Online courses for the ham radio license exams. HamTestOnline on LinkedIn
 


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the HamTestOnline website?

The HamTestOnline™ website provides computer-based, adaptive training for the ham radio license exams.


What makes the HamTestOnline website so special?

Study materials — We provide information beyond the questions and answers, helping you to understand the concepts rather than just memorize the answers.  (It is actually faster to learn the materials than to memorize the answers.)

Logical order — Like a book, we present concepts in a logical order.  Building from simple to more complex concepts promotes learning rather than memorizing.

Active learning — Like a random exam, we use repetitive question drill to keep you awake and interested.  Active learning is more effective than passive learning because your brain remains engaged.

Actual exam questions — We drill the actual exam questions to prepare you for the actual exams.

Tracks your progress — Our special The Software that Knows You™ programming keeps track of your progress through the course and which questions are giving you trouble.  Even if weeks or months pass between study sessions, we never forget.

Adaptive learning — Like a patient tutor, our “intelligent repetition” algorithm repeats each question optimally — ones that give you trouble are repeated sooner, while ones you answer correctly are reviewed later.  It focuses your study time where you need it.

Question linking — Your response to one question affects the repetition of related questions.  For example, if you always answer questions about Ohm's Law correctly, all questions about Ohm's Law will appear less frequently.  Why waste time on a concept you have already mastered?

 

Books Random exams HamTestOnline
Study materials Yes No Yes
Logical order Yes No Yes
Active learning No Yes Yes
Tracks your progress No No Yes
Adaptive learning No No Yes
Question linking No No Yes
No tax, no shipping No Yes Yes
Instant delivery No Yes Yes
100% guarantee No No Yes


No tax, no shipping — When comparing prices, don't forget the taxes and shipping!  We don't charge either.

Instant delivery — You don't have to wait a week for materials to arrive.  Just subscribe online by credit card or PayPal, any time of day or night, and start studying online immediately.  Many of our students pass their exams before the books would have arrived!

100% guarantee — We guarantee success.  If you fail an amateur radio license exam after preparing on the HamTestOnline website, or if you are dissatisfied with our service for any reason, we will refund the cost of your subscription.  (Try getting a bookseller to make that kind of promise!)

Our refund rate is about 1%.


Does the HamTestOnline website simulate the actual exam?

Random practice exams are a terrible way to learn:

  • They don't explain or teach anything.

  • They jumble all the material together with no respect for logical order.

  • They don't give priority to unseen questions, so even after 100 practice exams, you may not have seen all of the questions.

  • They don't focus on your weak areas.  They repeat easy questions just as often as hard questions.

  • They encourage memorizing answers, not learning the materials.

Nevertheless, we do have random exams that simulate the actual exams.  Once you have learned the concepts, you can use them to boost your confidence before the actual exam.


Does the HamTestOnline website replace books and courses?

We have everything you need to understand the materials and pass the ham radio license exams, and we encourage you to "study green."  However, if you feel the need to kill a tree, rather than purchasing license manuals that will be useless once you pass the test, we recommend the ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications as a comprehensive reference book.  You will refer to it for years to come.


Does the HamTestOnline website use the actual questions from the VEC question pools?

The HamTestOnline™ website includes all questions from the latest ham radio written exam question pools.  These are the exact same questions and answer choices you will see on the real exam.

The following question pools are currently online:

Question poolEffective datesQuestion pool sizeQuestions on the testMinimum right to passMaximum wrong to pass
NEW Technician Class
7/01/2014 - 6/30/2018 426 35 26 9
General Class 7/01/2011 - 6/30/2015 456 35 26 9
Extra Class 7/01/2012 - 6/30/2016 702 50 37 13

We always have the latest question pools online!

  • A new Technician question pool went into effect on July 1, 2014.  We have removed the old question pool from the system.

    Note: Technician exams administered on or after July 1, 2014 must use the new pool.  Volunteer examiners have no leeway.  They must use the correct pool for the exam date.

