Author Topic: Passing the General  (Read 8881 times)

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Quietus

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Passing the General
« on: March 12, 2012, 08:04:55 PM »
This area was a void, so I decided to make some comments here.
 
People smarter than I, have suggested that General is the way to go.  I agree.  Passing the Tech exam gets you not much other than a handy-talkie with its operating privileges.  They are actually not much.
 
Consider, as you study for Tech, what a small learning step in might be for you to test... for the same money and at the same day as you test for Tech, to stay a while longer in the testing room, pass the General, and get better access to HF bands than a Tech has.  Those added bands for you to learn, are real important if you're going to be a real 'nuff prepared ham.
 
If your goal is for Tech, that is not much of a goal.  It does not achieve you much at all.  If you upgrade your thoughts some, you can easily get General on the same day as you get your Tech, and for no more money.  Others have talked about how the friendly testing room works, and their advice is spot on.
 
On this board, there is plenty of good advice as to how to study to pass a durned FCC test, where all the questions and right answers are in the public domain.  All those answers are on on-line tests.  Repeat, all the answers are on on-line tests, available to you.  All a person needs to do to pass the FCC written tests in this internet age, is to just pick a place to test online ( I picked the testing system on eHam), and just start hammering the tests and learning the questions, and the right answers.
 
I did the General on eHam about 24 times before feeling confident that I'd seen most of the questions.  Even at that, when I tested, I saw a question I'd not seen before.
 
My test was on a Saturday and the study guides for Tech and General arrived in the mail on the Tuesday afternoon prior.  By Thursday morning, I knew that I was hosed as far as studying for General... I could say the words and even spell them, but had no clue what they meant.  I was about ready to give it up.  By phone, I was advised to put down the study guides and get on the 'puter and start hammering out the tests.  This on eHam, the turnaround is real fast and it gives you input on your wrong answers.
 
I got it done by learning the right answers to the asked questions, by hammering it out on the computer.  Three times in morning, three times in afternoon. All that is needed for the 25m stage of fire, is to know the questions and their right answers.  The learning of radio comes later, as does hitting a target in a crosswind at 500 yard after you have passed the 25m benchmark, that being passing the durn tests.  I suggest that you do whatever crutch-sort of learning to pass FCC testing now in order to learn what you don't know.  And then learn the bands from there.
 
After getting General, you will feel as if you  are on top of the world.  Know that feeling for what it is, you are above your peers by about 5x, but you still will know nothing about radio until you get on HF and find that you actually know nothing.  It's a friendly uphill curve from that point.  People get hooked on the learning of HF radio.
 
Some people see HF radio's use from what they might hear:  rag chewing, scheduled events, etc.  Other people see HF radio for its potential... and it has much potential when internet and cell phone comms are compromised due to one thing or another.  Say again, HF has potential when internet and cell phone comms are "compromised."  Learn HF, now.
 
Best time to get licensed is right now.  Best time to learn the HF bands is right now.  Later times will not allow for the excuses of why the learning was not done (try explaining that to your grandkid of whatever age) why you did not do the right thing as your time in these days did not allow for a concept larger that the big screen TV.
 
Just sayin' as BTPostt in AK sez.  I've been wrong  before.
 
On this topic, I can't help but give a real hard hat tip to Idial1911.  I was told that he got his Extra in a real short time, I respect that effort.  Much.

ra45

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 09:38:41 PM »
Thanks a great post, Quietus.

I just took the General test two days ago.  I have no radio/electronics background.  I took the Tech exam a couple of years ago with almost no study time and passed, but the General test took some dedicated study time for me. 

I first tried the ARRL Study Guide.  It seems like a decent book that explains the material, but I found that my performance on the test questions was less than satisfactory.  I seemed to have a hard time retaining the answers to the test questions from section to section.  I felt like I was learning the material in the book, but that didn't automatically translate to selecting the correct answers to the questions.

I also tried the ARRL flashcards with question on one side/answer on the other. It didn't really help my overall performance on the questions though.

At this point I had made it all the way through the review manual and the entire test question pool.  I still wasn't satisfied with my performance on the test questions. I read someone's suggestion (on the Survivalist Forum, I think) and downloaded the entire question pool with answers. I edited out the incorrect answers and studied w/  the question and correct answer (only).  Based on my performance on practice tests, I still wasn't confident that I would pass.

Finally I tried HamTestOnline  http://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/ and I think it really improved my performance on the test questions.  Also, I retained the info/answers better than I had with the other things I tried.  I wish I would have started with HamTestOnline.

I ended up passing the General test.  Now my learning really starts.


Quietus

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 11:42:41 PM »
ra45:  You got it right when you say that your learning begins after passing the General.  All learning or cramming up to the day of testing, is just zeroing on a small 25m target.  Clean it.  Learn how to shoot in the wind at distance, AFTER cleaning the zero target.  The FCC exams for Tech and General are like the zeroing 25m targets, they are just a stage that are easily prepped for. 
 
Once achieved, the learning begins, as you say.  Same thoughts here.
 
For others:  I'd advise learning the tests and the right answers, rather than learning about HF/VHF/UHF radio as presented in study guides.  Get online and just start pounding away at the tests.  Learn from the feedback.  Test again.  Do it hard on the computer up until the day of the test ( or keep pounding at the morning of the test, caffiene up while  sitting, then drive up two hours in the dark, did I say caffiene: Then relax if you can, you will do fine, provided that you have learned the right answers to the questions that you have already seen by taking the test online two dozen times or more.  Take the test two dozen times or more, that is the only way that you will be exposed enough to different test questions.
 
