While you certainly don’t have to understand how your Technician examination is created or structured in order to pass it, insight into its construction from the question pool can help you focus your studies a bit and perhaps alleviate a little of the anxiety we all feel leading up to a test of our knowledge. The first thing to understand is that the 35 questions on your exam are not a true random selection from among the 423 questions in the Technician question pool, but rather a weighted random selection from that pool. Let’s take a look at just how a VE examination is derived, beginning with the structure of the question pool itself.
Who makes and maintains the question pool? The Technician level (AKA “Element 2”) question pool is created by a committee of FCC certified Volunteer Examiners (VEs). The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) maintains each question pool for all the US examinations. The question pools are revised every four years, and the new pools are typically released to the public about six months in advance of the date on which they become effective for examinations. At the time of this writing, the current question pool for Technician exams is effective July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2022.
How is the question pool structured? By FCC Part 97 regulations a question pool must contain at least ten times as many questions as appears on an exam. The entire Technician question pool is parsed into 10 topics, or subelements, designated T1 through T0 (T10). Each of the Technician subelements is comprised of up to 6 groups of questions designated ‘A’ to ‘F.’ Each group contains a set of questions numbered 01, 02, 03… and so on, with some groups containing more than 20 numbered questions. Each question is identified using this scheme, designating subelement, group, and question number. For example, the first subelement’s (T1) first group’s (A) first question (01) is designated T1A01. The last question in that group is T1A11, since that group contains 11 total questions in the current pool.
These question identifiers are placed throughout the HamRadioSchool.com Technician License Course book in the outer margins next to bold print that provides the answer to the identifier’s question. A page index for all such identifiers and the associated print that provides direct answers to every question is included at the end of the book for your convenience. But, to summarize this organization…
How are questions selected from the pool for an exam? In total there are 35 groups among the ten subelements. While the FCC rules require only that the number of questions drawn from any subelement equate to the number of groups within that subelement, in practice the exams are generated with one question selected randomly from each group. So, one question from each of the 35 groups produces a 35 question exam.
What are the question topics for each subelement and each group? The table that follows details the topics for each subelement and group, it indicates the number of questions in the pool for each, and it specifies the number of exam questions that are selected from each. The table will help you determine the number of different topic questions you will see on your exam, and it may influence how you focus your studies depending upon your comfort and background with the various topics.
So, rest easy in the knowledge provided by group T5B that follows! Only one question possible on decibels, and maybe none at all depending on the exam you draw. But subelement T1 indicates no less than six “rules & regs” questions, and some similar topics may be coded under T2’s four questions on “Operating Procedures.” And math prefixes? Well, you may encounter those decimal conversion problems in questions from groups T3B and T5B. Skim through the table and you’ll begin to see the method in the VE exam madness.
Good luck in your studies and on your Technician exam!
*Note: This table was valid at time of writing for 2018 – 2022 question pool organization. Some minor changes may occur for subsequent updates of the question pool after June 2022.