    Over the years we have heard of a few rare instances where volunteer examiners accidentally used the wrong version of an exam.  When the error is discovered, the candidate is usually required to re-test using the correct version, at no additional cost.  This is very unlikely to happen to you.  Nevertheless, during this transition period, before taking the Technician exam, you should check the question pool date printed on your exam booklet to make sure they gave you the right version for your exam date.  (Note that only the Technician exam is changing this year.)

    This was a relatively minor update.  The new question pool is 8% larger than the old pool, with 426 questions as compared to 394 remaining valid questions in the old pool.  72% (308 out of 426) of the questions in the new pool are either identical or have minor wording changes from ones in the the old pool.  Only 28% (118 out of 426) are either new or substantially reworded.
     
  • No question pools changed in 2013.
     
  • The current Extra class question pool, valid July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2016, is online.
     
  • The current General class question pool, valid July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2015, is online.  There will be a new version coming for July 1, 2015, so you might want to finish up your General studies before then!
     
  • Effective January 1, 2014, HamTestOnline no longer sells the Canadian courses.  Click here for details.  We have decided to focus our energy exclusively on the U.S. exams and plan to remove all non-U.S. courses from the site.


Are all of these questions really on the exam?

The exams are drawn from the published question pools.  Of course, you don't know which questions will be selected for your exam, so you need to study all of them.


Which courses do I need to purchase?

Each of our courses includes the materials for one single exam.  If you want to pass multiple exams, you should purchase multiple courses.

For example, if you are currently unlicensed and want to obtain a General class license, you will need to pass both the Technician and General exams, so you should purchase and study both the Technician and General courses.  Buying the General course alone would not give you the Technician exam materials.

See Which exam to take? to determine which exams are necessary in your situation.

What additional information does the HamTestOnline website provide?

While the HamTestOnline™ website is not a complete course on all aspects of ham radio, we do provide a great deal of information beyond what can be learned by reading the question pools.  For many questions, the website provides explanations, formulas, and pictures to extend and reinforce your learning experience.

Don't expect to find long "lectures" on our site.  To keep the brain active, we teach through exam question drill as much as possible.  We only present reading material when you can't learn the subject matter from the question drill itself, or when the questions don't cover some important point.  If you want to delve more deeply into the details, we provide links to many awesome webpages on other sites.

Note: you will learn faster and understand more if you take the time to read the added information!


Is the HamTestOnline website easy to use?

The website is easier to use than some of the other study programs on the web.

  • The graphics from the question pools are automatically shown when needed.

  • One single click on your answer choice gives you feedback on your response and automatically presents the next question.  It couldn't be any easier!

(To make the program as easy to use as possible, you do not have to click directly on the radio button for the answer; you can click anywhere within the answer text region.)


How does the HamTestOnline website decide which questions to present?

The program uses special formulas to calculate a "score" for each question, its estimate (on a scale from 0% to 100%) of how well you know the answer to the question.  Some of the factors that go into this calculation are:

  • Your correct and incorrect answer history for the question.

  • How many times you use the Show answer, 50/50, and hint buttons.

  • Your answer history for linked questions.

  • How difficult other students find the question.

  • How quickly you learned other questions in the same subtopic.

The program presents questions based on their current scores and on the elapsed time since they were last asked.  It tries to avoid repeating any question "too" soon.  It repeats questions with low scores sooner than questions with higher scores.  As the score for a question increases — as you start to master the information — you see it less often.  The "intelligent repetition" algorithm matches the way people learn.

The program only presents new materials when there are no previously seen questions due for a repeat.


Do I have any control over the question scores and question selection process?

You cannot directly edit a question's score, but you can affect it by consistently answering the question correctly (or incorrectly).  In fact, if you really want the program to drill a specific question more frequently, you can intentionally answer it wrong even when you know the right answer.  You can be certain that the question will appear again!

