As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be spending a few weeks in Canada this summer and will certainly play radio.
I’ve decided to bite the bullet and study to hopefully pass my Basic license exam while there.
I say “hopefully” because my timing couldn’t be worse.
I started studying about 2 weeks ago in earnest–allowing myself one month of prep before my trip–but frankly, I’ve been so busy I’ve had almost no time to dedicate to studying. In fact, a good 5 days of my two weeks were taken up with a POTA camping trip in WV.
Why in the world do I do this to myself?
That’s what I keep asking. 🙂
There’s no logic in getting a Canadian license because as a US license holder, I can simply add /VE2 onto my call while in Québec et voilá I’m legally on the air!
That and, here at home, I’m juggling numerous projects before we leave, so study sessions are crammed into short openings and are sporadic. Not how I like to study for something like this.
Thing is, I want to fit in the bulk of my studies within the next two weeks so that as soon as I’m on Canadian soil, I can go ahead and schedule a remote exam (one must be in Canada to take the exam even if via Zoom). I don’t want to spend my whole vacation studying, so I’d like to knock this out very early on.
So why get a Canadian license?
In the past, our family has spent whole summers in Canada primarily in Prince Edward Island and Québec. We know there’ll be many more of these trips in the future and my wife and I even entertain the idea of spending nearly half the year in Canada once we’re empty nesters.
I feel like it would be beneficial to have an actual Canadian call for those extended trips; especially in PEI where it’s so easy to grab DX almost anytime I hop on the air.
In fact, my callsign–should I pass–will have a VY2 prefix because that’s where our mailing address is.
There’s another reason, if I’m being honest with myself: I like the challenge of trying to pass the test. It’s just…my timing is kind of [understatement] crappy.
The Basic Exam: It’s not that hard is it?
No, it’s not that hard, but it’s still a bit daunting for me given my time frame.
Having recently taught a few Technician exam courses here in the States, I’m familiar with many of the fundamentals that are also included in the Basic material. That and I’ve been a ham since 1997 and have taken the Novice, Technician, General, and Extra exams so some of my experience comes into play with the no-brainer procedural questions and rules. The questions about frequencies, filters, modes, operating practice–the stuff we’re familiar with simply being on the air? That stuff is pretty easy.
Then again, I have no engineering background, so I have to re-familiarize myself with a lot of the content about reactance, resistance, inductance, block diagrams, etc. etc. Sure: I know what those things are, but I can’t always remember their characteristics. In the end, I’m a kit builder, not a kit designer, so I know only enough to be dangerous.
Also, the Basic exam, while quite accessible to anyone and everyone who’d like to pass it, has a large question pool to work through.
To put it in perspective:
- The US Technician question pool contains about 400 questions
- The General pool contains about 450
- The Extra pool contains about 700
The Basic question pool? It contains 1,000 questions.
In other words, it has about 150 more questions in the pool than the Technician and General question pools combined.
The questions are no more difficult than the Technician and General pools, but 1,000 questions is a lot to run through even with only one review pass.
I’m getting there, though, and I’ve got the right tools in my Basic study guide (see photo at top of page) and using HamStudy.org on my laptop and mobile phone.
A passing score for the Basic exam is 70% which is not a super high bar. Passing with 70% gives you the equivalent of US Technician privileges.
If you pass with 80% or higher, that’s passing with honors which affords you all frequency privileges.
To get HF privileges if you only pass with 70-79%, you need to pass the 5 word per minute CW test.
I would be quite happy passing with 70% and doing the CW test separately. Sure, I’ll aim higher because I want a wider margin of error, but I need to keep my expectations in check with such a short amount of time to study.
The exam itself has 100 questions.
Dedicating time to this…
Since I’ll be dedicating more of my free time to study, my posts here on QRPer will, no doubt, slow down for the next two weeks. In addition, if you send me an email, note that it might be a couple weeks before I reply. I’m pushing everything aside to concentrate. This guy just needs to hunker down and work through this question pool!
I still plan to publish a couple of field reports and videos, but the reports will be much shorter than I usually post.
Okay, back to the studies!