Online UK Amateur Radio Foundation Exam – Latest News

From the 6th of April 2020, it’s now possible to take your Foundation Amateur Radio Exam online at home, without the need to visit a club to complete practicals or to visit an Exam Centre. This is a temporary change due to the UK travel and social distancing changes arising from the Coronavirus. Here is the latest information we have on taking your online exam:

Can I take my Foundation exam online at home?

Yes! It is currently possible to apply for an online exam – you’ll be able to take the exam from home using your Windows or Mac computer. You’ll be using special exam software, and an RSGB invigilator will supervise you using your webcam and microphone, to ensure that you don’t cheat.

There’s more information below, or in the RSGB’s Online Exam FAQ

What about the practicals?

As a result of the UK lockdown and social distancing, RSGB has agreed to suspend the need for practicals to be completed until further notice. As of July 2021, we have no information on when or if practicals will return.

When will classroom training start up again?

We’re not sure. A statement from the RSGB in March said: “The RSGB will start accepting bookings from club Examination Secretaries from the date when the Government lifts all Covid-19 restrictions in their part of the UK” and that online exams would continue in parallel. As of July 2021, we have no further information.

How do I book my exam?

The steps to book an online Foundation exam are as follows:

  • Make sure you’ve properly studied. The pass mark is 19/26, and we’d encourage those taking our free Foundation Online course to make sure you get at least 19 in our end-of-course mock.
  • Check that you have a suitable Windows or Mac computer for the exam, stable Internet connection and a webcam – as per the specifications listed here
  • Book your online exam via the RSG’s website: RSGB Book an Exam and make payment of the exam fee (£27.50)
  • About a week before the exam, the RSGB will be in touch re. next steps, which include installing the special exam software and a pre-exam video call with RSGB

If you need to call the RSGB Exam team, the number is 01234-832700 (8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday), although note that they are very busy at the moment

VIDEO: Taking Your Amateur Radio Exam at Home

What hardware do I need?

According to the RSGB’s Online Exam FAQ, you’ll need:

  • A Windows (Windows 7+) or Mac (Mac OS 10.8+) desktop or laptop with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM (no tablets, smartphones or Linux)
  • A stable Internet connection with at least 512kbps per candidate
  • A working webcam, microphone and speakers (Headphones are optional)

How can I study for my exam?

There are several options – You can study from the RSGB’s Foundation Manual, get help from your local club’s training team, or study online

Our free revision course isn’t affected by the lockdown, and many are choosing to study with us. Our course offers online lessons, videos and mock tests – If you want to sign up, please complete our course application form.

Normally, courses start at the beginning of each month, but we may offer more frequent courses during the lockdown. We also offer a “Fast Track” course if you have an imminent exam and can’t wait for the next course.

For a flavour of what the course is, and how it works, please watch the following video:

 

Online Exam FAQ

Questions about taking the exam (22)

Yes. During the UK Coronavirus ‘lockdown’, you can take the exam online from home without the need to visit a club

Normally, you’ll need to take the Foundation Practicals in front of a registered assessor, then sit the exam at an RSGB-recognised exam centre. During the COVID-19 Lockdown, practicals are suspended and it’s possible to take exams online from home – See Exams and COVID-19

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The steps to book an online Foundation exam are as follows:

  • Make sure you’ve properly studied. The pass mark is 19/26, and we’d encourage those taking our free Foundation Online course to make sure you get at least 19 in our end-of-course mock.
  • Check that you have a suitable Windows or Mac computer for the exam, stable Internet connection and a webcam – as per the specifications listed here
  • Book your online exam via the RSG’s website: RSGB Book an Exam and make payment of the exam fee (£27.50)
  • About a week before the exam, the RSGB will be in touch re. next steps, which include installing the special exam software and a pre-exam video call with RSGB

If you need to call the RSGB Exam team, the number is 01234-832700 (8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday), although note that they are very busy at the moment

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One of our most common questions, and the answer is really up to you.

You can book your exam online at any time – Go to the RSGB Exam Booking page to see when the first available dates are, and to book your exam slot.

When you book the exam is up to you. The sensible answer is to suggest that you only book when you’re comfortable you’ve done enough study. The pass mark is 19/26 and when you’re comfy that you’ll be able to get this mark in the exam, that’s a sign that you should be ready for the exam itself.

We’d encourage those taking our free Foundation Online course to make sure you get at least 19 in our end-of-course mock. As our course contains numerous online tests, this will prepare you for the actual online test, so is great preparation.

Alternatively, you could book now to get the first available place, and hope you’ll be prepared enough in time – some are better at studying than others, and some like the pressure. The worst that could happen is that you find you’re struggling with the material, you start getting stressed by the approaching exam, or worst-case, you take the exam before you’re ready, and fail. If that happens – simply take it again (note you need to pay RSGB £27.50 per exam attempt).

For answers to other common questions, see the HamTrain FAQ.

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There are several options – You can study from the RSGB’s Foundation Manual, get help from your local club’s training team, or study online

Our free revision course isn’t affected, and many are choosing to study with us during lockdown. Our course offers online lessons, videos and mock tests – If you want to sign up, please complete our course application form.

Courses start at the beginning of each month. We also offer a “Fast Track” course if you have an imminent exam and can’t wait for the next course.