The My options screen also includes a Repetition delay factor option that influences the program's question choosing algorithm.  Increase this factor to increase the time between question repetitions.  Decrease it to see questions sooner.  Regardless of this setting, the program still uses "intelligent repetition" and shows you questions with low scores sooner than questions with high scores.


What if the HamTestOnline website asks a question I don't know the answer to?

If you don't know the answer, you have options:

  1. You can click the hint buttons to search for more information. 
     
  2. You can try to make an educated guess based on what you know.  Trying to puzzle out answer keeps the brain awake.
     
  3. Or you can press the Show answer button.

What does the Show answer button do?

The Show answer button shows you the correct answer, along with all explanatory information available for that question.

Read all of the explanations, and try to memorize the correct answer.  Then, click on the correct answer to move on.  The program does not give you credit for a correct answer this time, but keep in mind that the important thing is to learn the material.  When the program repeats the question a few minutes later, you will know the answer.


What does the 50/50 button do?

Just as on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? the 50/50 button eliminates half of the wrong answers.  If you get the correct answer after pressing 50/50, you get partial credit for the question.


What do the Skip buttons do?

Skip subject for now temporarily turns off all questions in a single closely-related subject area.  For instance, if you are just not in the mood to deal with questions about logic gates, you can skip them for now.

Skip these calculations for now turns off all questions requiring calculations in a single closely-related subject area.  Questions in the same subject area which do not require calculations will still be presented.  This button only appears on questions that require calculations.

Skip all calculations for now temporarily turns off all questions requiring calculation in all courses.  This button only appears on questions that require calculations.

All of these skips last for 8 hours, or until you press the Clear skips button at the bottom of the Choose Topics screen.  You can keep skipping them again and again every 8 hours, but you might want to learn them and get them out of the way for good.

Some students choose not learn any questions requiring calculations.  Since the exams (even the Extra) only contain a handful of questions requiring calculations, you can pass without doing any math, as long as you learn the other materials thoroughly.


What are the hint buttons?

Sample hint buttons

Most questions have one or more hint buttons to provide additional information to help you understand and answer the question.  These buttons appear just to the right of the skip buttons, and are labeled with red letters.

Most hints bring up relevant informational texts (“infotexts”).  The button label may be the name of the subject area, but in cases where the subject area name might give a clue to the correct answer, we typically use "See text."

Questions requiring calculations usually have a "Show formula" hint, which shows the formula, and a "Show calculation" hint, which shows how to plug in the actual numbers into the formula to derive the correct answer.

You can ask for hints before or after answering the question.  If you ask before correctly answering a question, you do not get full credit for the correct answer.  So if you think you know the answer, but still want to review the hints, you should answer first, get full credit for a correct answer, and then click the hint buttons.


What do the various icons mean?

New study item means this is the first time you've seen this question in Study mode.

New exam item means you're currently in exam mode and seeing this question for the first time in any mode.

U.S. only means this question is specific to the U.S. regulations.  Other countries have different rules.


Is guessing bad?

Guessing is good.  It keeps the brain awake.  If you're wrong, the program tells you and gives you a chance to try again.  For some questions, it explains why your guess was wrong.  Also, an incorrect guess lowers the score for the question, which causes the program to present it more often in the future.  Since it's clearly a question that you have not yet mastered, that's exactly what you need.


How can I coordinate my studies on your website with information in the license manual?

While it is not necessary, if you plan to use other study materials in conjunction with the website, you should turn on the Show question numbers option on the My options screen.  You will see the official question number in small gray letters after each question.  These are the same question numbers used in the various license manuals. 


What are topics?

Click Choose topics and notice the hierarchy of topics.  The top level is the country you currently have selected, the second is the exam, and the third is the topic within the exam.  Check the checkboxes beside the exams or topics you want to study.  To change countries, click one of the links at the bottom of the Choose topics screen.


