Thoughts on digital testing instead of paper tests

Curious what thoughts are on digital testing versus paper testing. Specifically interested in what @wa1gon has to say on this topic.

I know traditionally BCRO has used the ARRL test booklets, in fact, it’s what I took my tech exam on, but has anyone ever considered using any digital testing tools? For example, popular study site HamStudy.org has a sister site ExamTools.org. Exam tools offers proctored (in room) VEC testing by way of a web browser. I’ve done a little digging into the site, but I’m not familiar enough with the testing process to understand if this is a valid alternative to paper testing.

I just look at ExamTools.org and they talk about VE monitoring web best test, but I think it is a practice test as there is no way to validate the person is who they claim to be.

I guess having a computer-based in the room test work, but I don't see much gain over paper test and would be a lot of for the VEs.

As far as the practice tests, I highly recommend them. The best one is the ones that identify your weakness and drill you on them. Such as hamexam.org and others.

There are currently 3 VE exams in NW Arkansas, so the next exam close is at most 2 weeks away and most likely less than a week away.

Interesting. I could have sworn that the software was designed for actual test taking but maybe not.

I did some more research and there are 14 VEC and the only one offers remote testing and that was on a case by case basis. This VEC is in Alaska and only test residence of Alaska. Even then there has to be a qualified proctor and many other requirements.

Interestingly that of the 14 VECs only 3 seems to be more than a local or small region. Those 3 are ARRL, Laurel VEC, and W5YI.

I think most hams (including me) would be outraged if it could be done online.

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I definitely wouldn’t suggest test taking online. Just thought if the tool could be used to give exams with cheap little $150 Chromebooks on site thought it might be worth looking into.

I have not looked into this much yet, but I thought the tests were still taken in person but with the form being completed digitally the submission was instant once verified as passing. That would speed the turnaround for getting license assignments if so.

I do fully agree that true independent online testing would be a bad idea.

Daryl, I think maybe there could be computer testing with human verification before the test. I took computer A+ tests in that kind of environment. Computers would have to be set up each time. Since we don’t have a permanent location they would have to be set up and taken down each time.

Does the Rogers Library have a computer lab that we might be able to utilize IF this pans out as an option?

The Rogers Library has some “public” computers but they are in locations that may not lend to an activity like this. They are in the public area near the main “hallway” down the middle of the Library.

Being in the technology world, I am all for automating things. That said, I don’t see paper ham radio testing as a problem. I know people want stuff faster, but so far paper testing doesn’t take very long. Considering BCRO’s treasury, I would not be in favor of the club spending any money on chromebooks for computerized testing, when the current process isn’t broken. The end result would just speed up getting a license by several days.

What is BCRO’s official relationship with Larry Bilderbeck and his testing at the Rogers Library?

I was under the impression that BCRO was staffing the testing. If that is not the case we may not need to worry about the method used.

You are correct about the paper tests not being a problem, but it would be nice to embrace new options as they become available. If the club is offering testing I would think we would want to provide the most convenient method with the fastest turnaround.

By the way, Welcome to the forums Wayne!

We should discuss this with Larry then, since he coordinates the testing.

Consider me dead set against it until the Earth has exhausted its resources of wood for paper, and graphite for #2 pencils. Given the briefness of the tests, even the Extra Class Exam is quite short, adding the complexity of the computers and the obvious logistics is troublesome , I say leave the nostalgic romance of the test alone until a change of methods is absolutely required… Please excuse me I must return to my cave and duct tape some antlers on my dog and prepare my sled to steal Christmas 2021… Grinch Out ( apply mic. drop here )

Larry is the VE lead for the VE team that is sponsored by BCRO and has been for several years. He does a great job and I am not going to try to micro-manage him on this. I think it would be more work for the VEs.

I do plan on talking to Larry to see if he would be willing to switch to Laurel VEC, but that is totally up to him.