I thought it was about time to provide a brief update into my study preparation for my extra class upgrade. First, I did just want to say a very special and heartfelt, “Thank You” to all who have contacted me either via email, commented on the blog post or via Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+. Your words of encouragement have helped to push me and most importantly have helped me to believe in myself.
I certainly don’t mean to sugarcoat the difficulty (or even lack of difficulty) there is in achieving the extra class ticket. Some have found it extremely difficult and others extremely easy. I would safely and squarely place myself in the middle of that spectrum. This, like many other things in life, is made much easier when you look at it through positive lenses. It is the many comments I’ve received which have taught me that this is just like anything else in life. Look at it negatively and it will be difficult to impossible, but look at it positively and it can be achieved.
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.
The program works like this. Before each session we (the students) are tasked with reading about 60-70 of the questions which make up the question pool. During each session, the instructors select about 15-20 of the questions to cover. They read the question and the correct answer. But then spend several minutes providing detailed information regarding the subject of the question. Many times this extra information comes from firsthand experiences and after a few minutes, it really becomes clear as to what the particular content of the question is about.
Because many of the questions in the extra class question pool relate to each other, once you have a good grasp of one question, the knowledge and the “ah ha” moments just click right into place. The SouthCARS Elmers are always good about answering questions from the questions not covered.
In addition to the homework and the online sessions, I’m also actively taking the practice tests for the information we’ve covered in the sessions. This is helping to keep my mind sharp around those areas covered several weeks back. I’m spending approx. 1-2 hours per day in reading the ARRL extra class manual, reading the question pool and doing the study questions for the info covered. I’m going to owe my wife a nice dinner and perhaps tickets to the theater for her being so supportive.
So when do I plan to take the exam? This is still a very good question. One thing I can say today, which I couldn’t or certainly didn’t want to say back in early August, is I’m certainly better prepared on the information we have covered so far. Having said that, if I can maintain my pace and continue as planned, I believe I could be looking at being ready to take the exam around the early October timeframe. Yes…October 2011.
Look for another update from me regarding my study/preparation process around the 75% mark. But for now, I need to get back to my studies and keep those brain cells “extra” energized.
73 de KD0BIK