Extra Class License Test TOO EASY?

Status
Not open for further replies.

rescuecomm

Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2005
Messages
974
Location
Travelers Rest, SC
It used to take a bit of work to pass the code and the theory for this top license class. Now people are passing it on the first take (including me). If it really meant anything, shouldn't it be hard enough to require the average ham at least 2 or 3 tries. Or maybe do it like the Master Electrician's license, you have to be a lower class licensee for 5 years before being allowed to take the test.

Bob
 

eorange

Secret Agent Man
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
2,178
Location
Cleveland, OH
Did you memorize the answers? Or instead did you actually take the time to understand the theory?

If you did the latter and thought it was easy, then good job.
 

pinballwiz86

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
1,469
Location
Missouri
It used to take a bit of work to pass the code and the theory for this top license class. Now people are passing it on the first take (including me). If it really meant anything, shouldn't it be hard enough to require the average ham at least 2 or 3 tries. Or maybe do it like the Master Electrician's license, you have to be a lower class licensee for 5 years before being allowed to take the test.

Bob
I'll admit I passed all three tests in one sitting. DIdn't spend more than 10 minutes on all three. Does that mean the tests are too easy?

Nope. There's several people in town that have a hard time passing the General. There's been some that can't pass the Technician on the first try. It just boils down to preparing for the test by taking practice exams. That's all.

...oh and it's just a hobby. Why keep people from getting the Extra by making it "harder"? Sniff. It smells like elitism.
 

k3td

Member
Joined
May 18, 2003
Messages
199
Location
Wake Forest, NC
It used to take a bit of work to pass the code and the theory for this top license class. Now people are passing it on the first take (including me). If it really meant anything, shouldn't it be hard enough to require the average ham at least 2 or 3 tries. Or maybe do it like the Master Electrician's license, you have to be a lower class licensee for 5 years before being allowed to take the test.

Bob
One of the greatest things about ham radio is you get to be an apprentice after you pass the test. I have learned more about propagation (160 meters through UHF and above), antennas and feedlines, and good operating practices among other things than I could have ever been required to know to pass the most difficult amateur exam ever offered. What you learn after you get your ticket, and what you help others learn after they get theirs, is the rewarding part of amateur radio.

73!
 

AgentCOPP1

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2011
Messages
295
I haven't taken it yet but I'm not quite sure why you'd want it to be so difficult that you have to take it 3 times on average to pass it. That seems unnecessary.
 

davedaver1

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
341
Location
Auburn, CA
I'll admit I passed all three tests in one sitting. DIdn't spend more than 10 minutes on all three. Does that mean the tests are too easy?

Nope. There's several people in town that have a hard time passing the General. There's been some that can't pass the Technician on the first try. It just boils down to preparing for the test by taking practice exams. That's all.

...oh and it's just a hobby. Why keep people from getting the Extra by making it "harder"? Sniff. It smells like elitism.
Do you even know what the license classes mean? At one time it was earned levels - which gave you more band privileges. That's hardly elitism. Now it's just a matter of memorizing...errr... studying the question pools.
 

mancow

Member
Database Admin
Joined
Feb 19, 2003
Messages
5,967
Location
N.E. Kansas
It's no longer the 1930s where you had to build your own stuff. It doesn't require an engineering degree to buy a modern radio and hook an antenna to it so exactly what or who are you trying to exclude?
 

LtDoc

Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
I think it would be a very good thing to exclude people who don't know what they are doing, wouldn't you? 'Elitism', B.S., it's a matter of describing ability and knowledge and experience to a limited degree now. Is a CDL an example of 'elitism' too? Sorry charlie, everyone isn't equal no matter what you're told. That 'elitism' garbage really burns my...
- 'Doc
 

mancow

Member
Database Admin
Joined
Feb 19, 2003
Messages
5,967
Location
N.E. Kansas
I'm an extra and am the same person I was when I was excluded from the other bands as a tech and general. I agree it should be progressively more difficult as you increase levels but it's plenty difficult as it is now. Making it worse would not help to promote the hobby.
 

n5ims

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2004
Messages
3,695
It was commonly held that in the "old days", the Advanced test was the most difficult one with the Extra being fairly easy in comparison. When they changed up the licensing exams, folks with their Advanced were told to upgrade to Extra while it was still easy since once the new rules took affect they'd need to pass the much tougher new Extra exam that combined the hard Advanced and easier Extra questions.

My thoughts on how hard or easy a test is generally translates on just how prepared you are for taking that test. If you're well prepared, the test is generally quite easy. If you're not prepared, the test is generally rather difficult.

