Getting serious about extra…Again!


I have been thinking about, reading and studying for my US amateur radio extra class license now since early 2008.  If you are new to my blog and do not know me through my podcast or the various social media locations I hang out on, then you might not know that I originally got my license in August of 2007 and upgraded to general in January of 2008.  For much the same reason it it best for a graduating high school senior to start his/her college studies the very next fall (after graduation) the same can be said for the amateur radio exam and study process.  Once you are in the mode of studying and testing, it is much easier to just to keep moving along the process.


Of course I didn’t take my own advice and I have on more than one, two and perhaps more than three occasions picked up the ARRL Extra Class license manual and said today is the day I start (or start over again).  Sadly, Yes…it has been “start over” since too much time had passed from the last time I seriously studied and read the material.

I recently heard about an amateur extra class starting up online.  The class is hosted by the South Coast Amateur Radio Service (SOUTHCARS) and is taught by extra class operators and all done on-line using Echolink or IRLP.  The time commitment is twice per week (Sunday and Tuesday evenings) and is scheduled to complete by middle of September. 

I’m really not going to pressure myself or make commitments to anyone that this time will be different.  I’m also not (at this moment) setting myself any hard and fast deadlines for when I would attempt an exam session after the middle of September.  I’ve made these mistakes before and honestly, it’s been one of the reasons I’ve put the book back on the shelf. 

All I can do is make an attempt to attend each of the twice weekly sessions and follow the guidance of the instructor(s).  I think the one key difference I see in this plan is the training class only lasts a little over one month.  It’s not something that is going to string out for half the year.  Fingers crossed, my work schedule will comfortably allow this and I can get through the class and on the other side be better prepared (both knowledge wise and confidence) to take the exam.  I won’t lie about this….my biggest fear is sitting for the extra class exam and failing.  I know failing is not the end of the world, but just a hard thing for me to deal with. 

Well….while I wasn’t going to post a blog post today, I did want to get this out there.  Wish me luck.

Until next time,

73 de KD0BIK

Category(s): Amateur Radio, Education, Personal
Tags: ,

14 Responses to Getting serious about extra…Again!

    Jerry Grant KI4NUV says:

    I’m also working on my Extra. For old goat like me it’s a bear. Good luck. 73. Jerry Grant. KI4NUV

  1. Thanks Jerry and good luck to you as well.


    Jeff Bennett K4BTC says:

    Hang in there Jerry. Dont wait 16 years like i did between Advanced class and Extra. Go for it!!!!

  2. Thank you Jeff. Gonna give it a go.

    73 de KD0BIK

  3. Hi Jerry,

    I got my Novice at NCTC, Pensacola (WA4ECY) in 1968 and General in 1969 while stationed at Adak, AK. After 42 years as a General, I finally said it’s time. I did all my studying on-line using flash cards from various sites and taking tests on each section as I mastered it. I skipped a couple that I thought were too difficult and saved them for last. After going over all the sections and getting 85% or more, I started taking practice 50 question tests from as many sites as I could find. After taking more then 50 practice tests and passing them all, I went to the Pine State ARC Hamfest at Herman HS and nervously took the Extra exam. I thought about going back and changing a few of the answers, but decided my first “guess” would be the best… I got 46 out of 50 right and now have that nice looking Extra Class ticket in my pocket… It was a lifelong dream come true. I am a complete dunce with electronics theory….so if I can pas the Extra, I believe ANYONE can… I spent about 6 weeks morning, noon and night studying, while holding down a full time job… (I’m retired now)… GO FOR IT!! 73’s George Dean, WA1JMM, President, Piscataquis ARC.

  4. Thank you George for the encouragement.


  5. Go for it! More encouragement – I was first licensed as a novice in 1978. Upgraded to tech and general in ’79. Even got the voucher for 20wpm code. Then college, a real job, wife/family, house moves… Inactive from 1986 to 2011. Rekindled my radio passion and decided to take care of ‘unfinished business’. Talk about a ‘start over’! Studied hard for about 3 wks listening to audio discs during my commute that a friend lent me, and the AA9PW online practice tests. Took the exam in July and was astounded with a perfect score. If I can do it after 25 years, even though lots had changed in that time, then you can do it after a few. Go hard and good luck!


  6. OK Jerry, Promise me you will go one step further after you pass your Extra. Become a VEC and give back to others. It is a very kind way to help those who enjoy our hobby.
    73, MichaEL, KG0E

    Richard KW0U says:

    Good luck Jerry!

    Passed mine in ’83 when it was a very different test, but I do give a lot of multiple choice exams at my little technical school. What I tell my students is that if you know the material it’s often pretty easy to figure out what answer goes with each question. So for a start you can usually throw out an obviously wrong answer and that will increase your odds of passing.

    Read the questions and answers carefully, watching for words like “not” that change their meaning. Also, when you’re done try what I do when taking an exam and read every question and your answer together to see if they “sound” right. Don’t second guess yourself, but sometimes a final check will catch something obviously wrong.

    Finally, concentrate on the major items that are likely to be on the exam, while seeing how the others fit in to the big picture, since they may show up too. Seeing where to apply the formulas makes the rest of the material more understandable as well. After you’ve done enough practice exams, like George did, you’ll be surprised at just how much you know.

    I’ve not used most of the material the Extra taught up, though it did open up a lot more DX (some people say it’s like adding an amplifier). But it was fun learning all sorts of interesting material, like space operations and transequatorial scatter. I hope you find this study to be more of an enjoyable exploration of radio than a stressful chore.

  7. Thank you Chris. I like the “Go Hard” comment. Reminds me of “Go Hard or Go Home”. Thanks again.

  8. Hi Michael,

    That is something I’ve kicked around. However, (not to toot my own horn) but I give back at a fairly high level as it is. Check out my podcast at


  9. Richard,

    Thanks for your advice. While most would think everyone would know to carefully read the material, sometimes the whole exam process just makes us do things or forget the basics. A lot of the wrong answers can be ruled out when you read them and break them down. Thanks for the info.


  10. Jerry,
    I’m studying for Extra right now. How’d this endeavor go?

  11. I earned my extra at the end of August 2011.


4 Responses in other blogs/articles

  1. […] answered about four CQ’s and decided I should probably turn the radios off and head upstairs to read and study for the extra class license I’m working on.  My self-control just doesn’t allow me to study in the ham shack. Before I know it, I’ve […]

  2. […] issues I experienced in trying to learn CW as a teenager is a lot of what I’m going through with earning my extra ticket.  I get serious about it (as I am now) and life throws me a curve and I have to shift […]

  3. […] As I mentioned in this blog post from early August, I’m participating in an online (via Echolink) study program hosted by SouthCARS and we are 50% of the way through the program.  We meet twice weekly on Sunday and Tuesday evenings again via Echolink.  Volunteer SouthCARS members help moderate the sessions and help provide both encouragement and inspiration as they help educate us in the material.  […]

  4. […] Of course, I also understand I’m a much different person now than I was 30 years or so ago.  Most of this will be similar to overcoming my obstacles with earning extra last summer.  Meaning, I just need to focus and get it done but at the same time not setting unnecessary […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *