to pass, so make the experience as stress free as it can be.
    Allelujah and Amen to that, Paul! Applies in the world of music exams just as in the world of ham radio. All my early music exams were in the same large, dismal school hall with an examiner sitting (what seemed to a young lad) a mile away. Very unfriendly and off-putting to say the least, but I stuck with it. Can't say that I enjoyed them though! Things are much better now, though it varies between the examining boards. Ironically, the highest level teaching diploma exam I took was the friendliest and most relaxed of all. OK, the examiner was an old friend and colleague who kindly told me that I was 'one of her idols' early in her career, but that but counted for nothing as I'm sure she was laughing inside as she gave me the toughest tests to do! I've got to know a lot of examiners in the past 25+ years and I don't think there's an unfriendly bone in any of their bodies. Exams should be enjoyable for candidate and examiner alike and I've spoken to them at the end of a day's examining and there's always been big smiles on their faces!

    Back to radio, I'm sorry to hear you had a poor experience, km4wbv but, as has been said already, don't let it put you off enjoying the hobby and progressing. OK, when I took my RAE (Radio Amateur's Exam) back in 1984 it was very 'official', being run in those days as a 'proper' external City & Guilds of London exam. Walk in, sit down, do paper 1, have a break, go back in and do paper 2. Just like a school exam. But the CW test was much more relaxed, with the guys at North Foreland Radio showing us around the station, making us feel at home before running us through the CW test. That's the way to do it, and I'm sure that's what you'll find more of!
    Current radios: VHF/UHF: 2 x Baofeng 2/70 Handhelds. VHF: Kenwood TR9130 2m multimode. HF: Kenwood TS930S-AT
    Home antennas planned: G5RV / G7FEK / end fed wire. 1/2 wave vertical for 10m. 6 element beam for 2m. Vertical collinear for 2/70
    Website for the 'day job': www.andrew-gilbert.com

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by km4wbv View Post
    So last November, I went to take my ham exam, the test was being held in a big building, I wander round till I find, what I think the correct room, the room is empty, I wait a minute or two and decide to wait outside the room, a guy with papers under his arm and carrying a briefcase looks like he's heading to the room, so I ask him "Is this the room where the ham exams are being held?" You're early" he replies in a slightly condescending manner, I think to myself, why would I want to be late, so I say ok and tell him I'll be back, I'll just going back out to the car park and tell my wife what's happening.

    I decide to wait 20 minutes with my wife and go back so I'll only be 10 minutes early, when I get back to the room there's another guy on the door, I say I'm hear for the test and he's says, take a seat, so I sit down, there are 3 guys sitting at a table at the head table chatting amongst themselves, I think to myself they must be the examiners, they take no notice of me, it's a small room by the way.
    I fill in the forms and do the test, my paper goes to the 3 guys, after checking one of the guys handed be a piece of paper, he didn't say anything, I read the paper and see I've passed, the 3 guys go back to talking and I say thanks and leave.

    Nobody said welcome or did anything to put one at ease or said well done, welcome to the world of ham radio, I left feeling I'm not sure I want to be part of it.
    I have bought a HT but not done much more.
    I've been a VE Team Leader for a couple of years now and I make it a point to engage with all the candidates at sometime or another during the exam process. When they pass, I give them their CSCE and explain that they can not get on the air until their call sign appears in the FCC database. I give them a form with all the proper internet links for the FCC and every candidate passing the Technician exam also gets information about a monthly get-on-the-air workshop conducted by the local ARES group. In addition, we pass out brochures from the various clubs and organizations in the area.

    Looking around for a club might be a good way to get introduced to the hobby. The closest one I could find to Jay, FL, is in Pensacola. There may be others, but here's the link for a start:

    http://www.w4uc.org/

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulears View Post
    Are the tests run by radio clubs, or business? I assume you have to pay for the test too? If so, then as a customer, they didn't do their job very well. I suppose you are paying for the test, not paying for friendliness, courtesy or politeness, or a caring attitude. If it is a radio club, then wish them well and take your membership fee that maybe you could have pointed in their direction, and tell them to stuff it!

    As I'm also a serial complainer, once I got the pass slip, I'd have asked them for the person in their organisation who deals with complaints!

