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French exam help for US expat

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by TYLEMAN, Mar 27, 2017.

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    TYLEMAN XML Subscriber

    Hi, I'm originally from the US but now live in France, and would like to take the French exam to become a ham. I've been an SWLer for years but I'm lacking in knowledge of radio circuits, etc. I spent some time today on a French website checking out sample questions for the test. The first section is not a problem, but it's when it gets into the theory that I'm lacking in knowledge.

    I would like to find a book in English that would help me with the fundamentals Frfor the test. Or, if someone has a recommendation for a French book, that would be helpful also, but, my French isn't great (although when taking the sample exam today I understood the majority of the questions.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was in pretty much your same position about two years ago. One big "gotcha" is that the French use different letters for some of the same principles. They also expect you to memorize a whole bunch more formulas. Tried for a while to use the F6GPX manual (you can download for free here: by going back and forth between that and the ARRL books - but you have to know everything in all three levels, since there is only one all-encompassing French exam. You might also like to take a look at the F6KGL class that starts in September each year. They post videos of the classes on YouTube if you can't get to Neuilly for the actual classes.

    But after a year and a half of trying to get through the technical stuff using the French manuals (there are two or three available already printed up and bound at nearly any French ham fest or radio event where REF has a stand - 15€ for one and, I think, 25€ for the other), I took the "easy" way out and took the US exams here in France. Passed Technician and General in one go, then studied up for Extra and passed that at Friedrichshafen a few months later. There are VEs here, associated with the ARRL VEC and if they get enough interest, they usually do the exams at the Hamexpo (this year in LeMans - used to be Tours) and one or more of the larger ham events. Once you've passed your Extra, you can apply for a French call sign - just be advised that you have to re-apply every year. They don't seem to send out renewals to us "foreign" hams.

    Frankly, I found the French exams to be difficult, in large part because the math and physics stuff is based on how they apparently teach science here in France. Lots of formula memorization and no so much "practical" application of the theory. (Also, in our high school math classes, we more or less skipped logs and trig, but spent some time on polar coordinates. The opposite seems to be the case here from what I can tell.) But take a look at some of the F6KGL videos and see what you think. (And feel free to holler if you have questions about doing the French license via the US exams like I did.)
    TYLEMAN likes this.

    TYLEMAN XML Subscriber

    Hi, Bev,
    Thanks for your in-depth and informative answer. I can see this will be a "hard row to hoe."

    I've never been good at math and this may prove to be a huge stumbling block for me. Yet I will look into the information you've given me. I'd rather just do the work with the French rather than getting a US ticket. I will study the test questions from and try to familiarize myself with the math involved. Strange that one has to go through so much study just to do this, but I realize it's likely the same everywhere.

  4. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Definitely take a look at the videos on YouTube. They leave up a full year's worth (the course runs from September to June - like everything else here <g>). The guy who does the videos does a good job of explaining how the tests work and there is even a segment on how to use the standard collège level calculator, which is apparently what you need (and are allowed) for the test. I wound up getting the UK version of the calculator (solar powered, as I have a horror of a dead battery mid-test) and it works a bit more "intuitively" for me, though it's very similar in function to the type of calculator they recommend.
  5. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think all you need to know too pass the French test is
    dormir avec moi ce soir

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  6. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    So, because you wrote it in French - it somehow makes you seem clever?
  7. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't get the credit, Google does. I don't know any French.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  8. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK, back on subject (ahem!)

    Just in case you change your mind or anyone lurking here is interested: (website for the French VEC with details of upcoming exam dates).
  9. N7EKU

    N7EKU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Chris,

    Ma petite femme is French Canadian and helped me install this program: My French is pretty horrible, but I took the technical part of the exam and found it not difficult at all. I didn't see any big math, geometry, notational etc. differences in the technical stuff. So I think getting a good grip on basic radio electronics is all you need for that part. Maybe more advanced tests are different in those aspects (I think this program is just for the basic exam?).

    I imagine the rules and regulation parts would be a lot harder for me, as one would have some descent knowledge of both the French language, and the regulations.


    Mark -- n7eku/ve3
    TYLEMAN likes this.
  10. N7EKU

    N7EKU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi again,

    I forgot to mention some books that I think would help you along. My best recommendations for beginners are first, "How to Become a Radio Amateur" and second, "Understanding Amateur Radio" both old books by the ARRL that can be found cheaply on Amazon, etc. These are very nice books to start with. The first one gives a good short introduction to electronic concepts and some radio circuits and radio propagation. It's nice because it's not too long and is not intimidating to read. The second one relies on the introductory material from the first book and just goes deeper into the subjects. These two will give you a really good base. They don't require a lot of math either (in case you were wondering).

    The ARRL Handbook is a good resource too, but is awfully hard to plow through as it contains huge amounts of extra information example circuits/projects in every chapter -- important info for when you are designing/building/repairing radio equipment, but not necessarily needed for these tests.


    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
    TYLEMAN likes this.

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