US amateur exams

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by MW0SWA, Sep 5, 2015.

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  1. KU4X

    KU4X Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    You will have a Texas identifier in your call sign. Texas is in the fifth district, so you're call sign will be xx5xxx. The last sequential call sign issued for "5-land" was KG5JIF, issued yesterday, 11 September. AE7Q's website has tons of good call sign info:

    You will not get a new call sign upon upgrading unless you specifically request it on your application. You will also be eligible for a vanity call sign once you get your assigned call. Again, AE7Q's website has good info for this. More info here:

    Good luck on your test...we're expecting a report back here with the results!

  2. KW4EK

    KW4EK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    When I was studying for my exams there were two websites that I made use of in addition to the ARRL study guides.


    Both offer free practice exams and the latter offers flash cards, which was a feature I really found helpful fir identifying my weaker areas so that I could focus more attention on those areas. They also allow you to gain familiarity with the questions and answers, which may ease some of your anxiety on exam day when you realize the questions and answers feel familiar to you already. Just spend a few weeks pouring over these study aids and the online study guides and resources and touch up and n your weak areas and calculation skills.

    I would really encourage everyone interested in more than just VHF/UHF to aim for at least the General license if possible as the Technician license is limited primarily to VHF/UHF communication and the test most heavily focussed on the rules and some radio basics (very basic) along with concepts more unique to VHF/UHF like repeater offsets and protocol. The General license opens up much of the HF bands to you with the exam focussing more heavily on some of the more unique rules governing HF (such as third-party communications), the various band edges (watch out for effect of USB and LSB on edges), where phone and CW/data fall within the band, where the band "holes" are (reserved for Extras), and on calculating lengths of dipoles and frequencies to/from wavelength, along with a number of Ohm's Law questions (so study up on Ohm's law), and velocity factors for in coax and how that affects antenna and stub lengths. Definitely familiarize oneself with the band plans for Technician and General licensees and remember that some bands have one or two holes reserved for Extras (and grandfathered Advanced) licensees -- some have a hole and in the first 25 KHz and many have a much larger hole spanning the dividing point between CW/data (lower portion of band) and phone (upper portion of band), with 10m being a bit unique for Technicians whom have a common span in the lower 500KHz and several HF bands (80, 40, 15m) with very limited Technician spans limited to CW only. Our band plans are a bit unusual in how they are split up for the various license classes due to incentive licensing.

    Both of these exams allow one to pass with a score greater than 74% which means you may miss up to 9 questions and still pass, so do not stress if you miss a question or two or if there is a section that you really struggled with during your studies as there is no added penalty for getting an answer wrong, it just will not count, so at least guess at an answer if in doubt as you will still have at least a 25% chance of being correct (greater if you can eliminate any choices).

    Most of the calculations will be in meters or frequency, which will be familiar to most of you more so than in America. Some will require conversion to feet -- mostly concerning dipole lengths. While English units should be fairly familiar to many in the UK, as in the U.S., (unlike much of Europe) for those less familiar simply remember that there are 3.28 feet in one meter, or simply round that to 3-1/4 feet per meter and you will have a conversion that is hopefully easy enough to remember and plenty accurate for the exams as antenna lengths are only approximations. This is more for the General exam than the Technician. That and the speed of light in a vacuum being 300,000 Km/sec will go a long ways for those calculations.

    You might visit and scroll down to the bottom of their page to click on the "How much math?" link if you have questions about what sort of math (maths? j/k) you may encounter on the Technician, General and Extra exams.

    The Extra exam is a fair bit harder in the sense that it delves more into theory, rules, and concepts than either of the first two. It is also 50 questions in length, but you still pass with a 74% or better score, allowing you to miss up to 13 questions and still pass. Again, at least guess on any question you do not know as there is no added penalty for getting it wrong and you may just guess right. You will need to know more of the FCC rules and electronics concepts and there will be some more questions concerning satellite communications (not many, but a few). This exam is much easier for those with an electronics background and some HF radio experience and harder for those who lack either.

    You may not bring anything to the exam except your photo ID, a number 2 pencil (typical school pencil with soft lead for filling in bubbles to mark choices), and an optional calculator (it may not be a programmable calculator, but a basic or scientific calculator with no program or stored formula capabilities is fine -- this is to avoid cheating using programmable calculators). No study aids or notes of any sort are permitted, though you may bring (or request) a blank sheet of paper to make scratch calculations upon and which must be turned in with your exam(s) if used. In the U.S. we have the choice of providing either our Social Security ID Number (SSN) or an FCC FRN number instead if you login to the FCC website's FRN system prior to your exam to obtain an FRN... However, I am not certain how they will be handling this for your exams since you will not have an SSN nor a state-side mailing address. If, by chance, you already have an FCC amateur license then you will need to bring a photocopy of your existing license to the exam in addition to your photo ID (and your FRN number can likely be found printed on that license).

