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licensed-passed.gif Although this tutorial is primarily intended for use with the W1UL Ham Cram website most of the suggested alternative study strategies are applicable to the study or any material.

Since the inception of the W1UL website, when there was only preparation for the Technician license, I have strongly advocated studying one subelement at a time. I also strongly encouraged the candidate take the subelement’s practice exam and if the candidate didn’t get at least 85% correct I recommended repeating the process until attaining a test score of at least 85%. (Each license class has 10 subelements which are basically categories.) Despite many years of college level teaching I committed a rookie educator’s mistake, which is assuming all people learn the same way I do. I like my information served in small packages with frequent practice test to reinforce my learning. The following is a true story and points out the fallacy of my educational assumption.

An experience with a good friend drove home the point that different people learn in different ways. This tutorial reviews different study modalities when preparing for an amateur license examination.
My Friend Jim A good friend of mine, I’ll call him Jim, passed his Advance license in 1982 ago after three unsuccessful tries. He is retired military and is an avid DXer and uses CW exclusively. He takes pride in his lack of technological sophistication. He doesn’t own a computer, cell phone or a GPS. I printed the entire Extra question pool for him in the format used on the ham cram website, approximately 300 questions, using the following style:

1. Question number one.
Correct answer for question one.

2. Question number two.
Correct answer for question two and so on.

After Jim had been studying the print out for a couple of week I offered to bring my computer to his house so he could take a practice exam. “No way,” he exclaimed, “I don’t want to see an incorrect answer until I take the actual test!” I suggested he intersperse practice tests with his studying but he adamantly refused.

All’s well that ends well. There were three candidates taking the Extra exam at Jim’s VE session. He was the first to finish and had only one wrong answer the best of the three!

Is this method for everyone? I honestly don’t know. You might want to try it and see if it works for you. A compromise might be to study the questions and correct answer until a day or two before the VE test. Then take a practice exam for the entire test (see below) so you get feedback on what you don’t know.

Let’s take a look at some other learning methods. Studying Using Multiple, or all, Subelements
Several candidates have commented on their inability to use multiple subelements to create a study session or practice test session and have all the available questions displayed. Mistake on my part, it’s possible to do but my explanation is vague.

Here is how to create a study or practice test session using multiple or all subelements. Go to and select either the Technician, General or Extra study session. We’ll use the General study session for this example.The figure at the top of this section shows the top of the General study session page.

The text box in the upper left corner contains the number of questions on the actual test which is 35 for Technician and General exam and 50 for the Extra exam. The first entry in the “Question Count” column is the total number of questions in the ham crams pool for that specific class of license. To select a listing for all questions in the specified ham cram pool enter zero in the text box in the upper left corner. Next, check the first checkbox in the left most column. Lastly, click on the button at the bottom of the page labeled, “Select one or more Subelements for Study.”

This produces a listing of each question, followed by only the correct answer, for the entire question pool. Print the output so you have a complete listing of the entire question pool for your target license class. Take it with you and you can study when you get a few spare minutes.
Read the Material out loud so you hear it as well as read it We learn from using our senses: What we see, hear and touch. We won’t do much touching using the ham cram site but we could if use material from the Gordon West Radio School. Check it out at:

Gordon West Radio School

When you are using the ham cram study mode (Only questions likely to be on the VE test and only correct answers) read the questions and answers out loud so you are seeing the questions and answers as well as hearing them. Ideally, do the prep with a partner and have one person read the questions and the other read the answers. On the next pass have the person who previously read the questions read the answers and the person who previous read the answers read the questions. Make an Audio Recording of a Study Session When reading the questions and answers, as detailed above, record them so you can play them back when on a long drive – this is called a commute in California and Long Island. If you make a recording of the entire question pool and are willing to share it with other people, email a copy to me at and I’ll put it on the site with full attribution to you. Flash Cards If you learn well using flash cards you can easily make your own. Print out the full question pool for your target license classas described above. Get several pack of 3 X 5 file cards and cut the print out into questions and answers. Tape or glue the question on one side of the card and the answer on the reverse side.

When studying with flash cards alternate between reading the questions, out loud, first and then read the answers, out loud. Next, read the questions and before reading the answer try and remember the answer. Finally, read the answer and see if you can remember the question.

When you pass your target test – notice I said when, not if – make the cards available to other members of your local radio club. Whatever Floats Your Boat If you have come up with any other creative ways of utilizing the data base please let me know.

73 Urb W1UL

Create Ham Cram Study Session - Alternative Study Methods - Create an Elevator Pitch
Beginners Guide to Repeaters - Repeater Finder & Radio Interface - Expert Mode - The Art of Memorization
Join a Ham Radio Club? - Your First HF Antenna - Should You Learn CW? - Cloud Burner Antennas
Nocturnal Problem Solving - Vanity Calls

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