Frequency 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 shipping No Yes Yes
Instant delivery No Yes Yes
100% guarantee No No Yes


No shipping — When comparing prices, don't forget about shipping!  We don't charge shipping.

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 trees, rather than purchasing license manuals that will be useless once you pass the test, we recommend purchasing the ARRL Operating Manual, or if you want something more technical, the ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications.

These are the reference books you're going to want in your shack!  These two manuals together contain much more information than all three ARRL license manuals combined.


Does the HamTestOnline website use the actual questions from the NCVEC 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 pool Effective dates Question pool size Questions on the test Minimum correct to pass Maximum incorrect to pass
Technician Class 7/01/2022 - 6/30/2026 411 35 26 9
General Class 7/01/2023 - 6/30/2027 429 35 26 9
OLD Extra Class 7/01/2020 - 6/30/2024 621 50 37 13
NEW Extra Class 7/01/2024 - 6/30/2028 602 50 37 13

We always have the latest question pools online!

Technician question pool
  • The current Technician question pool went into effect on July 1, 2022, and will be valid for exams through June 30, 2026.

  • A new Technician question pool will be released in 2026.  All active subscriptions to the Technician course will automatically include the new pool when it becomes available.

General question pool
  • The current General class question pool went into effect on July 1, 2023, and will be valid for all exams through June 30, 2027.

    A new General question pool will be released in 2027.  All active subscriptions to the General course will automatically include the new pool when it becomes available. 

Extra question pool
  • We currently have two Extra class question pools online. All Extra course subscriptions automatically include both pools, and you can switch freely between them (on the Choose topics screen).

    Choose your exam date now, and make sure that you are studying the correct question pool for your anticipated exam date:

    -- The current Extra question pool — 
    for exams administered through June 30, 2024.

    -- The new Extra question pool — for exams administered on or after July 1, 2024.


    • Extra exams administered before July 1, 2024 must use the current pool, and exams administered on or after July 1, 2024 must use the new pool.  Volunteer examiners have no leeway.  They must use the correct pool for the exam date!
    • If you follow our study advice and average at least 1 hour per day in Study mode, most students will be ready to pass the Extra exam within approximately 30 days.
    • We have updated our Extra course to cover the questions in the new pool.  It was a fairly substantial update:
      • 161 questions had little or no changes.
      • 247 questions had minor changes
      • 26 questions had major changes.
      • 187 questions were deleted.
      • 168 new questions were added.
      • We added 7 new subject areas to the course.
      • The number of questions requiring calculations was reduced from 35 to 30.  You are still likely to only get 2-3 math questions on your exam.
    • If your goal is to learn as much as possible about the advanced ham radio topics, feel free to enable all topics for both exams, and study both at the same time.  In many instances, you will see the same concepts drilled from two different perspectives.
Other countries
  • 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, as of January 1, 2016, have removed 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.  Note that it is possible to pass multiple exams in one exam session!

The FCC may give exam credit for certain expired licenses.  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 still teach some questions through exam question drill.  We try to 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.  If you want to see more new materials and less repetition, increase this factor to increase the time between question repetitions.  On the other hand, if you're not getting enough repetition, decrease it to get the system to repeat 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.  Note that once you have seen all the questions, the repetition delay factor has no impact, since every question is a repeat.

The View Courses screen lets you see which questions are due for review, and you can drill specific groups of questions directly from there.


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 make an educated guess based on what you know.  Trying to puzzle out the answer keeps the brain awake.
  2. You can click the hint buttons to review the relevant informational texts or get other clues.
  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 any explanations 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' button 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' button temporarily turns off all the math questions in a single closely-related subject area.  Non-math questions in the same subject area will still be presented.  This button only appears on math questions.

'Skip all calculations for now' button temporarily turns off all the math questions in all courses.  This button only appears on math questions.

We define a “math question” as one which requires a calculation, meaning that you could use a calculator to derive the correct answer.  Therefore, a question asking you to identify a formula is not considered a math question, since a calculator would not help.  Also, a question asking how many volts are in a kilovolt is a memorization question, not a math question, since it merely requires you to remember that “kilo” means one thousand.

All of these skips last for 16 hours, or until you press the 'Clear skips' button button on the Choose Topics or View Courses screens.  You can keep skipping them again and again every 16 hours, but you might want to learn them and get them out of the way for good.

Many students choose to learn none of the math.  (See Christina's Story.)  Since the exams (even the Extra) only contain a handful of questions requiring calculations, you can easily pass without learning any math, as long as you learn the other materials thoroughly.

How much math is on the amateur radio exams?


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.


What does "(too soon)" mean?

There are various ways to force our software to show you questions before our intelligent repetition algorithm thinks you should see them.  For example, you can drill the questions from one single topic over and over by selecting just one topic on the Choose topics screen.  You can take random exams, where the software chooses questions totally at random.  You can also use the View courses screen to drill questions long before they are due.

