Advanced Course/Licence



I notice with interest that the RSGB and Ofcom are supposedly trying to encourage more people to move up to the advanced licence.

Well I tend to think the only reason for wanting this is to that the RSGB can gain more revenue, but maybe it is just me, being suspicious of an organisation that is supposed to have the needs of radio Amateurs are heart, but it clearly doesn’t.

I do think though some people will not want to progress beyond M6 or M3 and I know a few people like that myself. I am not being unkind here, but some people I know would really struggle to attain the 2e0.  Myself I am happy as a 2e0 as it gives me all I need and I know quite a few folk who have a similar opinion to me.

I wrote to Ofcom and gave them my thoughts on encouragement of people  to become M0 and the reasons why I have no interest in progressing to that level. A it gives me nothing I want out of the hobby. and I see no point in learning outdated information that will be only ever be used for the 2 hour exam and then completely forgotten.  They have not seen fit to grace my with a reply though.

I speak here from experience I gained when I studied for this course, for 12 weeks. Even though I knew by week 5 that for me it was a waste of time money and effort. I stuck it as long as I did so that my wife would not also throw in the towel on this to me pointless out of date nonsense of an exam.

Personally the m0 call gives me nothing I really want.


The ability to use 400W of power. I never will use this kind of power ,in fact I prefer QRP. I Rarely use 50W
The ability to operate abroad in CEPT countries. It is Highly unlikely I will ever use this facility.
The Ability to use mobile Maritime. Can’t see me ever using this facility either.
The Ability to apply for an NOV.  This is about the only part of the M0 that I might get occasional use out of.
The ability to be an assessor to Advanced level. Advanced level, never going to happen. I could pass the exam wiuth relative ease, but I am the first to admit the maths would let me down and I would not feel comfortable trying to teach something I do not understand myself. I would certainly not bullshit students about something I do not fully understand myself. I could of course have been an assessor to Intermediate level as an advanced, but as I am no no longer associated to any club by my own choice this will not be an option.

But I  personally do not think you get a lot out of 50 odd hours of study and a £40 exam that gives you nothing, but out of date information. According to this exam is seems radios with multi layer boards and surface mount components have never been invented and do not exist. I am quite sure they didn’t when this exam was originally devised, but they do now and this exam ignores there existence and is out of touch with reality. I personally  just can’t balance the books on this in my own mind.

Not to mention in recent years the emphasis has moved with radios from hardware to software and many of the newer radios are in fact SDR’s (Software defined  Radio’s) This advanced exam is rapidly lagging behind and is now of little use apart from historical interest. bt you have to pass this antiquated nonsens o be a full licence holder.

I still think in theory an advanced exam is a good idea, but the exam is now so out of date that it is laughable and some of he numpties I hear on the radio who are supposedly full licence holders have a hell of a lot less knowledge about the equipment they are using and radio in general than some of the brighter M6’s

Maybe if the exam wasn’t so damn antiquated and was more engaging things night be different. As it is, I look at a 1950’s exam which basically gives the student only the basic information to built a 1950’s classic radio. And I have to wonder who the hell this is aimed at? In the 1950’s I could have understood it, but not in the 21st century. Technology has moved on, this exam hasn’t. It is still firmly based in the steam age.

It is a fact the exam goes on about valves and there will be people out there who don’t even know what a valve is, because like it or not it is outdated technology. If you don’t believe me ask yourself how many valves do you suppose are in use on the Space station?

But to a degree I can understand this historical information to explain the dangers  if you are working on an old radio when you need to know the dangers involved with valves. But I do not agree that this exam qualifies you to go inside a radio and repair it.

Why  does the exam make no mention of multi layer boards, surface mount components, Ic’s or Ic synthesizers? or SDR’s,  Is it because they realize working with the modern equipment is beyond the scope of the average radio Amateur? Which it is. Off all the amateurs I know I only know one radio Amateur I would trust to deal with multi layer boards, re-flowing etc.

For example. If you have a faulty component in a sandwiched board on your radio. The average radio amateur can not replace it and is left with very few choices. Namely contact the manufacturer and ask if a new board is available, that does not cost more than the radio is worth. In my experience if they have a board it is usually more viable to buy a new radio. Or they can send the radio to the manufacture to have them repair it. They will probably just drop in a new board anyway. If they have one or charge for one to be made up. The other alternative is to throw the radio away and buy a new one.

Sadly rapidly it is becoming the latter option is the more common practice. This being the case it leaves me wondering why we need to know how to build a classic radio?

