Frequency Asked Questions


What is the FccTestOnline website?

The FccTestOnline™ website provides adaptive question drill to prepare you for the FCC commercial radio operator license exams.


What makes the FccTestOnline website special?

Our special The Software that Knows You™ programming keeps track of your progress through the course. Like a patient tutor, our “intelligent repetition” algorithm repeats each question optimally — ones that give you trouble are repeated sooner, while ones you answer correctly are reviewed later.  Rather than repeating questions at random, it focuses your study time where you need it.


  Books Random exams FccTestOnline
Study materials Yes No No
Active learning No Yes Yes
Tracks your progress No No Yes
Adaptive learning No No Yes

Does the FccTestOnline website replace books and courses?

No.  First, use the books to learn the material.  Then, use this website to drill the questions and prepare for the actual exam.

One fairly popular book for elements 1, 3, and 8 is the GROL+RADAR Study Manual by Gordon West and the W5YI group.  (It gets about 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon Prime.)


Does the FccTestOnline website use the actual questions from the FCC question pools?

Yes, we use the questions directly from the FCC-published question pools (found here).  These are the exact same questions and answer choices you will see on the real exam, although we have corrected some typos.

As of September 2022, our site is completely up-to-date with the latest versions of the FCC question pools:

  • Element 1 (last updated 2009)
  • Element 3 (last updated 2009)
  • Element 6 (last updated 2009)
  • Element 7 (last updated 2019)
  • Element 7R (last updated 2012)
  • Element 8 (last updated 2009)
  • Element 9 (last updated 2012)


Which elements do I need to take?

There are three permits, five licenses, three certificates, and two endorsements available.  Read up on the requirements for each on the FCC website here.

Then figure out which elements to take on the FCC website here.


I found an error in one of the questions!

You are not alone.  We have found numerous typos and outright errors in the official question pools.  Let us know what else you find, and we'll notify the FCC.


Are all of these questions really on the exam?

The exams are drawn from the published question pools.  Of course, you don't know which questions will be selected for your exam, so you need to study all of them. 


Where do I take the actual exam?

After you have prepared on our website, you must pass the actual exam in person at a Commercial Operator License Examination Manager (COLEM).  Contact the COLEM directly for pricing and scheduling information.


Is the FccTestOnline website easy to use?

The website is easier to use than some of the other study programs on the web.

  • The graphics from the question pools are automatically shown when needed.
  • One single click on your answer choice gives you feedback on your response and automatically presents the next question.  It couldn't be any easier!

(To make the program as easy to use as possible, you do not have to click directly on the radio button for the answer; you can click anywhere within the answer text region.)


How does the FccTestOnline website decide which questions to present?

The program uses special formulas to calculate a "score" for each question, its estimate (on a scale from 0% to 100%) of how well you know the answer to the question.  Some of the factors that go into this calculation are:

  • Your correct and incorrect answer history for the question.
  • How many times you use the Show answer, 50/50, and hint buttons.
  • How difficult other students find the question.
  • How quickly you learned other questions in the same topic.

The program presents questions based on their current scores and on the elapsed time since they were last asked.  It tries to avoid repeating any question "too" soon.  It repeats questions with low scores sooner than questions with higher scores.  As the score for a question increases — as you start to master the information — you see it less often.  The "intelligent repetition" algorithm matches the way people learn.

The program only presents new materials when there are no previously seen questions due for a repeat.


Do I have any control over the question scores and question selection process?

You cannot directly edit a question's score, but you can affect it by consistently answering the question correctly (or incorrectly).  In fact, if you really want the program to drill a specific question more frequently, you can intentionally answer it wrong even when you know the right answer.  You can be certain that the question will appear again!

The User options screen also includes a Repetition delay factor option that influences the program's question choosing algorithm.  Increase this factor to increase the time between question repetitions.  Decrease it to see questions sooner.  Regardless of this setting, the program still uses "intelligent repetition" and shows you questions with low scores sooner than questions with high scores.


What if the FccTestOnline website asks a question I don't know the answer to?

