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How Many Questions is the Ham Radio Test?




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If you have gone through our articles on amateur radio such as the complete guide to the ham radio hobby, you should now be in the process of obtaining a license for operations.

A license is required to transmit on any of the amateur bands but to acquire the license you have to take a test for each amateur class depending on how far you are willing to go and how prepared you are for the tests.

These tests are made up of questions that are picked from question pools to ensure that you are familiar with the ins and outs of amateur radio for safe operations as stipulated by the law.

young man using laptop taking a test

There are 3 amateur radio classes in the US, namely;

  • Technician class
  • General class
  • Amateur extra class

To get a technician license you are required to take a test consisting of 35 questions picked from a pool of 428 questions. For the general class, you also need to take 35 questions from a pool of 462 questions and for the amateur extra class, you are given a test with 50 questions from a pool of 622 questions.

For each class level, you are required to get at least 74% of the answers correct to be issued with a license. This means that for the technician and general classes you should get 26 questions correct and 37 questions correct for the amateur extra class, at least.

Passing the tests should not be hard since there are a lot of study materials and the tests consist of multiple-choice questions.

This is made even easier by the fact that Morse Code knowledge is no longer required to take the tests as it was before.

These exams are also administered by volunteer examiners (VEs) who charge a fee that does not exceed $15 per exam session. So, if you plan on taking all your tests in one session, you only get to pay a total of $15 and save yourself $30.

After you are done with the examination, your work is graded on site.

However, regardless of the number of tests you take, you are only issued with one license by the FCC which is for the highest-class level test you passed. So, if you took all the 3 tests in one sitting and passed all the test, you are only issued with the amateur extra class license.

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Technician Class License Test (Element 2)

This is the lowest ham license in the US.

To get this license you are issued 35 questions that are picked from a pool of 428 questions which as per now expire in 2022.

You are required to fail a total of 9 questions at most for the FCC to issue you with a license and a call sign that is used for identifying yourself when broadcasting.

The technician level test only covers the basics of electronics, operating practices, and ham regulations and is mainly focused on VHF and UHF operations

(see our article on how far ham radio can travel to learn more about VHF and UHF).

Once you get the Technician class license you get the privilege to operate on VHF and UHF bands and limited privileges on HF band operations.

Topics to expect from the test:

TopicNo of questions
1: Introduction to amateur radio6
2: Operating procedures3
3: Radio wave characteristics3
4: Amateur radio practices2
5: Electrical principles4
6: Electrical components4
7: Station Equipment4
8: Modulation modes4
9: Antennas and feedlines2
10: Electrical safety3

The test will include 3 schematic diagram questions.

General Class License Test (Element 3)

This is the second test that you need to take to get a license that is a level higher than the technician class.

However, for this class, the test gets slightly harder but you are afforded more privileges by passing at least 26 questions out of 35 that are picked from a pool of 462 questions which expire in 2023.

After passing the general class test you can enjoy more extensive privileges that include operating on all VHF and UHF frequencies and most HF frequencies and being able to operate at a higher power which is up to 1500 watts PEP.

You also need to have this license, at least, to assist in communications during emergencies.

Note: During an emergency, you can broadcast on any of the ham frequencies without needing a license.

Topics to expect from this class:

TopicNo of questions
1: FCC rules and regulations5
2: Operating procedures5
3: Radio wave propagation3
4: Amateur radio practices5
5: Electrical principles3
6: Circuit components2
7: Practical circuits3
8: Signals and emissions3
9: Antennas and feedlines4
10: Electrical and RF safety2

You should expect one schematic diagram question in the general class exam.

Amateur Extra Class License Test (Element 4)

This is the crème de la crème of all amateur radio licenses in the US where you are awarded all ham radio privileges giving you endless possibilities depending on your equipment.

Here, you are required to pass at least 35 questions in a tough written exam that consists of 50 questions picked from a pool of 622 questions that were updated on June 30th, 2020.

And just like for all the tests you are not required to have any knowledge or skills on Morse Code operations since it was scrapped off as a requirement.

Once you are awarded a license for this class, you will be free to do anything that is ham related, can experiment more with amateur radio, can use the less crowded HF frequencies on the lower end of the ham radio spectrum, and operate in CEPT countries such as Australia, UK, France, Israel, Germany and so on when you travel to them.

Topics to expect in an amateur extra class test:

TopicsNo of questions
1: FCC rules and regulations6
2: Operating procedures5
3: Radio wave propagation3
4: Amateur practices5
5: Electrical principles4
6: Circuit components6
7: Practical Circuits8
8: Signals and emissions4
9: Antennas and transmission lines8
10: Safety1

You should also expect 14 schematic diagram questions within the test of 50 questions.

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