Before the Morse code requirement was done away with, Morse code testing was done through the Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) system. Before that, the testing was done at a FCC test station. While I never tested at a FCC test station, I did take the 13 and 20 WPM test administered by a Volunteer Examiner (VE). The test was simply one side of a simulated QSO that lasted about 5 minutes. It included the senders call sign, the receivers call sign, a RST report, a name, a QTH, rig/antenna, and then some trivia. All the usual stuff that is part of normal QSO.

The person taking the test would transcribed what he/she heard on to the provided sheet of paper. Once the test was complete, the VE passed out a 10 question, multiple choice, test sheet. You were expected to select the correct responses based on the information you just copied. Your copy could be pretty sketchy and you could still answer many of the questions.

Once all of your paper work was handed in, the copy sheets were checked for "solid copy". "Solid copy" meant that, your copy sheet had one full minute of transcribed code, where all the characters were correct. A minute of "solid copy" meant 65 characters, without error, at 13 WPM, and 100 characters at 20 WPM. "Solid copy" was easier with the 13 WPM test, but was still very possible with the 20 WPM test. It just depended on how prepared you were. I passed both the 13 and 20 WPM Morse tests with "solid copy".

If there was not enough characters for "solid copy", the 10 question test was checked. You only needed to get 7 out of 10 answers correct. This helped a lot of hams that were border line at the speed they were testing.

My Learning Method

The method I used to increase my code speed is pretty simple. I started out by creating a series of "simulated QSOs" using a utility called Morse Academy. I then used WAVGEN to convert the audio files into WAV and mp3 format. Overall I created 10 "simulated QSOs" for 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, and 27 Words Per Minute (WPM).

With each "simulated QSO" there is an associated .key and .tst file. The .key file is a transcript of the "simulated QSO" and the .tst file is an example test. I then converted the .key and .tst file to a HTML file for inclusion in the test area below. The HTML files can also be use with a browser.

I then created a cassette tape with several "simulated QSOs", at a speed that I felt comfortable with, like 11 WPM. I would then listen to the tape two, or three, times a day for about 15 minutes. I would copy down the code and then check it against a text transcript. Once I was copying the tests at about 90 percent, I would create a new tape with "simulated QSOs" that were 2 WPM faster. That doesn't sound like a big increase, but it is. At first you feel like you have been struck dumb. But after a day or two of listening, it doesn't seem so bad. A few more days and your ready for another speed increase.

I would continue with this method until I reached the speed I wanted. For me, that was 25 WPM. Once I was copying the tapes at 25 WPM, I knew I could pass the 20 WPM Morse Code test for Amateur Extra, and did.

Note: This is not the method I used to initially learn the Morse Code characters. This is only the method I used to increase my receiving speed, so that I would pass the required Morse Code tests. As far as I am concerned, it doesn't make any difference how you initially learn the Morse Code characters. What ever method works for you, is the correct method. Please don't email me arguing about which learning method is better than another.

Morse Code Tests

This section provides access to 120 pre-recorded WAV files. Each WAV file is a different simulated QSO. There are 10 each at 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, and 27 Words Per Minute (WPM)..

Each simulated QSO is about 5 minutes in length. The 5, 7, 9, and 11 WPM tests are the shortest and only contain some basic information. But as the test speed increases, so does the amount of information in the test. To allow you to prepare, each one starts with a string of Vs ( V V V   V V V ). That helps you get your tempo started.

In the areas below, select the speed you would like to work at and the test number. A audio player will then be loaded with the file that matches your selection. Press the play button when you are ready to start copying.

To check your work, click on the "Show the Text" button. The text for the test you selected will be shown in the small window below. Just use the scroll bar at the bottom to view the entire message. The top part is the answer key for a test that you might have seen when Morse testing was part of the license test. At the bottom is the actual text of the text, with important information highlighted.

Note: Each time you select a new speed or test number, or simply refresh your browser, the window will be cleared.

Select CW Speed:
05 07 09 11
13 15 17 19
21 23 25 27
Select CW Test:
0 1 2 3
4 5 6 7
8 9
Speed: 5, QSO# 1
Code Test Downloads

There are 12 ZIP files available for download. Each ZIP file contains 10 code tests at the speed indicated by the name. There are three files for each of the 10 code tests. A ".mp3" and ".WAV" audio file and a self contained ".html" file that contains the text from the test. The ".mp3" files can be loaded onto any MP3 player or they all can be loaded onto a CD or DVD for playback on any system. Each ZIP file will expand to between 40 and 60 MBytes.

Test Size: approx. Test Size: approx. Test Size: approx.
5 WPM Code Tests 22.6 MB 7 WPM Code Tests 17.6 MB 9 WPM Code Tests 15.9 MB
11 WPM Code Tests 13.2 MB 13 WPM Code Tests 19.6 MB 15 WPM Code Tests 13.2 MB
17 WPM Code Tests 15.6 MB 19 WPM Code Tests 14.3 MB 21 WPM Code Tests 14.2 MB
23 WPM Code Tests 18.1 MB 25 WPM Code Tests 17.6 MB 27 WPM Code Tests 16.3 MB