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RAC

2013-04-28

RAC Bulletin 2013-016E - RAC completes Review of Amateur Radio Exam Questions
2013-04-27

On April 17th 2013, RAC submitted the final documents called for in the contract it won to review the question banks used for exams for the Basic and Advanced certification of Canadian radio amateurs.

Industry Canada had issued a request for proposals to undertake the review in December 2012. RAC engaged RAQI to collaborate on the French language component of the work and submitted a response to the proposal. The $20,000 contract was awarded to RAC late in January.

The first phase of the contract, completed on March 13, consisted of a complete review of all the questions and answers used for amateur radio certification in Canada. At the end of this phase RAC delivered a comprehensive set of recommendations to improve and modernize the question banks. In most cases this involved detailed editing of existing questions but proposals were also made to delete or replace obsolete or inaccurate questions and add questions on aspects of amateur radio that had grown in importance since the last review.

The review concentrated on the accuracy and clarity of the questions and answers and recommended changes where required to eliminate possible confusion over the correct answer to each question. Some errors were easy to identify such as typing mistakes showing an obviously incorrect answer as correct. Others, particularly related to ensuring that all incorrect answers were truly incorrect, required more careful study. The review team took special care in comparing questions in both languages so that the English and French versions conveyed the same information.

Clear, accurate and understandable exam questions are an important element in making amateur radio accessible to all Canadians. RAC sees an up to date and well functioning exam system as an important element in bringing more people into amateur radio to ensure its continuation and growth, a priority objective of the national organization.

On April 4th, Industry Canada officials kicked off phase 2 of the project by providing a preliminary reaction to the RAC recommendations made in phase 1. Over the next 13 days the RAC-RAQI team reviewed the Industry Canada comments and where appropriate provided additional comments and recommendations.

The first phase had identified most areas of needed change and as a result the Phase Two report contained a significantly smaller set of recommendations. Industry Canada will make the final decision on changes to the questions after considering the RAC Phase 2 report. However the exchange of comments so far suggests that the RAC review will lead to a significant improvement and updating of the question banks.

RAC understands the importance of amateur radio courses and educational material developed and delivered by dedicated volunteers across the country. Changes in the question banks can lead to increased work by these volunteers and the Review Team worked to propose changes in ways that will minimize the updating. Many questions will remain as they were before the review. When proposing deleting obsolete questions the Team recommended replacement questions so that question numbering of the unchanged questions would not have to be changed.

RAC is already planning for the transition. Once Industry Canada makes public the updated questions banks, we will prepare information identifying where changes have been made to assist instructors in modifying their course materials and examiners in preparing for the change. As has been mentioned in previous bulletins, the curriculum has not been changed. The topics addressed in the exams and consequently in courses and educational material remain the same. The changed questions will assess the knowledge of these same topics but should be clearer, more accurate, more understandable and relevant to modern amateur radio.

RAQI has been an excellent partner in this project and all francophones should immediately see the vast improvement in the French language questions when the new questions banks are approved and made public.

A great deal of effort has gone into the review and we are happy that it is being received well. RAC will continue to work with Industry Canada through existing consultative arrangements to provide Canadian radio amateurs with the best possible circumstances to pursue their hobby. As well, based on the success of this project, RAC looks forward to competing for contracts on significant projects related to amateur radio if the opportunity presents itself in the future.

For more information contact Glenn MacDonell, Project Manager, Question Bank Update Project and Deputy Director Ontario North East, (ve3xra@rac.ca).

Geoff Bawden, VE4BAW
President and Chair RAC

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Vernon Ikeda - VE2MBS/VE2QQ
Pointe-Claire, Québec
RAC Blog Editor/RAC E-News/Web News Bulletin Editor