Getting into the exciting world of amateur radio is straightforward but requires a few ticked boxes. The most significant hurdle is obtaining a ham radio license. This may sound like a significant put-off but it's simple - and offers you a much clearer understanding of amateur radio in the process.
There is also the small matter that using a ham radio without a licence is a criminal offence, so it makes sense to get certified. This requires everybody to take one of the three exams available, depending on your level and how you wish to use amateur radio, and then apply for a licence after successfully passing.
Applying for a licence through the Ofcom Portal can only be done once you have successfully passed an online exam or one held in a certified location. Exams of old used to include complex Morse code that could take months, if not years, to get a grip of, but thankfully, exams are much easier these days.
The foundation-level exam is a 26-question multiple-choice test, while the intermediate involves 46 questions, and the full requires 58 questions - taking around 2 hours to complete. Each of them has a passing grade of 61%, and should you fail, you'll need to apply again to retake the exam. There are no limits on attempts, so if it takes you a few times, so be it.
Once the exam is out of the way, there is no licence fee if you apply online. However, postal applications do incur a £20 charge, but this fee doesn’t apply to those over 75.
Study Materials & Training Courses
We highly recommend studying and brushing up before taking your exam. You can find your local RSGB club here; many offer tutorials or more in-depth practical classes for those looking to take one of the three exams.
An in-person training course is invaluable. However, if you're short on time or prefer learning independently, we suggest checking out the Foundation, Intermediate, or Full Licence Manuals and the RSGB Amateur Radio Exam Secrets.
This year saw the first examination fee rise in over ten years, with all new prices taking effect from the 1st of April, 2023. Exam fees vary depending on what level you're taking, with prices currently:
Foundation – £32.50
Intermediate – £36.00
Full – £42.00
A foundation level teaches you the basics and allows you to use basic HAM radios to send and receive messages. The intermediate and full licences take things up a notch, with each level providing further information and opening more doors regarding power and radio bands available to you.
According to the RSGB website, you'll need the following if you want to take the foundation course online:
A Windows 7+ or Mac (Mac OS 10.8+) desktop or laptop. This must have either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, but tablets, smartphones, or Linux operating systems cannot be used.
An Internet connection with at least 512kbps.
Webcam, microphone, and speakers (Headphones are optional)
You'll also need to have the TestReach Desktop App downloaded working correctly.
Internet with a minimum speed of 2Mbps.
Other than those mentioned above, no additional equipment costs are associated with taking the ham radio licence exam.
Got Questions? Contact Moonraker Today!
The word exam is often enough to send a slight shiver down the spine, but this is not only about being on the right side of the law. Taking the ham radio exams can be hugely beneficial when using and understanding your amateur radio.
Getting the right equipment is essential when starting out in amateur radio - but then again, equipment stands for very little without the proper licence. If you're just starting and want to get a feel of what's out there, head over to Moonraker for a wide variety of radios to suit every knowledge and budget - but then set about choosing, booking, and studying for the right exam for you.