Frequently Asked Questions for ARRL VE Team Liaisons
Can a VE volunteer join existing teams performing remote exams?
Yes. Go into the
#arrl channel in Discord and volunteer. Several team
leads monitor the channel and will get in touch, especially if they
I am already an ExamTools VE with another VEC. How do I get added as an ARRL VE?
First, make sure you are accredited with the ARRL/VEC and confirm that you are listed at http://www.arrl.org/ve-session-counts for your state. Once you’ve done that, copy the web URL for that session counts page, you will need to paste that into the form in the next step.
Follow this link and fill out and submit the form to notify @Experienced Support of the additional VEC accreditation. When filling out the form, you can simply write “Adding VE Credentials” in the field for the Request ID.
Your team lead will be able to add you to their Exam Tools session once @Experienced Support has received the file and updated your profile.
Is there a checklist of what my VE team needs to do?
Is there a procedure for verifying that ARRL is good with us doing online exams?
Receipt of instructions via email from Maria is the approval for ExamTools and video sessions. You must apply for permission by contacting the VEC but be aware of these requirements before you apply:
ARRL VE teams must meet the following criteria and adhere to the following rules/policies to participate in the Video sessions program. Long-standing, well established teams with a history of adhering to the highest degree of examination integrity, and that consistently submit accurate exam documents consistent with ARRL VEC standards will be selected to participate.
The team should follow up with the VEC when ready to go live to receive the confidential session document upload instructions. However, if they have been training and are able to get the upload instructions from a trained team, that would be acceptable.
Make sure you, the CVE (VE Team Liaison), do the following:
- Follow the instructions in Maria’s email.
- Sign up for the VE Discord chat here: https://discord.gg/CsKrBmA
- Upgrade your VE Discord membership by filling out
- To answer this question: “Please provide a link to some form of evidence to verify your VE credentials:” put in the link to the ARRL VE Counts page for your state. For example: http://www.arrl.org/ve-session-counts?state=CA (If your call sign is not on the page for your state, you will need to resolve your VE accreditation with the VEC.)
- Read through exam.tools
CVE documentation, if you have questions you can ask them in the Discord
- Register in the sandbox at http://hamstudy.dev/ and then login at https://beta.examtools.dev/ with your team members. DO NOT use a Facebook or Google login: Make a “real” user. There’s more info in getting an exam.tools and sandbox account
- Volunteer in the Discord
#arrlchannel to help out with another team’s ARRL/VEC session so you get to see the real system in action.
- Once ready, you and all your VEs must register for tier 2 production via this form.
- Forward your approval email from the ARRL/VEC to email@example.com making sure to note your call sign, username and email address. This will result in your Examtools membership being upgraded from VE to CVE (liaison).
How do I collect candidate exam fee payments?
At this time, Examtools does not provide for any payment processing. You will need to establish a mechanism for requesting and collecting payments and keeping track of who has paid – preferably before or during the exam session – and sending payment to the VEC as appropriate.
Many teams send email to registered candidates to request payment and
other details as needed (e.g. how many elements they intend to take)
and typically use online personal payment processors like Venmo,
PayPal, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc. or even have candidates
mail them personal checks! You can get the candidate’s email address
from the MANAGE dropdown
Edit Applicant on the candidate in your session.
Can I get reimbursed for expenses like Zoom Pro and PayPal transaction fees?
Yes. Simply keep records of your “necessary and prudent” expenses required to run the exam session and submit for reimbursement, remembering the limit of up to $7 per candidate. For a monthly fee like that of Zoom Pro, prorate it over several exam sessions if the expense exceeds the per candidate limit for a single session. See Retaining A Portion of the Fees on page 61 of the VE Manual for complete rules and record-keeping requirements.
What if a registered candidate fails to pay the fee?
It is entirely possible that some candidates will register for a
session and not respond to the email that you sent requesting
payment. It’s unclear if this is due to your mail going into their
spam folder or they are just plain rude. You can cancel their
registration by deleting them using the MANAGE dropdown
Delete Applicant on the candidate. This frees up the exam slot for
What happens when a prepaid candidate cancels or doesn’t show up?
You should refund the fee if you can. This is easy to do with most
online payment systems. Also don’t forget to remove them from the
Examtools roster before submitting the test session package to the
VEC. You do this by deleting them using the MANAGE dropdown
Delete Applicant on the candidate before
Finalizing the session. See the next question if your team policy is
to retain fees for no-shows:
How are retained fees for pre-registered no-shows handled?
The no-show candidate fees can be listed separately in “other fees collected” or all test fees could be added together. VE teams are allowed to retain up to $7 per candidate for reasonable expenses including the no-shows. No-show candidates that are not refunded the test fee could be listed on the roster or a note should be included explaining the additional fee. Candidates that give the team ample time to schedule another candidate in their vacated time slot should be refunded. See above. See page 61 of the VE Manual for complete rules and record-keeping requirements for retained fees.
How do I send the exam fees to the VEC?
When sending/mailing the exam fees checks, we ask that teams please include the test date and location and the VE team leader’s name, call sign, and contact information for reference so we can match it to the session.