Seeing the same question several times within a short period is not an effective way to commit that answer to long-term memory, so our software does not give you full credit for your correct answer.  When this happens, the software warns you by displaying the message "(too soon)" on the redisplay of the previous question.  We recommend that you avoid taking actions that result in this warning message, as it means that you're not getting the maximum possible benefit from your study time.

Why do we allow this?  Our philosophy is to give students lots of options and features, advise them on the best way to study, then let them make their own decisions.  It's your time, and your money, which means that you're the boss!


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.


Should I take notes?

We strongly recommend that you do not take notes, or at least limit your note-taking as much as possible.  For example, if you're not skipping the math, you might want to write down the formulas, and nothing else.

Most educational systems present you with long, boring texts, filled with fluff, so many students take notes, writing down the relevant points while reading the texts.  Later, they can review their notes to remind them of the things they need to remember.  We've already done that step for you.  We read through multiple long, boring texts, filled with fluff, and we've written down the important points in our infotexts.  Our infotexts already are the notes, and you can access them when you need them (through the hint buttons).  It would be a waste of time for you to take your own notes, when we've already done it for you.

You will make faster progress through the courses if you take few or no notes of your own, and just refer to our infotexts.


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, the second level is the exam, and the third is the topic within the exam.  Check the checkboxes beside the exams or topics you want to study.


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.  Checking or unchecking a course-level checkbox automatically checks or unchecks all topics within that course.


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.

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 and Study history screens.

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 on that exam! (When you get a perfect score, please tell everyone that you studied with the HamTestOnline™ website!)

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:  To be reasonably sure of passing, you should study to at least 85%.  If you want a higher degree of confidence, study to 90%.  If you are prone to anxiety attacks during exams, or if your goal is a high score, study to 95%.  If your goal is a perfect score, study to 100%.


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.


How can I force the software to return to the exact point I left off in a previous study session?

There’s no way to return exactly to the spot where you left off, because time has passed.  The power of our intelligent repetition software comes from the fact that we know when we want to repeat each question — at expanding intervals based on how well you have learned it.  When you return, whether hours or days later, there are usually some questions that have become due for repetition during the time you were away.  Once you get through the questions that are overdue for repeat, the software will automatically move on to new materials.

Spaced repetition is a technique that has been used by the best teachers for millennia, because it's extremely effective.  You learn the materials, and the repetition makes sure that you don't forget them, so most students get high scores on their exams.


How do I interpret the "score bars"?

The score bars give you a graphical representation of your progress through the questions.  The yellow section represents questions you have not yet seen, red is your weak areas, blue questions still need some review, and the green ones are completely learned.

Your score bars start out completely yellow.  As you begin to study, you start to see some red and blue.  Eventually, some green starts to show, and it keeps growing as the yellow 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.

Note: If you hover your cursor over the score bar, you see the exact number and percentage of questions in each category.  (If your browser does not support viewing information by hovering over the score bar, you can find the same data on the Choose topics screen.)


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 the View Courses screen?

View Courses input options

The View courses screen lets you view the question pools in many ways:

  • Select which course (question pool) to view.
  • Select a sort order:
    • “Course order” is the logical learning order we use in our courses.
    • “Question pool” is the NCVEC's order, including headings to show the NCVEC's subelement and group organization.
    • “Stale” lists your least-recently-answered questions first.  Drilling questions in this order is a great way to make sure you've seen all the questions recently.
    • “Low score” lists your weakest questions first.  Drilling questions in this order is a great way to improve your user rank.
    • “Stale & low” is a combination of “Stale” and “Low score”, showing you the questions you most need to review.
    • “Repeat due” shows when our intelligent repetition wants you to see each question again.
  • Limit the questions if desired:
    • “Unseen” questions (yellow background) are ones you have never answered.
    • “Weak” questions (pink background) need work.
    • “Review” questions (blue background) should be seen at least one more time before your exam.
    • “Learned” questions (green background) you have fully learned.
    • “Due for repeat” questions (red outline) are ones that the intelligent repetition algorithm wants you to review now, based on your study history and repetition delay factor.
  • You can decide whether to show skipped questions (which show up with a green border), questions requiring calculations, and questions with figures.
  • Choose display options:
    • The background colors show how you're doing with each question, but you might turn them off if you're printing out the question pool for someone else:
      • The background colors are yellow for unseen, pink for weak, blue for review, and green for learned.
      • Due for repeat questions have a red border.
      • Skipped questions have a green border.
      • Questions which have only been seen in practice exams have a yellow border.
    • The NCVEC question numbers let you coordinate you studies with other resources.
    • You can optionally see the correct answers for each question (not recommended if you are planning to drill them soon).
    • You can optionally see the distractors for each question (not recommended unless you want to learn the incorrect answers).
  • You can optionally split the course into a selected number of lessons, each requiring approximately the same amount of study time.  This is useful in conjunction with a multi-day class that follows the HamTestOnline logical learning order, or you might just want to break the study effort into more manageable chunks, for example turn all questions green in a different section of the course each day.  (Only works in course order.)
  • Uncheck “Show questions” if you just want to see a topic outline, and not all the questions themselves.  (Only works in course or question pool sort orders.)