How do I switch courses in Study mode?
How do I force Study mode to give me questions from a specific course?

Go to the Choose topics screen and make sure just the topics you want to study are checked.


How are topic scores calculated?

Topic scores are a roll up of the scores of the questions in the topic and all its subtopics.  Your topic scores start out at zero.  As the question scores increase, the containing topic scores increase as well.  If the scores for all questions under a particular topic reach 100%, then the score for that topic becomes 100%.

Topic scores are a good way to get an idea of your progress through the material.  Once your score for an exam level reaches 90% or more, you have a good shot at a perfect score on that exam! (When you get a perfect score, please tell everyone that you studied with the HamTestOnline™ website!)

The topic scores are shown in square brackets in the gray topic header bar at the top of the Study screen, as well as on the Choose topics screen.

Note: Topic scores are normally calculated immediately after each question is answered.  However, when the system is busy, these calculations are sometimes briefly deferred.  Under these conditions the Topic scores, score bars, and user ranks displayed may be a couple of minutes out-of-date.


Do I need to reach a 100% score before I take the exam?

You do not need a 100% score on HamTestOnline™ before you take the exam. 

The score is the program's prediction of your actual grade if you took the exam today.  Of course, your actual result will probably vary somewhat from the prediction.  If you currently have a score of 75%, you will probably score somewhere in the range of 65% to 85%, so at this point you should not count on passing.

Once you achieve a score of 85%, you will probably score somewhere between 75% and 95%, so you have a high probability of passing the exam.

Once you reach 90% to 95%, you are certain to pass, and you have a shot at a perfect score.

If you are absolutely determined to ace the exam, you can try to achieve a 100% score.  It's not easy to do.  To get a 100% score, you have to answer hundreds of questions in a row with 100% accuracy.  99% accuracy will never give you a 100% score.  Only a small percentage of students take it to this extreme.

Here's what we usually recommend.  Stay in Study mode until you reach 85%.  Then take a few simulated exams.  If you pass several in a row with scores of 85% or higher, you are ready to pass the actual exam.  If not, then spend some more time in Study mode.


Why do my topic scores sometimes go down without me doing anything?

As time passes, information fades from memory.  The scores, which are the program's estimate of your knowledge, decrease over time to reflect this process.  If you want your knowledge and scores to stay at 100%, you have to keep coming back to review the material.


Why do I have non-zero scores in topics that I have never enabled?

Many questions are repeated, either identically or with slightly different phrasing, on different exams.  The HamTestOnline™ website links these questions together.  When you answer one in the group, you get full or partial credit for the others.

So, while you may only be studying the questions for one license exam, you are actually learning material that appears on other exams, and the program reflects this fact in your scores for those exams.  If you eventually switch over to study for that other exam, the material you have already learned will appropriately be treated as review, rather than new material.


How do I interpret the "score bars"?

The score bars give you a graphical representation of your progress through the questions.  The pink section represents questions you have not yet seen, red is those you're actively learning, blue questions still need some review, and the green ones are completely learned.

Your score bars start out completely pink.  As you begin to study, you start to see some red, and then some blue.  Eventually some green starts to show, and it keeps growing as the pink shrinks.  Don't feel that you necessarily have to turn the bar all green.  Most students pass the exams with excellent scores long before that point.


What does it mean when the program says “No new questions available in the course” in study mode?

This means that you have seen all the questions in a particular course.  The website will continue to drill you on the questions you have already seen.

If you have not yet subscribed to the course you are studying, this message indicates that you have seen all the "free stuff".


What is User Rank?

User rank shows how your total score (for all exams) compares to other student's.  You start below thousands of other students.  Do you have what it takes to get into the Top 10?


What is the Session score?

The session score, displayed at the bottom of the button bar, shows how many questions you answered correctly, without assistance, the first time they were presented in the current login session.

When you have the Show answers option selected, new questions presented during the session are not included in the session score — otherwise, since Show answers is a form of assistance, they would always count against you.