The ARRL/VEC’s mailing address is:
ARRL/VEC 225 MAIN ST NEWINGTON CT 06111-9825
Instead of mailing a check(s), the VE team may keep a credit card on file with the VEC department to pay for the exam session fees. Contact the VEC to make arrangements. Do not email your credit card information.
Can I charge more (or less) than the $15 ARRL/VEC fee?
FCC Rules require VEC organizations to agree to assure that, for any examination, every examinee qualified under these rules is registered without regard to race, sex, religion, national origin or membership (or lack thereof) in any amateur service organization.
The ARRL exam fee cannot be increased, reduced, or waived; the fee is to be applied uniformly throughout the calendar year to ensure every applicant is treated equally and without discrimination.
The exam fee cannot be increased for a particular group of applicants. Therefore, teams should hold back a portion of each $15 exam fee to offset a credit card company’s payment fee. The exam fee should be not increased to offset the credit card fees.
A candidate cancels and says “keep the fee as a donation”. What do I do?
Donations/solicitations are not allowed.
FCC Rule: Administering VE requirements:
§97.509 (e) No VE may administer or certify any examination by fraudulent means or for monetary or other consideration including reimbursement in any amount in excess of that permitted. Violation of this provision may result in the revocation of the grant of the VE’s amateur station license and the suspension of the grant of the VE’s amateur operator license.
Soliciting, asking for donations, or offering free material to candidates would have the appearance of impropriety.
This is to ensure the integrity of the examination process.
Can my VE team or club solicit donations in conjunction with our VE activities?
No. See above.
How should I prepare my session to upload to the VEC?
Once you receive the confidential uploading documentation, you will need to upload two files. Do this once by selecting the two from your browser’s upload dialog: Build a single PDF file that contains the entire session. See this this example checklist used by the Columbia University ARC VE Team that seems to be acceptable (and might be overkill).
Export your exam session JSON document and upload that as well. This document will eventually help the VEC automate a bunch of currently manual data entry. See the following screenshots for an example:
Can EBF files be uploaded to ARRL/VEC?
Instead of an EBF file, you should upload the exported session JSON file along with the session report PDF. As described above.
Do we still have to provide FCC license copies in the uploaded package? CSCEs?
License copies are not needed. You do need to include a copy of only the front of any pending CSCEs. But do an FRN lookup ahead of the exam. Odds are the 605 for which the CSCE is for will already have been acted upon by the time the exam session happens.
How do I process a “paper upgrade” with or without an exam?
The candidate registers for your exam session and provides proof to you of any element credit. Consult the ARRL Exam Element Credit Information for what is acceptable proof.
You will enter the credit(s) using the exam.tools MANAGE dropdown
Add Credit for the candidate. Make sure you handle the case of expired Amateur Extra by giving both Element 3 and Element 4 credit.
If the candidate has no current license they need to take the Element 2 exam. Upon passing, the candidate does the usual signature process.
If the candidate already has a current license and thus is not taking an actual exam, you need to move the candidate Status from
ready to sign. The candidate logs into the session using their pin and is presented with the usual signature process.
After the 3 VEs assigned to the candidate have signed and the candidate is marked complete, exam.tools generates the proper forms reflecting these credits.
You will need to do “PDF splicing” to add the proof documents for the candidate to the session PDF submitted to the VEC.
What do we sign when a candidate fails? How do we prove the failed exam happened?
There is nothing to sign. Proof of failure is that Print Session Forms/Final Forms contains the candidate roster showing failed element(s) and the candidate’s answer sheet showing a failing score. Your ARRL Test Session report also has a place to count candidates who did not earn a new license or upgrade.
In traditional in-person exams, the candidate usually fills out the 605 in advance of the exam in order to streamline the process at the end of the session and so the VEs can confirm candidate identity matches their photo ID. In that case, it is common practice to either return the unsigned 605 to the candidate [per 97.509(i)] or to send it to the VEC, possibly signed but with the NO NEW LICENSE OR UPGRADE WAS EARNED box checked.
However, it is acceptable [citation?] for a candidate to only fill out their 605 after successful completion of the exam element(s) and then the VEs sign it and send it to the VEC [97.509(l)].
Examtools implements this practice by not generating a 605 (and CSCE) until after the candidate’s new license or upgrade is earned and the candidate is Finalized. The information typically found on the 605 and/or candidate roster for traditional exam sessions is collected at the point of candidate registration in Hamstudy.org [97.17(b)(1): “…The VEs may collect all necessary information in any manner of their choosing, including creating their own forms."]
If you want to return an unsigned 605 with NO NEW LICENSE OR UPGRADE WAS EARNED box checked in the VEC package, use Print Session Forms/All Forms. But the 605 will not be signed by the candidate or VEs and the session manifest is not included, so you’ll have to do some “PDF splicing”.
Can answers be provided to candidates?
Yes for randomly-generated exams like ExamTools prepares but not for in-person exams using ARRL/VEC pre-printed exam booklets. For the online exam setting we can be more flexible because all exams are randomly generated and examinees wouldn’t be retested with the exact same question set.
Moving forward, ARRL will allow candidates to be given their answer sheets for randomly generated tests, if the team chooses. This would apply to online as well as in-person sessions when randomly generated examinations are used.