In-Person Exams with ExamTools

In-Person Exams with ExamTools

For more complete instructions, please contact your VEC for documentation and guidance. We strongly recommend that you shadow other team leads and participate in several sessions before starting to run your own. You are encouraged to have an experienced team lead and experienced VEs join your first few sessions to help out. Initial sessions are recommended to be only one or two applicants until you’re comfortable with the whole process. Participation in remote online exams is the perfect place to learn how ExamTools works.

Prepare for In-Person Exam:

  • Session Manager (SM) creates a session on ExamTools (ET).
  • Session Manager prints paper exams for use with GradeCam. Exams printed for use with templates will not work with GradeCam. However, you may use the Record External Exam feature under Manage to add exams which were graded without the use of ET.
  • Session Manager or team members prepare computers or tablets for applicant use or applicants will be notified what kind of devices are allowed.
  • SM (owner) or co-owner adds participating Volunteer Examiners (VEs) to the exam session.

Applicant Registration:

  1. PRE-REGISTER: Direct applicants to pre-register (and pay online) before the exam by using the link on HamStudy. The session listing may be public or private. A public session will be listed on HamStudy and anyone may register for the exam. A private session will not be listed on HamStudy and applicants will need to be sent the link to the session listing in order to view and register. The SM marks the Do not post on HamStudy.org checkbox option. Once a session has been listed publicly, applicants may able to navigate back to it even after the session listing is edited to hide it on HamStudy.
  2. WALK-INS or SAME DAY REGISTRATION: If you allow walk-ins on the day of the exam, assign a VE to help applicants register in two ways.
  • On https://ham.study, direct applicants to use their own device (a smartphone or tablet) or one provided by a VE to register. Applicants will receive a registration email which includes their pin and allows them to confirm their information.
  • In ExamTools, a VE can register applicants using the Add Applicant feature located in the upper right corner of the applicants list. Applicants added in this manner will not receive a registration email. Add Applicant Icon

A VE should confirm FRNs and call signs on the ULS. Although ExamTools does have some automatic lookup features, all information should be confirmed by a real person. All applicants need a FRN to register. An email address is strongly suggested and is required by FCC. If an email is not provided, the applicant will need to log in to obtain a copy of their license.

Since ExamTools registers the applicant electronically, the 605 may not be required for in-person, but the applicant still will need to bring identification.

Paper or Device?

  • Paper exam booklets, figure sheets and answer sheets must be printed from ET by a SM. The paper exams are reusable, printed with or without figures, randomly generated and have unique test ID numbers. Font size is adjustable. Should be printed on white paper as some people have problems with reading on colored paper. Select exams to be graded by GradeCam. Instructions on Printing Exams for GradeCam Check with your VEC to find out if they may print or reimburse you for the exams. Suggestion: Use brightly colored folders or cover sheets to keep track of exams and elements.
  • Paper and grading templates provided to stocked teams may be used with ExamTools. Check with your VEC to see to what the procedure is for accepting ExamTools exports for these types of sessions. Supplemental files (i.e answer sheets) may be required.
  • Devices (computers, tablets, smartphones) may be owned by the applicants, VEs or VEC. The ET process is nearly identical to a remote session. Devices may or may not be reimbursable by your VEC.
  • Exam results may be shared depending on your VEC’s policy. Exam results are found on the Applicant Tab under PRINT FORMS in the expanded view of the applicant. On devices, exam results may be shared as each exam is randomly generated. When exams are graded by GradeCam, ET results may or may not be shared depending on the number of versions of the paper exam you have and if the exam is to be reused. It would always be safe to provide the question pool number (i.e. T6A07) to the applicant.

Check in Applicants:

Change the applicant status from Registered to Seen in ExamTools to indicate that the applicant has checked in and is testing. The applicant will move to the top of the applicant list depending on how it is sorted. During the check-in process, you may:

  • Check ID and collect any fee from applicants.
  • Use a paper roster provided to you by your VEC to track payment and ID check or download an applicant list from ExamTools and add columns for both. Defer to your VEC for direction.
  • Confirm any CSCE and add credit.
  • Confirm any existing license (current or expired).

Start Exam:

  • SM should click the Start Session button located in the upper right corner of the session. Only the owner and co-owners can see it.

To Test with Paper:

Provide each applicant with an exam, a figure sheet, a bubble answer sheet, pencil/pen and calculator, if needed. The applicant may choose to use the front and back of the answer sheet for scratch paper given they do not write in the box or backside of the box or the team can provide the applicant with a blank sheet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Answer sheets should be prefilled with the exam’s Test ID number and the Applicant Pin. The answer sheet for the Tech and General are the same with 35 bubbles, but the Extra answer sheet has 50 bubbles. A new 35/50 question combo form is now available for download along with all supplemental resources (answer sheets and figures) in ExamTools under Generate Exam.

A VE may seat the applicant and give instructions on what to do when they have completed their exam.

Suggestion: Provide each applicant with an instruction or exam cover sheet to provide directions for the exam and what to do to have the exam scored.

To Test with a Device:

Provide each applicant with a sheet of blank paper, a pencil/pen and calculator, if needed. Inspect the device as you would for remote testing. The applicant needs only a web browser open and should be instructed to remain on that page only. Settings, profiles, and/or apps (i.e. Fully Kiosk) maybe used to secure VE team owned devices.

The applicant should go to https://exam.tools and join the session with the SM call sign and the applicant pin. A VE will need to authorize at points during the exam as they would during a remote exam.

