Is there a question you think should be here that we missed? Ask it in the comments at the bottom of the page!

General FAQ

These are things useful for all amateur radio operators — currently licensed, previously licensed, or aspiring.

What is an FCC Registration Number and how do I get one?

An FCC Registration Number is a number assigned to you by the FCC which can be used with all FCC transactions (including applying for a new call sign, renewing your existing one, etc) in place of your social security number.  Read more here.

How do I update or renew my license?

You can renew your Amateur Radio license on the FCC website completely free! Read more here for instructions and screenshots to see how it works.

Where do the question pools come from?

The question pools are written by the Question Pool Committee (QPC) from the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators.

Many people seem to be under the impression that the question pools are published by the FCC or the ARRL.  This is not the case, though the ARRL is likely part of the NCVEC and thus involved in the process.

The original documents can be found here.  If you would like to write something using the question pools, we have them in json and xml format and will make them available to you on request, just send us an email.

HamStudy.org-specific FAQ

Do you have a mobile version?

Update: As of May, 2018 we do! You can always use hamstudy.org in your mobile browser, but for those users who want to use HamStudy.org without an internet connection we have offline-capable apps for most mobile and desktop platforms!

We do ask $3.99 for the offline capable app, but keep in mind this includes all question pools and explanations from the website! Also, if that’s too much for you we still welcome you to use the online website for free!

Can I reset my stats / progress on the site?

At present you cannot.  This is something we’ll probably enable eventually, however most people who want to do so are under a misunderstanding.  The most common reason people ask about this is that they want to study the questions all again, “not just the ones I missed the first time,” or “not just a few of them that come up.”

See the next question for how questions are chosen for the flashcards, but this is not needed.  If you keep going through the flashcards, it will keep giving you the questions you need.  You will see all the questions again, even if you answered it correctly the first time.

Will I get any questions on my exam that I don’t see while studying on HamStudy.org?

It depends on how you study. The question pools are publicly available — you can download them online for free. This means that any competently developed study program for Amateur Radio has the potential to give you all possible questions.

Where things get tricky, though, is that far too many people rely solely on practice exams to study. Even with HamStudy.org this will not guarantee that you see all the questions.

A well-designed practice exam is exactly what it says — an exam generated exactly like a real exam would be. HamStudy.org’s practice tests work just this way. What this means, though, is that even if you take 30 practice exams you may not see all of the questions!

We at HamStudy.org consider this to be a Bad Thing. Therefore, we created the flashcards.  See the next question for exactly how they work, but if you use the flashcards correctly you will see every question in the pool — not just see, but learn, as the ones that you need will be repeated for you. You can also look at the charts to see how much of the pool you have seen and which areas you need to work on the most.

Pretty slick, eh?

How do the flashcards work? How are questions chosen?

The flashcards work on a learning algorithm that ranks questions based on these criteria:

  • Whether or not you have seen the question
  • Whether or not you have answered it correctly
  • How many times you have seen the question
  • How recently you have answered it correctly
  • How you have done the last 10 times you have seen the question
  • What percentage of people answered this question correctly the first time they saw it.

The flashcards use a sliding scale to determine which “rank” of question to choose next.  This sliding scale attempts to balance easy/review questions and hard/challenging questions in such a way that it keeps you challenged but not too frustrated to continue.

Can I narrow down my FlashCard studies?

You sure can! At the top of the flashcard screen you will see “Technician Flash Cards: All”. (Of course, the pool name will vary).

Technician Flash Cards: All

Look for this bar at the top of the flashcards screen


Here is the trick that some people miss: The “All” is a dropdown!

Screenshot 2015-02-06 21.45.18

Click the “All” button to see a list of subelements


Simply select the subelement you want to study and you’re there!  You can also click on a subelement on the chart showing how many you missed after taking a practice test.

Pro Tip: When you start studying, read through the questions for a subelement using the “Read Questions” mode and then study that subelement’s flashcards! Rinse and repeat 10 times and you’re done.  Just remember you don’t need perfect aptitude to be ready! (see next item)

What does 100% aptitude mean?

You asked for it, so here is the approximate math:

Overall aptitude is defined as the average aptitude for the group of questions under consideration.

Aptitude for a given question is determined using a logrithmic scale where the most recent time you answered the question is worth 50%, the next most recent 25%, then 12.5%, etc up to the last 10 times you have seen the question.  When you haven’t seen the question 10 times, the number is estimated based on the percentage of people who answer that question correctly the first time they see it.

Thus in order to get 100% aptitude, you would need to answer every question correctly 10 times in a row.  Let us be very clear on this: If you ever do this, you spent *way* too much time studying this pool and you should have moved on 😉

Pro tips:

How can I best use the resources on HamStudy.org?

There are easy answers to this and hard answers to this =] The main thing is to find what works for you and do it! Here are some overall suggestions, though:

  • Use practice tests as a progress gauge, not as a study tool.  When you finish the test you can see where you missed the most questions, so focus on that subelement for awhile. Rinse and repeat.
  • Don’t underestimate how useful reading the questions can be! That’s why we have the section there, and you can click “Hide Distractors” in the top right corner to hide all but the correct answer.
  • Flash cards can get tedious after awhile; break the monotony by reading questions and taking a practice exam now and again.  It can also help to select a specific subelement to study.

Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is to not get discouraged and keep going!


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