Ham Radio License Exam Practice – other options

You may or may not know that HamStudy.org is more than just a website for studying; we are a small organization (official ham club with the call sign NT3ST) which is dedicated to improving and modernizing the state of Ham Radio exams and testing. We believe strongly that Ham Radio is a hobby (or sport, if you prefer) for all walks of life and all people.

We believe that all who have interest in the air waves for non-commercial interest should be welcome: HF code guys, HF voice rag chewers, 2m service buffs, preppers, RF aircraft hobbyists, appliance users, electronics hackers, and anyone else who wants to join. Ham Radio should be about cooperation, openness, and community.

This is why we were so disappointed this morning when we discovered that the ARRL has removed links to all other online systems for studying for an Amateur Radio license other than the one they released about a year ago which seems to be designed to help sell their books.

Update Nov 29, 2015: I just discovered that the ARRL does still have this information on their website, it’s just hidden on a page that not many people know about.

The goals of ARRL

According to their website, ARRL’s primary purpose is:

“To promote and advance the art, science and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.”

This is a worthy goal — this is the reason that I joined ARRL.  They have a platform of 5 basic pillars that they claim to espouse — Public Service, Advocacy, Education, Technology, and Membership.

My question to the ARRL is this: In what way does your continued path towards “everything must be run by the ARRL” advance any of these stated goals? If you really want to promote and advance the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio why are you changing your site so that it no longer acknowledges and encourages the efforts of these other groups and organizations who are also non-profit and working towards the same goal? If those are truly your goals then why do you not encourage resources from other groups to be used, and encourage people to innovate in the licensing and study part of the hobby?

The ARRL does a lot of good, and I understand that they need to support that good; however, they are a non-profit 501(c)(3) and this move feels very contrary to all of the goals stated by their organization. It unfortunately feels very in line with the personality I feel coming out of the company everywhere except that “about us” page.

I truly want to believe in you, ARRL… but you are making it very hard.  You do not own Amateur Radio, and this is a hobby of innovation and experimentation, of branching out and working together, not of trying to shut out competition and be the only one. Your actions feel more to me like the actions of a large for-profit company than those of a non-profit dedicated to building the Amateur Radio community.

I hope that this was a mistake, and not just a further step in the direction that far too many of us feel like you are going.  I would love to see your actions live up to the lofty goals that your “about us” page claims you believe in.

HamStudy.org’s promise

Some of you may think that this post was written out of anger that our site traffic has gone down.  Interestingly, starting about when link was removed (which as close as I can tell must have been the beginning of 2015) our site traffic has actually dramatically increased to where it’s about 20% higher on a consistent basis… but the ARRL page from which many previously found us is no longer sending us traffic.  I don’t actually have an explanation for why this is, as I haven’t been able to figure it out myself.

I’m not going to lie; I’m a bit disappointed that they removed the link to our site, when at one point they praised us as an “excellent resource”. That seems like a very natural reaction to me and I’m not ashamed of it.  My bigger concern, though, is that the keystone of the Ham Radio community, which should be the ARRL, should be a hub that helps bring us all together, not a monolithic entity that seeks to control all aspects of the hobby.

So here is our promise: We will work always towards more openness.  We will cater as best we can to everyone, regardless of what group you work with, as long as you are trying to stay within the law and promote Amateur Radio in your own way.  In any way that we can, we will work with and not against other groups and websites with the same goals.

Other study resources

To that end, here is the list of other resources (copied from the archive) that ARRL’s website previously made available but has removed:

Additional Resources

The following exam practice aids have been developed by hams for prospective licensees and other hams who want to upgrade to a license with more privileges. Find out which resources will be most useful to you!

  • AA9PW.com offers proven accessibility to blind users with its option for  “no figures” in the exam.
  • QRZ.com  
  • EHAM.net
  • HamExam.org
  • HamStudy.org offers flash cards and practice exams developed by Richard Bateman, KD7BBC and sponsored by ICOM America
  • KD0FNR provides a set of free online exam practice tests.
  • Fred Benson, NC4FB, offers a number of useful exam practice tools
  • *NOTE*: This seems to be down, we hope it will come back up later: AH0A offers Ham Academy for exam practice. It is designed to be downloaded and run off-line in any browser. It has been tested on the iPhone and Android phones.
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