I accept some people want to get involved with electronics, but I think this should be a separate voluntary exam done on the same basis as the Morse exam. In other words you do not need this to become a full license operator. There is another advantage to this approach in as much those that want this course/exam  can study the subject much more in depth than can be covered with 12 question in the advanced exam.

What you do need is to know is the rules and the extra responsibility that is placed on a full license holder. The Licensing conditions, safety and a bit more about antennas. These are in my opinion the areas the exam should be concentrating on, not outdated technology.

They don’t exactly encourage people to see the course through either. It starts by giving info on the changed license conditions and then goes straight into using and scientific calculator, manipulating formulas and doing complex calculations. If you survive that, it then goes on about how the various components work and what they do.

Honestly who cares, providing they show you how to test components to find out if they are working or not, do you really need to know how it works to operate a radio. You can’t repair most  components anyway, so the old component can only be thrown away anyway, assuming you can remove them and source a new part.

You don’t need to know how a car works to drive. Why do we need to know how a radio works to operate it?

Truthfully though most people read the book and by the time they get to the as they call it basic electronics, (which includes the calculations and how components work,) they throw their hand in the air and give up. I nearly did as well. I admin maths is not my strong subject, but if yo are selective with the questions you answer yo do not have to be a maths genius. and yo can still pass the exam, bt I could not be bothered with it if truth be known.

I checked the syllabus before I did say stuff this, and found something interesting. You need 37 correct answers out of 62 to pass. The basic electronics carries 12 marks. So you do not even need it to pass your exam. About 13 marks will be in the licensing conditions which they give you at the exam, you just need to look them up. So there is still potential to pass without the basic electronics nonsense. That was what I was going to do, Totally ignore the basic electronics and after I had answered everything else I could go back and if necessary have a guess at the electronics questions.

I still do not think 12 questions proves you can repair a radio, or you are even safe to go inside a radio, especially as you can pass the exam without answering a single question from this section.

Interestingly I have heard from an RSGB rep during the foundation exam I was involved with recently that the pass rate for advanced is 46%. This is disputed and if you believe the RSGB figures the pass rate is much higher. The course I was on did have a 95% pass rate, but I guess how this is worked out will have a bearing on the score.

My real concern is though that a lot of youngsters will give up (I have to wonder if this places the future of amateur radio in jeopardy) and just use their mobile phone and ignore radio all together. I feel It is to much study, it is to expensive and gives limited benefits on passing the exam to my mind. Worse most people who have passed could not answer  a single question of the ones I asked on complex parts of the course.  Why? They have never needed to use the information the exam tests after the exam is over. and in a few years it is all forgotten completely.

As far as I can see a lot of people are ignoring the exam anyway. I was monitoring HF the other day and although this chap was a dork it illustrates my point perfectly. There was a M3 or an M6 on air  and he gave the usual information my name is, am at….He then went on to say “I am running about 100w into such and such antenna” an antenna with quite a lot of gain though, so he was putting out in excess of 100W. Stupid thing to say on air I grant you, but how many people are doing this and as the power is one of the main  draws of passing the exam for some folk, why would this m6/m3 bother with the exam.

I personally do think the exam is unfair as well, in as much as you go into every exam blind and have no idea what your strengths or weaknesses are, Yes I know you can contact the RSGB and they will tell you how many you got right and if you passed or failed. but this doesn’t help someone know their week point for the next exam  does it. I have been told you can request a breakdown but this was not mentioned when  my wife rang up enquiring if she had passed, or not.

I know there have been recent changes to the exam structure with the optical marking. but there are still fiddle factors in pay there and not all test centres are 100% honest. Unless every club is visited at the time of the exams, or has a student sitting in who is not what he or she appears to be, you will sill get sloppy passes.

I feel that it should be 2 exams, 1 voluntary in my opinion. It should also be cheaper and require less study.

I decided due to a lack of motivation not to take the exam, or finish the course. There was no benefit in it for me, and I think it is to expensive.

There is talk about reviewing this course/exam and I say not before time. But I will wait and see if A it actually happens and B is it any more relevant than it was.

My wife is now nagging me to pass the exam, but I still can’t find the motivation to get interested in this exam, as I feel it is a waste on my time, resources and money. So I wait to see what the revised course/exam is like if it ever happens before I decide if I am interested in having another look at this to me pointless out of date exam that seem to be an exam for the sake of an exam. Who among the younger generation actually needs this information? And the younger generation is the future of the hobby. Alienate them and the hobby will die out with the near future  generations.

That’s my five penny worth for what it is worth.