Are you looking for a ham radio study guide to help you pass your license exam? Look no further!

This guide will provide you with all the information and free or paid resources you need to prepare and study for your amateur radio license exams. Once you pass the exam, you’ll become a licensed amateur radio operator.

All amateur radio exams are administered by volunteer examiners (VEs).

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission or FCC regulates amateur radio transmissions. All ham radio operators must be licensed, this helps insure the safety of the operator and protects other radio services from interference.

Licenses are available in 3 different levels (Technician, General, and Amateur Extra). Each level progressively adds frequencies you are allowed to transmit on and other privileges.

All amateur radio exams are administered by volunteer examiners (VEs). VE’s are existing ham radio operators who have organized themselves in groups called VEC’s or Volunteer Exam Coordinators. VEC’s are authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create and administer license exams.

Which Exam Do You Need to Take and What Do You Get?

As mentioned above, there are three classes of ham radio licenses: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. Each class of license requires passing a different exam. Everyone starts with the Technician License. Where you stop is up to you. Here’s a look at the basics of all three classes of ham radio licenses and what it takes to get there.

Level 1: FCC Technician License

This license introduces you to radio, electronics, safety and related operating rules.  Passing this exam grants a license which allows you to operate on all amateur radio frequencies above 30 MHz. The exam consists of 35 questions, and you’ll need to correctly answer at least 26 questions to pass.

FCC Technician License Level and Privileges

Level 2: FCC General License

This license expands your knowledge of radio operating, covers radio frequency theory for HF operation and additional electronics knowledge.  Achieving the General Class license allows you to operate in parts of all amateur radio frequencies. You are required to have passed the Technician license exam and take an exam consisting of 35 new questions.  Like before, you’ll need to correctly answer at least 26 questions to pass.

FCC General License Level and Privileges

Level 3: FCC Amateur Extra License

To reach the highest level of ham radio license you’ll deep dive into additional RF and electronics theory.  When you finish, you earn the privileges of unique operating frequencies on the HF bands, the ability to operate easily from other countries, and the right to become a Volunteer Examiner.  You can not become an Amateur Extra without passing the Technician and General exams.  For this level of exam you will be given a test consisting of 50 new questions, and you’ll need to correctly answer at least 37 questions to pass.

FCC Amateur Extra License Level and Privileges

If you’re unsure about which license level you need for your use-case, read our guide on all the license levels and the differences between them.  Just remember all hams start with the Level 1: Technician License and if you want to upgrade later, you can take multiple exams together!

How Many Questions Are on the Exam?

The number of questions on the ham radio license exams varies depending on the class of license you’re seeking. The Technician and General exams both consist of 35 questions, while the Extra exam has 50 questions.

All questions are multiple-choice, asking you to pick the one correct answer from a group of fours.  There are usually no time limits when you sit for an exam, but most people complete it in 20 to 30 minutes.  Fun fact – you can miss every math question and still pass!

You can check out our more comprehensive guide on this.

FCC Technician Exam Question Pool 2022-2026

Your Technician exam will be made up of 35 questions.  Each question is drawn from a pool of 10-12 questions on a particular topic.  For instance, at the Technician level there are 67 questions on 6 different topics related to FCC rules for group T1.   Here’s a breakdown of all the areas.


Topic Group Name Number of Questions
T1 FCC Rules and Regulations 6
T2 Operating Procedures 3
T3 Radio Wave Propagation 3
T4 Amateur Radio Practices 2
T5 Electrical Principles 4
T6 Electrical Components 4
T7 Practical Circuits 4
T8 Signals and Emissions 4
T9 Antennas and Feed Lines 2
T0 Safety 3
Total 35

FCC General Exam Question Pool 2023-2027

Your General exam will be made up of 35 questions.  Each question is drawn from a pool of 10-12 questions on a particular topic.   Continuing our example from above, at the General level are 57 questions on 5 different topics related to FCC rules for group G1.

Topic Group Name Number of Questions
G1 FCC Commission Rules 5
G2 Operating Procedures 5
G3 Radio Wave Propagation 3
G4 Amateur Radio Practices 5
G5 Electrical Principles 3
G6 Circuit Components 2
G7 Practical Circuits 3
G8 Signals and Emissions 3
G9 Antennas and Feedlines 4
G0 Electrical and RF Safety 2
Total 35

Amateur Extra Exam Question Pool 2020-2024

The Amateur Extra exam will be made up of 50 questions.  Again, each question is drawn from a pool of 10-12 questions on a particular topic.  In the first section of the Amateur Extra exam there are 75 questions on 6 different topics related to FCC rules.

Topic Group Name Number of Questions
E1 FCC Commission Rules 6
E2 Operating Procedures 5
E3 Radio Wave Propagation 3
E4 Amateur Radio Practices 5
E5 Electrical Principles 4
E6 Circuit Components 6
E7 Practical Circuits 8
E8 Signals and Emissions 4
E9 Antennas and Feedlines 8
E0 Safety 1
Total 50

How Long Do You Need to Study?

The amount of time you will need to study for your ham radio license exam will depend on your experience level, the class of license, and the resources you’re using.

For the Technician Exam, most people will need to study for 20-30 hours to understand the material. For the General and Extra exams, you’ll likely need to study for 30-40 hours.