Please note that the Session score only changes the first time you answer a particular question in a session.  Subsequent responses leave the Session score unchanged.


What is the "free trial"?

Our free trial includes:
• Unlimited simulated exams using the complete question pools — with memory.
• Adaptive learning for the first 50 questions in each course.

This lets you see the power of the HamTestOnline™ software before you purchase.


Why should I create an account?

Create an account so our The Software that Knows You™ database can track your personal progress, and next time you visit, you pick up studying  where you left off.

We used to delete free trial accounts after 30 days of inactivity, but we now keep them around for one year.


Do I have to supply my name?

The Top Scores screen lets you compare your progress against the progress of others.  You have to supply some name for display on this screen.  We encourage you to supply your full, real name.  However, some people enter only their first name, nickname, or initials.


Why does it ask for my birthday?

We use the birthdays to calculate the age of each user.  It's fun to see people's ages next to their scores on the Top scores screen.

While we encourage you to enter your birthday, you are free to leave the field blank, which causes your age to display as 0.


Is your server safe from the Heartbleed bug?

Our servers are not, and have not been, vulnerable to the Heartbleed attack because they use the older version of OpenSSL provided by CentOS 5.  Your private information is safe with us.


What if I don't have a ham radio call sign?

The ham radio call sign field is optional, so leave it blank.  However, I'm certain you will want to come back and fill in your new call sign once you get it! 


How long will it take?

The amount of time required to prepare for an exam depends on many factors — your background, prior experience, memory, study habits, etc.  The average person who "studies smart" passes easily after:  

Course Hours of study
 Technician   10  
 General   20  
 Extra   30  

Study mode is the most efficient way to learn.  If you spend much of your time taking practice tests, it will take you considerably longer. 

Study tips


How much does it cost?

See our price list.  Our prices are about the same as the license manuals, but you don't pay tax or shipping, and books don't have question drill, intelligent repetition, web links, email reminders, instant delivery, and guaranteed results.

Don't underestimate the value of guaranteed results.  With us you pass the license exam, or you get your money back.  We feel that's worth the cost, and our customers agree.  We have more 5-star user reviews on eHam.net than all other study methods combined!


I plan to cram all my studying into two weeks.  How much for just a 2-week subscription?

We don't sell shorter-term subscriptions.  Our goal is to get you the license.  The reality is that most customers reach their goal in far less than two years.  We only give that long in case something comes up that interferes with your studying.

Also, we don't want to encourage cramming.  We've found that about one hour every day moves most people through the materials reasonable quickly, with excellent long-term retention.  At that rate the average person can go from zero to Extra in about two months, so our 2-year subscription shouldn't leave anybody feeling pressured to cram. 


I finished my studies in just two weeks!  Can I get a refund for the remainder of the 2-year subscription?

What you're purchasing is our guarantee that you will pass the exam.  If we meet that goal, we delivered.

The reality is that most customers reach their goal in far less than two years.  We do not give partial refunds for unused subscription time.


What if I don't finish in two years?

If you don't finish within two years, you can renew at a special discounted rate.  See our price list for details.

We support the troops!  If your subscription ran out because you were active duty military deployed overseas, we will extend your subscription at no charge for the amount of time you were deployed.  Contact us at sales@hamtestonline.com to apply for the free extension.


Do you offer group discounts?

We offer terrific group discounts for organizations offering Technician classes under the Ham It Forward program.  Click here for details.

We offer quantity discounts for 10 or more courses purchased together in a single transaction:

Total number of courses
in transaction
Discount
10-19 10%
20-49 15%
50-99 20%
100-499 25%
500+ 40%

Quantity discounts cannot be combined with any other discounts.  They are not yet automated, so they are only available if you pay by credit card over the telephone or by check by mail.  To order by telephone, call us at 888-857-6164 (toll-free) or 602-445-6332.  We don't have the staff to provide telephone coverage every hour of every day, but Christina and John answer whenever they can.  You are most likely to reach them between 10 am and 7 pm Arizona time (MST).

