General Info on Amateur Radio Exams


Anyone may listen to worldwide communications (with some exceptions for cellular phone frequencies) without a license; however, to transmit a signal, the operator must be licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.

Until 1984, all those taking a test except Novice had to travel to arrive in an FCC office (Kansas City or Denver) by 8 A.M. If a test was failed, the applicant had to wait 30 days to take it again. The volunteer examining program has brought testing to you! Testing in Manhattan is a volunteer effort of members of the Manhattan Area Amateur Radio Society (MAARS), and other local amateurs. If you're ready to take an amateur radio test, see below for your options. The current pattern in Manhattan is to do four exams per year. Be aware that exams are also given regularly in Topeka and Salina.


All amateur written tests are constructed from a standard national question pool. The questions in the pool are word-for-word what you will be asked on your test, and all questions are included in license preparation books. For any test, the total number of questions in the pool is about ten times the number of questions on the test you'll take (Technician - 35, General - 35, Amateur Extra - 50). For example, if you're studying for a Technician written test, you'll need to be able to answer about 350 questions.

All written tests will be multiple-choice, with the same four possible answers you've worked with when studying the question pool. The passing grade is about 74% (26 of 35 correct for Technician or 37 of 50 correct for extra). Your test will be graded promptly after it's turned in. You'll be told your score, but not which questions you missed.

The American Radio Relay League, 225 Main St., Newington, Ct. 06111, has all kinds of information, as well as publications for sale, on their excellent web site. Have a look at their Licensing, Education & Training store for the publications listed below.

  • Technician is the entry level license. You may want to start with the ARRL's Tech Q&A book, along with the Ham Radio License Manual Revised 2nd Edition, which is geared toward the Technician test.

  • The General license allows communication worldwide on the HF (shortwave) bands. ARRL's General Q&A 4th Edition, along with the ARRL General Class License Manual 7th Edition, has what you need to upgrade to General.

  • The Amateur Extra license allows full operating privileges, such as operating on any available frequency and band. ARRL's Extra Q&A 3rd Edition and ARRL Extra Class License Manual 10th Edition will be needed for the top license. This is not an easy test. It is equivalent in difficulty to the commercial radio operator's license exam.

Saturday, February 15, 2020, 9:30 A - 12:30 P

Saturday, May 9, 2020, 9:30 A - 12:30 P


Have a look at AA9PW's Amateur Radio Exam Practice Page. Use it to check your readiness for the real thing. Another study course is KB6NU's No-Nonsense Study Guides. If you want to be sure of high-quality preparation materials, go for the ARRL materials above. The organization is known worldwide, and is the non-profit organization that has represented and served amateur radio since 1914... 100+ years!

modified 1/10/20