Well I passed the full licence exam a couple of weeks ago now. The RSGB were particularly quick with things as Ofcom knew the Tuesday after my Friday exam, meaning I could chose a callsign, and the pass certificate arrived from the RSGB in the post the next day.
Here are a few notes while I remember in case they are useful to anyone. YMMV of course and different things work for different people, you need to do what works for you.
As you should know by now you need two cameras, the one on the laptop (or attached to a PC if that’s what you use) showing your face, plus another off to the side looking across. I used a MacBook and an iPhone as second camera. Positioning the phone was something I had thought out but got wrong on the day. I borrowed a phone stand for this but it proved impossible to get the angle right. This second camera needs to look across at you and the keyboard and screen and I ended up propping the phone against the stand having placed the stand on its side. It only fell over once which made me jump as I was deeply concentrating!
The Internet proved a bit of an issue as well due to some pauses. What would have helped was for me to make two WebEx calls to a friend to see what issues there might be. Also, having thought it through putting the phone on 4G could have made a difference, but there is only on bar of 4G in the room I was using. Anyway, I dashed out before the start of the test and grabbed a long Ethernet cable and plugged the MacBook in but there were still some short pauses, fortunately not sufficient to worry the invigilator.
Being mid-afternoon and approaching dusk I closed the curtains and put the lights on, put a sign on the door saying ‘keep out’, had two calculators (just in case), a table light, both the Mac and phone on charge, and a glass of water and two cough sweets. But that’s just me! However, I think it worth considering your environment – a view out to the street might be distracting, as might the sun if it tracks across and ends up in your eyes.
The TestReach software works well. You log in with the supplied credentials and can run through a demonstration beforehand. Do so, it shows you what to press etc. For the exam we started a WebEx conference 5 minutes beforehand and I used the phone to sweep the room. The invigilator then gave me the code to get into the test and I was away. I took time on each question, answered the ones I was sure of, and put an answer for and marked for review those I was not so sure about or didn’t know. Doing this meant that had I run out of time there would at least be an answer. I ended up flagging about 40%! Of those, I changed the answer on about 5 of them. In any event I passed, thankfully.
At the end of the test you have the option to download a PDF of the scores per section. You do not see the questions or answers but the sections and score. I had a few zeroes, areas I need to swot up on for the fact that, really I should know and I want to carry on learning. I did forget about this PDF of course, but I managed to log in again afterwards and download it.
Sources of advice were most welcome including the club I am a member of who held a few Q&A sessions on random test questions, and the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fullradiolicense. I took some advice and did the two RSGB mock tests in the morning of the exam. I passed test 1 and failed test2! Anyway, I then dived into the manual cramming up on all the questions I got wrong. As others mentioned it did seem to me that the RSGB mock questions are actually harder than the real ones, but that is rather subjective.
Oh yes and if you are not a member of the RSGB do consider joining. I have been a member since 1975, in fact back then I joined as an associate because I was under 18. Yes you have to pay for the exam but do remember someone has given their time to sit and invigilate you for as long as it takes. And in my case I finished with just 20 minutes to spare.
So what now? For me, passing the full exam isn’t about extra power – for starters I’d set the roof alight as all the antennas are in the loft, and I can get most places on the 30W max that the YT1200 allows on digimodes. No, it’s two things, it’s the end of the journey (and the beginning of another) to a ‘final’ callsign that I can eventually work into a decent QSL card, and it’s the ability now to use the radios abroad, either under the CEPT agreement or a reciprocal or some other agreement. That last point is, sadly rather moot these days but hopefully we will be able to travel when things get better.