You can use the View courses screen for self-directed study:

  • Study is our automatic mode, where the computer decides which questions to present.
  • View courses is the manual mode, where you choose for yourself.  Just choose the questions you want to view and click on "Show questions".  You can then click “Drill these questions” to drill them, or you can click on a section heading or single question to drill smaller chunks.

View Courses input options
Do you think you can do a better job than our intelligent repetition algorithm?  The View courses screen gives you the power, but use it wisely!  You might be tempted to split the course into sections and fully learn one section each day, but long-term retention is best served by seeing questions at expanding intervals over a long period of time.  If it doesn't yet have a red border, then our intelligent repetition algorithm thinks it's too soon for a repeat, and focusing on unseen questions might be a better use of your time.

If you want to approximate our intelligent repetition algorithm:

  • Give first priority to questions that are due for repeat (red border), in course order.
  • Give next priority to unseen questions (yellow background), in course order.
  • When there are no unseen or due questions, drill questions in “stale & low” order.


What is the Study History screen?

The Study history screen shows your progress through the courses over time, including:

  • The total time spent studying each day (all modes).
  • The number of questions answered each day in Study, Practice Exam, and View Courses modes.
  • The score bar at the end the day for each course studied.
  • 7-day and 30-day averages (when appropriate).  We recommend at least 1 hour (or about 150 questions) every day in Study mode. 


Study History example #1

Here's a Study History screen for a student who prepared to go from zero to Extra in just 30 hours of study spread out 17 days.  Note that he has an excellent memory, so most students will need more study time than this.  Note also that he followed our Study Tips faithfully, averaging more than 1 hour in Study mode per day, leaving all topics enabled, and not taking any practice exams until he reached over 85%:

Day Time Questions
7-day average 2:30:39
17-day average 1:44:56
      Tech Gnrl Xtra
Tue 07/25/2017 1:04:49
Mon 07/24/2017 3:07:27
Sun 07/23/2017 5:01:16
Sat 07/22/2017 1:03:06
Fri 07/21/2017 2:41:22
Thu 07/20/2017 2:33:02
Wed 07/19/2017 2:03:32
Tue 07/18/2017 2:12:23
Mon 07/17/2017 1:12:45
Sun 07/16/2017 0:57:31
Sat 07/15/2017 0:51:07
Fri 07/14/2017 1:00:25
Thu 07/13/2017 1:14:37
Wed 07/12/2017 0:58:27
Tue 07/11/2017 0:49:04
Mon 07/10/2017 1:19:14
Sun 07/09/2017 1:33:38
Mode key:
Study modeView coursesPractice exam

Score bar key:

Study History example #2

This Study History shows the incredibly slow progress of a student who ignores all our study advice, studies sporadically, and just takes random practice exams:

