So you are interested in ham radio and want to get a license. Thats’s great! Now how should you study for the exam?
Let’s present some basic information first. Breathe a sigh of relief to know that Morse code is no longer required to be a licensed US amateur radio operator. Also unlike the days of old, you no longer have to travel to a FCC office to be examined. Many of us old timers recall having to demonstrate our skills at sending and receiving Morse and taking a tough written test at a FCC office in a large city.
License exams are now conducted by local hams who are accredited by an authorized organization to certify that examinees have passed the written exam. These volunteer examiners then process the paperwork necessary to get passing candidates their license. You can find the nearest exam dates and locations at the ARRL website.
License exam questions are all multiple-choice and are managed by the exam coordinator organizations. There are question pools for each of the three license grades and these pools change somewhat every four years. The question pool for the Technician class license consists of about 425 possible questions while the General exam has around 460. The Tech and General exams both have 35 questions and a passing grade is 26 correct answers (74%, 9 wrong). The Extra class license is much more extensive with over 700 questions in the pool and consists of 50 questions with a passing grade of 37 correct answers (74%, 13 wrong). Each license class has questions about Rules/Regulations, Operating Procedures, Radio Fundamentals, Practices, Electrical/Electronic Principles/Components, Equipment, Modes/Methods, Radio Wave Behavior, Antennas/Feedlines, and Safety. As you might expect the questions become more involved and difficult as you progress from Technician to Extra license classes. Every exam will have a certain number of questions from each of these general categories.
The Technician license exam is relatively easy to pass and is where most people start. The General class exam is more challenging but is still doable for most people, being moderately or somewhat difficult to learn. The Extra class exam is truly difficult and requires extensive learning and study to pass. You can proceed from Technician to General and on to Extra in one exam session if you are really eager and prepared or just settle for Tech or General that day, as most people do.
Because you won’t know which questions will be on any given exam, you need to understand most (at least 75%) of the entire question pool for whichever exam you are attempting to pass. So this requires some study in advance of taking the exam.
While it is possible for a reasonably intelligent and technically-minded person Continue reading