Recently I obtained my General Class Amateur Radio License. Ham radio has always been something that was interesting to me, ever since I read a Hardy Boys novel where Frank and Joe used a shortwave radio. A few years later I read Alone by Admiral Byrd, who during his five month stay alone in the Antarctic used a radio to keep in contact with basecamp. As a young boy then I did’t know that people still used ham radio. Amateur Radio just seemed like some cool skill that would be fun, but I was just born too many decades late to do something like that. As I learned more about Ham Radio in the last couple of years I realized that ham radio was still alive and it wasn’t that hard to get licensed. It just takes some studying, and a desire to learn.
Study, study, study!
I studied with the intent to take both the Technician license (Element 2) and the General Class license (Element 3). Since if you pass one exam you can take the next one at the same exam sitting for the one test fee, I figured I’d study to take both tests. I used a few different study resources:
KB6NU’s No-Nonsense guides for both the Technician and General Class Exams. You can download the PDF for the Technician Exam for free from Dan’s website.
Ham Radio Podclass with Michael Dell and John Martin. Even though some of the material isn’t up to date it was still helpful to listen to.
Hamstudy.org was by far the most helpful study resource for me. I worked through all the flashcards for both tests and took many practice tests. Being able to gauge my knowledge of the exam material gave me confidence on test day.
Having a multiple-attack for studying with reading, flashcards, and listening to the Podclass and Gordon West was very helpful, and led to a better grasp and understanding of Amateur Radio.
Go for the Extra!
On the Technician test I scored 100%, and 97% on the General. The Volunteer examiners asked if I’d like to take the Extra exam also, since I had passed the first two exams. Even though I hadn’t studied for it, I gave it a shot. It would be a good chance to see what it was like. I scored 60% on the Extra, which wasn’t good enough for a passing score. You need a minimum of 74% to pass. With some more studying I would be within reach of getting my Extra Class license.
Knowing that I was only 7 correct answers away from my Extra license, I realized I should study and take it while I’m still in studying mode. No better time than now to upgrade! I’m studying some everyday to get ready for an upcoming exam in a couple of weeks.