Years ago, in order to pass your Amateur Radio License examination, you had to learn a significant amount of electricity and electronic theory as well as rules and regulations and Morse Code. That’s NOT the way it’s done today!
Today, none of that is needed. Today you learn how to pass the multiple-choice examination. Then you take your test at a local Volunteer Examination session. Once you get your license, you’re able to get on the air and you become a better “ham” by experience (sort of an “on the job training” experience).
Below is an outline of how we have been helping people earn their first amateur radio license. At the bottom is a link so that you can download these instructions.
What you’re going to do is to learn how to pass the test. You will learn how to use radios and how to talk and act on the air later (after you’ve earned your license). I know this may sound weird, but this is the way it’s being done today and it does work!
There are 3 classes of amateur radio licenses. Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. Each has an exam and you must take them in that order. The Technician Class license test is a 35-question, multiple-choice exam. The questions come from a pool of questions. Each question has a specific alpha-numeric code assigned to it. An example would be question T8A03. The T stands for Technician (G for General and E for Amateur Extra) There are 10 areas (called sub-elements) numbered 1 thru 0 (we can consider these topics). The A indicates a specific topic and the remaining numbers are the actual question number. The Volunteer Examiners must use tests made from these questions with a certain number of questions from each sub-element and with the answers in the exact order. You must answer 26 of the 35 questions correctly to pass the exam. There’s no trying to trick you whatsoever!
So, here’s what you need to do to pass the Technician test:
1. Get a copy of the current Gordon West 2018-2022 Technician Class License Manual. or you can order from Amazon (make sure you order the 2018-2022 version)
Note: This book is for reference – what comes next is way more important!
2. During 2020 and 2021, there have been some additions to what you will need to have prior to taking an examination for an Amateur Radio License:
You must have a valid email address. You will receive a link to download and printout your official license.
When you go to take your examination, you must have a Federal Registration Number (FRN). To apply and get your FRN: go to the Commission’s Registration System (CORES) and Click Register. Answer that the FRN is for an individual and whether the address for the contact is within the U.S. and click Continue. Finally, complete the registration information and click Submit.
The FCC will be instituting a license fee of $35 in early 2021. This will be in addition to the $15 Volunteer Examiner fee.
3. Even if you haven’t received the book yet, start taking practice tests online.
3A. Go to www.qrz.com. Near the top of the page, just to the left of the time
and date, click on “help’register”. Where it says “Don’t have a QRZ account”, click on the “click here” button to begin setting up your account. Where it says “Your callsign”, enter a user name (first initial followed by lastname and your zipcode will usually work). Then enter your e-mail address, password, etc. Note: This is needed to help track your progress including keeping your scores.
3B. Once you’ve got your account set up, login and click on “Resources” in the menu tabs. Then click on “Practice Amateur Radio Exams”. Then click on “2018 Technician Practice Exam” and begin taking tests. Note: Take as many tests as you can daily. You will see your score steadily improve. Questions that stump you should be noted by question number and reviewed in the book between tests.
BIG NOTE: I recommend using the QRZ testing, not because it’s the best, but because of its not letting you go on to the next question until you’ve seen the correct answer.
3C. Once you’re scoring over 80% on the QRZ tests, you are ready to add another testing site. Go to https://hamstudy.org/tech2018 and begin taking practice tests (if you create a login to this site, it will keep track of your scores. You can continue as a guest if you like).
Note: This site is closer to how you will be taking the test. The questions are the same but there’s no feedback until the test is finished.
2nd BIG NOTE: Don’t stop taking the QRZ tests. Continue right up to test day.
3D. There are certain things that you will need to have with you for the test. Go to http://www.arrl.org/what-to-bring-to-an-exam-session to make sure you have it with you.
The Day of the Test:
- The fee for the Technician test is $15. Cash or check to “ARRL-VEC”.
- Bring necessary ID (see “D” above).
By the way, this procedure also works for the General and Extra License Exams. (Just substitute the appropriate License Manual)