ZS6EZ's DX Scoring System

Last updated: 2010-10-22

Notice: © 1994 to 2010, Chris R. Burger. This document may be reproduced as required for personal use, and may be freely referenced from other Web sites. However, publication elsewhere requires prior express written permission from the author.

The Scoring Model

Over the years, I've toyed with various mathematical models to try to objectively assess DXCC scores. Clearly, the more countries you have, the more difficult it becomes to add new countries. A scoring system must reflect this increase in difficulty.

Anyone who has studied exponential growth models understands the concept of a half life. Populations of animals, plants and even germs follow the rules of exponential growth.

It is even possible that DXCC scores follow a similar trend. My own experience on different bands and modes was used to test various models, and the results are not far from the truth.

Based on these tests, I include a table below, proposing a mark out of ten for different DXCC scores. You can use this scale to assess the merits of your own DX achievements, or the scores of other stations in the various DX tables based on DXCC entities.

The bottom line is (assuming 340 DXCC entities):

Score/10 DXCC Entities

DXCC Honour Roll entry level represents a score of five out of ten--exactly half way to the top! Working the remaining nine countries takes as much effort as it took to get to the entry level in the first place.

Looking back at your DXing career, you'll probably notice that moving up the scale by one step takes roughly an equal amount of effort (and time), regardless of where you are on the scale.

Southern African Achievements

The Southern African Band Countries Survey provides a good basis on which to base an assessment of DXCC scores. Apart from the current Top Six on every band, there are also more-or-less annual records going back to 1996, when the Survey was first published.

You'll notice that South Africans are pathetic underachievers when it comes to single-band DXing. You may feel that I'm being harsh, but even the top scorer (ZS6YQ on 14 MHz) had a score of only 7/10 at his peak. Since his death, his score has decayed to 5/10. Even at his best, he still had roughly half as much work left as he'd already put in! Only ten of the sixty scores listed break the 3/10 barrier. The good news is: If you can reach a score of 3/10 on any band, you're guaranteed a slot in the Top Six!

In mitigation, I'm often told that South Africa is a terrible location, with QRN during the prime low band DXing seasons, and with a huge disadvantage when trying to work stations beaming into the major population centres. I contend that these disadvantages are not seriously limiting yet, as the top stations can demonstrably make relatively rapid progress. If we were truly approaching the limits of what's possible from this part of the world, the leading stations would be stuck at their current levels, unable to move. The reality is that all leading stations improved their scores by at least one point within a decade after the survey was first published in 1994. There's definitely ample room for improvement.

In 2001, I predicted: 28 MHz will see scores of more than 300 before the end of 2001, with a corresponding increase in entry level to over 260. The prediction almost came true. At the end of 2001, the top score was 300 and the entry level 259. I now (2010-10) stick out my neck and make another forecast: By 2015, the entry level on 28 MHz will be at least 275. Let's see if we can make it happen!

You might also want to take a look at the ARRL's DXCC list or even the extract of South African DXCC members to provide you with an opportunity to use this scoring tool, and to compare your achievements to those of others.

Note to Nerds

For the engineers and mathematicians among you, the table was obtained by assuming that around 70 countries will be worked more or less automatically as you go along. For the remaining countries, a restricted exponential growth model applies.

For those that are not nerds, I once wrote an article that normal people could probably understand to explain the methodology. I might even publish the article some day, if there proves to be enough interest. But, given that a decade has passed since I published these words and no-one has ever asked, it appears there is no interest. I assume the nerds understand this stuff already, and the rest couldn't care...

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