We usually deliver bulk orders as a list of subscription codes by email.  There is no shipping and handling fee for this option.  However, we are also willing to ship you subscription cards or our shrink-wrap product for an additional shipping and handling fee.  See the section, "How can I purchase the course as a gift for a friend" for media details and fees.


What other discounts are available?

  • We offer the Extra course free of charge to active General- or Advanced-class volunteer examiners.  Details here.
     
  • For a limited time, we will give any official C.E.R.T. organization in the United States 5 free CERT-ificates, allowing C.E.R.T. volunteers to prepare for the Technician license free of charge.  These are not transferable, and are to be used only by C.E.R.T. volunteers.  This offer is limited to 5 CERT-ificates per organization.  Contact us at sales@hamtestonline.com to participate.
     
  • We support the troops.  If your subscription ran out because you were active duty military deployed overseas, we will extend your subscription at no charge for the amount of time you were deployed.  Contact us at sales@hamtestonline.com to apply for the free extension.

How do I pay?

  1. The preferred method is online through PayPal.  It's convenient, secure, and your subscription is processed immediately and automatically.  Once you have created an account, press the Purchase button and follow the instructions.
     
  2. If you don't want to pay online, you can purchase by credit card over the telephone by calling us at 888-857-6164 (toll-free) or 602-445-6332.  We don't have the staff to provide telephone coverage every hour of every day, but Christina and John answer whenever they can.  You are most likely to reach them between 10 am and 7 pm Arizona time (MST).
     
  3. If you don't want to use a credit card, you can send a check or money order made out to "HamTestOnline" to:
     
    HamTestOnline
    2994 E Coconino Dr
    Gilbert, AZ 85298
     
    Checks must be in U.S. funds and payable through a bank in the U.S.  Clearly indicate with your payment the email address of your login account and which courses you are subscribing to.

For quantity discounts (10 or more courses purchased together), send an email to sales@hamtestonline.com.


How long does it take for you to process my subscription?

Subscriptions made online or by telephone are activated immediately.  Subscriptions by mail are usually processed within 24 hours of when we receive them.


How long does it take for you to send me my password or activation code?

We don't send you any password or activation code.  For subscriptions made online or by telephone, your account is automatically activated when the order is processed.  For subscription by mail, we send you an email once we have processed the subscription.

Just login using the email address and password you set up when you created the account.  If you're not sure whether your subscription was correctly processed, click the Subscriptions button to see your complete subscription history.  Then click Study to get started!


How long does it take you to ship the course materials?

This is an online course, so we don't ship you anything.  Just login to your account and click Study.


Can I purchase the program on CD?

Our program is specifically written for the web, and we have no plans to convert it for standalone use.  There are several advantages to having the program on the Web:

  • There is no software to download or install.
     
  • You can access your account from any Internet connection — home, work, school, etc.
     
  • Because all transactions go through our server, we can gather statistics on which questions people get wrong most often, which allows us to put more focus on the harder questions.

Will the software run on my Blackberry, iPhone, etc.?

Our program is specifically written for the Web, and we have no plans to convert it into a standalone app for any specific device.  It will run on a mobile phone with a browser connected to the Internet, although you may need to manually turn on JavaScript support.

I personally found that response time was too slow for it to be effective on my Blackberry, but it's sufficiently fast on my iPhone 4 on the AT&T 3G network.  It works great on an iPad connected to WiFi.


How can I purchase the course as a gift for a friend?

There are basically five options for purchasing HamTestOnline as a gift:

  • Create an online account and purchase courses for the recipient just as if you were doing it for yourself, but using their email address, and then tell them the password.  Note that they will get "thank you" emails when you create the account and subscribe, so you might want to warn them ahead of time.  The software does not care whether the student info matches the payer info, and since we don't store payment method information on our site, there's no chance the gift recipient could get hold of or use your credit card or PayPal information.
     
