I Passed My Extra Exam With Just Five Weeks of Study
I'm 74 with short term memory issues and wondered if I would be able to study and then pass the Extra Exam at my age. So, as many hams do, I began by taking the online practice tests. For several days I consistently scored in the 30's and 40's on every practice test and did not make any progress so I became very discouraged.
One afternoon I complained to my wife that I just wasn't making any progress and she said, "Would it help if I read the questions and answers to you?" I said, "Yes but why don't you record them so I can listen to them over and over?"
So for the next six afternoons and evenings, my wife devoted over ten hours patiently recording the entire bank of 720 Extra questions plus their correct answers! After an initial hour long test recording I revised how she was to read the questions and answers. I finally decided that she should skip reading the incorrect answer choices - why clutter up your mind and waste time by listening to the wrong answers? I believed I'd have more success focusing only on the CORRECT answers and trying to understand WHY they were the correct answers. In the recordings, my wife would read a question slowly, then read ONLY its correct answer, then she would repeat that same question a second time, and finally repeat the correct answer a second time before moving on to the next question.
And you know what? Almost immediately I began to connect the answers to the questions and if I didn't actually remember the answer, many times one of the answers would LOOK FAMILIAR. And for the first time in my life I realized that I was an AUDITORY LEARNER! I'm embarrassed to admit that I've spent my entire life not realizing that I learn best by hearing information, not by reading it.
Yes, you might argue that to some degree I was just memorizing the answers but I discovered that in listening to the questions and answers so intently, I began to see how the answer related to the question or vice versa. My brain was making connections between the questions and answers. For those answers that didn't make and sense to me, I either looked them up in the ARRL Extra Manual or went to Wikipedia to learn more about that specific topic. And many times I was able to grasp the technical concept. (But to be honest, there were still some concepts that only an experienced Electrical Engineer could understand!)
SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS!
Because I quickly realized that I WAS MAKING PROGRESS using this method, I was motivated to listen to these recordings over and over and over and over. I listened to the recordings every time I was in the car, I listened while doing yard work, I listened instead of watching TV, and I listened while I was eating a snack. I even put one earphone in my ear at night and listened to it very softly as I drifted off to sleep each night.
After ONLY TWO WEEKS of intensively listening to the recordings and really focusing on them, I went back to taking the online practice tests and immediately began scoring in the 90's! For several days I took the practice tests over and over focusing on trying to understand the questions I missed. The night before the actual Extra Exam, I took the online tests about two dozen times and seven times I made a 100, and about fifteen times I made a 98 or 96. The worst score I made was one 94. Thanks to my wife's valuable suggestion and help, I took the Extra Exam the very next day and scored a 98% - missing only one question out of fifty!
Not bad for a 74 year old guy with short term memory problems!
Since then, several hams with whom I've shared my unique study methods have urged me to make available my wife's 7+ hours of recordings to other hams. The recordings certainly helped me and I believe that they can help other hams too. My wife and I have even made the decision to record and offer the General and Technician Exam Question Pool too.
Now you can download the XYL's 7 hour 48 minutes of recordings of the complete bank of 720 test questions and answers for the Extra Exam. The audio recordings are divided into the 10 Sub-Elements exactly corresponding to the organization of the test questions themselves.
Scroll down and listen to a sample of the recordings and then download the complete audio recordings of the Extra Pool Questions and Answers for only $5.99.
The General and Technician Exam questions are coming SOON.