First look at the 2018 Element 2 (Technician class) question pool


It’s that time again! The new Element 2 question pool has been released by the NCVEC as of Jan 8 and the first errata was posted this morning, Jan 12, 2018. From past experience it’s likely that there will be additional revisions, but it’s uncommon to have major changes at this point.

So, let’s take a quick look at some of the high points of what has changed! For those who want to follow along at home, HamStudy.org has a full graphical diff that you can look at!

How much has changed in the pool

  • Removed questions: 62
  • New questions: 60
  • Updated questions: 62
  • Total questions in the old pool: 426
  • Total questions in the new pool: 424

As you can see, the pool size hasn’t changed much; there are two fewer questions in the new pool compared to the old.  One thing that the numbers don’t show is that a number of the “removed” and “new” questions are direct replacements which served to check the same knowledge as the previous question but were just different enough to not be considered the same question (for example the old T1D11 and new T1D06; nonetheless, there are some definite updates intended to help “modernize” the questions in the pool.

Notable changes by subelement

Most of the shape of the pool has stayed pretty consistent, but there are a few notable changes.  Let’s look at them by subelement:

Subelement T1: FCC Rules, descriptions, and definitions for the Amateur Radio Service, operator and station license responsibilities

Subelement T1 in the new pool is a bit smaller; 27 questions were removed with only 13 added. Here are some of the changes:

  • Several general definitions were removed, including the definitions of telemetry, telecommand, an amateur station, harmful interference, and the purpose of amateur radio.
  • We get some new definition questions for: a “beacon”, a “space station”,
  • The new T1A04 makes me wonder what prompted it: it clarifies that an individual can only have one license.
  • We have a clarifying question about “third party communications” now
  • The question about APRS digipeaters being automatically controlled that was added in the last pool has now been removed again
  • The armed forces day communication test question is gone =]
  • The RACES question was moved from T2C into T1A

Subelement T2Operating Procedures

Subelement T2 stayed pretty much the same size; 10 questions were removed and 11 added.

  • The 70cm calling frequency question was replaced with a 2m calling frequency question. Yay!
  • Most of the changes were in T2B; 5 questions were removed (relating to squelch, deviation, andmodulation) and replaced with 8 new questions which seem a bit more directly relevant to things a Technician license holder might be doing, such as “reverse split”, IRLP control, linked repeaters, bandplans, and — interestingly — use of digital repeaters.
    • Most interestingly, the digital repeaters look to me to be mostly aimed at DMR — one question specifically mentions it and another refers to “talk groups”.

Subelement T3 Radio wave characteristics: properties of radio waves; propagation modes

Subelement T3 stayed almost the same.  3 questions were removed and 4 added, all of them related to how specific frequencies are used.

Subelement T4 Amateur radio practices and station set-up

Subelement T4 changed only slightly more than T3 with 5 questions removed and 6 added.

  • All of the removed questions were in T4A and related to PTT wiring, regulated power supply use, harmonic emissions, TNC, and alternator whine.
  • The four new questions in T4A relate to effective power supply use and digital operation
  • T4B got two new questions about removing ignition noise and the purpose of the “scan” function on an FM transceiver

Subelement T5 Electrical principles: math for electronics; electronic principles; Ohm’s Law

Subelement T5 received a bit more love this time around; only 1 question was removed (and it was really replaced with a differently worded question) and 8 were added.

  • New questions were added about current and voltage division and the differences between parallel and series circuits
  • The one question which was “removed” (T5C07) was replaced with a new T5C07 which is simply worded differently with the same meaning.
  • Question T5C14 is now my new favorite “ridiculous” question, relating as it does to the proper capitalization of “MHz”. This is particularly amusing since one of the first typos corrected in this pool after the initial release was “T5B13-Distractor A; Typo change GHZ to GHz”

Subelement T6: Electrical components; circuit diagrams; component functions

Subelement T6 was nearly untouched with 3 questions removed and 2 added.

  • The questions about the electrodes of PNP, NPN, and FETs were removed
  • We got a new question about how transistors can produce gain in a PA
  • The question about schematics changed just enough to not consider it the same question, but it still serves the same purpose.  (see the old T6C01 and the new T6C01)

Subelement T7: Station equipment: common transmitter and receiver problems; antenna measurements; troubleshooting; basic repair and testing

Subelement T7 had 4 questions removed, 3 questions added.

  • The new T7C05 finally lets aspiring hams know that most modern (solid state) transceivers will automatically reduce power to protect against a high SWR
  • Nothing particularly stuck out to me about the changes here. Just incremental changes.

Subelement T8Modulation modes: amateur satellite operation; operating activities; non-voice and digital communications

Subelement T8 shows some concerted efforts focused on acknowledging the ongoing changes to digital modes. 8 questions have been removed, the subelement summary now has “and digital” tacked on, and all but one of the 11 new questions are directly related to some type of digital mode — and that one is about electronic keyers.

  • The inclusion of FT8 seems almost like they are trying too hard to show that it’s “current”.
  • There are some interestingly specific mentions in some of the new questions, such as Broadband-Hamnet(TM), DMR, FT8, WSJT, and Echolink. Granted, JT65 and IRLP have been in previous pools, though JT65 only as a distractor.

Subelement T9: Antennas and feed lines

Subelement T9 has the distinction of being the only subelement with no new questions added — though granted in the previous pool there were only 25 questions in T9.  The old T9A02 and T9A13 questions were removed.

Subelement T0: Electrical safety: AC and DC power circuits; antenna installation; RF hazards

Subelement T0 contains the only change in the pool which I really question the wisdom of; it has only a single question removed (and two added), but that question was T0A09: What kind of hazard is presented by a conventional 12-volt storage battery?

Given the way I’ve seen some 12V systems — particularly with solar installs — put in place, I’d have preferred to see this question either stay or updated with a better but similarly-themed question. It does make me wonder why the question was removed — the question which replaced it does not seem to be all that different nor is the section already overloaded (there are only 11 questions in the section, which is about average for the pool).

The other new question in T0 relates to tension guy line tunbuckle safety.

There you have it!

So there you have it! We may still see some changes, but this is probably about what we’ll be going with starting July 1, 2018. On the whole, I like the changes — they seem aimed at being more relevant, more current, and in some cases more geared towards helping new hams be aware of what is possible with the higher license classes.

Tell us in the comments what you think of the changes!

Edit: also, while we won’t put a link on the main hamstudy.org page to the new pool until May 1, you can start studying it now if you really want =]

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