In my case, I found the Extra test rather easy, but this was due to some heavy studying. I also think that a bit of luck was also part of that mix. There were some questions that could've been on the test that I wasn't as well prepared for (perhaps from my not understanding those topics quite as well, perhaps I simply hadn't studied those quite enough) and if my particular test was made up of those instead of the ones mine had I may have felt it was a much tougher test. I believe I would've still passed, but not by as comfortable of a margin. Another ham may have had difficulty with the test I had and would've easily handled that other version, who knows.
 

pinballwiz86

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
1,469
Location
Missouri
Do you even know what the license classes mean? At one time it was earned levels - which gave you more band privileges. That's hardly elitism. Now it's just a matter of memorizing...errr... studying the question pools.
I sure do know what the license classes mean. The elitism is in being snobby about the tests "being too easy". The elitism is in making the Extra hard to keep people out. But as long as you're already an Extra right?


I think it would be a very good thing to exclude people who don't know what they are doing, wouldn't you? 'Elitism', B.S., it's a matter of describing ability and knowledge and experience to a limited degree now. Is a CDL an example of 'elitism' too? Sorry charlie, everyone isn't equal no matter what you're told. That 'elitism' garbage really burns my...
- 'Doc
See above post.

 

N0IU

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Messages
800
Location
Wentzville, Missouri
It used to take a bit of work to pass the code and the theory for this top license class. Now people are passing it on the first take (including me).
What are you basing this on? Have you ever actually seen an Extra written exam from the "old days"? I have been a VE for nearly 18 years and I have seen people pass the Extra written exam the first time on a very regular basis... including me! But then again, the Extra written was only 35 questions (IIRC) back then. And as has been said, the Advanced test was the mother of all tests. It was 50 questions and had some very heavy electronic theory.

Do you even know anybody that passed the Extra from the old days? After having taken the Advanced test, I don't know anyone who came out of the Extra exam proclaiming how hard it was.
 

WB4CS

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
899
Location
Northern Alabama
As a ham of almost 20 years, I took and passed the following exams in order: Novice written, Technician written, 5 WPM code, General written, 13 WPM code, Advanced written, Extra written, 20 WPM code.

I can vouch that the Advanced test was the "mother load" exam. I think I had to take it twice (maybe three times?) to pass it. After taking all of the tests previous to Advanced, I felt like the Extra Class was a breeze - but that's because it was the 20 WPM code test that was the hardest part of the Extra Class.

I can't speak for the older tests prior to the 1990s, but I would say the tests circa 1995 - 1998 were fairly challenging for someone like me that started out with no knowledge of electronics. Not long ago I took a few practice exams on QRZ just for the hell of it. I passed the Tech, barely passed General, and failed Extra miserably. Granted that's probably because I haven't studied the latest test pool questions and have forgotten quite a bit of the math and electronic theory that I don't use on a daily basis.

I will say (and I posted a thread about it here a year or so ago) that the Tech test is almost too easy. My wife, who has NO knowledge of radio or electronics and is only familiar with amateur radio from being around me, she was able to pass a practice Tech exam with no studying at all.

As someone pointed out above, this isn't the 1950s anymore. We generally don't **have** to build our own equipment unless we want to. Most surface mount PC boards are now so small that it's very difficult to work on them without extensive training, equipment, and a steady hand. I believe that the exams could use a complete overhaul to include items relevant to the 21st Century.

So, maybe the current Extra exam is a little easy. I've come to terms with that. If it means that more people can upgrade and use our entire amateur radio spectrum, then that's a good thing. And even if I disagreed with the difficulty of the tests, what good would it do? The FCC really doesn't have the time or resources to re-write the license process, and if they did who knows how much worse it could be? Hell, they could decide to put us in license-by-rule status like CB/FRS. Wouldn't that be great?! (sarcasm)
 

k3td

Member
Joined
May 18, 2003
Messages
199
Location
Wake Forest, NC
I agree about the Amateur Advanced test. It was meant to be the most difficult of all amateur exams - back in the late '70s when I took mine it was roughly on par with the FCC second class radiotelephone license but specific to amateur frequencies, rules and use. The Extra class exam of the time covered those modes and frequencies unique to Extra class operation. If you could pass the Advanced test the Extra was relatively simple.

73!
 

Token

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,071
Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
It used to take a bit of work to pass the code and the theory for this top license class. Now people are passing it on the first take (including me). If it really meant anything, shouldn't it be hard enough to require the average ham at least 2 or 3 tries. Or maybe do it like the Master Electrician's license, you have to be a lower class licensee for 5 years before being allowed to take the test.

I don’t think any of the current three tests are “too easy” with regards to the information contained, however I do think the multiple choice format with published question pools containing the exact wording and invariable answers are too easy to memorize. This leads to people studying and answering by rote instead of actually learning some of the information. I am not sure what the right answer is, but a format that actually requires the examinee to demonstrate an understanding of the principals behind the questions, instead of just an ability to memorize the correct answers, would be better in my opinion.

Another problem is the now fairly frequently encountered situation of a person who studies for all three test, learns the answers by rote, passes the exams with flying colors, and a few days later has a license to the highest possible power levels, every mode, and every band, but no idea how to apply this. Once I literally had to explain to a newly minted, one session, Extra why he was not really able to hear anything on 20 meters with his new VX7. He heard signals and such but everything was really weak and he could not understand anything that was being said. But he knew the radio was OK, because he could hear and talk on FRS frequencies just fine with it. DOH!

