Elementary Educator Shares Tips on Amateur Radio License

As an elementary school educator, I felt rather intimidated by the material I was required to know in order to pass the Technician License exam.  I was unfamiliar with and overwhelmed by much of the technical information the test questions covered.

However, after dragging my feet for several months, I finally decided to formulate a plan to navigate through the information and allow myself to successfully pass the exam.  I have described the steps of my plan below. I began the process on a Monday afternoon and took my exam the Saturday of that same week.  The entire process to prepare for the exam required approximately 5-8 hours of my time.

Step 1: Print out a copy of all possible questions that will be asked on the test.  The list of questions to print can be found here. The Technician License exam consists of 35 questions.  All 35 questions are pulled from the pool of 400 questions.  I printed a copy and organized them in a binder. 

Step 2: Search for an exam in your area by imputing your location information. Choose an exam date and then email the listed contact person and let them know you will be attending the exam.  Once I committed to the date by sending the email, I found I was committed to studying and procrastination was no longer an option.  The contact person will also let you know exactly what to bring with you to the exam (two forms of ID, pencils, exam fee (it varies but is typically around $15), etc.

Step 3: Formulate a study plan. I found that much of the information was knowledge I did not need to fully understand as it did not relate to launching the StratoTrack. I decided to first highlight the section of pool questions that I did need to understand in order to safely operate the StratoTrack.

The pool questions are divided into sub-elements covering different topics.  For example, sub-element T1 covers the following important information: – FCC Rules, descriptions, and definitions for the Amateur Radio Service, operator and station license responsibilities         

I felt that this was a chapter that was important to understand. If the test questions and answers were not fully clear to me, I would read the coinciding chapter from this book or do a google search to further my understanding.

As another example, sub-element T2 covers the following information: - Station operation: choosing an operating frequency; calling another station; test transmissions; procedural signs; use of minimum power; choosing an operating frequency; band plans; calling frequencies; repeater offsets

This was a chapter that I felt was not too important to fully understand as the StratoTrack comes ready to fly.  StratoGear has tested transmissions, set the operating frequency and limited the power usage, etc.  I simply studied the questions and answers from these elements without worrying about the technical understanding.

Something to note, a specific number of the 35 questions comes from each sub-element. You’ll find this information after each sub-element description.

Step 4:  Read each question and circle the correct answer.  I did this multiple times for each sub-element.  Each evening I spent 1-2 hours simply reading the questions and the correct answer.  I was careful to never read any of the incorrect answer choices.  I found that when I took the practice tests (see step 5), the right answer would often pop out at me on some of the more technical questions that I was simply memorizing because I didn’t rank them as important.

Step 5:  Visit this website (you will need to sign up for an account) and take the practice tests to determine how your studying is progressing.  Feedback is instant and you can test on one sub-element at a time while cycling through each question in the pool.  You can also choose to take a 35 question practice test as you would see on test day. This is a great exercise for building confidence and for finding areas of weakness.

Step 6: Take your test on exam day and enjoy the success of passing.  They will grade your test while you wait and let you know right away that you passed.  You will receive your call sign via email (and by mail) within in 7-10 business days.

Finally, enjoy the moment your balloon and callsign appear on mystratotrack.com shortly after your maiden StratoTrack launch.  Having the data of your flight instantly available at your fingertips (and those of your students), will make the entire process above well worth your time and energy.