If you don't know the answer, your can guess.  Trying to puzzle out answer keeps the brain awake.  If you can't make an educated guess, press the Show answer button.


What does the Show answer button do?

The Show answer button shows you the correct answer, along with all explanatory information available for that question.

Read all of the explanations, and try to memorize the correct answer.  Then, click on the correct answer to move on.  The program does not give you credit for a correct answer this time, but keep in mind that the important thing is to learn the material.  When the program repeats the question a few minutes later, you will know the answer.


What does the 50/50 button do?

Just as on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? the 50/50 button eliminates half of the wrong answers.  If you get the correct answer after pressing 50/50, you get partial credit for the question.


What does the Skip subject for now button do?

Skip subject for now allows you to temporarily delay dealing with a set of related questions.  For instance, if you are just not in the mood to deal with questions that require calculations, you can skip them.  However, the program continues to pester you about them periodically, so you may prefer to learn them and get them out of the way.


Is guessing bad?

Guessing is good.  It keeps the brain awake.  If you're wrong, the program tells you and gives you a chance to try again.  For some questions, it explains why your guess was wrong.  Also, an incorrect guess lowers the score for the question, which causes the program to present it more often in the future.  Since it's clearly a question that you have not yet mastered, that's exactly what you need.


How can I coordinate my studies on your website with information in the study manuals?

If you plan to use other study materials in conjunction with the website, you should turn on the Show question numbers option on the User options screen.  You will see the official question number in small gray letters after each question.  These are the same question numbers used in the various study materials. 


What are topics?

Click Choose topics and notice the hierarchy of topics.  The top level is the country you currently have selected, the second is the exam, and the third is the topic within the exam.  Check the checkboxes beside the exams or topics you want to study.  To change countries, click one of the links at the bottom of the Choose topics screen.


How are topic scores calculated?

Topic scores are a roll up of the scores of the questions in the topic and all its subtopics.  Your topic scores start out at zero.  As the question scores increase, the containing topic scores increase as well.  If the scores for all questions under a particular topic reach 100%, then the score for that topic becomes 100%.

Topic scores are a good way to get an idea of your progress through the material.  Once your score for an exam level reaches 90% or more, you have a good shot at a perfect score on that exam! (When you get a perfect score, please tell everyone that you studied with the FccTestOnline™ website!)

The topic scores are shown in square brackets in the gray topic header bar at the top of the Study screen, as well as on the Choose topics screen.

Note: Topic scores are normally calculated immediately after each question is answered.  However, when the system is busy, these calculations are sometimes briefly deferred.  Under these conditions the Topic scores, score bars, and user ranks displayed may be a couple of minutes out-of-date.


Why do my topic scores sometimes go down without me doing anything?

As time passes, information fades from memory.  The scores, which are the program's estimates of your knowledge, decrease over time to reflect this process.  If you want your knowledge and scores to stay at 100%, you have to keep coming back to review the material.


Why do I have non-zero scores in topics that I have never enabled?

Many questions are repeated, either identically or with slightly different phrasing, on different exams.  The FccTestOnline™ website links these questions together.  When you answer one in the group, you get full or partial credit for the others.

So, while you may only be studying the questions for one license exam, you are actually learning material that appears on other exams, and the program reflects this fact in your scores for those exams.  If you eventually switch over to study for that other exam, the material you have already learned will appropriately be treated as review, rather than new material.


How do I interpret the "score bars"?

The score bars give you a graphical representation of your progress through the questions.  The yellow section represents questions you have not yet seen, red is your weak areas, blue questions still need some review, and the green ones are completely learned.

Your score bars start out completely yellow.  As you begin to study, you start to see some red and blue.  Eventually some green starts to show, and it keeps growing as the yellow shrinks.  Don't feel that you necessarily have to turn the bar all green.  Most students pass the exams with excellent scores long before that point.


What does it mean when the program says “No new questions available in the course” in study mode?

This means that you have seen all the questions in a particular course.  The website will continue to drill you on the questions you have already seen.


