If you are really fired up about becoming a ham radio operator, sooner or later, you would most likely ask somebody this question, ‘Can I take the Ham radio license test online?’.
It is a legitimate question to ask. After all, many colleges and professional bodies have online portals where tests/exams are administered for the award of diplomas or certifications respectively.
Clearly, there are many advantages associated with online tests. For instance, you can do it at your own pace, there won’t be the pressure associated with a structured exam center with supervisors breathing down your neck, and it is likely to be cheaper.
So can you take the ham radio test online? Keep reading to find out and other related information.
Can I Take the Ham Radio License Test Online?
The simple answer is no.
That would read like a bummer if you are here hoping to get a positive answer.
Luckily, that is the only bad news about the ham radio license test. If you can get around the idea that the test is offline, you would quickly understand how easy it is to get the license.
One fortunate piece of news is that almost all the resources you need to pass the exam and get your license are online. As a matter of fact, everything from registering for the exam, paying necessary fees, validating your account details, study materials, and exam venues can found and done online.
It is just the test you need to go to a venue where Volunteer Examiners (VE) moderate or act as test supervisors. Usually, there are three VEs at each venue if the test center is in the US.
Their job is to make sure the test is administered fairly and according to the relevant FCC regulations.
But several concessions are given to people with disabilities. If you can show you are unable to commute to the exams venue, the FCC would arrange for the VEs to visit your home to supervise to test. In such cases, you would have to provide everything needed for a successful test apart from the test questions.
Other concessions for people with disabilities include having the VEs read the questions out loud to visually impaired people or to use computers with special software in other cases.
Why do you need a license since Ham radio is a hobby?
Though amateur radio started as an informal exercise for people who loved listening to radio communication, it is now a much serious activity with several health and safety implications, especially during disasters.
For that reason, only responsible people must be allowed to operate ham radios legally. The tests and subsequent licensing are necessary to have a ready pool of qualified folks to provide backup communication services during emergencies.
All over the world, ham radio operators have played a big role in saving countless lives in the aftermath of disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
This makes it imperative that regulations are put in place to govern the operation of this vital service.
The 3 Ham License Levels
- For new ham radio operators, you have to get the beginner’s licensed first known as the Level 1 Technician license.
This license gives you to access to VHF and UHF bands. If you are a beginner with a limited budget, there are several, budget handheld devices adequate for ham radio operations at this level.
- The second level or General License gives access to all level one privileges and most of the HF bands
- Level 3, also known as Amateur Extra grants access to all amateur frequency privileges without restrictions.
Keep in mind that you need to pass a particular level before you can take the test for the next level
How to get the license in 3 simple steps
Getting the license is pretty straightforward. The process can be broken down into the following steps:
Step 1: Registration
Simply go to the FCC website (https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service), create an account, and follow the instructions. You would also find all the relevant information related to your quest for a license there.
Step 2: Study
Getting study materials is easy. There are many online sites with tons of study aids and reading materials.
One good resource is https://hamexam.org. Here you would get flash cards-based sample questions similar to the type of questions you would face during the test.
Step 3: Take the test
The exams, for the first level at least, consist of 35 multiple-choice questions. These questions are chosen randomly from a pool of 400 available questions. Getting about 26 questions right is enough to pass.
Interestingly, you get to know all 400 questions in advance. That makes studying a lot easier.
You need to find a test venue close to you though. A good place to get that information is the Amateur Radio Relay League website (http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session). This is the website of the national body of amateur radio enthusiasts.
You can get every information you need on ham radio on this site. Be sure to explore it very well and bookmark it for future reference.
Though it is not possible to take the ham radio license test online, it is not all doom and gloom. The test itself is not difficult and doesn’t require so much studying to pass.
As for the study materials and other resources you’d need to get a license, you could get them for free on several online portals.
When you successfully pass (fingers crossed!), check out some of the best ham radios for beginners [personal experience over the years].