    The FCC no longer mails paper copies of licenses, but you can log into the FCC ( ULS/FRN system to download a copy of your license suitable for printing (not the public "specimen" version, but a proper copy without that watermark) using your FRN number and a login account you will create that associates with your callsign. It is a good idea to then laminate your license for safekeeping as it is valid for 10 years and must be renewed towards the end of the 10 year period. There is no fee for the license but a fee may be charged for the exam.

    Good luck to everyone and I hope one day you might visit us so that you may make full use of your new FCC amateur operator license, especially if visiting a fellow operator's station on this side of the pond. We would love to have you visit us (just try to ignore some of the nonsensical politics of late!) as most of us are quite fond of Europe and the UK in particular.
    M0LXQ and WC3T like this.
  3. M0LXQ

    M0LXQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I hadn't realised how far behind I was with this thread!

    So I applied for an FRN the other day on the advice of the person organising the exams (2 weeks today!). There is a section that allows you to not enter a SSN and give a reason why - "applicant is foreign" was the option I believe. My only concern is that it all looks good, on the application for a license section, license type 'HA' is not on the list. Should it be there or am I doing something wrong?


    Mark, M0LXQ.
  4. KW4EK

    KW4EK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    FRN's are generic and your personal identifier and login account with the FCC and can attach to any type of FCC license so you do not specify a license type. The FCC will attach any and all of your individual licenses to this one account and it is those individual licenses that have a license type associated with them.

    Your FRN account is what you will use in the future to login to the FCC site to manage your license(s), including an easy way of discovering your new callsign when it is first issued as your new callsign will be attached to your FRN account (just do a ULS search on your FRN number and you will see your new callsign once it is assigned).

    Good luck on your upcoming exams.
    KU4X likes this.
  5. M0LXQ

    M0LXQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well I didn't see MW0SWA there, but I had a crack at the exams and passed technician and general as planned. I had a go at the extra class but only got 35, so another time. I'm actually pretty happy with that given that I did not prepare for extra in any way!

    Mark M0LXQ/KE0GGA
  6. KW4EK

    KW4EK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulations on your new General license!

    Out of curiosity, how many took the test?
  7. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    They didn't let you have a second shot at the Extra after a two question near miss? Totally at the discretion of the U.S. VE's (and an exam with a different set of questions is readily available), if there is sufficient time remaining in the session they are known to allow a second test attempt if your first attempt was close to a passing score.

    But you will get it next time. Congrats.
  8. M0LXQ

    M0LXQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    There were 3 of us taking it, apparently 6 showed an interest.

    They did try to talk me into having another attempt, but 35 was by far the best I had done compared with practice tests I had done and I was fairly certain if I had tried again I would have got less. I now have some time to make an effort to learn the content - I actually want to understand it, not just memorise answers to the question pool. I have no real need to do this at all, it is purely for personal interest and the challenge it brings.

    I am hoping to take the extra again when I am next in the US if I can find an exam session while I'm there. My wife is American and most of her family is in Colorado (hence the 0 callsign) so we get over there quite a bit.
  9. MW0SWA

    MW0SWA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey guys.
    I had a bit of a family crisis in the week before the exams which meant I could not attend, but fear not, I have found a venue to sit the exams early next year, and I have now got more time to get my head into the study books.

    Massive congratulations to Mark, fantastic effort and I hope you enjoy using your US licenses. I am going to bookmark this page to re visit as soon as i have sat my exams, and will keep you all updated.

    Thankyou for your help and responses, all of which I am still going to take on board in my exam preparations.


  10. MW0SWA

    MW0SWA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello guys.

    I am going to attempt the Technician and General license tests next month. You have all answered my queries on this forum already, but i have few more questions regarding the FCC and ARRL.

    Ok so i have a contact in the US who has kindly let me use his postal address for my licensing purposes.
    When applying for a FRN number the FCC give me the opportunity to register as a US postal address or a foreign postal address. If my contact in the US decides to move house for example am i better off registering for my FRN number with my home UK postal address.
    Next Question,
    forgive me if ive already asked this, but what post mail should i tell my US contact to expect to come to his house after i have passed the license exams? Do the FCC or ARRL send regular mail? What if the FCC need a response out of me for some reason or other and my US contact forgets to relay it on to me? etc etc.

    Surely once licensed, i can arrange all my FCC or ARRL correspondance online and not have to rely on hoping my US contact relays the mail on to me all the time??



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