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

Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to “Getting serious about extra…Again!”

  • Tim - K6ACF:

    Hi Jerry,

    I agree, it is much easier to go with the momentum. I was licensed in May, 2010 as a General and then “took a break” before I pushed on to Extra. Even the few short months before I came back to studying, I had to re-learn a lot. But I did get the Extra ticket in December, 2010.

    I started with the ARRL book, but about halfway through, I turned to HamTestOnline on the advice of my Elmer and that helped a lot. It really drilled me and gave me some re-enforcing theory when I got a question wrong. In places where HamTestOnline was sparse on theory, I was able to turn to the ARRL book for more information. I didn’t want to memorize answers; I wanted to understand the theory and be able to (hopefully) apply it correctly.

    Now, I want to learn morse code and have been struggling with it for several months as I learn in spurts, then put it aside and then have to re-learn again. Old habits die hard, eh?

    GOOD LUCK on passing your Extra Class license! If I can do it, YOU can do it OM.

    73, Tim

  • Charles R Tropp N2SO:

    Jerry, I entirely agree with Tim. Keeping up your motivation is really important. I was first licensed in 1977 and I didn’t get my Extra until Jan. of 2009. Now that’s motivation! HamTestonLine is definitely the way to go. I started the course in October of 2008 studying about 1hr per night and by the end of December I was scoring a good 95% to 98% on all 10 Elements of the Test. Just to be sure I also got Gordon West’s CDs which were great to listen to in the car and on my Ipod. Gordon is a great teacher and motivator. I lived the Extra Class Exam day and night. I also had the ARRL manual to help with the highly technical areas. Needless to say I passed the exam in January of 2009 with a score of 47/50. I then proceeded to re-learn Morse Code from scratch since I had been out of the hobby for so long. I am now copying and sending comfortably at 17 WPM and getting on the air with my straight key.

    GL & 73, Charles, N2SO

  • John, W9JGO:

    Not much study continuity here… I studied for and passed the Extra exam about 48 years after my initial tech license in 1958. My method was not allowing myself pleasure reading, which I dearly love, but reading the Gordon West study guide instead. I even brought it with me and studied in motel rooms a couple of times. That, coupled with online sample testing until I was always in the 95-100% result area allowed me to pass the exam on the first try. It took maybe a couple of months to achieve this. I did this soon after I retired, so I had plenty of time to work on it. I was so excited that I passed, I forgot to ask my score…
    Good Luck, persevere…
    John, W9JGO

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