Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: May 15, 2013
- How much does it cost to take an amateur license exam?
All exam sessions conducted by Laurel VEC sponsored VE Teams are free.
- Do I need to bring my own pencils, papers, etc?
No. Everything you will need such as pencils and scratch paper will be provided.
- Can I use a calculator?
Yes. In fact, many VE teams will provide a calculator.
However, if you bring your own calculator and it is programmable its
memory must be cleared.
- How soon after I pass can I start operating?
When you earn a new license, you can start operating as
soon as your license grant is shown in the FCC’s ULS
license database. Usually your license will be listed in
the FCC data base within two weeks after you take your
test, and you will also receive a paper copy of your
license in the mail. When you upgrade to a higher class
of license, you can begin operating with your new
privileges immediately, and must identify that you are
operating on temporary privileges (temporary KT, AG
or AE) pending your upgrade listing in the ULS.
- Why do I have to provide my social security
number to get my ham license?
Federal law requires that anyone applying for or
renewing any federally issued license must provide their
social security number.
- What do I need to bring to the Exam session?
- A photo ID. Children without photo IDs may be
tested providing that they can prove their identity
to the satisfaction of the LARC VEC Team
- The original (and one copy) of any current
(unexpired) amateur radio operator’s license
issued to you.
- The original (and one copy) of any document on
which you will be relying to prove element credit.
These documents may include:
- Pre March 21, 1987 Technician license:
Credit for the Element 3 exam, General
- A letter from the FCC confirming that you
previously held a specific class of license for
which you will be given credit for the
Element 3 exams.
- An unexpired Certificate of Successful
Completion of Exam (CSCE) indicating the
- A positive attitude and some patience. The
folks administering the exams are dedicated
volunteers. They will do their best to get you tested,
your exam graded, inform you of the results, and if
applicable, prepare and present to you a certificate
stating you have earned a license or an upgrade as
quickly as possible.
- Do I have to pass a Morse code test to get my ham
No. The Morse code exam is no longer required to earn
a new or upgraded amateur radio license.
- What will the test session be like?
The sessions will vary somewhat due to the teams and
the facilities where the test is conducted. However, the
session will generally be be conducted as follows:
- Registration - You will be asked to
complete one or two forms; show your photo ID; inspect
the original version of your current, unexpired
license and other applicable documentation; and
provide copies of your current, unexpired license and
other applicable documentation.
- Pre-exam instructions - You will probably
be given some pre-exam instructions regarding the use
of calculators, procedures for asking questions, rules
for taking the exam, bathroom breaks during the exam,
- The exam - The Technician and General exams
each contain 35 multiple choice questions. You must
correctly answer 26 questions to pass (74.2%). The
Amateur Extra exam contains 50 multiple choice
questions of which you must correctly answer 37
(74%) to pass.
- Grading - Once you've completed your exam,
it will be graded and you will be informed
of the result. If you passed you will receive a
Certificate of Successful Completion of Exam (CSCE)
indicating which element(s) you've passed and, if
appropriate, which license class you've earned. If you
didn't pass the exam, the VEs may, at their
discretion, allow you to take a second exam.
Note: The VE team will strive to score your test,
inform you of the results, and process your paperwork
as quickly as possible. The size of the test session
and the number of VEs on-hand will be factors in how
quickly this gets done. Please be patient.
- If I fail my exam, can I take another exam
during the same session?
The decision to let you take a second exam during the
same test session after failing a previous attempt is up to
the VE Team. The VE team is not required to let you take
The team will make their decision based on several factors
which include, but are not limited to, the number of
applicants being processed, the number of VEs available,
and how badly you failed the previous exam. For example, if
you missed passing by one or two questions, many teams will
let you take another exam (a different version, of course).
On the other hand if you missed passing by six or seven
questions the VE team will most likely suggest you go home
and continue studying.
- I heard I can be "Grandfathered" to General.
What's the story?
In some cases a current or former licensee can earn
credit for certain exam elements based on the license
currently or formerly held. If you hold a Technician license
that was issued prior to March 21,1987, you have lifetime
credit for Element 3, General written. You must provide proof
that you held such a license by producing the original license
or a letter from the FCC stating that you held such a license. If
you hold a current Technician license, you will be issued a
CSCE giving you credit for having earned a General class
license. Otherwise, you may take the Element 2 Technician
exam and, if you pass, you will be issued a CSCE giving you
credit for having earned a General class license.
- I can't find my original license in order to
claim the "Grandfathered" credit for Elements 1 and 3. How
do I get the letter from the FCC?
Write a letter to the FCC and provide as much
information as possible: The call sign of the license in
question, a time frame of when the license was issued,
address if known, the name under which the license was
issued. Provide anything that might help them
find proof of you being licensed in order to claim credit
for the "grandfathered elements". The address is:
1270 Fairfield Rd
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245
- How do I become a Volunteer Examiner?
Contact any Laurel VEC VE Team leader.