RAC Completes First Phase of Review of Amateur Radio Exam Questions

In December of 2012 Industry Canada put out a Request For Proposals
(RFP) to update the amateur radio question bank. RAC responded and
subsequently entered into a contract with Industry Canada
in January 2013 to update the amateur radio question bank. RAQI was engaged by
RAC to collaborate on the French language component of the contract.

This is an update on our project milestones with respect to this
project which is of keen interest to all amateurs. Radio Amateurs of
Canada, on March 13, 2013, delivered to Industry Canada a
comprehensive and detailed set of recommendations to improve and
modernize the question banks used for examinations to qualify radio
amateurs in Canada.

The curriculum will not be changed by the review. Prospective hams
still need knowledge of the same topics. However, changes were
proposed to make all questions correct, clear, understandable and
relevant to amateur radio in Canada today.

This required great attention to detail. The review team examined more
than 3000 questions and 12000 answers used for the Basic and Advanced
examinations in English and French and aimed for perfection in every one.

Technical and linguistic accuracy were equally important in the
review. Changes included correcting factual errors, replacing obsolete
language and examples, making questions and answers more clear and
addressing current amateur radio practices and regulations. The team
accomplished most changes through editing of existing questions but
also recommended that some obsolete questions be deleted and proposed
new questions. Comments from radio amateurs in response to the RAC
bulletins on the question bank review aided the team in identifying
where changes were needed.

The review also assessed the complexity of questions and recommended
where questions in one exam might be more appropriate to the other. It
recognized current trends in learning and assessment. Rote
memorization is no longer important in a society where detailed
information is at everyone’s fingertips. Understanding principles and
concepts and where to find information are more important today.
Several questions were modified to recognize this approach. The
overall objective is to remove unintended barriers to participation in
amateur radio and provide the basis for fair examinations of required

Industry Canada will review the proposed changes and respond to RAC in
early April. The review team will consider this and develop further
recommendations as required in the final phase of the review that will
be completed in mid April. Industry Canada will decide on the final
changes as a result of this process. Until that decision is made the
existing examination material will remain in use.

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

Geoff Bawden, VE4BAW
President, Radio Amateurs of Canada