HARCE Policies

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HARCE is directly responsible to the ARRL VEC (and to the FCC, as are we all).

Several HARCE team policies need to be stated explicitly.


Accommodations (Handicap and Disability)

The Amateur Radio Service and the ARRL/VEC take great pride in being able to provide examination services to license candidates with virtually any kind of disability.  Candidates who require any special accommodations due to a handicap or disability should pre-register several weeks prior to the exam in order for us to prepare for the accommodation.  We may not be able to accommodate walk-in (non-pre-registered) candidates with special requirements.

The Blair County 911 and Emergency Operations Center, 615 Fourth Street, Altoona is wheelchair accessible.


VE's accredited by VEC's other than the ARRL/VEC are permitted to join and serve with HARCE; however, accreditation with the ARRL/VEC is recommended since we follow the policies, procedures, and regulations of this VEC.  The assistance of "walk-on" VE's without prior arrangements (and verification of credentials) cannot be accepted.

Answer Sheets

We ask that your answers on the exam answer form be indicated by covering the selected letter with a completely filled-in circular black mark.  Our VE's have complained that answer selections indicated by open circles, "x" marks, or slash marks are very hard to grade and may result in grading errors.  Answer sheets with answer selections which are not completely blacked in will be returned to the candidate for proper completion before they are graded.


The use of programmable calculators will not be permitted unless the candidate can demonstrate that the calculator memory has been cleared of any formulas and constants.  Otherwise, the use of advanced, scientific calculators is permitted.  In fact, we have several HP calculators available for candidate use during exams.

Because of the variety and complexity of calculators available, examiners cannot be expected to teach you how to use your calculator.

Code Tests

The 5 WPM Morse code requirement officially disappeared from the Amateur Radio Service Part 97 rules on Friday, February 23, 2007.

Applicants for a General or Amateur Extra class Amateur Radio license no longer have to demonstrate proficiency in Morse code.  They just have to pass the applicable written examination.


No VE may divulge any confidential information regarding any candidate or his/her performance on an exam.  This includes the identity of the candidate, the exam score, and details of the examination process.  The only information to be publicly disclosed after an exam session is an activity report which states the number of candidates and the number of upgrades for each license class.  Unless permission is granted, a successful candidate's name, call sign, and new license class will be announced only after the candidate's license grant appears on the FCC public database.

Grandfather Credit

Candidates claiming element credits for old and/or expired licenses must provide legible documentation and copies to prove the validity (date and license class) of such claims.

It is the responsibility of the examinee to provide all of the documentation required to support any claim for grandfather credit prior to an examination session.

No grandfather credit can be accepted unless the candidate holds a Technician license or has current Element 2 exam credit.  Candidates can claim grandfather credit if they once held a Novice or Technician license.

Per FCC rules, holding an expired General, Advanced, or Extra class license affords no credit based on holding the higher class license; credit may be afforded based on holding an earlier Novice or Technician license.

Host & Sponsor Regulations

In addition to FCC and ARRL/VEC regulations, we will obey any regulations imposed by the host and sponsoring organizations with regards to using their facilities for the exam session.  These site rules usually involve safety, security, or liability concerns.

Examples of such rules and where they might apply include:

No food or drink                 (in auditoriums and conference rooms)
No alcoholic beverages      (in most public buildings)
No cell phones or radios    (in medical facilities)
No pets                               (in most public buildings)
No weapons                       (in schools and courthouses)
No smoking                        (just about everywhere)

It is the responsibility of the host and sponsor to publicly display notice of their site-specific regulations.

The Blair County 911 and Emergency Operations Center is a secure building which includes offices for district judges and municipal courtrooms; entrances are posted with a strict no weapons policy.


Membership and activity with HARCE will in no way be restricted due to membership or activity in any amateur radio club or affiliation with any other VE team.


ALL persons in the examination room will be directed to disable any source of noise.  Radios, scanners, cell-phones, pagers, PDAs, memo-minders, and chiming watches must be turned OFF

Personal Entertainment Devices

To avoid any possible suspicion of cheating during the exam or possibly distracting other candidates, the use of personal entertainment devices (including, but not limited to, CD/DVD players, MP3 players, digital media players, cell phones, Bluetooth devices) cannot be allowed during the exam session.


The exam team respects your privacy.  Personal information is not divulged to third-party agencies and organizations except those directly involved with obtaining your license or license upgrade.  While your name, address, call sign, license class, grant date, expiration date, License Number, and FCC Registration Number are public knowledge on the FCC's license database, your Social Security Number, Taxpayer Identification Number, Driver's License Number, birthday, weight, gender, and method of payment are not even recorded by the exam team.  We do not keep a copy of your Form 605.


Whether or not to permit a candidate who fails an exam element to take the exam again is subject to the consensus of the VE's.  Generally they will permit a re-test only if the candidate scored close to a passing grade and if time permits.  A second version of the exam must be available.  The candidate pays the exam fee again.

Time Limits

In general, there are no time limits placed on taking any exam element.  Candidates can relax and concentrate on answering each question without the additional pressure of finishing by a specified time.  Our experience is that all candidates need less than 60 minutes to complete an exam element, and many require only around 30 minutes.  The VE's will not permit a candidate to start an exam element if they feel that there is insufficient time to take the test, grade it, document the results, and issue any certificates.  Our time for the exam session may be limited by the scheduled reservation for the exam site, availability of VE's, etc.

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