What is User Rank?

User rank shows how your total score (for all exams) compares to other student's.  You start below thousands of other students.  Do you have what it takes to get into the Top 10?


What is the Session score?

The Session score, displayed at the bottom of the button bar, shows how many questions you answered correctly, without assistance, the first time they were presented in the current login session.

Please note that the Session score only changes the first time you answer a particular question in a session.  Subsequent responses leave the Session score unchanged.


What is the View Courses screen?

View Courses input options

The View courses screen lets you view the question pools in many ways:

  • Select which question pool to view.
  • Select a sort order:
    • “Question pool” is the FCC's order, including headings to show the FCC's question pool organization.
    • “Repeat due” shows when our intelligent repetition wants you to see each question again.
    • “Last answered” shows how long since you've seen each question.
  • Limit the questions if desired:
    • “Unseen” questions (yellow background) are ones you have never answered.
    • “Weak” questions (pink background) need work.
    • “Review” questions (blue background) should be seen at least one more time before your exam.
    • “Learned” questions (green background) you have fully learned.
    • “Due for review” questions (red outline) are ones that the intelligent repetition algorithm wants you to review now, based on your study history and your repetition delay factor.
  • If you're blind, you can turn off the questions with figures.
  • Choose display options:
    • The background colors show how you're doing with each question, but you might turn that off if you're printing out the question pool for someone else.
    • The FCC question numbers let you coordinate you studies with other resources.
    • You can optionally see the distractors for each question (not recommended unless you want to learn the incorrect answers).

You can use the View courses screen for self-directed study:

  • Study is our automatic mode, where the computer decides which questions to present.
  • View courses is the manual mode, where you choose for yourself.  Just list the questions you want to study, then click “Drill these questions” to drill them all.  Or you can click on a section heading or single question to drill smaller pieces.

Drill these questions button
Do you think you can do a better job than our intelligent repetition algorithm?  The View courses screen gives you the power, but use it wisely!  You might be tempted to start at the beginning and try to turn everything green, but long-term retention is best served by seeing questions at expanding intervals over a long period of time.  If it doesn't yet have a red border, then our intelligent repetition algorithm thinks it's too soon for a repeat.  Focusing on unseen questions might be a better use of your time.

If you want to approximate our intelligent repetition algorithm:

  • Give first priority to questions that are due for repeat (red border), in question pool order.
  • Give next priority to unseen questions (yellow background), in question pool order.
  • When there are no unseen or due questions, drill questions in “repeat due” order.


Why should I create an account?

Create an account so our The Software that Knows You™ database can track your personal progress, and next time you visit, you pick up studying  where you left off.

Please note that free trial accounts are deleted after 5000 days of inactivity.  To keep your free trial going, you should login and answer a few questions at least once every 5000 days.


Do I have to supply my name?

The View user list screen is similar to a Top Scores screen in a video game.  It lets you compare your progress against the progress of others.  You have to supply some name for display on this screen.  We encourage you to supply your full, real name.  However, some people enter only their first name, nickname, or initials.


Why does it ask for my birthday?

We use the birthdays to calculate the age of each user.  It's fun to see people's ages next to their scores on the View user list screen.

While we encourage you to enter your birthday, you are free to leave the field blank, which causes your age to display as 0.


How much does it cost?

The site is currently free.  We reserve the right to switch to subscription-access at any time.


Can I share my username/password with others?

You should not share your account with anyone else because your question history would become mixed with theirs, making the program ineffective for both of you.  The database would no longer correctly reflect which questions each of you had already learned.

This is true even when each person is studying a different question pool because we link questions by subject across the pools.  Answers in one pool affect the question drill in other pools.


Can I purchase the program on CD?

Our program is specifically written for the Web, and we have no plans to convert it for standalone use.  There are several advantages to having the program on the Web:

  • There is no software to download or install.
  • You can access your account from any Internet connection — home, work, school, etc.
  • Because all transactions go through our server, we can gather statistics on which questions people get wrong most often, which allows us to put more focus on the harder questions.