Get your License
Why should I?
How do I?
The Tech exam is first
Then General
And finally Extra<
Code is optional
Questions? Ask UMARC
Two busy hams enjoying Field Day

A website for:

Originally provided by: William Becher, AA8RW

Last updated:


ATTENTION U of M STUDENTS: A copy of the ARRL "General Class License Manual for Ham Radio" 7th edition is available for overnight checkout at the 2nd floor Reserve desk in the Duderstadt Center (call number PC 9). It is an excellent place to start learning how to upgrade to General Class. It contains everything needed, including the entire FCC Question Pool questions and answers, along with explanations for each answer. A careful read is typically all that is necessary to pass the exam.

Don't know mose code? Not to worry! Morse code requirement ended Friday, February 23, 2007. The only requirement now for the General Class license is the successful completion of the Technician and General written exams.

Important Note: The questions in the General Class question pool were changed on July 1, 2011. If you use a question list, textbook and/or another website to study for the General exam, make certain the questions are valid for the date you plan on taking the exam. With the many changes continually made by the FCC to amateur radio rules there is a question pool update evry 3 or 4 years. Unfortunately around the time for each update some resources claim to be correct when often they are not.


UMARC is pleased you have sufficient interest in the General Class license to look at this page. If you follow through and obtain your license you'll find that it significantly increases the range of things you are permitted to do, which will make the hobby even more exciting than it is with only a Technician license.
There are several things you should know early on:
First the good news - The FCC no longer requires Morse code as a prerequisite to obtaining the General license. The only criteria is the successful completion of the Technician and the General exams.
The somewhat bad news - The present General exam was replaced by a new one on July 1, 2011. This means if you studied for your General class license using an old set of exam questions you'll need to spend time with the new set. But at least some of the questions are similar so your work will be easier this time around.
A little better news - Both the questions with answers are available. See the right-hand sidebar or go to The Exam Questions below.
The bad news - The General exam is more difficult than the Technician exam so you'll need to study a little harder. Although some UMARC members have concentrated only on the questions and been successful, one of the other alternatives described in the How to page may be a better method of obtaining your General Class license. This of course depends on you. There are 35 questions on the exam and you must correctly answer at least 26 to be successful.
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KB6NU Study Guide

For those who are adept at using "CliffsNotes" or would like to have an excellent summary of the exam answers to scan before sitting for your license, Dan KB6NU, has prepared a General Class License Study Guide to help prepare for the techician exam. Be certain to look at it, it's a worthwhile addition to your license preparation library. It should reduce your study time and it's free! Return to top

Practice Exams
Once you have studied the questions and believe you are ready to take the exam, it is a good idea to test your understanding by taking several practice exams. Fortunately, there are numerous resources that provide these exams. But make certain the questions are from the latest question pool.:
  • Internet (These have only been given a cursory look but they appear to be helpful)
    • - Michael Burkhardt's W8MHB Ham Radio Shacketeria. A well thoughtout technique for presenting the practice exams.
    • - $29.95 for a 2 year subscription (Money back if you fail the test). UMARC has not used this, but it looks like an excellent way to learn all you need to know. There is a free trial to see if you like this web-based system.
    • - Free! Looks worthwhile.
    • - Free! Although this appears to be OK, be leery of its timeliness, some of the update notices are out-of-date.
  • Books - Many of the Book Resources listed below contain copies of the questions. A few contain sample exams. Before purchasing be certain to check the contents to see if the Questions and Answers are included.
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Book Resources Return to top
The latest editions of these books have not been reviewed by UMARC. However, earlier editions have been looked at and, in some cases, used to obtain a license. All are judged to be useful as a study tool. Nevertheless, you should look carefully at the descriptions published on the websites before purchasing to ensure that it satisfies your needs.

ARRL Amateur Radio License Publications

The ARRL General Class Radio License Manual (valid from 7/1/11) contains all the information needed to pass the General Class license exam: questions, answers and a well written explanation of the principles underlying each question.
The ARRL General Q&A, (valid from 7/1/11) contains all the exam questions with answers and brief explanations of the answers. It is significantly less expository than the General Class License Manual.

W5YI Group Amateur Radio publications We have not explored the W5YI license books and manuals in detail but they appear to be helpful.

Some Useful References (after you are licensed)
All of the following are ARRL publications. Detailed descriptions for these, and many other, can be found by going to Store and searching for the topic of interest. All can be purchased directly from ARRL.

Note: Sometimes you can find bargains prices for these references at or Hamfests in the area but be aware, new editions are routinely published as Ham interests change. Although the basic underlying radio theory remains unchanged, the new ideas and examples illustrated in the later editions can be significantly different. Consequently, although you can find out-of-date bargins, you should be careful, doing so may prevent your entry into new and exciting Ham activities. Buy older editions only after thorough research or consulting with more experienced UMARC members or others before doing so.

The FCC Rule Book contains the latest FCC rules as published in Part 97 along with explanations and interpretations. Because it is essential that all radio amateur operators follow all the rules, this book can be a valuable additions to any Ham library.

You will not be in Ham radio long before you realize there are many procedures to learn when operating your equipment. The ARRL Operating Manual is a valuable resource if you hope to hone your skills as a Ham operator. It will introduce you to all the "How to's" of amateur radio operating procedures.

One of the most important parts of successful radio operation is the antenna. Without a good antenna even the best radio will not work well. The ARRL Antenna Book is the tool needed to understand what to do if you desire good transmission and reception. The book not only explains the theory but gives many valuable insights into the construction of antennas. Also included is a CD ROM containing software utilities for modeling a variety of antenna configurations.

The ARRL Handbook, 2011 edition is an updated technical reference that has been used by Hams since 1926. It explains the fundamental theory of all aspects of amateur radio from electricity to digital modes, illustrates many practical do-it-yourself projects and contains valuable reference data. It is a book that all Hams should take a detailed look at and seriously consider including on their bookshelf.
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As you probably discovered while studying for the General Class license, the Extra Class license permits a significant increase in permissible operating frequencies. In fact, it is the ultimate Amateur license, permitting you to do everything a Ham can do. Once you have passed your General license, or even before if you would like to study for both licenses at the same time, you should turn to the Extra Exam page to begin preparing.

Go Blue!

73 de W8UM

Last updated: 11/15/10

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2012 Handbook


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