These manuals can be ordered at the above web pages, as well as multiple other internet sources. Among them are:
MDARC uses ARRL manuals for all our license training classes. If you plan to take one of our classes, you’ll need access to the ARRL manual, both during and outside of the classes. See our Class Details page.
2. Download the Right Question Pool
Although the complete question pool is in the manual, you’ll need a copy of it in text, Word or PDF format to help you create your study guide. We believe the Word version will be the easiest to work with. The question pool for each license class changes every four years. That, along with three license classes, means that you need to be careful and make sure you download the correct question pool. See the image.
Note that each question pool takes effect on July 1 of its first year and expires on June 30 of its fourth year. The question pool you need is the one in effect on the date you actually take the test.
The official version of all question pools is created and maintained by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC). Go to their web site at http://www.ncvec.org/. Look down the left-hand navigation bar, in the Amateur Question Pool section, for the correct question pool. Note there are often two question pools listed for a particular license class. Be careful to select the correct license class and download the question pool that will be in effect on the date you take the test.
3. Consider Taking a Study Class
There are basically two types of license study classes: a single full-day, essentially self-study session, sometimes called a “ham-cram”; and a multi-session course. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
With a one-day ham-cram, you spend one intense day studying the question pool (and nothing else), then take the test. Assuming you pass, you’re done (until you’re ready to upgrade). The main advantages are A.) It takes less time to get your license; and B.) It’s good for those that have difficulty grasping theory and concepts before being able to use them in practice (e.g., actually transmitting on your radio). The main disadvantage is that it teaches only how to pass the test. You learn nothing about how to actually be an amateur radio operator or use a radio. No answers to “why” and “how”. With most ham-cram sessions, there are minimal, or no, opportunities to ask questions about something you don’t understand. Also, you don’t get the benefit of creating your own study guide (see below); as it’s given to you, pre‑printed, at the beginning of the day.
As the name implies, with a multi-session course, you spend several sessions in a classroom with other students and one or more instructors or discussion leaders, usually over a period of multiple weeks. Often there are other mentors (hams call them “elmers”) available to help as well. At each session, one or two chapters of the manual are covered. There are several advantages. The grasping and retention of the needed concepts is greatly enhanced by A.) a through reading (and re-reading) of the manual over a period of time; B.) the leaders’ presentations, which usually include numerous graphics, images, equipment displays and other visual aids; C.) the ability to get your questions answered in a timely manner; D.) the ability to feed off other students’ responses and questions; E.) the opportunity to create your own personalized study guide (see below); F.) the in-person networking among the students, leaders and elmers provides an incentive to keep working. The main disadvantage, of course, is that it takes longer to prepare for the test, usually several weeks. There is also a significant amount of homework between class sessions.
We’ve also found that children and teenagers have difficulty maintaining the focus and concentration required for the one-day classes, so the multi-session course is a good option for them.
It’s possible to pass the exam without ever reading a manual; but we recommend that you read it, and as you come across the questions in the “blue boxes” in the text (assuming its the ARRL manual), referring you to the question pool for the specific questions that apply to the section you’re currently studying; you use those questions to add into your study guide. This is the method that we teach in our MDARC/SATERN licensing courses.
• As you come to the questions in the “blue boxes” in the ARRL manual, cut & paste those questions from the NCVEC question pool you downloaded in Step 2 above into your Study Guide.
Deleting the incorrect answers means you won’t see them during your study time; and you will have “mentally associated each question with only the correct answer. You brain will now easily recognize that correct answer when you see it again on the test. The correct answer will easily stand out for you on the test. More than that, the incorrect answers, which you will now be seeing for the first time, will stand out even more distinctly since they are new and unfamiliar to your brain. You may or may not know why they are wrong, but you will have that old feeling that “something just ain’t right with it” when you see those incorrect options. [Briggs Longbothum, AB2NJ (SK)]