Becoming a Volunteer Examiner

needairtime

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I was talking to a local VE and he suggested I should go ahead and get credentials for ARRL/VEC accreditation. I ended up going ahead and filling out the open book "test" and well some of the questions I felt were kind of weird, perhaps they were more of thought questions...

But anyway what I didn't think about earlier are the "unruly" candidates... not sure of how to deal with them. For those VEs out there, how do you handle the

- people who didn't quite make the grade
- people who really didn't make the grade
- people who get angry that they didn't make the grade
- people who get *really* angry and threaten a VE to make the grade for themselves or another ... (does this happen?)

Because it was mentioned in the ARRL VE manual, I suspect it can and does happen... But granted yes, should definitely double check that one didn't use the wrong answer key, so definitely do this before responding to them...

I suspect it's only the tech license that get the more unpleasant responses, as the element 3 and 4 exams the person should know how things go beforehand.
 

N4KVE

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When I was a VE years ago, if someone missed by one question, we’d tell them to look at their test again, & make sure their answers were correct. We would not point out the mistakes, just tell them to look it over again.
 

k6cpo

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I was talking to a local VE and he suggested I should go ahead and get credentials for ARRL/VEC accreditation. I ended up going ahead and filling out the open book "test" and well some of the questions I felt were kind of weird, perhaps they were more of thought questions...

But anyway what I didn't think about earlier are the "unruly" candidates... not sure of how to deal with them. For those VEs out there, how do you handle the

- people who didn't quite make the grade
My VEC (SANDARC VEC in San Diego, CA) has a policy of granting a retest to those who fail only by a couple of questions. Experience has proven that these people usually do worse the second time around, but sometimes they will pass on the second attempt. The second examination they receive is completely different from the first.

- people who really didn't make the grade
We try to let these people down as easily as we can, usually by suggesting some additional resources they can use to better prepare for the exam.

- people who get angry that they didn't make the grade
Hasn't happened to me yet.

- people who get *really* angry and threaten a VE to make the grade for themselves or another ... (does this happen?)
Hasn't happened yet either. However, if it did, I would advise the person not to come back and I would also advise all the other Team leaders about the individual.

Because it was mentioned in the ARRL VE manual, I suspect it can and does happen... But granted yes, should definitely double check that one didn't use the wrong answer key, so definitely do this before responding to them...
It's happened to me on a couple of occasions to the point where I have prominently posted notes to ensure all the paperwork matches.

I suspect it's only the tech license that get the more unpleasant responses, as the element 3 and 4 exams the person should know how things go beforehand.
I have found that most people taking a Tech exam are quite appreciative that a dozen or so people will take time out of their Saturday morning to administer exams.
 

needairtime

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When I was a VE years ago, if someone missed by one question, we’d tell them to look at their test again, & make sure their answers were correct. We would not point out the mistakes, just tell them to look it over again.
Agreed it is verboten to point out what were the weak points at all according to the rules, but are VEs actually allowed to hand it back to them and ask them to change whatever they feel like they need to change to get a passing score if they were close, as long as we don't tell them which questions were answered incorrectly? Seems awfully generous, then again is it VEC versus VEC policy?

(I specially marked my sheet on which answers I guessed on so I can go back to them, but I figure I also misread some questions and got them confidently wrong...)
 

ladn

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My VEC (SANDARC VEC in San Diego, CA) has a policy of granting a retest to those who fail only by a couple of questions. Experience has proven that these people usually do worse the second time around, but sometimes they will pass on the second attempt. The second examination they receive is completely different from the first.
That's a generous and common sense policy if it's free. Many VECs routinely offer the next incremental test free if you pass (ie: tech ===>general ===>extra). Many VECs will retest fails, but charge another testing fee.
 

needairtime

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Even ARRL/VEC gives next incremental free if you pass the previous (heck, that's how I ended up gaming things so I never have to test again...hopefully...) but normally if you fail a test (badly) you should get a different test to try again - regardless of VEC, free or not.

But yes the free ones it's another hour of volunteer time to test again (whereas the fee based ones it's a deterrent if you really don't know the material) so yes it's a lot less time to hand back for corrections but this is the equivalent of giving them the same test twice in a row, on the same day no less...

BTW, I didn't get a clear answer from the guide, is computerized testing actually an option with that ARRL test generator that VEs have access to? That sure would take out any possible errors in grading...
 

cmdrwill

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The digest problem is not the VE's, but the so-called instructors who do a piss poor class.
 

k6cpo

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That's a generous and common sense policy if it's free. Many VECs routinely offer the next incremental test free if you pass (ie: tech ===>general ===>extra). Many VECs will retest fails, but charge another testing fee.
We do not charge for examinations, but there was a time when we did. Even then, we allowed a free retest if the candidate failed by one a couple of questions. (It's my personal opinion that charging another fee to retake the exam if you fail is gaming the system just to make money and I don't agree with the ARRL's method of doing this.)