Day Time Questions
7-day average 0:31:06
30-day average 0:14:41
Wed 01/24/2018 0:30:46
Tue 01/23/2018 0:29:17
Mon 01/22/2018 0:47:33
Sun 01/21/2018 0:16:55
Sat 01/20/2018 0:15:51
Fri 01/19/2018 1:02:34
Thu 01/18/2018 0:14:45
Wed 01/17/2018 0:27:07
Tue 01/16/2018 0:13:20
Sun 01/14/2018 - Mon 01/15/2018 (2 days) — No study
Sat 01/13/2018 0:15:11
Fri 01/12/2018 0:17:49
Thu 01/11/2018 0:20:31
Wed 01/10/2018 0:28:54
Tue 01/09/2018 0:14:23
Mon 01/08/2018 0:15:47
Sun 01/07/2018 — No study
Sat 01/06/2018 0:22:09
Fri 01/05/2018 0:15:00
Thu 01/04/2018 — No study
Wed 01/03/2018 0:16:04
Tue 01/02/2018 0:16:19
Sun 12/24/2017 - Mon 01/01/2018 (9 days) — No study
Sat 12/23/2017 0:16:48
Fri 12/22/2017 0:18:09
Thu 12/21/2017 0:20:59
Wed 12/20/2017 0:14:44
Tue 12/19/2017 0:16:32
Mon 12/18/2017 0:29:24
Sat 12/16/2017 - Sun 12/17/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 12/15/2017 0:15:24
Thu 12/14/2017 0:12:20
Wed 12/13/2017 0:03:58
Tue 12/12/2017 0:16:09
Mon 12/11/2017 0:15:58
Sun 12/10/2017 0:13:54
Sat 12/09/2017 0:17:29
Fri 12/08/2017 0:17:12
Thu 12/07/2017 0:52:14
Wed 12/06/2017 0:00:42
Tue 12/05/2017 0:37:25
Mon 12/04/2017 0:15:46
Sat 12/02/2017 - Sun 12/03/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 12/01/2017 0:16:01
Thu 11/30/2017 0:15:42
Wed 11/29/2017 0:32:14
Tue 11/28/2017 0:33:31
Mon 11/27/2017 0:27:03
Sun 11/26/2017 0:05:31
Sat 11/25/2017 0:18:13
Thu 11/23/2017 - Fri 11/24/2017 (2 days) — No study
Wed 11/22/2017 0:30:56
Tue 11/21/2017 0:32:32
Mon 11/20/2017 0:28:53
Sun 11/19/2017 — No study
Sat 11/18/2017 0:03:56
Fri 11/17/2017 0:30:18
Thu 11/16/2017 0:35:00
Wed 11/15/2017 0:16:43
Tue 11/14/2017 0:16:32
Sun 11/12/2017 - Mon 11/13/2017 (2 days) — No study
Sat 11/11/2017 0:14:47
Fri 11/10/2017 0:06:33
Thu 11/09/2017 0:22:02
Wed 11/08/2017 0:30:06
Tue 11/07/2017 0:04:02
Mon 11/06/2017 0:18:08
Sat 11/04/2017 - Sun 11/05/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 11/03/2017 0:48:55
Thu 11/02/2017 0:16:09
Wed 11/01/2017 0:16:42
Tue 10/31/2017 0:19:58
Mon 10/30/2017 0:29:17
Sun 10/29/2017 0:04:00
Sat 10/28/2017 — No study
Fri 10/27/2017 0:48:19
Thu 10/26/2017 0:15:38
Wed 10/25/2017 — No study
Tue 10/24/2017 0:16:45
Mon 10/23/2017 0:16:41
Sat 10/21/2017 - Sun 10/22/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 10/20/2017 0:16:16
Thu 10/19/2017 — No study
Wed 10/18/2017 0:34:19
Tue 10/17/2017 0:28:55
Mon 10/16/2017 0:06:09
Sat 10/14/2017 - Sun 10/15/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 10/13/2017 0:18:59
Thu 10/12/2017 0:18:32
Wed 10/11/2017 0:38:47
Tue 10/10/2017 0:23:58
Mon 10/09/2017 0:34:35
Sat 10/07/2017 - Sun 10/08/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 10/06/2017 0:18:20
Thu 10/05/2017 0:16:32
Wed 10/04/2017 0:18:58
Tue 10/03/2017 0:18:31
Mon 10/02/2017 0:15:33
Sun 10/01/2017 0:20:36
Fri 09/29/2017 - Sat 09/30/2017 (2 days) — No study
Thu 09/28/2017 0:16:14
Wed 09/27/2017 0:32:23
Tue 09/26/2017 0:16:21
Mon 09/25/2017 0:26:48
Sun 09/24/2017 0:03:03
Sat 09/23/2017 — No study
Fri 09/22/2017 0:17:01
Thu 09/21/2017 0:03:18
Wed 09/20/2017 0:15:25
Tue 09/19/2017 — No study
Mon 09/18/2017 0:17:02
Thu 09/14/2017 - Sun 09/17/2017 (4 days) — No study
Wed 09/13/2017 0:14:56
Tue 09/12/2017 0:28:05
Mon 09/11/2017 0:14:52
Wed 09/06/2017 - Sun 09/10/2017 (5 days) — No study
Tue 09/05/2017 0:40:38
Mon 09/04/2017 — No study
Sun 09/03/2017 0:16:17
Sat 09/02/2017 — No study
Fri 09/01/2017 0:36:43
Thu 08/31/2017 1:12:36
Wed 08/30/2017 0:47:11
Tue 08/29/2017 0:40:33
Mon 08/28/2017 0:15:19
Sat 08/26/2017 - Sun 08/27/2017 (2 days) — No study
Fri 08/25/2017 0:29:31
Thu 08/24/2017 0:35:31
Wed 08/23/2017 0:49:41
Tue 08/22/2017 0:21:20
Mon 08/21/2017 0:31:46
Sun 08/20/2017 0:02:32
Sat 08/19/2017 0:17:30
Fri 08/18/2017 0:52:44
Thu 08/17/2017 0:21:15
Wed 08/16/2017 0:49:29
Tue 08/15/2017 0:50:52
Mon 08/14/2017 0:42:46
Sun 08/13/2017 0:15:50
Sat 08/12/2017 0:22:25
Fri 08/11/2017 0:42:53
Thu 08/10/2017 0:17:12
Wed 08/09/2017 0:43:57
Tue 08/08/2017 0:52:20
Mon 08/07/2017 0:23:01
Sun 08/06/2017 0:17:47
Sat 08/05/2017 — No study
Fri 08/04/2017 0:38:02
Thu 08/03/2017 0:22:10
Wed 08/02/2017 0:54:55
Tue 08/01/2017 0:36:23
Mon 07/31/2017 0:18:21
Sun 07/30/2017 0:33:23
Sat 07/29/2017 0:17:32
Fri 07/28/2017 1:13:29
Thu 07/27/2017 0:45:36
Wed 07/26/2017 0:35:47
Tue 07/25/2017 0:50:20
Mon 07/24/2017 0:26:07
Sun 07/23/2017 — No study
Sat 07/22/2017 0:09:45
Fri 07/21/2017 0:40:59
Thu 07/20/2017 0:32:30
Wed 07/19/2017 — No study
Tue 07/18/2017 0:50:18
Mon 07/17/2017 1:13:42
Sun 07/16/2017 0:20:15
Sat 07/15/2017 0:04:00
Fri 07/14/2017 0:16:00
Thu 07/13/2017 0:13:56
Wed 07/12/2017 0:43:32
Tue 07/11/2017 0:22:24
Mon 07/10/2017 0:33:14
Sun 07/09/2017 0:22:56
Sat 07/08/2017 0:21:20
Fri 07/07/2017 0:19:39
Thu 07/06/2017 0:18:43
Wed 07/05/2017 0:55:28
Mode key:
Study modeView coursesPractice exam

