In the 1960s, and through the 1980s, to have an Amateur Extra Class license really was something special. I can recall holding in genuine awe those with the top ticket.
To become an Amateur Extra was an honor, and it required at least a small degree of desire, self education, and dedication
Your time as a Novice didn't count.
Nowadays a written test is required for all classes of licenses, but in fact it is just a formality. You see, the entire set of test questions, including all of the correct answers are published by the FCC for anyone to see! Can you imagine if you could have taken every test in High School or College after you had looked over every possible question along with the answers?!
To qualify for the Amateur Extra, an applicant must demonstrate, in the presence of an FCC Examiner, the ability to Send and Receive Code at 20 WPM. To make it more difficult, the test criteria was solid copy for a full minute.
Did you notice that I said SEND and RECEIVE?
And for a Full minute of solid 100% correct copy?
In later years, the sending requirement was eliminated, and solid copy wasn't required either. The applicant was merely asked a few questions regarding the text sent - sometimes in multiple choice format!
Today, no Morse code is required at all for the Extra Class License other than the same 5 WPM that I took as a Novice.
In my humble opinion, it is a terrible shame to have eliminated the incentive licensing program.
The incentive for self improvement and education was additional spectrum in most of the Amateur bands.
Now, the extra spectrum once reserved for those that worked hard and achieved a higher level of knowledge and skill is being handed out to anyone capable of coughing up 10 bucks to sit for a "test". A "test" for which every question and answer is freely available. The result is that the Extra portions of the HF bands are populated with many licensees that have no knowledge, skill, courtesy, experience or a real love for the hobby.
About the only value I associate with my Amateur Extra ticket is the knowledge that I qualified back in the good old days when the privileges could only be earned and not bought.
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