RSGB Direct-to-Full Consultation 2021

The RSGB released a draft syllabus today (Wednesday the 17th of 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 a placeholder 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:

There is also a link to a short survey which asks specific questions but also gives you an opportunity to add additional comments or questions.
The consultation will run until Sunday 14 March 2021.

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”.


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

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)

Proposed Exam Structure

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

Syllabus Topic# of questions
Licence Conditions9
Technical Aspects10
Transmitters & Receivers11
Feeders & Antennas8
Measurements & Construction6


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.

How does this compare to other exams?

  • Direct-to-Full would have 75 questions in 2.5 hours. Cost unknown
  • Under the current system, Full is currently 130 questions in 4 hours 30 minutes with 7 practical elements. Current cost: £97.50
  • RAE (2002) was 80 questions in 2 hours 15 mins, with no practical element

Interested in exams, and Direct-to-Full?

Take part in our 2021 Exam Survey today!

Survey Graphs

Your thoughts?

Please make sure you have your say in the public consultation – The consultation will run until Sunday 14 March 2021.

You can also have your say in the comments below…


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