Score bar key:


Study History example #3

This Study History shows a student who took 7 weeks to get up to 93% on the Extra course, and was ready to pass with a high score.  She then spent two weeks just taking practice exams, during which time her score plunged by 11 points.  Even though she was putting in plenty of time, she had stopped studying smart, so she was forgetting things faster than she was refreshing her memory.  She wound up passing with a score of 82% on the actual exam, but she might have gotten a perfect score if she had just stayed in Study mode!

Day Time Questions
7-day average 1:09:33
30-day average 0:55:00
Fri 11/16/2018 2:08:22
Thu 11/15/2018 3:29:19
Wed 11/14/2018 2:15:55
Tue 11/13/2018 0:13:16
Sat 11/10/2018 - Mon 11/12/2018 (3 days) — No study
Fri 11/09/2018 1:08:51
Thu 11/08/2018 1:09:05
Wed 11/07/2018 1:15:25
Tue 11/06/2018 0:53:01
Mon 11/05/2018 1:17:19
Sat 11/03/2018 - Sun 11/04/2018 (2 days) — No study
Fri 11/02/2018 1:28:03
Thu 11/01/2018 1:29:28
Wed 10/31/2018 1:31:16
Tue 10/30/2018 1:55:47
Mon 10/29/2018 0:15:18
Sat 10/27/2018 - Sun 10/28/2018 (2 days) — No study
Fri 10/26/2018 1:21:57
Thu 10/25/2018 0:27:14
Wed 10/24/2018 0:27:28
Tue 10/23/2018 1:23:41
Mon 10/22/2018 1:02:29
Sat 10/20/2018 - Sun 10/21/2018 (2 days) — No study
Fri 10/19/2018 1:33:40
Thu 10/18/2018 0:43:05
Wed 10/17/2018 2:03:51
Tue 10/16/2018 0:46:14
Mon 10/15/2018 0:13:33
Sat 10/13/2018 - Sun 10/14/2018 (2 days) — No study
Fri 10/12/2018 2:18:34
Fri 09/28/2018 - Thu 10/11/2018 (14 days) — No study
Thu 09/27/2018 0:18:44
Wed 09/26/2018 1:12:49
Tue 09/25/2018 0:01:39
Mon 09/24/2018 1:36:36
Sat 09/22/2018 - Sun 09/23/2018 (2 days) — No study
Fri 09/21/2018 1:25:04
Thu 09/20/2018 1:08:51
Wed 09/19/2018 1:32:52
Tue 09/18/2018 0:24:48
Mon 09/17/2018 1:21:59
Sat 09/15/2018 - Sun 09/16/2018 (2 days) — No study
Fri 09/14/2018 2:03:06
Thu 09/13/2018 1:51:44
Wed 09/12/2018 0:30:49
Tue 09/11/2018 0:26:42
Mode key:
Study modeView coursesPractice exam

Score bar key:

What is User Rank?

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


What does it take to get to user rank #1 on the Top Scores screen?

The best way to prepare to pass the exams is to stay in Study mode.  However, if you just want to reach user rank #1, there's a faster way to accomplish that.

Your user rank is based on your roll up score (which is stored internally to 4 decimal places), plus a roll up tie-breaker value (also stored to 4 decimal places):

  • The first step is to max out your score by getting all questions into “learned” status.  A great way to accomplish that is to drill questions on the View courses screen in “Low score” order.
  • Next, you need to increase your tie-breaker value until it is higher than the other students with perfect scores.  Again, the best way to accomplish that is to drill questions on the View courses screen in “Low score” order.

You can think of the score as our software's estimate of the result you would get if you took the exam right now, and the tie-breaker as an indicator of how well the software believes you have committed the questions to long-term memory.  Since answering the same question correctly several times in a row does not demonstrate that it has been committed to long-term memory, it does not increase your tie-breaker value.  Therefore, if you want to maximize your tie-breaker values, you should only answer each question once a day, thus demonstrating to the software that you have committed it to long-term memory.


