Aspiring ham radio operators should know that a license is needed to legally operate a console in the U.S. These licenses come in three separate classes: Technician, General and Amateur Extra. Each license has its own set of privileges, with Amateur Extra holders having the most freedom. Additionally, anyone feeling trepidation at the prospect of test-taking can take solace in the fact that these licenses are fairly easy to earn, provided you study. Before scheduling a test date and hitting the books, take care to consider the following pointers.
1. You Can’t Jump Ahead
Since operators with General and Amateur Extra licenses have more privileges than people with Technician licenses, some people wish to bypass the Technician exam altogether. If this describes your situation, be aware that jumping ahead isn’t allowed. In order to take the test for a General license, you’ll need to have passed the Technician exam – and in order to take the Amateur Extra test, you’ll need to have passed the General test. You can, however, take multiple exams on the same day, so if you’re confident in your ham radio knowledge, you can theoretically earn all these licenses in one go. Of course, it helps to have access to a high-quality practice console, particularly one with a good hybrid combiner.
2. The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual is Essential Reading
When preparing for your exam, there are a wide range of online resources you can consult. While many of these are liable to prove helpful, they’re no substitute for the latest edition of the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual. In addition to being essential reading for aspiring operators, this manual is affordable on any budget, with most retailers listing it for under three dollars.
3. Don’t Obsess Over a Perfect Score
Each ham radio licensing exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions. In order to pass, examinees need to get 75 percent of the questions right, meaning you can get up to 25 percent of the problems wrong and still pass. Since these exams are pass/fail, there’s no reason for you to set your sights on a perfect score. Each test is timed, so if you find yourself stuck on a certain question, either make an educated guess or come back to it later.
Although certain ham radio enthusiasts regard test-taking as cumbersome, it’s worth noting that the licensing exams are easy to pass and prepare for. Arming yourself with the right knowledge in the lead-up to your test date can do you a world of good when it comes time to put pencil to paper.