Online Ham Radio Exam Instructions

Taking your exam online with the RWK 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: 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 RWK VE team is paying for one exam per level for RWK members (in other words, we’re not paying for free retests, so be ready to pass your exam) if you are an active member of the RWK, there is no fee. If you are already licensed but not yet an RWK member and are interested in joining, you may join before your exam. If you don’t have a license yet, but wish to take advantage of this offer, then contact the exam coordinator after registering, contact details will be forwarded to you when you have registered for the exam.

If you are not an active member of the Richardson Wireless Klub, you must pay the $14 exam fee in advance electronically through Paypal. If you have already registered for an exam session, please click the PayPal button and pay for your exam session now. You may pay with a PayPal account or with a Debit/Credit Card.

Ham License Exam – K5RWK VE Team through W5YI VEC

$14.00

Taking more than one exam in one session: If you want to take more than one exam. please let us know when you register. If you don’t let us know ahead of time that you wish to take more than one exam, we will put you back into the waiting room until we’ve tested the rest of the applicants before you can take the next exam.

Federal Registration Number (FRN): If you currently have, or have had, a ham license or any other FCC license, then use your existing FRN. If you do not have an FRN number, you will be able to register for one when you register for the exam. You can also do it yourself by visiting the FCC’s Registration page and clicking “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 Online Remote Exam: You must read and understand the preparation for your online exam (see below) and complete the steps for the Day of the Exam (see below). If you are not prepared, either with the required computer setup or with your room/environment, we may cancel your registration and you may forfeit your exam fee.

Preparation for Online Remote Exams

Please read and follow the instructions below, it is not necessary to worry about instructions for other online sessions that you may have read. In most instances, we do not require dual cameras, we are more flexible with respect to your testing location than some other teams, etc.

Practice for your exam: It is your responsibility to be fully prepared since you will be taking the time of 4 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 the 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 register 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 fee. Typically we will put you back in the queue for testing until after we have tested the other waiting applicants.

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

  1. You must complete the test without any interruptions that would raise suspicion about the integrity of the testing environment.
  2. You agree to keep attention on your computer screen 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.
  3. You agree to use a single-screen computer or laptop. No other screens may be attached or near your computer. Please cover or turn any extra screens away from you.
  4. You may not have visitors in the room, other people must be kept out for the duration of the exam.
  5. You will use your computer’s webcam to scan the entire room and exam area to show that there are no materials or people that could aid in taking the exam. If your webcam is part of an all-in-one computer and it would be impractical to use to scan the room, then join the meeting with a cell phone, and we will use the cell phone camera.
  6. If requested you will place your cell phone so that it views a larger area around your test environment.
  7. You may optionally load a calculator app on your computer, we prefer that you use an onscreen calculator.
  8. You can have a notes app to write down formulas etc, but it must be clear at the start of the exam.
  9. You will NOT be able to use scrap paper, writing utensils, manual calculators, or any other kinds of assistance during the online exam.
  10. You must share your entire screen with the VE team, not just the browser.
  11. You must agree that the exam session will be recorded and stored for a period of time in case of any question about a possible breach of exam protocol.
  12. 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 online exams in the future.

On The Day of Your Exam

Please make sure that you have prepared the following BEFORE THE START OF YOUR EXAM SESSION.

Photo ID: A legal photo ID will need to be shown on camera to the VE Team. If you don’t have a drivers license, a passport or a school ID and a legal guardian with a photo ID is acceptable.

Prepare your Computer and Cell Phone Camera: The VE Team must ensure the integrity of the test delivery system. Be sure your computer and phone can meet these requirements:

  • You must have a working computer with webcam, microphone, and speaker (NO HEADSETS may be used). You may also join the session with a cell phone or tablet to use for the room tour, if so do not start audio on that device. Please add ‘phone’ to your zoom name when joining on your phone. MacOS requires that you give Zoom permission to ‘record your screen’ before the screen can be shared.  Please test this out before the exam. You can also use an iPad or iPhone with the Zoom app to take the test if you don’t have a computer.
  • Be sure the computer and phone are plugged in or fully charged.
  • Your computer (and phone if needed) must be connected to the Internet with reliable service sufficient to support a continuous webcam image.
  • You must have only one screen or monitor on the computer. Remove any additional monitors, or take a single laptop into a different room.
  • You must download and test-run the Zoom software client on your computer (and phone if needed). The test will not work if you run Zoom in a browser. You may not have a virtual background enabled during the test session.
  • Temporarily disable any chat, alerts, bluetooth, virtual screens, or pop-up apps. If you have your phone paired to your computer, please engage the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting.
  • You may optionally have a computer calculator app on your screen during the exam. You may not use any other handheld calculator or calculator app on your phone. Load it in advance if you need it.
  • No other applications or browser windows are permitted to be open.