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.


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 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 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 3 months.  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 reasonably quickly, with excellent long-term retention.  At that rate, the average person can go from zero to Extra in a month or two, so our 3-month subscription per course shouldn't leave anybody feeling pressured to cram. 


I finished my studies in just two weeks!  Can I get a refund or credit for the remainder of my subscription time?

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

The reality is that most customers reach their goal in far less than 3 months.  We do not give partial refunds or credits for unused subscription time.  We do not allow you to transfer or donate your unused subscription time to another student.


What if I don't finish in 3 months?

If you don't finish within 3 months, 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 to apply for the free extension.


Where can I take the exam?

In-person testing

You can click here to see whether in-person exams are being held in your area.  Only enter the zip code, and optionally a distance in the dropdown box to the right, otherwise you may get no results on this screen.

We strongly encourage you to stay in communication with the contact for your in-person exam session, as some sessions do get cancelled at the last minute.

Also, don't forget to bring earplugs, because in-person exam sessions can be noisy!

Online testing

You can click here to find an online exam session.

We encourage you to sign up in advance, because the number of sessions available is limited.  Also, a looming exam date is an excellent motivator to study every day!


Can I buy a subscription for longer than 3 months?

We only sell 3-month subscriptions, as we don't want to encourage sporadic studies.  Over the past 20 years, we've noticed that our most successful students are the ones who get it done in a short period.  The problem with spreading your studies out over months, or even years, is that you spend too much time relearning things that you have forgotten.

In our Study Tips article, we recommend averaging at least 1 hour per day in Study mode.  If your memory isn't what it used to be, you may need more than 1 hour per day.  Most students who follow our advice can pass all three exams within a month or two, so 3 months per course should be way more than you need.

However, if life interrupts your studies and you run out of time, we sell renewals at a discounted rate.


Do you offer any discounts?

  • We offer the Extra course free of charge to active General or Advanced class volunteer examiners.  Click here for details.
  • We have various quantity discounts available, including our “Youth in ham radio” program.  Click here 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.  Email us at to request 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 on our system, press the Purchase button and follow the instructions.
  2. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can still pay through PayPal as a “guest”.
  3. If you don't want to pay online, you can purchase by credit or debit card over the telephone by calling us at 888-857-6164 (toll-free) or 602-445-6332.  If you get our voicemail, please let us know your telephone number and the best times to call you back, including your timezone.
  4. If you don't want to use a credit or debit card, you can send a check or money order made out to "HamTestOnline" to:
    3460 S Wren Dr
    Gilbert, AZ  85297
    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.

Click here to find out how to place orders for gift or bulk subscriptions.


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 Purchase 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 are always up-to-date with the latest software and courseware.
  • You can access your account from multiple devices — home, work, school, etc.
  • Because all transactions go through our server, we 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 phone, tablet, etc.?

Our program is specifically written to run on web browsers, and we have no plans to convert it into a standalone app for any specific device.  It will run on any mobile phone or tablet that is connected to the internet.


Can I create an icon to make it easier to access the website?

Most of the automated emails from our system — “Thank you for creating an account”, “Thank you for subscribing”, and the automated reminder messages — include a hyperlink, “Click here for automatic login to your account”.  Clicking the hyperlink should open up a browser, navigate to our website, and automatically log you on, completely bypassing the login process.

To set up an icon on your desktop or home screen, find one of those emails, click the hyperlink, and use your browser's feature to add a link to that page on your desktop or home screen.

Once you have created the icon, you can click it to quickly and easily bring up and login to our website.

Here's how John did it from the Chrome browser on his Android phone:

Welcome back screenAdd to home screen

Here's how Julia did it on her iPhone:

Welcome back screenAdd to home screen


Can I study on multiple devices?

Yes, many students study on different devices from different locations — for example, a desktop computer a home, a laptop at work or school, and a mobile phone while riding in a car.  As long as you login to the same account for every session, you will get the same study experience as if you were using a single device.


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

Here are the options for purchasing HamTestOnline as a gift:

  • If they do not already have an account, you can 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 give them the login information.  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 do already have an account on our website, let us know the details of their account (their name, call sign if any, email address if you know it), what course you want to buy for them, and we will send you a PayPal invoice to purchase that course for their account.  The course will be activated, and they will receive a "thank you for subscribing" email, when you pay the PayPal invoice.
  • You can order subscription codes for our courses to give as gifts.  Click here to learn about the various options we offer, and how to place your gift subscription order.


What about students with disabilities?

  • For the blind, our website works well with most screen readers.  In particular, many of our students have been successful using the NVDA screen reader.
  • 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.  Our View courses screen also has an option to exclude questions with figures.
  • 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.

This is The software that knows you™, and in order for it to function properly, each student must have their own account.

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 Morse code and 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 you have an adaptive learning course for Morse code?