Even ARRL/VEC gives next incremental free if you pass the previous (heck, that's how I ended up gaming things so I never have to test again...hopefully...) but normally if you fail a test (badly) you should get a different test to try again - regardless of VEC, free or not.

But yes the free ones it's another hour of volunteer time to test again (whereas the fee based ones it's a deterrent if you really don't know the material) so yes it's a lot less time to hand back for corrections but this is the equivalent of giving them the same test twice in a row, on the same day no less...
With our grading method, the answer sheet is already marked up by the time we determine the person has failed so handing it back to them wouldn't work.
 

needairtime

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I thought it should be standard to use that answer key template, just need to eye the holes that aren't blackened out, count those up, and if it's more than ...actually to throw people in a loop, 9 to 11 wrong answers (note that 9 is passing) and go over it again. Perhaps this would be a bit more indicative of them knowing which ones they got wrong, and show confidence on the ones that they know are right...

I'd say it's best discretionary by the VE team whether you offer a free exam (ideally, different version!) if they were close. But I think it is reasonable to use the fee to deter people from keep on testing when they don't know the material, wasting time. Basically for a multiple-guess, it is possible to keep on guessing to pass, but if it costs money to guess, it's best to know the material and not depend on chance that you might get it right.
 

k6cpo

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I thought it should be standard to use that answer key template, just need to eye the holes that aren't blackened out, count those up, and if it's more than ...actually to throw people in a loop, 9 to 11 wrong answers (note that 9 is passing) and go over it again. Perhaps this would be a bit more indicative of them knowing which ones they got wrong, and show confidence on the ones that they know are right...

I'd say it's best discretionary by the VE team whether you offer a free exam (ideally, different version!) if they were close. But I think it is reasonable to use the fee to deter people from keep on testing when they don't know the material, wasting time. Basically for a multiple-guess, it is possible to keep on guessing to pass, but if it costs money to guess, it's best to know the material and not depend on chance that you might get it right.
We only allow one additional shot at passing the exam. If they fail twice, even if by only one question, they're done for that session. They can come back for additional sessions as many times as they want until they pass.
 

needairtime

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For the VE application for ARRL/VEC you have the open review as part of the application, just wondering if ARRL/VEC will deny your application if anything at all is wrong on the review responses?
 

k6cpo

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For the VE application for ARRL/VEC you have the open review as part of the application, just wondering if ARRL/VEC will deny your application if anything at all is wrong on the review responses?
I'm assuming you're talking about their open-book questions on the ARRL VE Application. I never answered those questions because I was already accredited by another VEC when I applied for ARRL VEC accreditation. Even though I am still ARRL accredited, I have never worked an ARRL exam session. My particular VEC has our region pretty well covered, although there are a couple of other VECs conducting exams in the area.
 

AA6IO

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I've been a W5YI VE and ARRL VE for about 5 years. As a W5YI VE, I also teach part of the Technician and General classes that our group does about 5 to 6 times per year. We just had 16 in our tech class in early December and all passed. The next weekend, our ARRL VE team (no classes) passed 10 new techs, and two extras. I really enjoy being a VE and being part of the process of bringing new people into the hobby. After 56 years of being a ham, being a VE is one of the things that most motivates my current interest in radio (along with all the new digital technology).
Our VEs don't receive any payment. Whatever the group keeps is used for classroom expenses. Our contact ARRL VE sends the entire fee into ARRL. Being a VE is very rewarding, but if making a few bucks is your goal, there are much better ways to do that.
By the way, one of our groups has a couple of general class hams, but the vast majority are Extra. The other, doing ARRL exams, is all Extra class. I highly recommend, as previously stated by others, that one work toward an Extra class license if they intend to participate fully in VE activities.
 

needairtime

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I'm pretty sure I'm an awful teacher but probably can still help out with the exam sessions/grading/etc. when needed. Other than not being an accredited VE at this point, it wouldn't be against the rules for me to administer/grade Element 4. But without accreditation I can't even administer/grade Element 2 so that's the bigger problem at this point, heh.

At this point I'm just thinking about sending the application and questionnaire to them, despite having some questions that I'm not sure if I answered the way ARRL/VEC expects. What's the worst that could happen, get a life ban from ARRL/VEC for answering a question wrong? Then I would have to try to get into the VE program through W5YI or Laurel or something instead?

Also does one need to send in a copy to ARRL/VEC of our official license from FCC, or can they just look it up? I thought somewhere I read that this may be necessary but thought they could always FCC-ULS or QRZ my call sign. (I never requested an official copy of my license from the FCC, didn't care much for posting/framing it in my house.)
 

ladn

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I really enjoy being a VE and being part of the process of bringing new people into the hobby
That's a commendable attitude!
I still (sadly) remember some of the VE's at my Technician and General tests many years ago. They were curmudgeonly old farts and not the least interested in bringing in new folks. Thankfully the VE's for my Extra exam were enlightened human beings.
 
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