RSGB Direct-to-Full Consultation 2021

The RSGB released a draft syllabus in February 2021 for a brand new type of exam – “Direct to Full”. The aim is that, just like under the last few years of the RAE, newcomers will be able to get their Full licence with just a single exam session.

This page is for discussion of the consultation, and the new syllabus and exam.

Key bullet points

  • A single 75-question multiple-choice exam (2.5 hours)
  • Available online only, not via clubs
  • Theory-only, no practicals
  • Pass mark 50/75 (67%)
  • As per existing online exams, instant results at the end of the exam, and if passed, callsign typically within a week
  • This is in addition to the existing Foundation > Intermediate > Full route

The Consultation

The background to this consultation and a link to the proposed syllabus can be found on the RSGB website:

The consultation ran until Sunday 14 March 2021.

Essex Ham has submitted a response, including feedback from over 1,350 survey respondents. See: Essex Ham Direct-to-Full Response

Interested in exams, and Direct-to-Full?

Take part in our 2021 Exam Survey today!

Survey Graphs


Why Direct-to-Full?

According to the RSGB, those with a high-level aptitude in STEM disciplines and/or a background in electronics and/or communications may find the current three levels (and practicals) “unnecessarily onerous and off-putting”.

Our survey reveals that 46.3% feel that Foundation licence holders may use this new exam to go straight to Full, bypassing Intermediate. Research by two groups indicates this may be an easier route to a Full licence for many.


Who is Direct-to-Full for?

RSGB has given the example of: “those with a high-level aptitude in STEM disciplines and/or a background in electronics and/or communications”

In a recent Essex Ham net, some other possible options were discussed:

  1. People in a hurry to hit “full”, or those not interested in the hassle of taking 3 exams.
  2. Existing Foundation or Intermediate licence holders looking for a more generalised paper than a Full-only paper
  3. Overseas students looking to get a HAREC licence easily, which can be used to apply for an equivalent licence in their own country
The subject of the proposed new RSGB “Direct to Full” exam was discussed on the Monday Night Net on the 15th of February 2021. Here are the edited highlights of the discussion. Thanks to everyone who took part.

By way of background, in the 2018 Exam Standards report, RSGB stated: “Despite efforts to attract new people into the hobby it remains a niche interest, with taking the Foundation level being the only way into the hobby, and the average decline rate runs at ~2.5% per year. This has led ESC to start to consider possible new routes of entry to the hobby. One option under consideration is a single exam providing direct access to advanced.” (ESC Report 2018)

When could this roll out?

In an RSGB announcement in February 2022, the RSGB has confirmed that this will go ahead, but that work on the project has been delayed due to the need to update the existing syllabus first. No timeframe has been provided.

Proposed Exam Structure

Here is a summary of how the questions are broken down:

Syllabus Topic # of questions
Licence Conditions 9
Technical Aspects 10
Transmitters & Receivers 11
Feeders & Antennas 8
Propagation 5
EMC 12
Safety 14
Measurements & Construction 6

Direct-to-Full Courses?

Given the number of clubs offering Full training under the current system, it’s likely that very few clubs will run classroom-based Direct-to-Full courses. Online courses would seem the likely route.

Will there be a new book for Direct-to-Full?

The draft syllabus refers to using the existing 3 books. Demand for direct-to-full is expected to be low, so a dedicated book may not be viable.

No Practicals?

As this is an online exam, there are no practicals.

The current route (Foundation>Intermediate>Full) has 7 practicals: SSB QSO, FM Simplex QSO, Antenna adjustment, SWR matching, station setup and a CW/Data appreciation.

39.7% of our survey respondents felt that both routes should have practicals, and 28.5% feeling that neither route should have practicals.


How does this compare to other exams?

  2020 Three-tier Proposed Direct-to-Full 2003 RAE 7650
Number of exams 3 1 1
Exam Duration 4 hours and 30 minutes (excluding practicals) 2 hours and 30 minutes 2 hours and 15 minutes
Questions 130 (26 + 46 + 58) 75 80
Practicals 7 assessed practicals None None


Your thoughts?

The RSGB Consultation closed on Sunday 14 March 2021, but we’re still listening! Have your say in the comments below…


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