  • If they already have an account (or you would like us to set up an account for the recipient), call us. We can take your credit card payment over the telephone for their subscription, upgrade, or renewal. Please be sure to have their email address ready. Note that they will get a "thank you for subscribing" email, so you might want to warn them ahead of time.
     
  • Order a subscription code over the telephone for delivery by email.  There is no shipping and handling charge for subscription codes sent by email.
     
  • Order a subscription card over the telephone for delivery by postal mail.  The subscription cards are about the size of a standard business card, and contain a subscription code to give access to the courses purchased.  There is a flat $3.00 shipping and handling charge for any number of subscription cards in a single order to the same postal address.
     
  • Order our shrink-wrap product over the telephone for delivery by postal mail.  It's basically a piece of cardboard sandwiched between two sheets of paper, all shrink-wrapped together, which gives a more substantial feel than the subscription cards.  They have a subscription code under a peel-off sticker to give access to the course purchased.  These would be ideal for door prizes or gifts under a Christmas tree.  We charge a $7.00 shipping and handling fee for the first shrink-wrap product, and $2.00 for each additional one in the same order to the same postal address.

What about people with disabilities?

  • If you are blind, you can request an exam that excludes questions with figures.  On the My options screen, uncheck the Include questions with figures option.  This removes questions with figures from both Study mode and our practice exams.
     
  • Those who have trouble reading small text will appreciate that we respect the browser's Text Size setting.  Each browser is different, but most of them have a Text Size or Zoom control on their View menu.  In addition, if your mouse has a scroll wheel, your browser may let you change the text size by turning the scroll wheel while holding down the Ctrl button.
     
  • Those who have trouble precisely manipulating the mouse will appreciate that you don't have to maneuver the cursor into the tiny circle.  We let you click anywhere on the answer text, a much bigger area.  Also, it only takes a single click to answer the question and advance to the next.
     
  • Those with memory problems will appreciate that our intelligent repetition algorithm adapts to your learning speed and repeats questions as often as necessary to make sure you learn everything.
     
  • Those with Attention Deficit Disorder will appreciate that our software teaches through active learning to keep you focused and engaged.

Can I share my account with others?

You should not share your account with anyone else because your question history would become mixed with theirs, making the program ineffective for both of you.  The database would no longer correctly reflect which questions each of you had already learned.

This is true even when each person is studying a different question pool because we link questions by subject across the pools.  Answers in one pool affect the question drill in other pools.

Also, it is against our terms for two people to share an account.  Each account and each subscription is valid for one person only.


Why are there so many technical questions on the exam?

Sixty years ago the government wanted a pool of trained radio operators and electronics technicians to draw from in case of another World War.  They created the multi-tiered amateur radio licensing system to encourage hams to learn about radio electronics.

With the advent of digital communications, the military no longer uses Morse code, so training radio operators is much easier.  And they now repair radios the same way everyone else does — swap out circuit boards.  However, the FCC exams have not kept up with these changes.

Many people feel that today's amateur radio exams, especially the Technician Class exam, should focus more on operations and safety and less on electronics theory.  Please don't blame us.  We don't write the questions!


Do I need to pass a Morse code test?

No, Morse code testing is no longer be required for any U.S. ham radio licenses.  Details.  You can still learn and use Morse code if you want, but there are no more Morse code exams.


Can I take the actual exam online?

We would let you take the exam on our website if the FCC would allow it.  Unfortunately, they require that you attend in person a testing session administered by three or more volunteer examiners who check your ID and monitor for cheating.


When I'm ready, where do I go to take the exam?

These websites have information about amateur radio license exams in your area:

Should I plan to take more than one exam in a single session?

Absolutely.  We've had over one hundred students pass all three exams and earn their Extra in a single exam session!

