You Will Pass Your Test!
Tips and tricks to pass your FCC
Amateur Radio Exam.
Disclaimer:
Some will complain that my approach does not teach anything – that
its only purpose lies in memorizing answers in order to pass the
test. My answer is “you are 100% correct”. My experience has shown
that sometimes our best and most enthusiastic operators – those who
give back to the hobby – may not know which end of the soldering
iron to hold. And conversely, some of the most technically adept
Hams are notably hard to find when there is work to be done or
Public Service events to staff. Most Hams, I think fall somewhere
in between these extremes. A good friend of mine likes to say that
there are 28 different kinds of Ham Radio, and that there’s
something there for just about anybody. My goal here is to make (or
upgrade) more Hams so that they can find out what kinds of Radio
they’re going to enjoy. And if you follow my suggestions, YOU WILL
PASS!! So here we go:
1. First and foremost, take the online practice tests.
I can’t stress this enough. Try to do at least one or two a day.
Don’t get discouraged by low scores when you’re starting out. Keep
at it and very quickly you’ll see your scores improve as you
remember the correct answers. There are several sites offering free
practice exams, as well as a few offering paid versions. I’m not
going to recommend one approach over another… I’ll leave it to your
judgment as to which is best for you.
2. The Technician and General tests have 35
questions, and the Extra has 50. You need a score of 74% to
pass. That’s 26 correct on the Tech and General, and 37 on the
Extra. But! That also means that you can get 9 wrong
and still pass Tech and General, or 13 wrong on the Extra. That’s a
key concept, and here’s why: The test question pools are arranged
in “groups” of questions on related topics. In all cases, there
will only be one question from each group on your exam. So if there
is a topic that you just can’t grasp, put
that in your pile of 9 or 13 allowed wrong answers and concentrate
on areas where you are stronger. Of course, when you come to that
question on your exam, take a guess. There are no penalties for
wrong answers, so it’s worth taking a shot.
3. Buy the appropriate ARRL License Manual. Sometimes a
written explanation of a topic will clear up confusion and help you
to understand it. But keep in mind that our goal here is to Pass
That Test... so again, if a
particular topic is giving you trouble, don't spend too much time on
it. Go on to areas that you'll do better in.
4. For the Extra test, in particular,
there are a lot of formulas, diagrams, and math involved.
Concentrate on a few of the formulas that you can remember.
As noted above, there will only be one question from each
group, so if a particular equation gives you trouble, skip it and
move on.
5. Download the entire question pool for your exam from the
NCVEC Web Site. Make sure to get it as a Microsoft Word Document,
or plain text (NOT a pdf). The correct answer is given in
parentheses  in the example below, it is (C). Now delete all of
the wrong answers, and you are left with just the question and
correct answer, as shown. Sort of like the flashcards you used
in Grammar School, eh? Print out a copy, or two or three, and
just keep rereading them whenever you have a few spare minutes.
E5B06 (C)
How long does it take for an initial charge of 800 V DC to decrease
to 294 V DC in a 450microfarad capacitor when a 1megohm resistor
is connected across it?
A. 4.50 seconds
B. 9 seconds
C. 450 seconds
D. 900 seconds
E5B06
How long does it take for an initial charge of 800 V DC to decrease
to 294 V DC in a 450microfarad capacitor when a 1megohm resistor
is connected across it?
450 seconds
6. The questions and answers on your test will be worded
exactly the same as they are in the question pools, in the books, and
in the online tests, although they may not
be in the same order. If you can, try to remember a key phrase or
number from the correct answer, especially in areas that you're less
confident with. Make sure NOT to remember that "the answer to this
question is (C)." Almost equally important is to
try to remember key words that are INCORRECT.
Here’s a good example from the Extra test:
E7H01
What are three major oscillator circuits often used in
Amateur Radio equipment?
A. Taft, Pierce and negative feedback
B. Pierce, Fenner and
Beane
C. Taft, Hartley and Pierce
D. Colpitts, Hartley and Pierce
First thing to remember – the answer
to this one has three names. That rules out (A)
Second thing – Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane, Inc. was a
corporate predecessor to Merrill, Lynch, Inc.
They were stockbrokers, not engineers or inventors.
That rules out (B).
Third Thing – Only one of them had the same name as a US President.
