Advice to those upgrading: Don't Take The Easy Way Out

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by WW1F, Jan 28, 2014.

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  1. AC9HO

    AC9HO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    First off I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see a discussion about the exact battle I am having with myself this very moment. I got my technician when I was 15 years old about 20 years ago give or take a few months. Now that I became a General as of last year my excitement for the radio is like NEVER before. So I decided that I would like to become an Extra, and started to study practice tests. I realized that even though I have been a HAM for many years my knowledge is lacking to say the least. So I ask myself am I deserving of the Extra class license? The obvious answer if we only look at my knowledge is a HUGE NO!! But I would like to think that my excitement and willingness to learn overpowers my knowledge as of right now. I am a hands on kind of person and like to learn only what I am going to use at the moment. Also I always research and learn as much as possible before using or doing something new. That being said I know that I should know what all the questions on the test mean, but I ask myself am I going to need all those just to get on the air? Not to get on the air and just rag chew but get on the air to talk to people that know WAY more than I do, and pick there brains so that I can learn, and understand what these questions are when I need them. Since having a General class license I have learned a lot to be able to do mobile HF reliably, but to most Extra class the things I have learned might still be considered basic. So now finally to my point the things I have learned so far and by no means done learning I would have not learned if I didn't upgrade. So I figured if I got my Extra then there would be no limits except my own. Not to mention all the knowledge that is hanging out on the Extra class frequencies that I could benefit from.

    I understand that some may think that memorizing the questions is a form of cheating and maybe they are right, but it can also open a door for a person like me to learn and become the HAM that everybody wants out of an Extra. The test is always the hardest thing because some of us do not take tests well, so to get that out of the way is a huge relief. That weight lifted leaves room for learning the things I can actually use instead of learning and cannot use.

    I would really appreciate comments as this is an ongoing battle for me and my deadline is coming fast because I was thinking about taking the test at the next hamfest Feb. 22 if I am ready to pass. I have enormous respect for all amateurs especially the ones that have most definitely earned the right to be an Extra, so I am trying not to be a disappointment to the title. I have heard people say "well I got my General no need for the Extra because you don't gain enough in the way of frequencies" and I really don't want to be that way. I want all the privileges so that when I decided to try something new my license class will not hold me back.

    Thanks for reading this and look forward to your opinions on my way of thinking about this!

    N9ZNJ Curt
  2. N0JKU

    N0JKU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I fully agree with the post above. My plan is to research the question pool, and look up the items that I don't fully understand. It will be the only way for me to learn the material on my own.
  3. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I say the answer is YES, you deserve whatever license class you want, as long as you pass the test. And, short of writing all the answers on your arm, however you learn the material doesn't matter. You need to remember that this is a hobby, not a divine calling. Most other hobbies don't have tests, but people still give it a go because it interests them. Not because they know everything going in, but because they like learning as they go.

    If you want it, go for it. I had various Novice/Technician licenses when I was much younger (1965-1998) and always wanted to upgrade to extra. But for the most part, life got in the way. Finally a time came along when I knew the license structure was going to change (Morse tests dropped) and upgrading would not quite mean the same thing to me. So I went for it. I took the Tech/General in one sitting and the Advanced/Extra in another. Granted, my background is Engineering, so the tests were not a big issue. In about 6 months time, I was an Extra.

    I just downloaded the question pool and started going through it. If I didn't know a question right off, or didn't understand it, I looked it up. You would be surprised at how many are totally obvious. I would then take regular tests on, to see whether I had a chance of passing. When I always scoring 90% or better, I went for it. If you don't have a Engineering background this process may take a little longer, but you do already have a General and 20 years as a ham, which accounts for some amount of learning.

    But I did have to really work for the Morse tests. It took a month to get ready for the General 13 WPM test, but another 6 months for the Extra 20 WPM test. You don't have that blockade any more, but for me, that was part Amateur Radio as I knew it.

    There is far more learning after you get the license than before.
  4. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    Well, most other hobbies dont give you access to public radio frequencies and the use of high power transmitters. Most other hobbies dont give you the
    oportunity, if you dont understand what you are doing, to interfere with other electronic communications systems.

    The test used to be given to ensure that you already knew certain technical aspects of radio commujications and had an understanding of basic safety
    information. Also you had to understand the regulations that governed your hobby.

    Your method of preparing for the exam would at least attempt to do that. Unfortunately a high percentage of prospective licensees chose to memorize the
    answer pool. All this does is ensur3 that they are able to pass the test. I suppose it does give you a working knowledge of the regulations and most of
    the safety issues but few of the technical issues. If an understanding of these technical issues is not that important, why include them on the test?
    What I would propose is simply filling out a form where you are asked if you understand the required inforation,, You checj the yes box, pay your money,
    and get your license. saves a lot of time and accomplishes the same thing.

    Of course, if you passed the test, you deserve the ticket. You did, after all, do what was required.


  5. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    If all the other stuff really mattered, you wouldn't have access to all the questions and answers. Your last line says it all. It's just a hobby. You pass the tests and learn as you go.
  6. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    No, that's not true. The freedom of information act gave you access to the questions/answers. Has nothing to do with the relavence of
    the test. But since most folk dont figure it matters, why have the test at all?


  7. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, that's a nice theory.
  8. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    I posted a fact and a question... what theory?

  9. N5AL

    N5AL Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the U.S., the FCC sets the bar and those who pass the test -- by whatever honest means -- have made the grade.

    Learning, on the other hand, is a lifelong journey. I'm impressed that the OP has the interest to expand his ham radio knowledge and experiences. To me, that is the spirit of being an amateur radio operator.
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I memorized the License Manual when I got my first three tickets - Novice, General, and Advanced, and I could regurgitate all the information needed to pass. In many cases, I didn't fully understand it, even though I was a voracious reader where ham radio was concerned. When time came to study for the Extra in the early 70's, I decided to do it right, and try to understand all of the questions, fully. It took me months to get there, but I was pleased when I did. A big part of the problem was that I had to re-learn the stuff I learned for General and Advanced, because there were big gaps in my knowledge. Once I was able to see the 'big picture' a lot of it fell into place, and I suddenly understood things I'd only memorized years before, without fully understanding.

    Today, you do have it a little worse in this regard, if you get the license by just studying the question pool. I suspect that while you must learn something in order to make that work, there are bigger holes in your understanding that way. I would die of boredom if I had to try to memorize the answers to over 700 questions.
    I think it would be much easier to learn the stuff. Reading ARRL's license manuals will at least give you some understanding of it, making the tests much easier. I think your time would be much better spent reading the book and reading the question pool once or twice, than trying to memorize the question pool. Memorizing IS NOT a shortcut. It's the long way around!

    The BASIC books will take you up to a level somewhere between General and Extra, and they avoid some of the 'trivia' that you have to memorize for the General in favor of solid, useful info.
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