Exam Prep Support System

EPSS is a Microsoft Windows-based application. You will need a tablet, net book, or laptop running Microsoft Windows to use EPSS.

The purpose of the Exam Prep Support System (EPSS) is to facilitate license exam prep sessions and to supplement license exam classes. By itself, EPSS is not sufficient to conduct a license exam class. No theory or explanations are provided in EPSS. However, EPSS can be used to verify that a candidate is ready to take an FCC amateur radio license exam. EPSS is portable and can be run from a USB flash drive.

EPSS is designed to be used with a video projector or large screen A/V unit. Flashcards, subelement tests, and sample license exams are displayed on a screen. Blank subelement test, special test, and sample license exam answer sheets are provided for candidates to record their answers. At the end of tests and sample exams, question numbers and correct answers are displayed.

Let candidates grade their own tests and sample exams by marking only the incorrect answers in the spaces provided on the answer sheets. This will save time and facilitate grading.

EPSS provides topic/subelement flashcards, subelement tests and sample license exams based on the NCVEC syllabuses for the Technician, General, and Amateur Extra license exams.

EPSS also provides a special flashcard and test facility (SFTF) that enables instructors to supply their own lists of question numbers. The purpose of SFTF is to allow instructors to generate flashcards and tests using the question numbers referenced in their instructional material.

 Flashcard Facility (FCF)

The flashcard facility generates topic or subelement flashcards using the NCVEC syllabus structure for the Technician, General, and Amateur Extra question pools. There are a number of options available.

fcfTopic/Subelement Test & Sample Exam Facility (TEF)

The topic/subelement test & sample exam facility generates topic /subelement tests, and sample license exams as structured in the NCVEC syllabuses. Questions and answer choices can be shuffled. There are a number of options available.

Use the facility to determine a candidate’s grasp of topic and subelement questions and to determine if a candidate is ready to take an FCC amateur radio license exam. The safe score on sample exams is 85.

tefSpecial Flashcard and Test Facility (SFTF)

The purpose of STFT is to enable instructors to generate flashcards and tests by supplying collections of question numbers organized the way they are presented in instructional material. The FCF and TEF facilities discussed earlier are based on the NCVEC supplied syllabuses (topics & subelements). SFTF allows an instructor to organize instructional material as desired and generate flashcards and tests as needed to supplement the instructional material. Individual text files containing the question numbers used in the instructional material are created and saved with file names to facilitate later use. To generate flashcards and tests using the saved question numbers, either select the file input option and enter the file name containing the questions to be used, or open the file with an editor and copy/paste the question numbers into the form provided with SFTF.

TIP: The file input option is the quickest and easiest way to enter question numbers into SFTF.  Create a text file containing the file names of the files containing question numbers of interest one per line. When using the file input option, open the file containing the file names with an editor and copy/paste the appropriate file name into the file name space provided with SFTF.

Example: Suppose there are (3) groups of questions associated with (3) lectures you are going to conduct. Create (3) separate files containing the question numbers associated with each lecture. Save each question number file using file names such as lecture-1-qnos.txt, lecture-2-qnos.txt, and lecture-3-qnos.txt in directory Data that is included with EPSS.  Create another file named something like lecture-qno-fnames.txt and store the file names of the three question number files in it. To use the file input option of SFTF, open the file names file and copy/paste the file name of the appropriate question number file  into the SFTF file name area.

SFTF allows you to supply a title as well as print test and exam answers. You can supply a title in the first record of a question number file. The format for a stored title is shown below. The keyword TITLE must be entered in columns 1-5. The title text begins in column 7. Keep titles as short as possible. If a title is entered in the space provided in the SFTF input form, it will override the title stored in the question number file.

 Stored Title Format


To print, right click the mouse button and a print icon will be displayed. Click the icon to print. If you install a free PDF writer like CutePDF, you can save test and exam answers to your hard drive in PDF format.  This will save the answers in case you inadvertently close the answer display window.  Candidates may also want a copy of  test and exam answers to compare against their paper answer sheets for study purposes. You can make the PDF files available online or Email copies to candidates. If you supply a test title, you won’t have to fill in the identifying information requested in the printer setup page. The title you supply will be displayed on the screen and included in the PDF document. You should pick file names for the PDF documents that link them to the sequence numbers entered on the paper answer sheets. This will enable you to easily locate PDF files. Candidates should record test/exam sequence numbers in the space provided at the lower left corner of answer sheets. This will provide the information necessary to associate paper answer sheets with the saved PDF documents.

Example: You administer (3) special tests associated with a lecture on amateur radio antennas. The generated header will indicate what license was selected (Technician, General, Amateur Extra) and the title you supply should be something like “Radio Antennas”. Save the PDF documents with file names that indicate the sequence number of each test (1-3). The file name could look something like antenna-test-2.pdf for the second special test. Candidates should enter 2 in the test number space provided at the bottom left of the special test answer sheets. If you are going to spend more than one day on the same material and administer multiple tests on different days, include the date in the file names. The file names would look something like antenna-test-2-07-15-2014.pdf. The answer sheets have a space for the date at the top right.


If you are using ARRL, W5YI, or other license instruction material including your own, you can create files containing the questions numbers referenced in the instructional material (lectures, sections, chapters, etc.) and use SFTF to support your class sessions.

TIP: Use the NC4FB online question pool search & test facility to identify question numbers of interest. For example, if you are lecturing on Smith diagrams associated with the Amateur Extra exam, you can use the facility at the link below to list all the question numbers associated with questions containing the word smith. Copy/paste the question numbers into a question number file for later use with SFTF.

online question pool search & test facility

If you are familiar with regular expressions or have a software tool that can extract question numbers from machine-readable text, you can easily create question number files from your instructional material.

If you want to use SFTF and need assistance in extracting question numbers from the text of your instructional material, Email me.


Subelement test, special test, and sample exam answer sheets in PDF

Printable subelement test, special test, and sample answer sheets are included with the EPSS system. Print as many copies as needed. Consider using both sides of the paper.

NOTE: At the bottom left corner of test and exam answer sheets, a space has been provided to record the test or exam number.

Prep session time budget

Be sure to establish a realistic time budget for your prep session. Set the display persistence (seconds) based on the content to be displayed. Allow more time for highly technical material (i.e. Amateur Extra subelement 7). Multiply the number of flashcard, subelement test, and sample exam questions by the display persistence (seconds) allowed for each type of display. Add up the seconds and divide by 3600 to get the number of hours required. Allow additional time for breaks, test/exam grading, and unexpected delays. Be sure to do a “dry run” to verify the time budget before the exam prep session.

Other Uses

The flashcard facility (FCF) has an option to repeat a set of flashcards a specified number of times.  The flashcards will be shuffled and randomly displayed each time. There is also an option to display an entire question pool.  You can use the repeat option to display flashcards before the start of an amateur radio club meeting or at an amateur radio event to help candidates prepare for their license exams.

Download EPSS

Download EPSS from the link below.  Unzip the file and double click the epss.exe file to start EPSS.  If you are running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you may receive a warning.  Ignore the warning and continue.  EPSS will create a small file to store user preferences. Printable answer sheets are included in PDF format.

TIP:  If you need to prematurely terminate an EPSS function and return to the main menu, click the small navigate icon on the top left and select back.


Email comments, suggestions, and report errors to nc4fb@nc.rr.com.

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