William Howard Taft and Franklin Pierce both occupied the
White House, so it can't be (C). The only remaining choice is (D).
Or you could just remember that Colpitts is the unique
choice, so it must be (D).
7. Answer every question on your test. Start by answering
the questions you know for certain. Go through again, and answer
the ones you're reasonably sure of. If there are still a few that
you just don't know, take an educated guess. In many cases, you can
eliminate one or two of the choices as obviously wrong. That will
greatly increase your odds of a correct guess. Again, there is no
penalty for a wrong answer. Finally, go through the test once more
and make certain that every question is answered, and that you
filled in the answer that you intended to.
8. Don't overthink your answers.
If you're not sure, go with your first guess  it's most likely to
be correct.
9. Get a good night’s sleep before your exam.
Don’t stay up all night cramming.
Tiredness leads to careless mistakes. And for
goodness sakes, relax! It’s a hobby, for the
most part. Your job and future do not depend on
it. In the very unlikely event that you don’t
pass, even after using these tips, there will be another test
session. But if you’ve prepared, YOU WILL PASS!!
10. OK, we’ve covered some general tips
for studying. Some very informal, unscientific
research leads me to believe that most of those who do not pass
(especially Tech and General) only miss by a few questions.
Further, I think it’s most often the technical questions that
are missed. So here are a few simple things to
remember that might just get you over the top.
11. Wavelength times Frequency = 300.
300 divided by Wavelength = Frequency.
300 divided by Frequency = Wavelength. Make sure
to bring some blank note paper with you to your test.
As soon as your test begins, write this down:
“Wavelength x Frequency = 300”. Now in
fact, it’s more accurately “Wavelength in Meters times Frequency
in Megahertz = approximately 300”. But for
simplicity, we round off. So, for example, we
consider a signal on 146.00 MHz to be in the TwoMeter band – 2
times 146 = 292. Close enough to 300.
Here’s a good example from the Technician test:
T1B03
Which frequency is within the 6 meter band?
A. 49.00 MHz
B. 52.525 MHz
C. 28.50 MHz
D.
222.15 MHz
OK, 300 divided by 6 = 50. So (C) and (D) are obviously wrong. Now
instead of a 25% chance at a correct guess, you have a 50% shot.
And if you can remember that the 6 Meter band starts at 50
MHz, then you know the answer has to be (B).
Here's another, with a little twist:
T1B05
Which 70 cm frequency is authorized to a Technician
Class license holder operating in ITU Region 2?
A. 53.350 MHz
B. 146.520 MHz
C. 443.350 MHz
D. 222.520 MHz
300 divided by 70 = 4.28. Not even close
to any of the choices. Except the question asked
about the 70 CM band. That’s .7
meters. 300 divided by .7 = 428.
Clearly, (C) is the correct choice.
One more, this one from the General Test:
G9B10
What is
the approximate length for a 1/2wave dipole antenna cut for 14.250
MHz?
A. 8 feet
B. 16 feet
C. 24 feet
D. 32 feet
So  300 divided by frequency in MHz = wavelength in Meters.
300/14.250 = approximately 21 Meters. A Meter is about 3 feet,
so the wavelength is about 63 feet. But the question asks about a
1/2 wave antenna. Half of 63 is 31.5  and the only close answer
is (D).
Again  write down "Wavelength x Frequency = 300" as soon as
your test begins.
12. Then immediately draw these two circles on your
page.






Ohm's Law states that Voltage (E) = Current (I) times Resistance
(R); or E = I x R. We measure Voltage in Volts, Current in
Amperes (or Amps), and Resistance in Ohms
Rearranging:
E = IR, I = E/R, and R = E/I
If you know any two, you can calculate the third. Using
the chart above, cover the value that you're looking for and its
formula appears. For example, if you need to find resistance,
cover the R and you see E/I.
To remember which goes where on the chart, think (E)verything
(I)s (R)elative.
To remember which letter goes with which value:
Resistance starts with "R"
Voltage ends in "E"
So Current must be "I"




Power (P) is measured in Watts, and is equal to
Current (I) in Amps times Voltage (E) in Volts.
Rearranging:
P = IE, I = P/E, and E = P/I
Just like the Ohm's Law chart on the left,
cover the value you are looking for to see the formula. If you
need to find Voltage, cover the I and you see P/E.
