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How Do I Prepare for the Ham Radio Test?

Patrick Roland
Patrick Roland

Ham radio allows average citizens to create amateur radio broadcasts without professional equipment that can be very expensive. In order to fully operate and spread your message through the airwaves, you must have a ham operator license. The only way to acquire this distinction is by taking the ham radio test. No matter whether you learn in a classroom or independently, there are a series of technical and legal areas you must know in order to pass. Some things that can help you prepare for the test are taking classes, reading books and taking sample exams.

Every country has its own communications licensing board that deals with radio and television laws. Each of these organizations has a different set of regulations that are required if you want to operate a ham radio legally, but all of them look to see if you have a general knowledge of the practices and equipment used. In the United States, for example, the Federal Communications Commission offers a ham radio test that asks questions about technical knowledge, operating knowledge and legal understanding. By passing this test, you are granted permission to use a greater range of airwave frequencies and reach a potentially larger audience.

Reading books is a popular way to prepare for the ham radio test.
Reading books is a popular way to prepare for the ham radio test.

Many consider taking a class to be the best way to prepare for the ham radio test. An instructor will guide you through the equipment used to broadcast a signal, the techniques of utilizing the vast frequencies available and the issues about what can and cannot be broadcast legally. This is a helpful method to prepare because you can ask direct questions and get immediate answers, and you can interact with other students. The problem with this method is that it can be expensive and hard to find, because the class often are held only in major cities.

A more popular way to prepare for the test is by reading ham radio books. Much like the study guides for common standardized tests such as those required for acceptance into college, these books are written by experts to help you prepare for the ham radio exam. These texts generally cover the basic understanding of setting up and broadcasting with amateur radio, how the test will be structured and some tips for taking tests. The problem with this method is that you won't have the encouragement of a class setting, you won't be able to ask questions if you don't understand something, and you must be self-reliant in studying.

A final way to prepare for the ham radio test is to take sample exams. These are easily found online and provide questions and their answers. These sample exams ask questions about communication laws, technical bandwidth knowledge, preparing equipment for broadcasting and everything you need to pass the test.

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Discussion Comments


I live in Southern Illinois, and the closest instructor-led class I can find is a long way away. I'm wondering if anyone who has gone through the online courses can suggest some good sources, especially ones where feedback and some form of Q and A are offered. I'd much rather have someone there I can learn from, but perhaps some of the courses use Skype or another service where you can communicate with an instructor.

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    • Reading books is a popular way to prepare for the ham radio test.
      Reading books is a popular way to prepare for the ham radio test.