Many students are afraid they'll forget what they've already learned if they study for another license exam, but it doesn't work that way.  The reality is that questions in later pools reinforce your understanding of the earlier pools, much as Algebra II reinforces what you learned in Algebra I.  Also, almost everyone thinks their memory is worse than average, so don't try that excuse with me!  :-)

When your score for one exam reaches 75%, I recommend leaving those topics on, but also turning on the next exam.  You will still get plenty of review on the earlier pool, and the program will start mixing in new materials as well.


What's the most effective way to study?

Study tips


Do you have any last-minute advice about taking the exams?

Exam tip #1: Bring earplugs

Most VE teams do a good job at keeping unnecessary conversation down, but there's always going to be some talking while you are taking the test.  Bring earplugs to help you concentrate.


Exam tip #2: Don't be nervous

In the old days you had to travel, often a long distance, to the nearest FCC office and take the license exam in front of an official FCC examiner.  No matter how ready you were, it was hard not to be nervous.

Today you take the exams from a local group of volunteer hams — regular people, just like you and me.  They have taken the exams themselves, so they understand what you're going through.  Just think of them as a group of new friends, and you should have no problem with nervousness.

If you've done your studying, you will pass easily.  I promise!


What about the license exams for other countries?

We currently have no plans to add questions pools for countries other than the U.S.  However, radio theory is the same around the world, and many people have successfully used our website to learn the radio theory, learned the regulations for their own country on their own, and successfully passed their license exams.


Do you have courses for other ham radio topics besides the license exams?

We do not currently have any ham radio courses besides the U.S. license exams.  We would be interested in collaborating with subject matter experts who have the time and talent to create courses on ham radio or other topics.  You provide the course materials, we provide the e-learning engine and customer base, and we can split the profits.  Contact w1ai@hamtestonline.com to discuss the details.


Who owns the HamTestOnline website?

HamTestOnline is a trade name of Software Miracles, LLC, an Arizona company owned by John Cunningham, W1AI.


How did the HamTestOnline website come to exist?

From the website creator, John Cunningham, W1AI:

This website exists because of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  They didn't call it ADD back then, but I was never able to pay attention in school.  On the other hand, flashcards worked well for me, so I used them extensively.  When I encountered my first computer around 1970, I quickly realized that by combining active learning (question drill) and adaptive learning (intelligent repetition), a computer could be more effective than all those little pieces of paper.  Add short texts at appropriate places, and you have a complete teaching tool.

I had used numerous Computer-based training (CBT) programs over the years, but none of them lived up to the promise.  Many were nothing more than long, boring texts with a few review questions.  Others were little more than random practice tests.  So after years of dreaming about it, I wrote this software.

For those who cannot accept our methodology without a fancy explanation, it is a constructivist teaching method wherein the student is actively engaged in the learning process rather than attempting to receive knowledge passively.  In all the years I've been in business, I've had two people with a Ph.D. in education tell me my teaching method is wrong, and I get a dozen emails every day from students telling me they're happy because they learned a lot.  I guess it really does mean, "Piled Higher and Deeper!"


What else is coming?

Since our initial product launch in September, 2002, we have never stopped improving the website:

  • We are constantly adding materials — texts, pictures, diagrams, sounds, and links. 
     
  • As new question pools become available, we integrate them into our course.  When questions are occasionally removed from the question pools, we update our course to reflect those changes. 
     
  • We keep adding features to the software, like practice exams that focus on your weak areas or on the most-often-missed questions.
     
  • As usage has expanded, we have upgraded our server five times to keep pace.  We are currently on a dedicated, 64-bit, Xeon server with 8 cores and 8GB RAM.  We handle over 100,000 hits per day, with 90% of our transactions processed in less than 200 ms, and 98% in less than 2 seconds.  We have a "hot backup" server with a real-time replicated database in Kansas.
     
  • We have other exciting new developments in the works.  Stay tuned!
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