McKinney VE Group

General Information:

What do I need to do to prepare? What do I bring? How much does it cost? ... All these question and more are answered right here.

Click on the Schedule Tab for a list of scheduled test sessions and location information.

FCC Seal

Stephen Reinen, N8BP is the FCC Session Manager and ARRL Liasion for our group. If you have any questions about the information below or relating to our exam sessions, please contact him using email or by phone at 214-937-9982. The exam session schedule can be found on the schedules tab (above).

We recommend anyone interested in becoming an amateur radio operator should seek out a mentor. The online practice tests (such as www.qrz.com/hamtest) are wonderful tools, however having an experienced Ham handy to answer questions or explain why things are the way they are can make things much easier (and go way quicker). To find a Mentor, just contact your local Amateur Radio Club; they are freindly folks who would be more than happy to assist bringing a new friend into the fold. A good club will not require you to join for this assistance, and they may even offer organized license prep classes as well. Check the McKinney ARC's website to find contact information for the club's mentor program.

There is a fee of 15$ to take the exam. We are an ARRL VEC affiliated VE Group, the fee is collected and forwarded to the VEC to offset the cost of the Volunteer Examiner program as authorized by the FCC. Please bring cash or a money order (Money Orders should be made out to "ARRL VEC").

Here' how the fee is applied:
The 15$ fee is presented to the VE group during the identification validation process. If you pass the exam, then during that same session, you can take the next exam without anonther fee, and if you pass that exam you can take the last exam for free as well. So you can arrive with no license and leave with an Amateur Extra for just 15$. (We have had folks do exactly this, and in some cases they weren't even planning on it!)

In the event you fail to pass the exam on the first try, you can take another version of the exam for another 15$ during the same session. Our group have different versions of the exam available so that in the event you miss the mark but feel you can do better and pass, we can provide up to three additional attempts (15$ per attempt) as long as time allows.

When you are ready to take the test use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need to be successful:

BulletThe first step taken at the exam session will be the completion of an FCC form 605. Section 1 of this form is filled out, signed/dated and presented to the VEs to start the identification validation process. Although you do not need to fill this form out ahead of time, the FCC provides a PDF version of the form, and can be filled out prior to arriving at the session: FCC Form 605

BulletWe make every effort to ensure our testing sites are accessible, however please be sure to contact us prior to the testing date to advise if you will need assistance, such as wheel chair access, a copy of the test(s) in brail or we can provide a Volunteer Examiner to assist in reading the questions and answers. (note: please allow at least two weeks notice to the VE group Liasion for Brail exams)

Bullet If you have tested within the last twelve months, but have not recieved your FCC paperwork yet; please bring a copy AND the original of the CSCE receipt the VE group gave you..

Bullet
If you have an Amateur Radio Operator's License (even if it is expired); bring the original with you, not a photocopy. (This is a MUST)

BulletA Legal Photo ID with your name and address on it, usually a Driver's license, but can also be a passport or other government issued ID. If you do not have a photo ID, then you will need two forms of ID. Any mixture of the following can be used; a non photo ID/driver's license, your current FCC License, Social Security Card, Birth Certificate (with seal), Minor's work permit, school report card, school ID, library card, utility bill, bank statement, or other business correspondence that specifically names the applicant, or a postmarked envelope addressed to the applicant. In all cases the addresses must match and be the address that will be used on the form 605 application.

BulletWhen completing Form 605 (the application to take the test(s)), you must supply either your SSN or FRN. If you already have an Amateur Radio License, then you have an FRN. It should be printed on the license; if not visit the FCC website to obtain your FRN ID. If you do not have an FRN, then your Social Security Number must be used on the form, the FCC will issue an FRN when the license grant is completed.

BulletCalculators are permitted (and actually encouraged). Try not to bring a calculator that can store formulas. A simple calculator with a basic sum memory is best, if your calculator is capable of storing formulae, the VE group must verify that all memories have been cleared prior to testing. Use of tablet computers and other calculating devices is subject to VE group approval.

BulletBring a pencil and a black or blue pen with you. The VE group tries to keep spares available, however we cannot guarantee supplies for all. Be sure to use pencil on the answer sheet to allow for corrections!

BulletWhen taking the test(s), don't rush! Remember that everyone in the room has the same goal, and there is always a re-take or another session if you do happen to miss one too many :-)

BulletBe sure to "obliterate" the letter on the answer sheet. The group uses a template to score the tests, and will not see that you answered a question correctly if you circle it.

BulletIf you need to make a correction, and you have one of "those" pencils that just makes a bigger mess of things when trying to erase, be sure to make it obvious which answer is the one you selected (arrows pointing at the correct one usually works well). If the VE group has any doubt we will ask you to clarify.

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Be sure to recheck your answer sheet to make sure you didnt miss any of the questions.

Good Luck!


In all situations where you have an FCC issued Amateur Radio license that has not been renewed by the expiration date shown on the grant, one or more of the following conditions apply to you.

If you hold a technician license (expired or not) that was issued before March of 1987, you can qualify for a paperwork only upgrade to a General Class license.

If your license has expired (whether within the two year grace period or after the greace period), you can now get your General or Extra privlidges back without having to take all of the exams. Just show proof of your previous license class (greater than Technician) , complete the Technician exam, and you will be awarded the appropriate Class license.

Read the details below for the situation that applies to you!