In the “old” days, when I was first licensed, to make Extra you had to hold a lower class license that allowed voice on HF (meaning no Novice or Tech, only Conditional, General, or Advanced counted) for 2 years before you could take the Extra exam. At that time you also had to keep a log of all communications (this applied to all class licenses), and if I remember right you had to show activity in the log before you could test for Extra. This meant that essentially no Extra ever got his ticket who did not have time on the air, gaining experience. Later the time requirement was reduced to one year, and eventually went away altogether. Today, since logs are no longer required, I am not sure a time requirement would do as much good, however it might reduce the number of clueless first day Extras out there.

Again, back in the day, you did not find as many people getting on the air for the first time with any license who had so little understanding of what ham radio was about or how to do it. You seldom found people testing at any level without having had regular and consistent contact with an Elmer or someone talking with / explaining ham radio to them. Not to beat the CW gong (I am not saying CW should be a requirement today) but when you did have to learn CW it took time, and almost always interaction with someone else, very often someone instructing you. With few exceptions a person did not just go out and get a study guide, read it for two weeks, and walk in and take and pass the written test and CW proficiency. The very few who could pick up 5 WPM that easily almost always had to spend time on the air practicing to make 13 WPM, even more so 20 WPM. This tended to build understanding of practices and principals as you advanced.

Then again, maybe it is just a societal thing today. I know before I started studying for Novice I had already learned Morse Code in the Cub Scouts. When I was building proficiency and code speed towards higher licenses I could do so with friends in the club shack at school. I guess Facebook and Twitter does not build that kind of social interaction…but you get to know what everyone had for breakfast.

Now….all’o you kids get off the lawn!

T!
 

LtDoc

Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
Oh lordy, I guess it depends on how far aback you wanna go. I know that at one time the Extra test wasn't multiple choice, but 'essay' type answers and in long hand. (No! I didn't get the extra then!) Later, it was multiple choice and dealt with 'advanced' modes more than anything.
The 'Advanced' class license was the 'bear'! Lot's of math, had to know what you were talking about, sort of. If/when you got past that, the Extra was almost a 'shoo-in', sort of. Not really, but then there weren't any 'study guides' at that time either. That was fun!
In a very 'broad' way, there's been a 'dumbing down' of all phases of education in this country. Is that good? No, it isn't. Is it easier? Of course! What's that got to do with it anyway??
You have to abide by the current requirement, good, bad, indifferent. ..
- 'Doc
 
D

DaveNF2G

Guest
I passed my Extra on the first attempt - in 1984 - in the FCC Office in the Federal Building in Buffalo, NY.

I also thought it was the easiest of all the written parts. After the first 5 questions, I actually looked at the cover of the exam book to make sure I was taking the right element. And no, I did not memorize answers, despite the popularity of the Dick Bash books back then.
 

Kirk

DB Admin
Moderator
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
783
Is there a problem with licensed amateurs not knowing enough and hurting themselves, causing harmful interference, or other problems?

We have enough trouble attracting people to this hobby as it is, what with the age of the Internet, smartphones, etc. Please don't require people to be an electronics engineer or have a graduate degree to get into ham radio.

Making the test harder is a solution looking for a problem.
 

pinballwiz86

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
1,469
Location
Missouri
Today, since logs are no longer required, I am not sure a time requirement would do as much good, however it might reduce the number of clueless first day Extras out there.
Like that is a bad thing.."Extra class" is just additional bandwidth. You can be just as clueless in the General class portion of the band. It's called trial by fire.

At any rate..I was an avid SWL for a few months before taking my amateur radio exam. So..there's that.


^^^ I agree with that poster. For example, just look at the increase in ranks when the code requirement was dropped. This hobby is an old man's game nowadays. If younger people don't get interested then it dies with you.
 

WB4CS

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
899
Location
Northern Alabama
I think one of the reasons why there's so much butt-hurt from old timers like me (and even older than me) is that at one time being an Extra Class meant something special. It meant that you had made it to the top, you were very knowledgeable and experienced, you were looked up to by newly licensed Novices and Techs, you had taken/passed 3 Morse code tests and 5 written exams. At that time it was nearly impossible to go from zero-to-extra in a day, so once you made it to the top you had really really accomplished something.

With the simplified licensing structure we have now of 3 tests, 3 classes, no code, the license class doesn't hold the same status of accomplishment that it once used to. I'm not saying that those who now become Extras haven't accomplished something, because they certainly have. The license classes today only represent the amount of spectrum you're allowed to use. This is why I think the license classes should be renamed to something more generic.

The simplified license structure can sometimes make old farts like me feel like "we worked very hard to get to the top, and now they practically give Extra class away!" I used to have that mentality, but not anymore. I think that the simplified 3 license classes make the hobby more accessible to people who are interested in Amateur Radio.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top