Become a Ham

How to Become a Licensed Amateur Radio Operator

Practice Exams

The links below are sites where you can take practice exams for the Technician, General and Extra class Amateur Radio licenses.


QRZ Ham Exam

AA9PW Ham Exam


Taking The Test

 When you’re ready to take the FCC License Exam to get your Amateur Radio license, GEARS can help.  GEARS is one of only fourteen amateur radio clubs in the USA directly authorized by the FCC to administer the license exams.  If you’re not sure you’re ready, try a free online practice test (links above).

Tests are given at 2:00 PM on the first Sunday of every even-numbered month. No appointment is required, and walk-ins are welcome.

GEARS VEC: Tom Rider, W6JS; 1-530-514-9211 or email him at

The August 2nd VEC exams may be at a different location other than what is posted below

 GEARS VEC Test Dates: August 2nd,  October 4th,  December 6th.

The Question Pools.

The question pool for each new license level changes every four years. Be sure to study from the correct ARRL study guide and question pool.

Question Pool Longevity 

Technician: July 1st 2018 to June 30th 2022

General: July 1st 2019 to June 30th 2023

Extra: July1st 2020 to June 30th 2024

The exams are given at the Butte County Search & Rescue, 3898 Morrow Lane in Chico. 

What to bring to the test session.

The cost of the exam is $15.00. You can take more than one exam for the same cost.

Two forms of identification. One must be a photo ID, driver’s license, state ID card, school ID, or passport.                                                       

A Number 2 pencil, and a black ink pen.

You may bring a calculator, however memories must be cleared before the exam session starts

If you have taken the exam previously, bring your Certificate of Successful Completion (CSCE).

If you are upgrading to a higher class of license, bring a photocopy of your current license

After Passing the Test

Tests are checked for a passing score immediately after being completed, and candidates are informed whether they passed or not.  If you do not pass, the volunteers will return your application to you, and no record is kept.

After you pass your exam, the Volunteer Exam Coordinator will upload your license application directly to the FCC over the internet.  New licenses are usually processed by the FCC within 48 to 72 hours, and you will receive a call from a GEARS volunteer by Tuesday or Wednesday to give you your new call-sign.  You will also be given information on how to check your FCC Registration Number (FRN), how to register for the FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS), and how to obtain an official printed copy of your license.

Other Local Volunteer Teams.

Yuba-Sutter Amateur Radio Club:   Contact LeRoy Smith, KJ6DKM

Redding VEC:








Technician: July 1st 2018 is valid until June 30th 2022.

General: July 1st 2019 is valid until June 30th, 2023. 

Extra: July 1st 2016 is valid until June 30, 2020.

Let’s work together

We are committed to serving our communities, and welcome new opportunities to do so. We are available to–and frequently–provide radio communication support for community activities such as: bike races, charity walks, and other local and regional public events.