FCC Amateur Radio Exam Info

To operate ham radio in the United States one needs to obtain a license by passing an exam. The below information and links will help you obtain this license. An amateur radio operator needs to be well versed with FCC Part 97 – Amateur Radio rules and regulations to pass this exam.

Exam Elements
There are 3 elements/levels to pass. Advancing each level will give your different privileges, power output, and access to band segments. Passing at least the Tech and General elements is suggested as this will give you the privilege to operate in HF frequencies.
Element 2 (Technician)
Element 3 (General)
Element 4 (Extra)
Results will be announced after the end of each element test session. Passed candidates can progress to the next element if they desire.

(FCC Part 97 rule) Anyone except a representative of a foreign government can become an amateur licensee in the USA. No minimum age requirement. No minimum educational requirement.

Required Documents

  • Photo ID
  • FCC FRN Number (See below for instructions)
  • FCC Application Fee: $35 (Paid Online on FCC website within 10 days of obtaining an FRN)
  • Exam Fee: $15 (If applicable. Sometimes is offered for free)
  • License class upgrade: Bring the original and a copy of your license or a valid CSCE

FCC FRN Number
A FCC FRN number is now mandatory and needs to be provided on the NCVEC 605 form by all candidates. This form is used at exam sessions when applicants are applying for a new or upgrade Amateur Radio license. The form can also be used to renew, update or modify a license. If you are a Foreign National, you will need a US-based address to register for an FRN. This address can belong to a family member or a friend. Make sure you take this number along with you to the examination.

FCC FRN Registration: https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp

Examination Pattern and Pass Score
The exam will consist of multiple-choice questions. In the test session, you will be given a question paper and a separate answer sheet. Results will be announced after the validation of each test element. If qualified, you will be allowed to take the next element.


Total question in the pool

Total questions on the exam

Min required to pass

Max allowed wrong answers

Resultant license

Element 2






Element 3






Element 4






Question Pools and Syllabus
You can find the syllabus and the weightage info at the beginning of each question pool document. Question pools can be downloaded from the below links.
Technician Class – valid until June 30, 2026
General Class – valid until June 30, 2023
Extra Class – valid until June 30, 2024

Study Notes & Practice Exams
The most popular website for flashcard style studying is Ham Study. They also have an app that you can use on the go. https://hamstudy.org

Another one similar to Ham Study is Ham Education. http://hameducation.org

Once you are confident take the practice test on Ham Education or at QRZ.com

KB6NU’s No-Nonsense Study Guides
A good friend and fellow ham, Dan Romanchik KB6NU has written some great study guides that you can download from his website: http://www.kb6nu.com/study-guides/

If you are in the Ann Arbor area and are more of a classroom type of person, Dan generally has one-day tech classes where he goes through the material and you immediately give the tech exam. He posts all these details on his website and also discusses a lot of amateur radio topics. So please do check out kb6nu.com

Issuance of CSCE
After the successful completion of the exam, the examinee will get their “Certificate of Successful Completion of the Exam”. Your license will arrive in the postal mail from FCC in 7-10 days to the address provided on the Application Form. Starting February 2015, FCC no longer issues paper licenses. You will need to download your copy of the license from the FCC ULS website or explicitly request them to send you paper updates.

Exam Sessions
COVID has changed the exam landscape a lot and there are many Clubs which now offer online exams as well as in-person exams. My suggestion is to find a local Club which is offering an exam and give the exam in-person. This will help you get to know other hams in the area. Also, it is strongly suggested that you join a local Club once you pass the exam.

To find the list of online exam sessions please visit: https://hamstudy.org/sessions

The ARRL also publishes a list of exam sessions: http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session

More Info

Amateur Radio Bands (Required for the exam)
Part 97 – Amateur Radio: Rules & Regulations
Ham Academy
ARRL Exam Practice
QRZ Exam Practice
KD0FNR Exam Practice
eHam.net Exam Practice
Technician Study Guide
Tech & General Exam Cram
Ham Radio Instructor
Study Aids For Visually Impaired
Paper Exam Generator

Tips and Thoughts

  • All question on the exam are from the pool and are multiple choice.
  • You have to pass each level/element to advance to the next.
  • You don’t have to pay a fee every time you advance to the next level during that particular test session.
  • If you are close to the passing mark, the VE team generally allows you give the exam again but with a different question set.
  • It is easy to pass Element 2 (Technician) and Element 3 (General) in one sitting.
  • I would suggest using the Ham Education website to practice for the exams.
  • On the day of the exam carry cash/cheque, a calculator and a photo ID (Driver’s License or Passport).
  • If you are planning to give the Extra class exam, contact me for more tips and info.
Last Updated: May 25, 2023 at 1510 UTC.
Adapted from https://sites.google.com/site/ab9usvu2ipl/

Leave a Reply