Studying for Extra class license

A common request that we get all of the time goes something like this: “Hey guys! Studying for my Technician and General was straightforward . . . But how do I study for my Extra? It is *hard*.”

One issue is that there are very few and far between opportunities to attend Extra license classes. Many instructors are uncomfortable with the intense technical level of the Extra material. Not only are the questions more difficult, but the answers are also very challenging. Virtually any answer to any question looks like they are correct if you look at them from the wrong angle. This means that you end up having to teach not only why the correct answer is indeed correct; but you also have to teach why the wrong answers are wrong. Classes end up taking months and months.

This means that studying for your Extra ends up being very hit-and-miss; maybe more “misses” than “hits”.

And many students report that it is a very lonely and difficult to really assess if you are making progress or not.

Thus, rather than looking at a single “perfect” studying approach, our advice is to combine 3 studying approaches:

  • First, get a copy of the ARRL Extra-Class License Manual:  We recommend the spiral bound version, it is easy to lay flat while reading. However, we recommend using the License Manual as a resource, not for direct studying. You will not be reading it page by page. Since you are using this manual as a study aid, you will be referring to it back and forth a lot.
  • Second, get an Extra-class subscription to the Ham Test Online web service. You will use this service as your primary drill-and-practice study aid, relying on the ARRL Extra-Class license manual as the linkage between Ham Test Online and the license manual (via the question number). While you are doing your drill and practice and you run into a question that befuddles you, just look up the question in the Extra-Class License Manual that gives you the background to understand the technical material. You are also relying on Ham Test Online to assess your progress as you continue your studying. Keep in “Study mode” for as long as possible until Ham Test Online says that you are ready to take your exam.
  • Finally, we recommend that you use Dave Casler’s Extra-Class YouTube videos to get your head around the background basics for each topic area. For the Extra exam, you will find that virtually every area of ham radio is covered at some level within the question pool. This means that you will constantly be exposed to new topic areas for which you likely have little or no background. Dave’s videos do a great job of presenting the background of the topic area. He does not focus on the question pool itself. That level of study material is left to the License Manual. Instead, Dave’s focus is on the background. It is a *great* resource. You can either view his videos online from YouTube directly; or you can purchase a USB drive from him directly for offline viewing.

We hope that you have a lot of fun studying for your Extra. It is a great time to be a ham! Make the most of it.