While Morse code testing is no longer required for any U.S. ham radio licenses, many people are still interested in learning and using this fun, historic mode.

Back in 2004, we considered developing an adaptive learning system for teaching CW, but in the end decided that it was better to do one thing well than two things poorly.  Today, we are still focused on providing the best study method, study materials, and customer support in the industry for the ham radio written exams.  We could not have achieved this level of success with the written exams if we had let ourselves get distracted from our primary mission.

Meanwhile, there are lots of free programs out there for learning CW.  We like G4FON for initial learning, and Morse Runner for working on speed.  You may also want to check out The CW Operator's Club, CW Forever, FISTS, and Learn CW Online.


Can I take the actual exam online?

HamTestOnline does not administer the amateur radio exams.  To obtain or upgrade a ham radio license, you must attend an exam session administered by a Volunteer Examiner (VE) team, who will check your photo ID and monitor your session to prevent cheating.

Click here to find in-person or online exam sessions.


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


What if I'm getting too much repetition?

Our study mode uses “spaced repetition” — we drill questions at expanding intervals based on how well you have learned them.  We know exactly when we want to repeat each question, based on how well we think you know it.

When you return to our website after a study gap, the software will usually start with repetition of some questions which have become due.  It’s trying to make sure that you haven’t forgotten those materials while you were away. The longer the study gap, the more repetition you are likely to see.

Repetition is important, but too much repetition is an annoying waste of time.  The default repetition rate is right for our average student, but you might need less repetition if you have an excellent memory, heavy technical background, prior exposure to the course materials, and/or long study gaps.  Here are some tips to avoid excessive repetition:

  1. Make sure you login to the same account each time, and do not go through multiple free trials.
  2. Make sure all topics for your course are enabled on the Choose topics screen.
  3. Average at least 1 hour per day in Study mode.  If your memory isn't what it used to be, you may need more than 1 hour per day.  Try not to miss any days, but if you do, make up the missed time.  The longer you are away from the system, the more repetition you will get when you return.  (We encourage you to choose your exam date before you start studying, since a looming date is an excellent motivator to sit down and study every day!)
  4. If you have a stronger background or memory than our average student, you should increase the Repetition delay factor on the My options screen.  The system wants to repeat each question to each student after a specific period of time, based on that student's history with the question, how hard other students find that question, etc.  A higher repetition delay factor tells the system to wait longer before repeating questions, so you get less repetition and more new materials.
  5. Wrong answers, Show answer, 50/50, and hint buttons tell the system that you haven't learned the answer, so you get more repetition of that question.  If one particular subject area is giving you fits, you might consider skipping that subject for now.  You can always come back and learn it later.
  6. Don't take random exams, as they repeat questions you don't need to see just as often as ones you do need to see.  Stay in Study mode.  Or, use the View Courses screen to list and drill just the questions you want to see.  If you want to know how you're likely to perform on the actual exam, use your course score, which is a fairly accurate predictor of actual exam performance.
  7. If your course score is already at 90% or better, why not study the next course for a while?  While you're waiting for an exam date to arrive, you might do 15 minutes every day on the course you have mastered, then spend the rest of your time studying for the next course.


I'm not making progress through the course, and I'm seeing the same questions over and over.  What do I do?

There seems to be a minimum threshold, typically around 10-20 minutes of study per day (depending on your memory), at which the rate of forgetting things is roughly equal to the rate of relearning things.  I’ve seen students study within this “zero-progress” zone for months, sometimes even years, and make no forward progress at all.

If you're seeing the same questions over and over, and you're still getting the answers wrong, you might have hit a short-term “wall” in your learning.  In fact, your course score can actually dip a few percentage points when this happens.  This is normal.  The good news is that if you just keep studying at least an hour every day, you should get past the wall and start making good progress again within a few days.

However, keep watching your “Study history” screen.  If your score has barely moved in a week or more, then you are probably in the “zero-progress” zone.

Fortunately, the solution is simple.  You just need to study more.  Try to average at least 1 hour per day in Study mode.  (Practice exams do not count toward study time!)  If your memory isn't what it used to be, you may need more than 1 hour per day.  Try not to miss any days, but if you do, make up the missed time.

If we've learned anything over the past 16 years, it's that concentrated study works.  If you're not happy with your progress, study more!

