How many questions are on the ham radio test?

By Chuck Gysi

By Chuck Gysi

The Federal Communications Commission tasks the administration of amateur radio testing with local ham clubs all across the United States and its territories. The questions used by each club for on-site, inperson written test sessions must be drawn from a pool of multiple-choice questions that are revised by a nationwide committee every four years for the three license classes: Technician, General and Extra.

How many questions are on the ham exam and how many questions are in each question pool?

The Technician class exam, known as Element 2, that is being used by examiners until 2022 draws from a pool of 428 total questions in a variety of topics. Those taking the Technician test will find a total of 35 questions on their exam.

After you pass the Technician test, you can take the General exam, either at the same test session or any time in the future. The question pool being used until 2023 for the General test, also known as Element 3, consists of 462 total questions and those taking the General test also will find 35 questions on their exam.

How many questions must I answer correctly to receive my ham license?

Those taking the Technician and General class tests must achieve a passing score of 74 percent or greater to receive their amateur radio licenses from the FCC. Because there are 35 questions on both exams, you must answer at least 26 questions correctly at your test session. This means you can get up to nine of the multiple choice questions wrong! 

Don’t sweat it if you miss some questions or don’t understand a few questions because you’ll still receive your license if you hit the passing grade! Because the test is multiple choice with four answers to select from — one correct and three incorrect – you have a 25 percent chance of answering the question correctly if you aren’t sure of the answer. That’s better odds than not answering the question, which would be zero percent!

Are there schematic diagrams on any of the ham tests?

Yes, you will find a couple of schematic diagrams on each of the license class exams when you take your ham test. The Technician class test has questions for three schematics and the General exam includes one schematic.There are 14 schematic questions on the Extra class ham license exam.

How are the questions broken down by topic on the Technician class license test?

Here are the subelements of the Technician class FCC ham test, including the topics included in each subelement and the number of questions in each. You will find only one question from each topic, or group, of questions in each subelement.  

T1 – FCC rules, descriptions, and definitions for the Amateur Radio Service, operator  and station license responsibilities | six questions

T2 – Operating procedures | 
three questions

T3 – Radio wave characteristics: properties of radio waves; propagation modes | 
three questions

T4 – Amateur radio practices and station setup | two questions 

T5 – Electrical principles: math for electronics; electronic principles; Ohm’s Law | four questions

T6 –Electrical components; circuit diagrams; component functions | four questions

T7  – Station equipment: common transmitter and receiver problems; antenna measurements; troubleshooting; basic repair and testing | four questions

T8  – Modulation modes: amateur satellite operation; operating activities; non-voice and digital communications | 
four questions

T9 – Antennas and feed lines | two questions 

T0 – Electrical safety: AC and DC power circuits; antenna installation; RF hazards |  three questions

How are questions broken down by topic for the General class license test?

Here are the subelements of the General class FCC ham test, including the topics included in each subelement and the number of questions in each. Like the Technician test, you will find only one question from each topic, or group, of questions in each subelement.  

G1 – FCC rules and regulations | five questions

G2 – Operating procedures | five questions
G3 – Radio wave propagation | three questions

G4 – Amateur radio practices | five questions

G5 – Electrical principles | three questions

G6 – Circuit components | two questions

G7 – Practical circuits | three questions

G8 – Signals and emissions | three questions

G9 – Antennas and feed lines | four questions

G0 – Electrical and RF safety | two questions

What about the Extra class FCC ham exam?

If you are considering taking the Extra class FCC exam at some point to gain the greatest operating privileges on the air, there are 50 questions on that test (Element 4) and there are 700 questions in the test pool. Like the Technician and General class exams, you must achieve a score of 74 percent or greater to pass the test. This means you need to answer at least 37 or the 50 questions correctly. The test pool for the Extra class will be revised in mid2020 and all new exams after June 30, 2020, will be based on the new questions. Be sure you study for the right question pool based on when you plan to take the Extra exam.

How are questions broken down by topic for the Extra class license test?

E1 – FCC rules and regulations | six questions

E2 – Operating procedures | five questions

E3 – Radio wave propagation | three questions

E4 – Amateur practices | five questions

E5 – Electrical principles | four questions

E6 – Circuit components | six questions

E7 – PRACTICAL CIRCUITS | eight questions

E8 – Signals and emissions | four questions

E9 – Antennas and transmission lines | eight questions

E10 – Safety | one question