I upgraded my privileges to General Class back in 2009 and have meaning upgrade to Extra ever since.

Well, tonight – some 13 years later – I finally did.

UPDATE 2022-05-09

It finally updated in the ULS system today. Looks like as of May 2022, it is taking approximately 2 weeks for updates to go through (assuming that the VEs filed within a day or so of my passing)

I PASSED MY EXTRA CLASS EXAM TODAY!

In the course of studying for this exam, I tried about everything I could get my hands on to not just learn the answers, but to try to understand the ‘why’ behind them.

As such, I’ve gained some perspectives on the various options out there to prepare for this exam, and I’m going to share a few with you.

Books

ARRL Extra Class License Manual (link)

The ARRL Extra Class Manual is THE book. It details not only what the question pools are, but why the answers that are correct, are…well….correct. In many ways it is more than a study guide, it is also a reference manual of sorts.

I am not one of those who can start at the first page of a manual like this and just start reading, so I found it to be an excellent reference as I was moving through the various sections of the question pools.

Well written, but if you don’t have a math or technical background, you might need to reread some things multiple times to put two and two together.

Pass Your Amateur Radio Extra Class Test (Amazon)

This book seeks to shortcut your exam prep by ignoring all the wrong answers in the question pool, and only focus on the correct ones.

The bulk of the books are the questions with associated answers. There is sometimes a bit of explanatory text such as “Message forwarding stations (like Packet) are usually automated. If a station forwards a message that violates FCC rules, the control operator of the originating station is accountable for the rules violation” – pg. 14

Good for quick study sessions for drilling high level concepts, but not for anyone who wants to dive deeper.

Apps (Android and Apple)

Ham Study (link to their portal for specific app stores)

This quickly became my app of choice.

Why?

There are other popular apps out there that I actually started on and spent hours using every week. The problem with the others is that their randomized questions seem to omit roughly 40% of the actual question pool. I did so many practice tests with other apps that I thought I was getting the material, but as soon as I installed Ham Study I found myself bombarded with questions that were entirely new to me.

Ham Study seemed to throw me the most curveballs, which I equate to its effectiveness in ensuring that I was best prepared for the exam.

My personal favorite, and since I started using it I stopped the others, so I’m not mentioning them here.

Sorry 🙁

Videos

If you don’t know who Dave Casler (KE0OG) is, you need to check out his YouTube channel. He does a complete Extra Exam Course using his website and associated YT videos.

He has a teacher’s demeanor, and explains things in easy to grasp ways. I have benefitted immensely from his knowledge and the effort he has put into his content.

Check out his Online Help for Self-study (link)

Conclusion

This was not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the things I used/tried, but some of the things that I found most useful.

If you’ve taken any of the FCC exams (Technician, General, Extra), what tools did you find most effective to getting ready?

Let me know in the comments.

Now, I’m waiting for my new privileges to show up in ULS. Until then, I’m KD0HBU/AE.

Whoohoo!