Student Review of Ham Radio Prep

But Ham Radio Prep’s Technician Study Guide makes it super easy!  Some people using this method prepare for their Technician License Exam in less than 5 hours using video lessons, text lessons, and interactive games!

How to Study for Your Ham Radio License Exam

If you are interested in becoming a licensed amateur radio operator and want to pass the license exam, Ham Radio Prep offers online courses that cover all the topics you need to know.

The course is designed to help you understand basic radio theory, regulations, and operating practices. Check out our study tips to pass your exam easily.

A Few Tips to Pass Your Exam Easily

1. Understand License Exam Formats

Image: Answer sheets used in Ham Radio Examinations
Image: Answer sheets used in Ham Radio Examinations

The first step in preparing for your test is to understand the format. The Technician and General exam consists of 35 multiple-choice questions, and you will need to answer at least 26 of them correctly to pass. The Amateur Extra exam has 50 questions and you need to answer at least 37 to pass your exam.

Every question in your exams is randomly selected from a publicly available pool of questions.  Every volunteer examiner makes up their exams using the same method from the same pool of questions. All the questions are reviewed and question pools are updated every three years.  This makes it essential for you to have a good understanding of all the topics covered in the latest pool, and the Ham Radio Prep courses have you covered!

2. Take Lots of Practice Exams

Updated Ham Radio Prep Free Practice Tests for All License Levels

Ham Radio Prep offers free practice exams that are exactly like the real license exams. You have to take a lot of practice tests to prepare for the exam, and it helps you identify areas where you need to focus your studies.

Our exam readiness dashboard does that exactly for you! You are guaranteed to see every question in your practice exams to know you’re fully prepared.

3. Focus on the Hard Questions

Use a study and test tool that gives you feedback on the areas you need the most help.  As practice tests reveal your individual trends, you will be able to identify the questions you get wrong and focus on learning them.  By spending your study time focusing on where you can improve your scores, you’ll be better prepared to answer questions on the actual exam.

While we don’t want you to be intimidated, looking at some of the hardest questions in the FCC Technician License exam may give you a hint into how that works.

4. Stay Calm and Confident

On the exam day, it’s normal to feel nervous or anxious. However, try to stay calm and confident. Take a few deep breaths before the exam and remind yourself that you’ve prepared and studied for this moment.

Amateur Extra Exam - Element 4

Remember that it’s okay to skip a question if you’re not sure of the answer – you can always come back to it later. And if you do encounter a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t panic. Use the process of elimination to narrow down the choices and make an educated guess.

You’ll be able to use a basic calculator and scratch paper during your exam, so take advantage of the tools you are given to help work those tough questions out.  Also, you will have the opportunity to take your test in person or proctored online.

Image: Student taking an online exam while the proctors watch via a live stream from the tablet.
Image: Student taking an online exam while the proctors watch via a live stream from the tablet.

Ham Radio Prep: The Best Study Guide for Your Ham Radio License Exams

One of the best ham radio study guides available is Ham Radio Prep. Over 70,000 students have used our online study system which provides you with everything you need to pass your exam fast and easily!

Study Anywhere

Ham Radio Prep offers:

  • Study materials for all three ham radio licenses
  • Covers every FCC question pool (and is always up to date)
  • Instant feedback on your answers, including explanations for why each answer is correct or incorrect.
  • Covers everything you need to get licensed and learn ham radio!
  • Ham Radio Prep’s mobile app allows you to study on the go (for both iOS and Android).
  • Ability to track your progress with practice tests!

With Ham Radio Prep, you’ll be able to study smarter, not harder. Instead of spending hours poring over study materials, you can focus and learn everything you need in a single course and track your progress as you go.

Ham Radio Prep is really the only all-in-one solution to study for your amateur radio license exam! Three Ways to Study: Book, Course, and Mobile App!

Learn why studying using an online course is the best way to study for your license exam.

You can also check out Ham Radio Prep’s study books on Amazon.

Ham Radio Prep Technician Study Book on Amazon

If audio lessons are your thing, you can use Audible to get our audiobooks.

Ham Radio Prep Audio Book for Technician License Course

Once you pass your exam, you can schedule your online exam with a VEC or decide to take it offline.

Other Ham Radio Study Guides, Books, and Resources

While Ham Radio Prep is an excellent way to prepare for your ham radio license exam, there are other resources available that you may find helpful such as:

  • ARRL Handbook: The ARRL Handbook is a comprehensive guide to amateur radio that covers everything from basic electronics to advanced operating techniques.
  • Gordon West’s Study Guides: Gordon West is a well-known ham radio instructor who has written study guides for all three classes of ham radio licenses.
  • Study Groups: Joining a study group can be a great way to stay motivated and get help from other hams who are also studying for their exams.
  • Read the Question Pools: All the questions in each of the three Amateur Radio exams are “open source” so you can review them all one by one if you like. The NCVEC maintains all the amateur question pools.

Ready to Become a Licensed Ham Radio Operator?

Studying for your ham radio license exam doesn’t have to be stressful. By following the top resources and using Ham Radio Prep as your primary study tool, you’ll be well on your way to passing your exam and joining the amateur radio community.

Good luck! 73