While Morse Code is no longer required for amateur radio licensing in the United States, many have asked about getting some sort of proof showing proficiency in international Morse Code for the purposes of overseas operating, whether it be temporary or in lieu of relocating as an immigrant.
Through an approval from the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), we are the first VEC in the country to offer international Morse Code examinations to meet requirements in any country that is under agreement with CEPT. Anchorage ARC VEC offers examinations to prove proficiency and the following policy applies:
Sec. A. – Requirements.
To receive certification attesting an operator’s proficiency in Morse code, the following criteria must be met:
a. The operator must pass an examination that demonstrates their capability to send and copy at 5, 7, 10 or 12 words per minute. NOTE: Check with the country you are planning to operate in for their requirements if the exam is for going overseas. Most require a person be able to send and copy 10 or 12 words per minute.
b. The candidate must correctly send, by hand, a plain-language text provided by the examiner team, in international Morse code, for a minimum of three (3) consecutive minutes, at a speed of not less than 5, 7, 10, or 12 words per minute as appropriate for the certification being attempted, using an ordinary radiotelegraph key, a semi-automatic key or an electronic hand key.
c. The candidate must correctly receive, by ear, a plain-language text provided by the examiner team, in international Morse code, for a minimum of three (3) consecutive minutes, at a speed of not less than 5, 7, 10, or 12 words per minute as appropriate for the certification being attempted, copying legibly by hand, typewriter or word processor.
d. A Morse code “word” consists of five characters based on the Paris method. The letters A through Z are counted as one (1) character each, and figures and punctuation marks are counted as two (2) characters each.
e. Examinations for Morse code proficiency shall contain the following: Letters A through Z, numbers 0 through 9, the period, comma, question mark, the slant bar (i.e. – “/”), commonly used “Q-Signals”, and commonly used prosigns such as “BT”, “AR”, “SK” and “EE”.
f. The examination given for copying international Morse code can be administered by hand, cassette tape, or computer generated code. Timing and length of text must be closely observed.
g. On the Copying Proficiency Examination, Morse code shall be sent using the Farnsworth method with a character speed of 12 WPM and a word speed of 5, 7, 10, or 12 WPM as appropriate for the examination.
h. On the Sending Proficiency Examination, the speed of the characters sent by the candidate is immaterial, so long as the necessary number of characters is sent within the three (3) minute examination period. At 5 WPM, 75 characters shall be sent; at 7 WPM, 105 characters shall be sent; at 10 WPM, 150 characters shall be sent; and at 12 WPM, 180 characters shall be sent. Failure to send the necessary number of characters as indicated shall constitute a failure of the sending examination.
i. Operators seeking international Morse code certification for an amateur radio operator license issued by a foreign authority must be in possession of a valid license in their home country prior to an examination being administered.
Sec. B. – Grading Structure.
Grading examinations for Morse code proficiency shall be graded by the following method:
a. Examiners shall allow three (3) minutes at the end of the receiving test for candidates to review their copy and make any changes or corrections, if necessary.
b. Each character missed on the sending and receiving evaluations shall reduce the final score by the following percentage points:
1.) 5 WPM – 1.33%,
2.) 7 WPM – 0.95%,
3.) 10 WPM – 0.67%, and
4.) 12 WPM – 0.56%
Therefore, the number of characters missed on each examination shall not exceed::
1.) 5 WPM – 15,
2.) 7 WPM – 21,
3.) 10 WPM – 30, and
4.) 12 WPM – 36.
c. On the Sending Proficiency Examination, a candidate can correct an error by sending eight (8) dits in rapid sequence.
d. To pass, the operator must receive a final mark of 80 per cent on the copying evaluation and 80 per cent on the sending evaluation.
Sec. C. – Certification.
Certifying results for international Morse code examinations must follow the following guidelines:
a. Certification of results for examinations shall follow the certifying structure that is used in the licensee’s home country for administering amateur radio operator licenses.
b. To administer an amateur radio operator license examination in the licensee’s home country, only ONE examiner must be proficient in international Morse code.
c. The examiner who is claiming proficiency must be capable of sending and copying at least 15 words per minute.
d. Results for international Morse code proficiency are valid for five (5) calendar years from the date of issue if the bearer does not hold a valid amateur radio operator license. If a licensed amateur radio operator in the United States is to use this certification for international operating where Morse code is still required, expiration of the certificate shall run concurrent with the bearer’s amateur radio operator license grant that has been issued by the Federal Communications Commission, and shall hold no additional operating privileges.
If a candidate is interested in taking a Morse Code proficiency examination, they are instructed to contact the VEC Chairman for more information and to setup an exam. As of this time, there is no fee to take the Morse Code proficiency examination. If such a fee is imposed, the VEC Chairman will make an announcement on the Anchorage ARC web site in the form of a blog post.