The above is not about learning radio, it's about shooting a 25m target.  Once that target is cleaned, the brain is free to learn about radio while the FCC license is in the mail and thereafter.  There's much beyond, as I'm finding out.  But first things first.  Shoot the short  target first, learn about the rest later.
 
After that, is the Extra exam.  I took it same day as Tech and General.  There was an Elmer at the testing site who was kind enough to tell me that I got more than half of the questions wrong.... I hadn't crammed for it and there was much new  material for me on that Extra test.
 
Maybe idialM1911 might chime in here on how he did his Extra.  My lack of SA is showing.

Recon prepper

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2012, 12:26:31 PM »
Remember too that everyone learns differently. Some people are visual, some audible, others hands on. You need to find your learning style and go from there. I find the audio cds coupled with a book to be better for myself so I bought Gordon West book cd combo and passed that way. Im also a member of arrl.org and took the practice test online there till I scored high enough to feel like I could pass the written test.


I'm seriously considering going for my extra license now but I've been taking the online test and wow alot more math and alot of crazy stuff I've never heard of LOL :)
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bryanthegoon

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2012, 12:57:25 PM »
I'm seriously considering going for my extra license now but I've been taking the online test and wow alot more math and alot of crazy stuff I've never heard of LOL :)

Don't fret the math, I think I only had 3 math questions actually come up on my extra exam. 

At the end of the day with the way the questions are pooled you should only have 3-5 math questions on the extra test, meaning even if you botched all the math questions you could still easily pass.

Recon prepper

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 08:35:04 PM »
bryan thats encouraging then :)
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bryanthegoon

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 11:41:31 PM »
There are some other tricks that can help with the math questions if you are still worried.  You can often get it down to a 50/50 shot (or even better)... some examples  (I know some of this can be on the verge of cheating, but they do publish the questions and answers, I can't see how memorization tricks would be considered cheating as that is likely how most people pass anyway)....

Quote
E5B07-2012: What is the phase angle between the voltage across and the current through a series RLC circuit if XC is 500 ohms, R is 1 kilohm, and XL is 250 ohms?
14.0 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
68.2 degrees with the voltage leading the current
14.0 degrees with the voltage leading the current
68.2 degrees with the voltage lagging the current

there are 4 questions worded just like this ( but different values).  I can never remember how to do the math on these questions, but ....  if you look at the 2 X values (the first and last value in every question) you can tell if voltage is leading or lagging by comparing the two, if the last number is bigger it is leading if it is smaller it is lagging (so in this case lagging)  And all 4 of these questions the answer is 14 degrees (14.0 or 14.1)  so with that information you can quickly solve any of those 4 if they came up ( at most one of the 4 would be on your test).


Quote
E5A14-2012: What is the resonant frequency of a series RLC circuit if R is 22 ohms, L is 50 microhenrys and C is 40 picofarads?
3.56 MHz
44.72 MHz
22.36 MHz
1.78 MHz

There are 4 questions worded just like this, only the values are different...  In each case the answer is a "low" value of MHz (in fact this is the only one of the 4 questions where the answer is not the lowest value in MHz)


Some of us are not that good at remembering formulas.  so for the math questions sometimes this is just easier.  But like I said there generally are not that many math questions and even in a worst case scenario you can miss all the math and still pass.

bryanthegoon

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 11:42:45 PM »
Since I forgot to mention it ... in both of the above examples the top answer is the correct one... (answers may not be in that order on the test itself but those are the options that would be presented)

AD

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2012, 11:23:03 AM »
BTG

Are not those Extra questions?
The only dumb question is the one that did not get asked!!

idial1911

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2012, 01:07:51 PM »
yea.. I think those babies  are from the extra but I could be wrong.
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bryanthegoon

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2012, 01:40:11 PM »
Yes those are extra questions, that was in response to recon prepper talking about math questions on the extra exam, just re-read the thread and realized the rest of the thread was about general sorry for the sidebar :)


As an aside another test trick.  If you are taking the test and come to a question that you completely don't know the answer for I have noticed that 60%-70% of the time in those cases the longest answer is the correct answer.  (this does not apply to math questions)

KF5xxx

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2012, 03:04:33 PM »
I was planning on taking my General test this past weekend (1st Sat of the month) but it was not being held because of the Belton Hamfest. Now I'm waiting till the 3rd Sat of the month to go take it. I'm hitting the online practice tests at qrz.com hoping that I can retain everything. Seems to be working so far. Hopefully in a few weeks I can come back on here saying I passed.

AD

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2012, 04:24:37 PM »
Just keep at it.  You will be suprised how much "sticks" in your head. 
The only dumb question is the one that did not get asked!!

KF5xxx

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2012, 11:00:05 PM »
Just wanted to update....
Passed General! I tried taking the extra w/o studying and missed it by 11. Oh well, time to start studying for that now!

bryanthegoon

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Re: Passing the General
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2012, 11:44:52 PM »
Just wanted to update....
Passed General! I tried taking the extra w/o studying and missed it by 11. Oh well, time to start studying for that now!

Congrats on the General and welcome to the HF club.
Keep up the momentum and you will have the extra licked in no time.