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Author Topic: Extra Test bewilderment  (Read 4664 times)
K0BG
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« on: March 11, 2010, 01:05:21 PM »

Several recent posts suggest that the Extra test (nowadays) is difficult. I wonder how many could even get 5% of the answers correct if they were to take an Extra test dated 1975?
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N3XP
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2010, 02:17:13 PM »

I wonder how many people that use a computer today could have used one back in 1975 - 35 years ago.
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N2EY
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2010, 07:15:27 PM »

I wonder how many people that use a computer today could have used one back in 1975 - 35 years ago.

I could. I even have some Fortran punchcards stashed away someplace.

The old Extra wasn't all that hard if you knew the material. About the same as a First 'Phone - plus 20 wpm code. Not EE level stuff.



73 de Jim, N2EY

Novice 1967 (age 13)
Technician and Advanced 1968
Extra 1970
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WX7G
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2010, 07:42:06 PM »

I have looked at the present day Extra test and it does not look to me to be any easier than a 1980 test.

The Extra never was a very rigorous test compared to the First Class Phone. The Extra is an amateur license test only.

I would like to see the actual tests over the years to see if there really is a downward trend.
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K6LO
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2010, 07:52:06 PM »

I agree, and I think that the Extra test was actually easier than the Advanced test.  The "old" Extra test, can't speak for the new one, was more of a suppliment.

Luke - K6LO


WX7G wote:

The Extra never was a very rigorous test compared to the First Class Phone. The Extra is an amateur license test only.

 
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N2EY
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2010, 05:50:55 AM »

WX7G writes: "I have looked at the present day Extra test and it does not look to me to be any easier than a 1980 test."

The differences are two:

First, in 1980 the tests were still secret. You couldn't see the actual Q&A used on the exams until you took them. (Bash books changed that somewhat, but a lot of use were Extras before Bash, and wouldn't have used his books anyway.

Second, the current Extra test takes a ham from General to Extra. The 1980 Extra test only took a ham from Advanced to Extra. IOW, to really judge, you have to look at both the Advanced and Extra exams of 1980 and compare to the current Extra exam.

WX7G: "The Extra never was a very rigorous test compared to the First Class Phone. The Extra is an amateur license test only."

People I know who passed both tests back-in-the-day say the opposite - that the written testing required to get an Extra was comparable to that for a First 'Phone. YMMV.

In 1972 I got the Second 'Phone. It was easy.

WX7G: "I would like to see the actual tests over the years to see if there really is a downward trend."

Unfortunately I don't know of any reliable source of the actual exams before the 1980s, when the VE system was created by FCC. Those old exams may not even exist any more.

What has really changed is the test methods. That's what a lot of people are really talking about. Unfortunately, those methods aren't likely to change.
 
K6LO writes "I think that the Extra test was actually easier than the Advanced test.  The "old" Extra test, can't speak for the new one, was more of a suppliment."

I thought they were a progression, with the Extra being more technical than the Advanced. The closest thing to being able to check that would be to look at old License Manuals, which contain study guides but not the actual exams.

Note, however, that anyone who got an Extra between 1967 and 2000 passed the Advanced exam as well.
 
73 de Jim, N2EY
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N3OX
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2010, 05:56:02 AM »

I wonder how many people who took the 1975 Extra test could score even a fraction of what they did back then :-)

Some people could ace any Extra test from any year.

Some people would flunk a test they took five years ago.

It all depends on one's interests.  If all you like to do on ham radio is talk with some old friends on 75m to pass the time, you don't need to know many amateur rules or technical topics, and that's fine.

If you built your own high earth orbiting satellite, complete with hand-made traveling wave tube amplifiers, launched it yourself, and administer it from your backpack 2.4GHz ground station controlled  by your hacked smartphone, you can probably answer any question any amateur exam ever had on it.  And that's fine too.

I think that an appreciation of the scientific side of radio  and attempt to learn new technical topics is a valuable thing to either one of those hams.  However, some people have a vast head start on technical topics, whether through hobby or career... Some people have a lot of interest and self-fostered aptitude in math and physics.  Others don't.  So the technical questions can be hard or easy.

And some of what would have been hard about the 1975 tests would be hard because it's rather obscure in today's ham radio.  


73
Dan

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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
N3XP
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2010, 06:35:15 AM »

I wonder how many of these old men complaining about how much better and harder the test was "back then" could repass a driving test today.

That would be a fun one to watch.
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WX7G
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2010, 07:35:46 AM »

As the field of amateur radio has become broader with digital communications, satelite communications, and solid state devices some detail of old had to be dropped to maintain the test size.

I took at look at the most recent test questions and was not able to answer many of the digital communications questions. I'm studying up on this so that I can easily pass an online extra test.

If one cannot pass the most up to date extra test how can he consider himself to be 'superior' - as some old time extras do - much less deserve the title of extra at all.

How about if we all have to retest every 10 years to keep up with the state of the art?
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WX7G
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2010, 07:40:15 AM »

K0BG says

"Several recent posts suggest that the Extra test (nowadays) is difficult. I wonder how many could even get 5% of the answers correct if they were to take an Extra test dated 1975?"

WX7G says

"I wonder how many hams who passed the Extra test in 1975 could pass a 2010 test?"

Retest every 5 to 10 years and the quality of Extras will improve.
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N3OX
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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2010, 06:14:59 PM »

How about we pick 15 hams at random out of the FCC database and task them with culling the "bottom 25%" from the amateur Extra ranks, with "bottom" based on *whatever criteria they choose.*

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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
WX7G
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2010, 07:22:59 PM »

They might start with the 20 wpm test, 5 wpm test, and no code test as criteria.
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N3OX
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« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2010, 08:37:25 PM »

Or they might axe a bunch of sixes and fours with 1x2's to free up some nice vanity calls...

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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
WX7G
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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2010, 10:06:22 AM »

I must point out that I am not saying that code is necessarily one of the criteria I would use.

I am saying that given 15 randomly selected hams the majority are code hams and might chose to use code as one of their criteria.
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N3XP
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Posts: 80




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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2010, 02:33:28 PM »

After all, when there are fewer hams, a few things will hold true.  You will call CQ more often without working anyone new.  Radios will get more expensive with fewer models available.  If you're an awards chaser, it will only get harder with fewer hams on the air.  Magazines and sites like this one will start to go away with fewer hams.

I love these short sighted old man rants about the way it was 35 years ago.  Let's look at some other things from 35 years ago.  Times change and people who fail to adapt to the times find themselves rant on forums about the way it was in 1975.

Imported was a word that meant expensive.

We were still fighting a cold war.

Japanese cars were laughed at and GM was the king.

Internet, what is that?

Cell phones, not for another 9 years.

Polyester and big lapels were in, if you are still wearing that stuff, they are laughing at you not with you.

You still did all your shopping by looking at the Sears Catalog.

You were collecting S&H green stamps.

Cable TV had still not reached most cities.

Three Mile Island meant nothing to you in 1975.

Chinese food was a new thing for most people outside of major cities.
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