Prepare your Exam Room: The VE Team must ensure the integrity of the test environment. Be sure you can take the exam uninterrupted.

  • You must be alone in the room. No other people are allowed in the same room during the exam. Warn family members not to enter the room during the exam, as this will likely void the exam session.
  • Clear the test area of all non-exam materials, notes, books, posters, computer screens, or anything with information that could aid in taking the exam. We’re not very concerned about things behind you, just what you can see from where you’re sitting.
  • Clear your exam table and floor of ALL items within reach or view that would raise suspicion, such as papers, sticky notes, electronic items, headphones, and anything unnecessary for the exam.
  • A computer mouse is, of course, perfectly acceptable.
  • Clear the room of any distracting things that could take your attention off of the exam.
  • You must be ready to scan the entire room on video. If you are not using a laptop, or a webcam with a sufficiently long cord to look all around the room, then you should have a cell phone ready to link to the same Zoom meeting to use to scan the room for the VE team. If you join the room with a cell phone in addition, do not join the zoom session with audio on the phone unless directed to.

Exam Session Procedure

A few minutes before the start time of your exam session, you will receive a Zoom meeting invitation link via email. (please don’t email us asking where your invite is as the sessions are only setup just prior to the exam, and we’re typically quite busy at that time, so if you email asking where your invitation is, we likely won’t see your email until the session starts).

Please enter the Zoom meeting as soon as you receive your invitation by clicking the link in the email invite that you receive. Also, please make sure your participant name in zoom is correct so we can match you with your ExamTools registration.

Once you enter the Zoom meeting, you will remain in the waiting room until your exam session begins (depending on how many candidates are ahead of you, your wait may be as long as 90 minutes). If it looks like the wait may be extended due to a longer than normal test session with a previous applicant, we will contact you in the waiting room, or via phone.

Once you are admitted to the online testing room, you will be in a Zoom conference with four or more Volunteer Examiners (VEs). As a reminder, all the VEs in your session are volunteering their time to help you get your ham radio license and they want you to be prepared so that your exam proceeds as smoothly as possible.

One of the VEs will serve as the VE team leader and will lead you through the following procedure. (You don’t need to memorize this, we just want you to be familiar with the process so you know what to expect).

  • You will be asked to show your photo ID in the camera until every VE can verify your identity. If your webcam is unable to focus on your photo ID, you will be asked to show the ID using a cell phone camera.
  • You will be asked to use your camera to scan the room. We need to see all four walls in the room, as well as a closeup of the work surface that the computer or keyboard is resting on. If you are using a laptop computer, we will ask you to pick it up and rotate it so that the camera can view the room. If you are using a desktop computer with a separate webcam, we will ask you to pick up and rotate the webcam. If your camera is unable to scan the room, you will be asked to use a cell phone to join the zoom meeting and accomplish the room scan. After the scan is complete, if requested by the VE team, please leave the phone on and propped up at a distance aimed toward the computer, so that it can view you and the computer.
  • You will be asked to share your full desktop via Zoom, not just a browser window. Typically clicking the green “share screen” button and then click the blue ‘share’ button in the window that pops up.
  • We will want to look at your computer to make sure that you have no applications running other than a calculator app and optionally a notepad type app for making notes/formulas. You can speed the process by closing all other applications beforehand and loading and arranging a browser window and optionally position a calculator app next to it. If you choose to use a calculator app, we will need to see that the calculator memory and history are clear. We need to be satisfied that you don’t have a pre-programmed calculator already loaded with formulas.
  • Please do not have a browser running initially, we will ask you to launch a web browser during the setup process.
  • You will be directed to the exam web page. You will then be instructed on how to log into the exam.
  • You will verify your registration information.
  • The VE team leader will give you an overview of the test screen and actual test procedure.
  • You will take your exam. The VEs will observe you through the webcam and observe your exam through the shared desktop.
  • 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 the time frame for uploading your exam, your paying the FCC fee, and when your license will appear in the FCC ULS database and what you will receive via email.
  • The VE team leader will 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! You will be invited to leave the zoom meeting.

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 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 at one of our regular Thursday evening sessions, pay your Application Fee on Friday, then most likely you will receive your new license on Saturday 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 over.