Amateur license expired within the past two years:

The FCC gives a 2-year grace period for renewing your license. You cannot transmit during that grace period, but you can renew your old license without having to take any exams.

You don't actually have to renew your grace-period license before taking an upgrade exam. You simply present it at your exam session, and it gives you credit just like an unexpired license. However, if you're right at the end of the grace period, you might want to renew now, in the unlikely event you fail the upgrade exam. Once the grace period expires, you must take the Technician exam to re-attain your privledges and you will be issued a new call sign.

If you want to renew your "in grace period" license while at the session, we can accept an additional form 605 with a 14$ fee to do the paperwork, however it is quicker and free (if not a vanity call sign) if you go to the FCC ULS website and renew there.

Amateur License Expired for more than two years:

The FCC now offers partial credit for expired General, Advanced or Extra Amateur Radio licenses. A license that has expired and gone beyond the two year grace period will be canceled in the FCC system. The licensee will not automatically qualify for a new license. At a minimum, previous license holders must take the current 35-question Technician exam at a VE exam session to return to Amateur Radio. The FCC will issue a new call sign and a new license when the Technician exam is passed.

If an applicant held a General or Advanced license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) written exam only. If an applicant held an Extra license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) and Extra (Element 4) written exams. At VE exam sessions it is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of holding valid expired license credit. 

NOTE: If you held an Advanced Class license when it exceeded the grace period, you will be issued a General Class license after passing the Technician (Element 2) exam. The Advanced Class licence is no longer issued and though there are Amateurs that hold a valid Advanced Class license, if it expires, then credit is only given for currently offered Elements that the licensee has already passed. As such, an Adavced Class Amateur will be converted to a General, unless they pass the Extra exam.

To claim the credit:

  • BulletPer FCC Rule 97.505(a), an original or copy of an original expired FCC issued General, Advanced or Extra license as indicated on the license. -or- A REFERENCE COPY of the license printed from the FCC ULS license database or FCC archive database located on the FCC website at http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home

  • BulletIf you do not have a copy of your license and it is not listed in the FCC ULS database, you may use a copy of a Radio Amateur Callbook as long as your license was active in 1967 or later. If the Callbook doesnot show the year in the page, be sure to bring copies AND the original to the exam session for verification.

  • BulletIf your license was active in 1966 or later and can't be found above, then you may contact the FCC's research retrieval service contractor,Best Copy & Printing, Inc. (BCPI), will obtain General, Advanced or Extra license certification from FCC records. There is a charge for this service. For assistance in purchasing copies of FCC documents, contact  BCPI directly: 202-488-5300 or 800-378-3160. TTY: 202-488-5562. Fax: 202-488-5563. Email: fcc@bcpiweb.com Web: www.bcpiweb.com/fcc_research.php

  • BulletQRZ.COM has posted on their website a copy of their very first Amateur Radio CD ROM product as originally published in 1993. This searchable database contains license records from 1983 to 1993. A printout of such a listing from the CD ROM or the web page is acceptable.

  • BulletBe sure to bring two photocopies of the expired license or other approved proof (as noted above) with you to the exam session. The photocopies should be presented with the original or reference copy when your identity is being validated by the VEs.

For more information, see www.arrl.org/exam-element-credit for details.

Pre-1987 Technician license (expired or current):

If you EVER held a Technician class ham radio license issued before March 21, 1987, the FCC gives you “grandfather” credit for the General class exam (element 3), even if that license expired decades ago. (This does not apply if you had upgraded to general or above since then)

To claim the credit:

  • BulletIf you currently hold an unexpired Technician license, when you present proof to the volunteer examiners (VEs) of your pre-1987 Technician license and pay the test fee, you automatically get credit for the General exam, and you are upgraded to General class.


  • BulletIf your license has expired (greater than 2 years ago), you must first pass the current Technician exam. Then, when you present proof to the volunteer examiners (VEs) of your pre-1987 Technician license, you get credit for the General exam, and you are issued a General class license.

  • BulletIf you do not have a copy of your license and it is not listed in the FCC ULS database, you may use a copy of a Radio Amateur Callbook as long as your license was active in 1967 or later. If the Callbook doesnot show the year in the page, be sure to bring copies AND the original to the exam session for verification.

  • BulletIf your license was active in 1966 or later and can't be found above, then you may contact the FCC's research retrieval service contractor,Best Copy & Printing, Inc. (BCPI), will obtain General, Advanced or Extra license certification from FCC records. There is a charge for this service. For assistance in purchasing copies of FCC documents, contact  BCPI directly: 202-488-5300 or 800-378-3160. TTY: 202-488-5562. Fax: 202-488-5563. Email: fcc@bcpiweb.com Web: www.bcpiweb.com/fcc_research.php

  • BulletQRZ.COM has posted on their website a copy of their very first Amateur Radio CD ROM product as originally published in 1993. This searchable database contains license records from 1983 to 1993. A printout of such a listing from the CD ROM or the web page is acceptable.

  • BulletBe sure to bring two photocopies of the expired license or other approved proof (as noted above) with you to the exam session. The photocopies should be presented with the original or reference copy when your identity is being validated by the VEs.

This is a specific type of grandfather clause. For example, if you held a General or Extra license before 1987, there is no credit given under this rule.. See www.arrl.org/exam-element-credit for details on all types of Element credit..