Commercial Element 3

Element 3 is a requirement to obtain the General Radiotelephone Operator License and the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) Radio Maintainer License.  The FCC does not administer commercial operator license examinations. To obtain a new or upgraded FCC commercial operator license, you must pass an examination administered by a Commercial Operator License Examination Manager (COLEM). 

To pass Element 3,  you must correctly answer a minimum of 75 questions on the 100-question exam.  The exam is made up of questions drawn from a  pool of 600 questions. Do not attempt to memorize the questions and answers they way they appear in the FCC Element 3 question pool.  The question and answer choices on the exam may be shuffled.

The following table shows the subelements in element 3, the number of questions in each subelement, and the number of exam questions taken from each subelement.

Element 3 Exam

Element 3 Exam Structure Table

Use the link below to display the entire element 3 question pool.

element 3 question pool

 Element 3 Self-Study Program

This is  how the self-study program works.  You study the subelement flashcards starting with subelement A.  Then you test yourself on subelement A until you are consistently scoring 85 or higher.   Repeat the process until you cover all the subelements.  Then test yourself with sample element 3 exams until you are consistently scoring 85 or higher.

Use the exam question review facility to help you with questions you miss.  Create question review files using a text editor.  Enter one question number per line.  Save the files with names like E3A.txtfor subelement A.  Save the sample exam question review file with a name like element3.txt.  When you are ready to review questions, open a review file, copy the question numbers and paste them into the form provided in the exam question review facility.  The exam question review facility will significantly improve your license exam score.

1.   Study the online subelement flashcards at the link provided below one subelement at a time until you are ready to test yourself then proceed to Step 2.

element 3 subelement flashcards

2.   Test yourself on subelements using the link provided below until you are consistently scoring 85 or higher.  Repeat Steps 1–2 until you have covered all the subelements then proceed to Step 3.  If questions are missed on a subelement test, a link will be displayed at the bottom of the results summary for you to test yourself on the missed questions.  Repeat testing until you correctly answer all the questions.

element 3 subelement exams

3.  Use the link provided below to test yourself on sample element 3 exams until you are consistently scoring 85 or higher.  If questions are missed on a sample exam, a link will be displayed at the bottom of the results summary for you to test yourself on the missed questions.  Repeat testing until you correctly answer all the questions.

sample element 3 exams

4.   You are ready to take the Element 3 exam!  Use the link provided below to locate a COLEM  or certified exam proctor in your area. 

locate a COLEM in your area

2 Responses to “Commercial Element 3”


  • Again I owe you thanks for your web site. I just passed the Element 8 radar endorsement today with a score of 94! Can’t recommend this site enough to my fellow students.!

  • Just took the General Operating License Exam Element 3, I took Element 1 earlier before I found your website. I used your website for self study along with the Grol book. This Element 1 and 3 exam were required for a grade for my Avionics Certification Course at Broward College in Florida. Thanks to your website I scored a 95 on the Element 3 exam. I will continue to study, now Element 8, to get my Radar endorsement. Really appreciate the help this website provided!

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