The BEARS offer classes to prepare individuals or groups to take the FCC Amateur Radio Operator licenses, and we administer the exams as part of the classes through the ARRL VEC program.

Tech classes are usually (4) 2-hour classes. The fifth class is a review class, followed by an official FCC-sanctioned VE exam session. Classes and study materials are free courtesy of The BEARS amateur radio club.  The FCC exam fee is $15.

If you would like to sign up for a class to take the "Technician" or "General" exam, we are assembling classes all year long.   Please contact Paul Gibson, paul.gibson@snet.net, to sign up.

Which exam to take?

The Technician license is the entry level FCC license for US ham radio operators. Licensees have operating privileges on frequencies that mostly work on "line-of-sight" and short range, commonly used for CERT teams, Public Safety and local events. The exam is a 35-question multiple choice exam, and covers mostly the rules govering usage, operating procedures, and safety as covered by Part 97 of the FCC rules and regulations. There are very few questions requiring technical or math skills, and answers are easily memorized.

The General license is the mid-level FCC amateur license.  The exam contains some technical subjects that require a knowledge of basic electronics, physics and math. A candidate must have passed the Technician license exam to sit for the General exam.  Licensees have priveleges on part or all of each of the ham bands, including UHF, VHF, an HF bands, and using all permitted modes.  General licensees can use frequencies that bounce off the ionosphere, meteor showers, satellites and even the moon, reaching all continents under the right conditions.

The Extra license is the most technically advanced FCC amateur license. The exam contains more advanced technical questions. Licensees get privileges to parts of the Amateur bands that are prohibited to the Tech and General licensees, giving the Extras access to additional, less-crowded spectrum. "Extra" licensees are also entitled to certain reserved call sign patterns, and qualify to act as volunteer examiners to give all three license exams to others.

CAUTION: the exam question pools are revised every 3 years on a rotating schedule. Make sure any study materials you purchase are meant for the question pool that will be in effect when you plan to take the test.

NOTE: Morse Code proficiency is no longer tested, for any license level.  Some of our club members continue to enjoy the challenge and fun of using Morse Code over the air, but it is not taught at the licensing classes.

Exam fees

The sessions have been prepared and will be presented by the BEARS of Manchester Radio Club. The only fee will be $15.00, which is payable on the night of the exam. This fee is passed along to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to cover their costs involved with interfacing with the FCC.

Who can take the classes

The general public is invited to take the classes and exams.  No membership in any organization is required. Please come with an open mind, think positive and be prepared to take notes! We don’t want anyone to feel intimidated with the subject matter. The presentation manner is intentionally geared for those who may not be technically inclined. Keep in mind that the BEARS have presented numerous of these sessions in recent years and our success rate is somewhere up around 90%!

Each test is a prerequisite for taking the next exam; ie, you must have passed the Technician test in order to sit for the General exam and so on. If you plan to take a second exam at a session if you pass the first test, please let the examiners know your intentions in advance so they can have enough of each exam on hand.