To remember which goes where on the chart,
think "this stuff is as easy as PIE"
To remember which letter goes with which value:
Power (P) is measured in Watts and is the only
one of the terms with a "w" in it.
Voltage ends in "E"
So Current must be "I"

If you use the
hints above, you've now moved 3 or 4 questions from your "wrong pile" into
the "I know this one pile". Along with everything else mentioned
here, that will be enough for you to pass that test.
13. Look for patterns within groups of
questions. Here are 5 questions from the Extra test. Can you
spot the pattern?
E5B07 (C)
What is the phase angle between the voltage across and the current through
a series RLC circuit if XC is 500 ohms, R is 1 kilohm, and XL is 250
ohms?
A. 68.2 degrees
with the voltage leading the current
B. 14.0 degrees with the voltage leading the current
C. 14.0 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
D. 68.2 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
E5B08 (A)
What is the phase angle between the voltage across and the current through
a series RLC circuit if XC is 100 ohms, R is 100 ohms, and XL is 75
ohms?
A. 14 degrees
with the voltage lagging the current
B. 14 degrees with the voltage leading the current
C. 76 degrees with the voltage leading the current
D. 76 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
E5B11 (B)
What is the phase angle between the voltage across and the current through
a series RLC circuit if XC is 25 ohms, R is 100 ohms, and XL is 50 ohms?
A. 14 degrees
with the voltage lagging the current
B. 14 degrees with the voltage leading the current
C. 76 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
D. 76 degrees with the voltage leading the current
E5B12 (C)
What is the phase angle between the voltage across and the current through
a series RLC circuit if XC is 75 ohms, R is 100 ohms, and XL is 50 ohms?
A. 76 degrees
with the voltage lagging the current
B. 14 degrees with the voltage leading the current
C. 14 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
D. 76 degrees with the voltage leading the current
E5B13 (D)
What is the phase angle between the voltage across and the current through
a series RLC circuit if XC is 250 ohms, R is 1 kilohm, and XL is 500 ohms?
A. 81.47 degrees
with the voltage lagging the current
B. 81.47 degrees with the voltage leading the current
C. 14.04 degrees with the voltage lagging the current
D. 14.04 degrees with the voltage leading the current
If you noticed that the first part of every
correct answer was 14 degrees, take a bow. Just as we saw earlier,
your chance of a correct guess is now 50% instead of 25%. But it
gets even better. And for that, we turn to our old friend Eli the
Ice Man.
Huh?
Let's write it this way  ELI the ICE man.
We already know that (E) is voltage and (I) is
current. Similarly, (L) is inductance and (C) is capacitance.
In an Inductor, the the voltage leads the current (or the current lags the
voltage)  hence, ELI. And in a capacitor, the current leads the
voltage (or the voltage lags the current)  hence ICE.
The last question in the series presents a circuit
where XC is 250 ohms, R is 1 kilohm, and XL is 500 ohms. Since XL is
greater than XC, the circuit overall is more inductive. And so we
use ELI  the voltage (E) is ahead of the current. And Voila! You
may not know, or care, about phase angles, but you'll get that question
right if it's on your test.
14. That's it, folks. To recap:
(A) Take those online practice tests  I
firmly believe it's the best preparation you can do.
(B) Don't stress over areas that you just can't get. Whether
you pass with 74% or 100%, you pass.
(C) Buy, and read, the License Manual for your test.
(D) Commit a few key formulas to memory.
(E) Download the question pool, delete the wrong answers, and print
out your "flashcards".
(F) Make sure to answer every question. If you have to guess,
go with your first choice.
(G) Write down the wavelength formula and Ohm's law charts as soon
as the test starts.
(H) Look for patterns in the answers.
(I) Take those online practice tests.
(J) And finally  TAKE THOSE ONLINE PRACTICE TESTS!!!
I hope that you will find these tips 'n' tricks
helpful. I know that if you use them, and if you put in the
necessary effort, YOU WILL PASS YOUR TEST.
I welcome additions and corrections. If you
have a tip or trick, please email it to
jbee@qsradio.com
This page, and the entire Web Site, is Copyright ©
20022012 by Quicksilver Radio Products. You are welcome to link to
it, but please do not copy and paste to another site.
Finally, best of luck in passing your test.
I hope to hear you on the air using your new privileges.
Thanks and 73,
John Bee, N1GNV
