Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amateur Radio License Free On-line Resources

During an on-air net, someone asked for on-line help in preparing for the Amateur Radio General Class license.  I sent this response to the group mailing list:

Free Study Guides

These are dense summaries of all of the material covered by the current question pools. For some topics the study guide treatment is enough.  For other topics, reading a full guide like the ARRL License Manuals is recommended. If you have enough time, I recommend reading the ARRL license manuals cover to cover, you'll learn quite a bit and they are a fairly light read.  The study guides still help because the license manuals can be quite verbose and even rambling at times.  Having a nice dense summary helps to crystallize what you need to know.

Note: There are quite a few study guides and slide presentations available on-line. The ones I listed above are the ones that I've seen and read. Many groups pull together similar material when then offer a Ham Cram class.  Some groups have a single day session where they attempt to cover all the material for you to take your test the same day.;

Check the Dates on Study Materials!

The question pools used for exams change every four years.  Additionally the rules governing amateur radio do periodically change which affects the answers to some of the questions. Make sure any study materials you are using are covering the test pool that will be used at the time you take your test!  While Amazon is a generally one of the easiest places to buy books, it's fairly difficult to tell if you are getting the correct current edition.

Practice tests and On-line Flash Cards

There are a number of web sites that will let you take a practice test.  Some sites offer all the questions in the test pool as "flash cards" so you can try every question.  There are many of these sites out there.  Many of them are very basic or feature poor.  The one that I found the best when I was studying was HamExam.org. It's well implemented and keeps track of what questions you've seen and answered correctly.  If you practice with it for long enough you will cover the entire question pool. The statistics will let you know which sections of the test you are struggling with.

ARRL License Manual Supplemental Material

There are some additional resources on the ARRL.org web site that aren't well publicized.  For example, in the back of the license manual books is a full copy of the question pool. However the book doesn't present the material in the same order as the question pool. When reading the book and trying to test yourself on the question pool, you have to skip around a lot.  A version of the question pool that is in the same order as the material as the book is available. I think this should have been the version printed in the book.
Supplemental Material:

Multiple Choice Test Strategies

It's worth reviewing tips for taking multiple-choice tests. Namely for most questions two of the choices can usually be quickly eliminated as wrong answers. Doing so leaves you with two possible answers, giving you at 50% chance of getting it right even if you have to make a guess between the remaining answers.

Hope This Helps,

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