    I've been a 'proper' exam invigilator, assessor, examiner, senior examiner and principal examiner - and the golden rule is that you support candidates, because you WANT them to pass, so make the experience as stress free as it can be.
    Tests in the U.S. used to be by FCC, but some years ago they were turned over to the VEC, and each ham radio club has VEs, volunteer examiners. I got the cold should at my first two tests because I don't know CW. The club I belong to now doesn't do that. I have volunteered to be a VE after I get my amateur extra license.
    --
    73, Jim/N4AAB got my General class license in June, 2013. Vanity call in Oct, 2014.
    Ham radio site has no popups, no music, no huge banners.
    'Through the thorns to the stars' from Ghost-in-the-Shell anime.

  12. #12

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    Sorry to hear of your experience.
    I got started in Amateur radio back in 1961, back then the testing was quite different. I took the Novice CW test in the home of a fellow ham, then had to go the FCC office to take the written exam....then off to the military, marriage... kids and I was out of the hobby for many years...
    then in the 90's I decided to get back in, I took the tech plus test, then the General test, then the Advanced test, then the Extra test... each test at a different location, with a different club...not once was I made to feel like I was not appreciated...every club at every exam made me feel welcome and feel like they were pulling for me... I would say that your experience is absolutely the exception to the rule.

  13. #13
    K7KBN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obed View Post
    Sorry to hear of your experience.
    I got started in Amateur radio back in 1961, back then the testing was quite different. I took the Novice CW test in the home of a fellow ham, then had to go the FCC office to take the written exam....
    The Novice tests, both code and written, were given ONLY by a volunteer examiner of at least General Class, and he had to be at least 18 years old or maybe it was 21 years old. Why did you have to go to the FCC office for a novice written test? My high school electronics teacher gave me both elements after school one gray day in 1959 Las Vegas.
    73
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by K7KBN View Post
    The Novice tests, both code and written, were given ONLY by a volunteer examiner of at least General Class, and he had to be at least 18 years old or maybe it was 21 years old. Why did you have to go to the FCC office for a novice written test? My high school electronics teacher gave me both elements after school one gray day in 1959 Las Vegas.
    oops, your memory is better than mine, and you are correct.... I took the CW test in another hams home, the written test was done later at a club meeting of the Tucson Amateur radio club in the building they met at...I do not remember exactly where that was, I was a kid then and my friends dad drove us over there.
    I actually remember the CW test very well, it was a prime example of hams wanting folks to pass their tests...
    I was a kid and nervous/scared...the ham giving me the test was an "old" man, at least in the eyes of the kid that I was then... he saw I was nervous... so he sat me down and told me that we were going to just practice for awhile before he gave me the actual test...
    he started sending and I was copying...after several sections of "practice' he walked over and looked over my copy and told me I passed the test...I think I was scared enough that he just set me down and said here we go... I might not have passed.
    Last edited by Obed; Mon 10th Apr 2017 at 11:22.

  15. #15

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    I am sorry to hear your bad experience. Trust me when I say that is NOT NOT NOT NOT the norm!

    When I went in to my first exam I was nervous as all get out. I was incredibly stressed because I was sure my folks would not let me try again if I had failed the test. I had studied the tech book literally for years before I even thought of trying. My test was going to be after a study group that was going to take all day. So we all met in this latter day saints church somewhere in the san diego area and started studying. Let me tell you that the stress just boiled right away and I was at compete ease after talking with the other hams for a while. We talked about all kinds of fascinating things from one topic to another until the examiners showed up. I am convinced I would have failed the test had I not taken the class before hand.

    So I took the test and passed. Not sure what grade I got but I am sure it was near perfect. Got my callsign and started talking.

    By the time my general class study group rolled around I was comfortable with the subject and the same guys teaching the class recognized me. We chatted and were all in general friendly. It was a very comfortable environment.

    By the time my extra class test rolled around there was no classroom before. It was a straight up test. I just strolled in and said HEY GUYS to everyone because I knew them all.


    Trust me... most hams just want to be your friend. Those that don't are the sort of people you do not want as your friend anyways... because they are as much of a jerk in life as they are in their hobbies.

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