General Test - Gulp it down or take your time

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by K8OCB, Aug 3, 2010.

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  1. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    "If you don't like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk."
  2. KJ4VPI

    KJ4VPI Ham Member QRZ Page

    To Gulp, or not to Gulp

    This is just my opinion, but I might recommend a blend of gulping followed by continuous sipping, like I see some of the other responders are suggesting.

    For me, the General license is not the end-game of the learning experience. Mine started with SWL/DX, and NDB hunting...

    I found Gordon West's study guides to be very approachable, and usable for reference, but book's on theory they are not, nor pretend to be. Now I supplement my reading with a 2010 Handbook and material I find on the web or in QST magazine. Some of the material I find myself reading is straight-forward, and some far from it.

    But, would I wait to take the General License exam until I read the entire Handbook, built a number of projects, solved numerous math problems presented in other textbooks, breathed life into a rig in need of some TLC?

    No, I would not!
  3. NC9Z

    NC9Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Take it, as was said, if nothing else it's a practice session; but don't waste your time with it so study accordingly, and you can cement the information down the road. Learning the concepts helps build the right basis for reasoning that can get you the correct answer.

    From the Tech to the Extra (albeit the recently made "old" tech test, and I'm not sitting for the extra until this Sat.) I've found that the topics covered hardly relate to the privliges, but because General opens up so much of the world operator ability there is a paradigm shift in the material so it's more of a chunk to bite off. The Extra class exam really feels more like "things you could have been doing with your tech license" and some more advanced math.

    The learning doesn't stop with the test nor does it stop with the ARRL book or QRZ or the radio, with HAMs all over the world there's always something evolving and a whole host of new facets to learn about and improve both your knowledge and being a good operator just like when you got your Tech, you're going to learn and understand so much more once you actually get on the radio and listen, and then even more when you start participating and experiencing ham radio. There's always going to be a new mode, antenna or band to try and experience or a new contesting goal to shoot for, or a DX range to beat or radio to restore or new gadget to try; as long as your having fun with the hobby there's no reason not to keep those wheels turning.

    The tests make sure you have a basic grasp of what many of the different aspects are, and from all that I've studied in memorizing rules for questions and reading the theory, and working the formulas; I feel like I've read the menu at a restaurant, until you actually get on the radio and so it, it's just not real yet. Fortunately rag chewing on repeaters, trying to talk to satellites, getting to try out HF at field day, tracking friends on APRS, participating in routine and severe weather nets, building my own power supply, building several antennas, trouble shooting several RFI issues, participating in an impromtu fox hunt for a repeater jammer, talking to someone hundreds of miles away via IRLP, have been able to give me a taste of ham radio but there really is so much more out there, and the constant technical challenges is going to ensure that day by day, week by week, month by month year by year, I'm always going to to be learning something new about the hobby.
  4. K0SPN

    K0SPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just because you don't have to pay for that test session doesn't mean that it's free.
    Somebody has to pay for every test taken at that session.

    How would you feel if you knew that people were showing up without really preparing when it was your money paying for the tests?
  5. W6ONV

    W6ONV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have related this parallel previously when these sorts of testing questions arise. I will continue to answer them the same way. I am sure it won't sit well with the old timers. I still consider myself an amateur radio operator, regardless of how I got there. There are also no limitations on learning, you have a lifetime to gain experience every day you decide to do something in amateur radio.

    I started flying lessons back in 1990 at the age of 18. My instructor at the time was probably a few years old, but I respected his opinion when it came to my training. Much like amateur radio, there are weekend classes you can pay to take that guarantee you pass your written exam. There are also study guides, similar to what seems to the standard for studying for the amateur exams these days.

    When I moved forward in my flight training I have a very senior instructor, former Air Force Colonel, who was an amazing instructor. He told me to study the exams in order to pass. Why clutter your head with information you will obtain as you continue flying and learning. This information was similar to what I was given by my first instructor.

    So I studied the material in order to PASS THE TEST, not learn the material. I was successful and passed all the exams I ever took for my flight training. My way is not the wrong way, but it might not be the right way, depending on you ask. Everyone will have varying opinions.

