Licensing Exams and Testing Requirements

A common question here at the Handiham Program is, since I have a disability, do I really have to study for and pass the FCC licensing exam to get an amateur radio license? The answer is a resounding yes! Even if you have a disability, you still have to complete the requirements to be issued an amateur radio license.

Just like people have to pass an exam to get a driver’s license, you have to pass a test to get a ham radio license. Being a ham is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. Taking and passing your licensing exam shows that you can handle the responsibilities of being a licensee in the amateur service.

There are some accommodations that can be used. Those include arranging ahead of time with the VEs running the test session to have a reader and/or to have a low-distraction (extra-quiet) testing environment. Additionally, if you are blind, you can have an exam that does not include diagram-based questions.

If you have trouble with learning and remembering material, you can study in such a way that it enhances your ability to remember what you have learned. To do that, keep your study sessions short–5 to 15 minutes long works best for most people. Then repeat those study sessions throughout the day, approximately every hour. To get information to be stored in long-term memory, people typically have to study it at least 10 separate times. If you have issues that make it more difficult for you to remember, it could take 20 or more separate study sessions to get information into long-term memory.

Essentially, repetition is critical to your success. You need to go over and over the material, with appropriate breaks in between study sessions to maximize your brain’s ability to code the information into long-term memory. If you are unable to learn, even with extensive repetition and persistence, then you are not able to handle the responsibilities of being an amateur radio operator.