FCC License School for Ham Radio

Review of ARC License School
by Rich Adamy – KA4GFY, Coordinator for Ham License Training

Facility instructor Rick Bunn asked me to review some of the training methods used to study for amateur radio license. I may be biased, but I think a class is by far the best way to do this, because you get the interaction with experienced hams that can help you with those tricky questions that always seem to come up. My philosophy is I would rather teach the student material so they have an understanding of what they need to know, rather than teaching the questions and the right answers to the questions. If you have ever wondered why our classes are spread over several weeks rather than a weekend or even a few weeks, now you know. As for the book, we use the ARRL’s Ham Radio License Manual, while other instructors use Gordon West’s book. Both are good books for the classroom.

For the student who doesn’t want to commit to one night a week for several weeks, there is the occasional weekend class. To put it mildly, this is like trying to take a drink from a fully charged fire hose. It’s a lot of information over two or even one day. I can’t imagine anyone learns much other than the questions and some of the right answers. Weekend courses require advance preparation by the student and a lot of preparation by the instructors. We tried it once and came to the conclusion the students didn’t get much out of it. In looking at the ARRL’s listing of classes, I find fewer and fewer classes being taught over one weekend. I am seeing some taught over a few weekends.

As with everything else these days, the internet is a place many people go to do their studying. ARRL has an on-line Technician class as part of their suite of continuing education courses. This class uses the Ham Radio License Manual, but the student is paired with a mentor, who is there to guide the student through the material and answer questions. There is no set day and time to meet, its all done via email. However, the student does have a set time limit to complete the class. If you have ever done any of the ARRL emergency communications courses, this is the same format, and it does work very well.

I periodically see a prospective ham showing up on some of the radio websites asking where/how they should get started on studying for a ham license. As you can imagine, the answers are as different as can be. Some people point them to the license class lookup section of the ARRL’s website and some are pointed to the multitude of on-line “study” websites. For the most part, these appear to be websites where they fire a bunch of questions at you and keep score. Some of the ones you pay real money for will keep track of your score and keep firing questions from your problem areas until you figure out the right answer by process of elimination. You don’t learn much, other than the questions and the right answer. You often don’t know why it’s the right answer. As you can tell, I am not a fan of these websites. They are fine as a supplement, i.e., a way to get some experience at seeing the questions and getting an idea of how you might do on the real test.

There is at least one class that is taught as a podcast. You can download this week’s class into your ipod or smartphone and listen in to the instructors go through the material. I don’t really know much about them, I don’t know anybody who has ever used one. Again, I don’t know how the student can ask questions to the instructor.

Not all formats work for every student. If you tried one format and it didn’t work, don’t give on on becoming a ham, try another. Getting a license has never been easier with the different study methods out there.

VE Team at testing sesion

alexandria-radio-club-2013-2-exam-sessions-4

Congrats to all Spring 2014 student class graduates and welcome to ham radio.
Call signs assigned:

Ian    KM4BIG
Juan  KM4BII
Peter  KM4BIK
John  KM4BIL
Michael  KM4BIM
Harry  KM4BIO
Mari  N4RIO
Eric  K0GV
Robert  KM4BIN
Theresa  KM4BIQ
Ferdinand  KC3CVO
Upgrade:
Ed N7HRZ

Congrats to all Spring 2013 student class members and welcome to ham radio. Call signs assigned on Friday, May 10, 2013:

  • Rima Azzam KC3AOQ
  • Joshua Salpeter KC3AON
  • Hala Azzam KC3AOP
  • Paul Davis KK4RAW
  • Patrica Gabaldoni Inurritegul KK4RAV
  • Dennis Albrecht KK4RAX
  • Maxwell Albrecht KK4RAZ
  • John Hucke KK4RBB
  • David Cloft KK4RBA
  • Thomas Cole KC3AOR
  • Bjorn Jemudd KC3AOO

Congrats to all Fall 2012 student class members and welcome to ham radio. We had our most successful VE session in years last night! 15 candidates without licenses became 12 Technicians and 3 Generals! Best of all, Ryan – 8 years old – is our youngest Tech ever.

Thanks to all the VEs who helped and our treasurer W9TCE. VEs were: KA4GFY, N4ASX, KJ4FUU, KI4MWP, N4CWP, N8IK

  • Groves, Jeffery C KK4NMN
  • Watson, Charles B KK4NMO
  • Dundzila, Tomas A KK4NMP
  • Klee, Ryan R KK4NMQ
  • Klee, Shannon N KK4NMR
  • McGhee, Timothy KK4NMS
  • Drake, Sara K KK4NMT
  • Jorjorian, Adam D KK4NMU
  • Ruggieri, James A KK4NMV
  • Summers, Matthew KK4NMW
  • Gregor, Jeanne L KB3ZTE
  • Weston, Ian P KB3ZTF
  • Toth, David C KB3ZTG
  • Mann, Christopher E KB3ZTH
  • Popiolek, Marie D KK6BKG

Congratulations to new ham radio operators and upgrade licensees of Spring 2012 FCC training classes/testing session!

Marshall DeBerry KI4MWP Club President and other members of the Alexandria Radio Club extend their congratulations to newly licensed members and instructors effective May 31, 2012:

  • Name Call sign New class
  • Vernon Olson KK4JQM Technician
  • Mathew A. Kirleis KK4JQN Technician
  • Dwight A. Nichols KK4JQO Technician
  • Paul L. Diaz K4JQP Technician
  • David M. Wilburn KK4JQQ General
  • Edward J. Bradshaw KK4JQR General
  • Donghai Yu KB3YUN Technician
  • James G. Kincheloe KL3IA General
  • Matthew W. Genack KI4STB Extra

 

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