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Ham radio license study guide

Ham radio license study guide

Ham radio license study guide

What is ham radio?

At its core, ham radio (officially called amateur radio) is the licensed use of radio equipment for private recreation, experimentation, self-training, practice, emergency communications, or any other non-commercial use. In the United States the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the Amateur Radio service and issues licenses to allow "hams" to work the airwaves.

The word amateur is defined as a person who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession. This definition is especially true for all of us in the ham radio.

 How do I get licensed?

Before you can start using ham radio, you need to be licensed. Fortunately, that isn't hard! Here are the basic requirements:

There are three levels of Amateur Radio license; to get a higher level you must pass the requirements for the lower level plus the exam for the higher level. They are (in this order):

  • Technician Class
  • General Class
  • Amateur Extra class

Amateur radio licensing is managed by the Federal Communications Commision (FCC). Being licensed means that your name is listed in the FCC Universal Licensing System with an associated ham radio callsign.

See also Licensing

Study Guides

  • KB6NU’s No-Nonsense Study guides (free)
    • Relatively straightforward and completely free. These are a great companion to HamStudy for aspiring and current hams alike who are preparing for a radio test.
  • ARRL License Manual (book to purchase)
    • If you are one that wants to fully learn all the materials before you get your license, the ARRL books are a great resource.
  • Gordon West’s study materials (materials to purchase)
    • Another good commercial option for learning about ham radio.
  • David Casler’s Youtube video guides for the license pools
    • Excellent video classes for all three US licenses

Other Free Study Websites


    • HamStudy is modern, powerful, works on cell phones, and has both flash cards and practice tests — we think we’ve done a pretty good job of providing a system that has something for everyone.  However, if there is something you don’t like about our website, here are some other options you can check out:
    • If we weren’t using HamStudy, we’d probably use this one. Ron, NA0Q, has done a great job with this little site and has some great flash cards and statistics. Mobile site with flash cards only available. Requires login for statistics and flash card history.
  •’s practice tests
    • Very simple but still effective practice tests.  Includes a “no figures” option for the sight-impaired.
  • QRZ
    • One of the oldest options, tied to the relatively well-known QRZ website.  Requires login.
  • eHam
    • eHam is a great website where you can find or write reviews for all sorts of amateur products; in addition, it turns out they have their own set of practice tests.
  • Others (list maintained by ARRL)
    • This is a list maintained by ARRL of study websites.  It changes sometimes, and there are a few other options they have that we didn’t list here.
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