    I passed my amateur radio exams in a similar fashion. I studied back in 1995 for my Technician, with good intentions of learning CW after I passed my Technician in order to upgrade to Tech Plus. Unfortunately as things go I never learned Morse code when it was still a requirement to pass Element 1 in order to upgrade.

    I passed the General prior to the code requirement being dropped and waited for the new license to take effect. After that I studied answers and used to study for my Extra (as well as General) I passed without any trouble.

    Yet like many amateurs my senior I did not have to sit at an FCC field office or learn and use code or many of the former requirements that are no longer in effect today. Regardless of how you achieve you end goal, you are still an amateur radio operator. I don't care how others view me or how I got to be where I am in this hobby. I still make the most of my operating time, love the hobby and have fun. Isn't that what is most important?
  6. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I memorized the license manual for my Novice test. I had it memorized at age 8 back in 1960. That was the year I built my first 3-tube receiver from another ARRL publication, 'How to Become A Radio Amateur'. I didn't take the Novice test until I was 13 - and had a summer with nothing to do but learn the code. I knew all the words - but I found out later what they really meant!

    I memorized the license manual for the General test, too. Oh, I did read some chapters from the ARRL Handbook, but I can't say they helped much with the General. There were a lot of questions on that test that just seemed to be unrelated to anything else, a lot like the current General in that way. I had the great benefit of a father who was a ham, and he taught me as much as he could.

    I studied the License Manual again for my Advanced. I happened to be going to San Francisco with a friend who was taking his General and Advanced, and I decided to study for the test on the train on the way up. As best we could determine, I flunked it by one question. A month later, another friend went up to take his General and I tagged along. This time, I also studied on the train on the way up, and I passed this time.

    Finally, for the Extra, I decided to really learn the material, and I did my best. I studied the questions and then went and read about the topics in other reference books, including the ARRL Handbook and W6SAI's Radio Handbook. I studied for the 1st Phone commercial license at the same time, and had a set of books for that which I used for both. When I passed the test easily after about 6 months of study, I felt I had really accomplished something. Now, I read about how incredibly easy that test was back in the early 70's. I guess I should have memorized the manual?

    Now, since then, I have continued to learn.

    If you really learned the info for the Tech, the General should be easy. Just study the General band privileges and the chapter on power supplies. There are a lot of questions in common between the too, and often the General question is just one shade tougher than the Tech question.
  7. KD8MKG

    KD8MKG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some of my local guys suggested I take the free General exam, which was happening a couple days after I passed my Tech exam. In those two days, I probably only studied maybe a half an hour and was able to pass the General without much problem.

    I have since learned most of the material from the General question pool as a result of interest in the subject matter. I suspect the Extra will be a bit more challenging when I get around to taking it.
  8. KJ6HYC

    KJ6HYC Ham Member QRZ Page

    To cram or not for the General test.

    I studyed for the General, went in and took the test, passed the General, not realizing that you had to step through the Licenses, at the testing station I was informed that I had to be a Tech, and was offered the Tech test, which I had not studied for. I took the Tech test and passed. I later that week started thinking about becoming a Extra class, I found that a test session was being given the following Saturday. I cramed for the test starting on Wednesday, and passed it on Saturday. I found that their are many questions on the Extra test that you will most likely never use, but if you do, you would just need to know where to get the answer and how to apply it. I passed it in May of this year, and 4 months later forgotten most of the answers. I guess you could wait and aquire the knowledge and take the General test, or cram, pass and then aquire the knowledge. The choice is yours! I chose the later.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
  9. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find that it's best to just get the darned tests out of the way when you know that you'll have some free time. It's hard enough to find time for relaxation or hobbies.

    Went from Tech to Extra in one summer (four written exams back then). I was in high school. There was nothing better to after a boring summer job than just slam it all down and get that license. Glad I did it at 16, because I never would have found the time to do that today.

    Now that I actually have "real" responsibilities, I've found it hard to find time to just get the exams over with in another country. This time around I'm shuffling my schedule to find time to just get the Canadian full license out of the way as fast as possible after four years of puttering about.

    It's all about anticipating useful gaps in a busy life and just getting the Extra or whatever in a short period of concentration.

    73, Jordan
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
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