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U.S. Amateur Radio License Requirements
Exam Elements Technician Class General Class Extra Class
Element 1
Morse Code
(Not Required) (Not Required) (Not Required)
Element 2
35 Questions
Check Mark Check Mark Check Mark
Element 3
35 Questions
  Check Mark Check Mark
Element 4
50 Questions
    Check Mark

License Examination Question Pools

Per FCC Rule 97.523, only one question pool may exist for each license examination level. Each question pool must contain at least 10 times the number of questions required for a single examination. The question pools are normally valid for 4 years.

* Technician Class - FCC Element 2 Question Pool (choice of formats)
     Valid: 2014 - 2018 as per NCVEC and ARRL.
     Privileges:  All VHF & UHF Amateur bands (above 30 MHz) and limited operations in some HF bands.

* General Class - FCC Element 3 Question Pool (choice of formats)
     Valid: 2015 - 2019 as per NCVEC and ARRL.
     Privileges:  All VHF & UHF Amateur bands and most HF privileges (10 through 160 meters).

* Extra Class - FCC Element 4 Question Pool (choice of formats)
     Valid: 2016 - 2020 as per NCVEC and ARRL.
     Privileges:  All Amateur band privileges.

Amateur Radio License References

* ARRL Amateur Radio Licensing, Preparation & Exams

* FCC Amateur Radio Service

* FCC Part 97 Rules

Additional Information

An FCC granted amateur radio operator's license is required for operation of an amateur station.  For new and upgrade applicants, there are three classes of license, each authorizing privileges corresponding to the qualifications required.  The classes of license, from highest to lowest are:  Amateur Extra Class, General Class, and Technician Class.  Before receiving a license grant, the applicant must pass an examination administered by a team of volunteer examiners (VEs).  Three other classes of operator licenses have been issued in the past; but, are no longer available.  These include the Novice Class, Technician Plus Class and Advanced Class.

Most new amateur radio operators start at the Technician Class and then advance to the General Class or Amateur Extra Class.  The VEs give examination credit for the license class currently held so that examinations required for that license class need not be repeated.  The VEs prepare the written examinations from question pools that have been made public.  Study guides and training courses are available from a number of sources.

The Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs) maintain a common question pool for each written examination element.  Each pool contains at least ten times the number of questions required for a single examination.  Every question set administered to an examinee is prepared by a VE.  The actual questions on a written examination are taken from the appropriate pool.  These pools are revised and updated periodically to incorporate the latest rules, new technology and interests of the amateur service community.  Be sure that you prepare for an examination by studying material based on the current question pools.  These pools are available in several non-government commercial publications such as those from the ARRL.  Non-government commercial sources also offer learning opportunities in the form of audio and video tapes, manuals and books, computer and live instructional courses.  The examination question pools are also available on this site by clicking on the Question Pool links listed above.

Notes:  FCC Part 97

§ 97.501 Qualifying for an amateur operator license:

Each applicant for the grant of a new amateur operator license or for the grant of a modified license to show a higher operator class, must pass or otherwise receive credit for the examination elements specified for the class of operator license sought:

(a) Amateur Extra Class operator: Elements 2, 3, and 4

(b) General Class operator: Elements 2, and 3

(c) Technician Class operator: Element 2

§ 97.503 Element standards:

(a) A telegraphy examination must be sufficient to prove that the examinee has the ability to send correctly by hand and to receive correctly by ear texts in the international Morse code at not less than the prescribed speed, using all the letters of the alphabet, numerals 0-9, period, comma, question mark, slant mark, and prosigns ar, bt and sk.

    Element 1 is a 5 words per minute code test (no longer required).

(b) A written examination must be such as to prove that the examinee possesses the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee. Each written examination must be comprised of a question set as follows:

    Element 2 is 35 questions concerning the privileges of a Technician Class operator license.
    Requires 26 correct answers.

    Element 3 is 35 questions concerning the privileges of a General Class operator license.
    Requires 26 correct answers.

    Element 4 is 50 questions concerning the privileges of an Amateur Extra Class operator license.
    Requires 37 correct answers.

§ 97.7 Control operator required:

When transmitting, each amateur station must have a control operator. The control operator must comply with the following:

(a) The control operator must be a person who has been granted an amateur operator/primary station license, or

(b) Who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation by §97.107 of this part

§ 97.9 Operator license:

(a) The classes of amateur operator license grants are: Novice, Technician, Technician Plus (until such licenses expire, a Technical Class license granted before February 14, 1991, is considered a Technician Plus Class license), General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra. A person who has been granted an operator license is authorized to be the control operator of an amateur station with the privileges of the operator class specified on the license.

(b) The person named in an operator license grant of Novice, Technician, Technician Plus, General or Advanced Class, who has properly submitted to the administering VEs, a FCC Form 605 document requesting examination for an operator license grant of a higher class, and who holds a CSCE indicating that the person has completed the necessary examinations within the previous 365 days, is authorized to exercise the rights and privileges of the higher operator class until a final disposition of the application or until 365 days following the passing of the examination, whichever comes first.


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