During Exam:

For both paper and device testing, VEs should be assigned to monitor the applicants. Walk around behind the applicants with devices, make sure that they stay on the exam page and provide assistance when needed. VEs will need to assign themselves or a VE Admin or higher can assign Certifying VEs to each applicant.

The team should determine how they want the applicants to signal when they are done with the exam. For an exam taken on a device, the applicant can hit the grade exam button. For those who are using paper, they may need to raise their hand or bring their exam and materials to a specific table to be graded. All materials, pencil and calculators should be collected from the applicants.

Grading Exams:

For applicants using a device, they can proceed through the exam process as if they are being tested online.

For paper exams, use GradeCam to grade the exam. Navigate to the Session Detail page, and click the GradeCam button. VE will be prompted to choose the camera to use to scan. Center the filled out answer sheet within the camera window, and the software will grade the exam automatically. If ET cannot clearly determined which answer was selected, the VE will be prompted to visually confirm the answer. This can occur when an applicant does not cleanly erase a previous answer when changing it. Any device with a camera (tablet, cell phone, or computer) may be used for scoring. The SM and the rest of the VE team may want to practice this and test out different devices in the SandBox before your session.

To Add a Score from a Non-ExamTools Exam:

A VE team may use existing exam booklets and scoring templates which were provided to them as a stocked team, if desired. Go to the applicant record and use the Record External Exam feature under Manage to add the element, score and any notes for the exam. Teams choosing this method should check with their VEC and confirm what additional documentation (i.e. original answer sheets) should be provided beyond the documents which ET exports.

Viewing 605 and Draft CSCE:

All applicants should be able to sign in or remain signed in using their own device (a smart phone) or one (a tablet, iPad, computer) provided to them to view their score, finish and sign forms (view 605/CSCE and create an electronic signature). For paper exam applicants, you can skip right to the 605/CSCE and signature by changing the applicant status to Ready to Sign in ET.

Official Certificate of Successful Completion:

Once the applicant and three Certifying VEs have all signed, the SM or a co-owner should Mark Complete the applicant and send the CSCE. The applicant should check their email which they used to register and confirm that they received the CSCE. Only the owner and co-owners have the ability to mark applicants complete, but any VE may send the CSCE. The Mark Complete button displays to owners and co-owners in the expanded view of the applicant. All three VEs must sign before the Mark Complete button becomes active. Once the applicant has been marked complete, they will drop to the bottom of the applicant list. A VE can then click on the up arrow displaying just to the right of the applicant’s pin to send the CSCE.

Applicants Who Did Not Pass:

Will not receive anything unless the team would like to either print or email the applicants the 605 from ET. Depending on the team’s point of view, returning the 605 is completely unnecessary as the applicant did not provide a 605 when registering. Common practice for the three certifying VEs is to remain assigned to the non-passing applicant. Although ExamTools will allow VEs to sign a 605 on which NO NEW LICENSE OR UPGRADE WAS EARNED most all teams do not sign. Check with your VEC for direction.

Closing the Session:

  • The SM cleans up the manifest, will remove any non-participating VEs and add any that did participate. Optionally, remove applicants who did not show. Then, clicks Finalize Session.
  • Session Manager submits session docs (EXPORT>VEC Archive) to the Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) along with any other requested documentation (i.e. expense report, CSCEs, etc).

VEC Upload, Licenses and Upgrades:

Once the VEC has uploaded the batch file from the session, the FCC will start the process of reviewing the applications and issuing call signs. Once this happens, the applicant should receive an email from ExamTools and the FCC, if everything goes well with the EBF upload. The email from the FCC comes overnight with a link to the official license. The applicant should download the license from the link, maybe rename it something other than what it is called (just a long string of numbers starting with their FRN) and save it in a place where they can find it again. They may choose to print out a copy and keep it with their radio.

Those who upgraded can use their existing call sign appended with /AG (General) or /AE (Extra) to immediately start using their new privileges. Those who do not have a license will need to wait until their call sign appears in the ULS. Occasionally, applicants need to wait an additional day or two while their application is in review.

The FCC issues call signs Monday through Friday. Weekend and holiday uploads are not processed until the next business day.

Flow of Applicants through Exam Site:

Tables should be set up to allow a logical flow through each station. This is an example below.

  1. Registration
  2. Payment of fee (if not free)
  3. Check-in/Present ID
  4. Receive Exam
  5. Take Exam
  6. Return Exam
  7. Grade Exam (VEs sign/SM marks complete/send CSCE)
  8. Receive CSCE

Applicant Email Address:

All applicants are encouraged to provide an email address on all applications. When an email is provided, the licensees will receive an electronic issuance of an official copy of their licenses upon application grant. Certain email preferences and email services may potentially block or filter incoming email attachments. Applicants should set their email preferences to allow incoming email from authorizations@fcc.gov before their applications are submitted.

If no email address is provided, the licensees will need to login to ULS and download their authorizations, as no paper copies are distributed. The instructions for downloading an authorization can be found at: https://www.fcc.gov/support/universal-licensing-system-uls-resources/how-obtain-official-authorizations-uls. Email questions about this process to ulsebf@fcc.gov.

Basic Qualification Question:

If an applicant answers Yes to this question not only should the SM confirm that the answer is correct, but make it clear that there are additional steps to their application with the FCC. Providing the application file number and the instructions on the back of the 605 may be needed. This may be the first time the applicant has applied for an amateur radio license and may need a little extra explanation. ExamTools does provide instructions when the applicants register, but the information is currently not included with the session information notification email when they register.

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