For a flavour of what the course is, and how it works, please watch the following video:

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According to the RSGB’s Online Exam FAQ, you’ll need:

  • A Windows (Windows 7 or higher) or Mac (Mac OS 10.8 or higher) desktop or laptop. Minimum spec: Intel Core i3 (or equivalent) and 4GB RAM. (no tablets, smartphones or Linux)
  • A stable Internet connection, ideally with a constant 2Mbps speed
  • A working webcam (USB or built-in to a moveable laptop), microphone and speakers (Headphones are optional)

For answers to more common questions, see our Course FAQ

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Due to Covid, currently none – it’s just an online exam

Normally, you’ll need to complete five basic practical exercises. See our Foundation Practicals Information page for full details, and some videos showing what’s involved.

Practicals since March 2020: Due to Covid-19 Lockdown, practicals were suspended in April 2020 until further notice (see announcement)

Currently, it’s possible to take the exam at home, without doing any practicals – See Exams and COVID-19

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Not at present. During the UK Coronavirus ‘lockdown’, all practicals for Foundation have been suspended. This means that you can take the multiple-choice exam online from home without the need to visit a club, or to do any of the normal Foundation practicals.

Practicals since March 2020: Due to Covid-19 Lockdown, practicals were suspended in April 2020 until further notice (see announcement)

Currently, it’s possible to take the exam at home, without doing any practicals – See Exams and COVID-19

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No – The exam is managed by the RSGB, the Radio Society of Great Britain

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Yes – as long as it’s silent, and non-programmable.

For the Foundation exam, a basic calculator (as opposed to a scientific one) is fine. If you’re taking the exam online, you need a physical calculator, not the calculator on your computer, and not a smartphone calculator.

See our dedicated page on this subject: Amateur radio exams and calculators

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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For exams taken at home, you need a webcam. This is so that the invigilator can monitor you during the exam to check that you’re not cheating. You’ll also need a microphone and speakers, so that the examiner can hear you and speak to you. Many webcams have a built-in microphone.

The exam invigilator will ask you to move your webcam around, asking you to point the camera around the room. They need to check out the entire room, to prevent cheating. For this reason, you have to be able to point the webcam where instructed.

If you have a webcam that’s built-in to your laptop, this should be fine. You can also use a USB webcam. A fixed, non-movable webcam (like a wall-mounted webcam) is not ideal.

RSGB will arrange a test video call before the exam, where you get a chance to test your webcam before the exam.

Basic WebcamNot got a moveable webcam? A basic webcam costs around £15. These typically plug into a free USB port on your Windows / Mac computer. If you don’t have a webcam, buy yourself a cheap one online (or in larger supermarkets), or borrow one for the exam.

Want to buy one online? See: Webcams on Amazon or Webcams on e-Bay

Exam Video

The following video explains how the exam works:

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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Basic WebcamA basic webcam costs around £15. These typically plug into a free USB port on your Windows / Mac computer. If you don’t have a webcam, buy yourself a cheap one online (or in larger supermarkets), or borrow one for the exam.

Want to buy one online? See: Webcams on Amazon or Webcams on e-Bay

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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No!

There is no requirement to be a member of a club to take your exam. If you wish, you can book your exam direct with the RSGB. See how to book my exam

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No

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Yes. See our guide to Amateur Radio & Dyslexia, or the following short video:

Video – Need Extra Help with Foundation Study or Exam?

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No. The Testreach exam software runs on Windows or Mac OS operating systems only. The exam software doesn’t run on an Apple iPad.

See What computer hardware do I need for the exam? for more.

 

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The RSGB uses software called developed by a company called TestReach, and the software only runs on the Windows or Mac Operating system.

The software is designed to prevent cheating (such as tasking away to other windows to look up answers, and the TestReach platform only supports the more common Windows or Mac operating systems – no Android or Apple tablets, and no Linux devices

Alternatives?

  • Borrow a Windows or Mac device from a friend or family member
  • Talk to your local amateur radio club, to see if they have equipment that they can lend you
  • Contact your local club to see if they can arrange a paper-based exam for you.
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Question received: “Can I take the RSGB online exam using an Android tablet? (Paul H)

No. The exam software, provided by a company called TestReach, only runs on Windows or Mac OS. It can’t be used on iPads, Android tablets or the Linux OS.

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A question from Paul H: “Is windows7 compatible with the RSGB foundation exam?”

The RSGB uses software from a company called Testreach – this runs on Windows 7 (and above) or Mac (Mac OS 10.8 and above)

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The RSGB uses software called developed by a company called TestReach, and the software only runs on the Windows or Mac Operating system.

The software is designed to prevent cheating (such as tasking away to other windows to look up answers, and the TestReach platform only supports the more common Windows or Mac operating systems – no Linux, and no Android or Apple tablets.

Alternatives?

  • Borrow a Windows or Mac device from a friend or family member
  • Talk to your local amateur radio club, to see if they have equipment that they can lend you
  • Contact your local club to see if they can arrange a paper-based exam for you.
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“Do you have to pay more then once if you fail an exam and have to retake it?”

Yes – an exam fee is payable for each exam that you sit. That’s why we recommend that you pass our mock test before paying out for an exam

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Yes – RSGB introduced this in September 2020

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What you can take with you:

According to the EX500 rulebook, you can have the following with you for the exam:

  • You are allowed to use the 4-page exam booklet in the exam. For exams taken at home, you can print the booklet, but it must be free from additional notes.
  • You can take a pen, pencil and a soft rubber
  • You can use a silent, non-programmable calculator (see using a calculator FAQ)
  • You can take a drink and sweets (remove excess packaging)
  • You’re allowed a mascot (!)
  • Blank paper may be permitted by some examiners (although it’s not actually stated in the rules, so check first)
  • A non-electronic translation dictionary is allowed where appropriate

What’s not allowed:

  • No written notes
  • No course books
  • No phones / smartwatches
  • No additional computers
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Got a question we’ve not answered? Please ask in the comments section below…

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