Morse Code Proficiency Exams


While Morse Code is no longer required for amateur radio licensing in the United States, many operators 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 relocation.  Aurora ARG VE Program offers examinations to prove proficiency in the Morse code at various speeds.

Sec. A. - Morse Code 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: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they take become certified at the speed required for the country they are to operate.  They should check with the country they are planning to operate in for their requirements.  Most require the operator to be able to send and copy 10 or 12 words per minute.  To become a Morse Code Examiner with our VE Program, you must pass an exam with proficiency to send and copy at 15 words per minute.
    b. The applicant 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 applicant 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 applicant 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. - Morse Code 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 applicants 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, an applicant can correct an error by sending eight (8) dits in rapid sequence.
    d. To pass, the operator must receive a final mark of 80 percent on the copying evaluation and 80 percent on the sending evaluation.

Sec. C. - Morse Code 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, 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.  If the Examiner does not have proof of proficiency at 15 words per minute, we will gladly administer an exam to ensure competency.
    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 this document 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 an applicant is interested in taking a Morse Code proficiency examination, they are instructed to contact the Chairman of our VE Program for more information and to setup an exam.  As of this printing, there is no fee to take the Morse Code proficiency examination.