Here's the Study history of a sporadic studier who's been stuck in the “zero-progress” zone for over a month.  Over the past 30 days, he has averaged just over 10 minutes per day in Study mode, and his score remains stuck around 31%.  If he wants to become a ham, he needs to get serious about studying:

Day Time Questions
7-day average 0:16:07
30-day average 0:10:38
      Tech Read these notes from bottom to top:
Wed 02/13/2019 0:49:25
← After another 3 days off, he relearned enough to get back up to 31% again.
Mon 02/11/2019 - Tue 02/12/2019 (2 days) — No study
Sun 02/10/2019 0:00:42
Sat 02/09/2019 1:02:45
← After 12 days of almost no study, he relearned enough to get back up to 31% again.
Sun 02/03/2019 - Fri 02/08/2019 (6 days) — No study
Sat 02/02/2019 0:26:45
Fri 02/01/2019 0:15:29
Mon 01/28/2019 - Thu 01/31/2019 (4 days) — No study
Sun 01/27/2019 1:22:42
← After another 7 days off, a longer study session got him up to 33%.
Mon 01/21/2019 - Sat 01/26/2019 (6 days) — No study
Sun 01/20/2019 0:07:30
Sat 01/19/2019 1:06:33
← After 6 days off, he relearned enough to get back up to 31%.
Fri 01/18/2019 0:07:11
Sun 01/13/2019 - Thu 01/17/2019 (5 days) — No study
Sat 01/12/2019 0:59:07
← This study session got him to 31% for the first time.
Fri 01/11/2019 0:11:15
Thu 01/10/2019 0:49:32
Wed 01/09/2019 — No study
Tue 01/08/2019 0:17:11
Mon 01/07/2019 0:38:01
Sun 01/06/2019 0:22:27
Sat 01/05/2019 1:04:42


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.

Make sure you've reached a score of at least 85% on HamTestOnline before walking in the door.  If you're planning to pass more than one exam in a single session, aim for at least 90% in each course.  If you're a Nervous Nellie, you might want to take a couple of practice exams (after reaching your target score in Study mode) to prove that you are ready.  Being confident that you will pass helps you remain calm, which increases the chance that you will pass.

If you've followed our study advice and reached the target score, 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 to discuss the details.


Who owns the HamTestOnline website?

HamTestOnline is a trade name of Software Miracles, LLC, an Arizona corporation 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, while 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, utilizing spaced repetition over time, with timely feedback and remediation.  I don't pretend to have “invented” this teaching method.  I just merged the best ideas from various educational systems that have worked for me over the decades.  The combination seems to work well, as I get a dozen emails every day from students telling me they're happy because they learned a lot and passed the exams!


I love this study method!  Have you thought about applying it to other subjects?

The ham radio website keeps us quite busy, so our business model is to find subject matter experts (SMEs) to create courses for other subject areas using our software.  We charge a fee for the use of the software and web hosting, and the website owner keeps the remainder of any subscription income.  Know anybody who might have the time and talents for such a task?  Building quality courses is an enormous undertaking.  Click here for details.

Click here for a list of websites currently in the TestOnline family.  Email with your idea, and we'll tell you whether someone is already working on a website for that subject area.


What's up with your writing style?

I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to my writing style:

  • I use “logical quotation” rather than “typesetters' quotation”, which means I only put punctuation marks inside quotation marks when the sense of the punctuation is logically part of the material within quotes.  I prefer logical quotation because it's more logical.
  • I use singular they, as it sounds more natural than other forms of gender-neutral writing.


What else is coming?

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

  • We are constantly adding and improving our study materials — texts, photos, diagrams, sounds, and links.
  • As new question pools become available, we integrate them into our courses.  When questions are occasionally withdrawn from the question pools, we update our courses to reflect those changes. 
  • We keep adding features to the software, like the new View Courses and Study History screens.
  • As usage has expanded, we have upgraded our server numerous times to keep pace.  We currently handle over 100,000 hits per day, with 97% of our study screens processed in less than 200 ms, and 99.8% in less than 1 second.  If you see anything less than lightning fast response time, the issue is with the internet, not with our server!  We have an offsite "hot backup" server with a real-time replicated database to protect us from data loss and major downtime if we ever lose our primary server.
  • We have other exciting new developments in the works.  Stay tuned!


Our mission statement

Back in 2013, John, W1AI, drafted a mission statement for HamTestOnline™ — to provide the best study method, study materials, customer support, and guarantee in the industry!  At that time, we considered our new mission statement to be a set of goals, not something that we had already achieved.

After adopting the mission statement, we worked hard to come into compliance:

  • We've made substantial improvements to the study algorithms, and added the new View Courses and Study History screens.
  • We've invested many thousands of person-hours improving the courseware.
    • In 2016-2017, we did an extensive rewrite of all three courses, bringing them up to a standard significantly higher than ever before.
    • In 2018, we raised the bar again.  In 2018-2019, we reordered all three courses, and did another extensive rewrite, bringing everything up to our "2018 standard".
  • We've been providing top-tier customer support for more than a decade, but we continue to refine our process and find new and better ways to help our students succeed.  For example, we've recently improved the recommendations and explanations in our Study Tips article.
  • Our guarantee has always been the best in the industry.  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 cancel your subscription and refund what you paid for it.  Try asking your favorite bookseller if they will match that guarantee!

In the summer of 2019, we felt that we were finally in full compliance with the mission statement, so it now appears at the bottom of every page of the website.  Of course, we are not resting.  If you stand still in the internet world, someone will pass you by.  We work every day to continue to be the very best!