Get your Ham Radio License

In-person Ham Radio Exam Instructions

Taking your exam with the K5TFH VE team is easy! There a few things that need to be done and for you to understand, but our goal is to get you in and get you tested with the minimum of stress and fuss. Please make sure that you read and understand everything on this page prior to your exam session.

Registration Checklist

Exam Session Selection: Go to our Registration Portal ,select and register for a specific exam session. You will receive an email confirmation of the date and time of your registered session. Please put this in your calendar and/or set a reminder so you don’t miss the session. You do not need to print out your PIN, we will have that.

Exam Fee Payment: The examination fee is $14 (cash only). This fee can be paid when you arrive at the testing location. A single examination fee is good for as many tests as you can pass. If you fail an exam and wish a retake, at the discretion of the exam team, a retake may be offered by for an additional $14 fee.
(If you study, you could potentially pass Technician, General and Amateur Extra all in a single session for one $14 exam fee)

Taking more than one exam in one session: If you plan to take more than one exam, please let us know when you check in at the testing location.

Federal Registration Number (FRN): If you currently have, or have had, a ham radio license or any other FCC license, then use your existing FRN. If you do not have an FRN number, you can go to this website and click “Register for an FRN.” Your FRN must be submitted on the exam FCC application. If you plan to take the General or Amateur Extra exam, your name on the registration must exactly match the name on your FCC license.

Expired license: If you previously had an amateur license that has expired, please email us with the information when you register, so that we can set up the exam system appropriately for you. Holders of old (before ’87) tech licenses, as well as higher licenses get exam credit for their higher license class.

Prepare for the In-person Exam: You must read and understand the preparation for your exam (see below) and complete the steps for the Day of the Exam (see below).
Note: For any pre-registered exam sessions; if you do not come in to test and don’t let us know ahead of time, we may cancel your registration and you may forfeit any prepaid exam fee (if any).

Preparation for Exams

Practice for your exam: It is your responsibility to be fully prepared since you will be taking the time of 3 or more Volunteer Examiners (VEs). We are happy to devote the time to you, but we want you to be prepared and we want to see you pass. Use an online practice site to practice all topics and to take randomly selected practice exams. Be sure you are consistently scoring above 85% on the test before you schedule an exam.
HamStudy.org is a free site with all three exams. We recommend using the Study mode until you’ve seen the entire question pool for the exam(s) you wish to take. It has an inexpensive companion phone app you can use on the go if you prefer that. Using the Study Mode will prepare you to pass your exam better than simply using books.

You may take more than one exam per session. After you pass one exam, if you have studied for and are prepared to pass the next level exam, you may take it; however, please let us know when you check in if you plan to take more than one exam so that we can plan for the time appropriately.

If you do not pass an exam and want to re-test for the same element you may do so if the VEs feel that you were close enough that you have a reasonable chance of passing with another attempt, however you will have to pay another $14 exam fee.

The conduct of your exam session is subject to the following conditions:

  • You must complete the test without any interruptions that would raise suspicion about the integrity of the testing environment.
  • You agree to keep attention on your testing device at all times. Your eyes may not wander to other parts of the room and you may not leave your chair during the exam session.
  • A basic calculator with the memory cleared may be used.
  • A piece of scratch paper to write down formulas etc, and a pencil will be provided.
  • You must be aware that if the VE team suspects that there is a possibility of cheating, the exam may be terminated and the exam fee forfeited, and you would be barred from taking exams in the future.

On The Day of Your Exam

Please make sure that you have the following ready BEFORE check-in begins.

Photo ID: A legal photo ID will need to be presented at check-in. If you don’t have a drivers license, a passport or a school ID, a legal guardian with a photo ID is acceptable.
Exam Fee: $14 cash (Exact change will help us tremendously to speed up your check-in process)

Exam Session Procedure

One of the VEs will serve as the VE team leader and will lead you through the following procedure.

  • You will be provided with a testing device and asked to verify your registration information.
  • A VE will give you an overview of the test screen and actual test procedure.
  • You will take your exam. The VEs will observe you.
  • When you have answered all of the exam questions, you may check over your answers.
  • When you are ready, press the “Grade Exam” button and your exam will be graded.
  • If you pass your exam, congratulations! You are welcome to know your score, but there is no way to find out which specific questions you missed.

    After completing your exam and receiving a passing grade, you will be asked to review the two documents required to process your license. After reviewing the documents, you will be asked to sign them electronically.

    The VE team leader will explain that your exam details will be uploaded that night, and the FCC should receive the data on the morning of the next business day, they will normally send you a notice to pay your FCC fee (if you are are getting a new license), and that your license will normally appear in the database at approximately 1am the morning after you pay your FCC fee at which time you will receive an email from the FCC with a link to download the official copy of your license.

    The VE team leader will also explain how to reach out for any questions and will encourage you to get involved with a local radio club for further learning opportunities.

    That’s it! You’re done! It may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t.

    If you’ve read this far, we appreciate you taking the time to properly prepare for your ham license exam session and we hope to see you soon!

    After Your Exam Session Is Complete

    As part of your passing license exam, you will be asked to electronically sign two documents: The FCC Quick Form 605 (information that goes to the FCC so they can issue your license) and the CSCE – Certificate of Successful Completion of Exam (proves that you sat before a Volunteer Examiner Team and completed the Elements (requirements) for a Ham Radio License. Electronic signing really speeds the issuance of your new/upgraded license as all the data goes to the VEC and then to the FCC in electronic form.

    As of April 19th 2022, the FCC is charging a congressionally-mandated $35 application fee for New License grants, License Renewals, and Vanity Callsign applications. There is no FCC application fee for License Class Upgrades or Administrative Changes (such as mailing address or email address). After passing a license exam for a new ham radio license, you must pay the FCC application fee before your license will be issued.

    Here’s the steps in the process:

    After you pass your new license exam and electronically sign both the NCVEC QF605 and CSCE, both will be sent to the VEC (W5YI-VEC) and they will transmit your info to the FCC. This usually happens the morning after your exam.

    The FCC will issue your application a File Number. If a FCC Application Fee is required, the FCC will send you an email with a Notice to Pay link. This link will be to the FCC CORES system (the same system where you obtained your FRN). Please click the link in the FCC email, log in to the CORES system, and pay your $35 application fee. (If you don’t get an email from the FCC early the next business day, you may log on to the FCC CORES system, click the ‘Manage Existing FRNs, and then “FRN Financial).

    IMPORTANT: Only pay the fee – do not make any other changes to your application – if you make any other changes, your license issuance will be held up and will not be issued.

    YOU HAVE 10 CALENDAR DAYS TO PAY THE APPLICATION FEE AFTER YOUR FILE NUMBER IS ISSUED!

    If you do not pay the fee within the 10 calendar days, your application will be dismissed and you will not receive your license. You still have your passed exam credit (the CSCE) which is valid for 365 days after your exam, so you won’t have to take the exam again, but you will have to file another application with the FCC through the VEC.

    Note: the FCC is having problems with payments from phones/tablets, so use a computer to pay the fee.

    After you have paid the application fee, the FCC runs a payment batch process overnight, and usually early next morning your license will be issued. You will receive another email from the FCC with a link to download the Official Copy of your license. That’s when you will find out your callsign. Only you can download the Official Copy of your license – we recommend that you keep it in a safe location and print multiple copies.

    That’s it. If you pass your exam on Saturday, pay your Application Fee on Monday or Tuesday, then most likely you will receive your new license by Wednesday morning! It’s still pretty quick!

    Your VE team will be able to answer any specific questions about this process, so be sure to ask after your exam is complete.