Edit: The ARRL has restored their previous page showing other study options! You can find it here: http://www.arrl.org/instruction-exam-practice-and-review
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.
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:
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.
- 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.
By Steven Denniss March 16, 2015 - 11:36
Arrl wants people to upgrade and give the sites in their own Study manual
By Robert M Smith March 16, 2015 - 11:59
I too am sad. The material you provide is the reason I was able to pass the general. I travel and it is hard to carry everything and your service made it a breeze. I hope they reconsider and reinstate your link. I am working on my extra class and I will tell you, I do not work in the electronics industry. I just enjoy speaking with people from all over the world. License should reflect today’s make up. Not that of yesteryear.
By kd7bbc March 16, 2015 - 12:03
We’re not too worried about the traffic aspect; they removed all of them, so I expect people will end up using other sources to find sites and we will still be found. Our traffic is up 20% since the change occurred. I’m more concerned about what it says about ARRL :-/
Thanks for the kind words and 73!
By Rick Skinner March 16, 2015 - 15:30
I am very grateful for your site. I test tonight and have used you site every day for 3 months . looking to pass and finally get my ticket .Thank You
By N4HEY March 16, 2015 - 18:09
Well, ARRL’s a good thing but hamstudy.org is what I used to pass Tech and General. I made 100% on both tests. I credit my study on hamstudy.org for that.
By John March 28, 2015 - 11:58
Your site has the #1 position on Google for every combination of keyword phrases that included ‘ham’, ‘radio’, ‘license’, ‘study’, ‘exam’, etc…
The question in my mind is who does the 20% increase in traffic represent? In other words, has the traffic just been shuffled around or does it represent something more important – new people entering the population?
First the bad news:
On the positive side, the forecasted trend appears to have bottomed out for the time being.
Interestingly enough, there has been a recent spike in searches for the keyword phrase ‘study ham radio license.’
Folks can draw their own conclusions from the data but from a business perspective, the first graph is pretty scary.
Not being licensed (yet), from an outside looking in perspective, it appears to me the ‘insiders’ need to do everything in their power to stay on the same page and work toward bringing new blood into the hobby.
We all know what division within the ranks means.
Finally, thank you for hamstudy.org and for the effort I know it takes to manage and maintain. It has definitely helped me study and given me the confidence that I will finally be getting my ham ticket very soon.
By John March 28, 2015 - 12:03
I forgot to include the link that goes with the ‘study ham radio license’ trend —
By kd7bbc March 28, 2015 - 20:11
Very interesting information! Thank you for sharing; I was unaware of the Google Trends page. I will have to play around =]
One thing that may be related to the traffic is that I have noticed an upsurge of interest from the prepper community, and in particular the website tinhatranch.com did an article that linked to us that is actually one of our top referral URLs now (more or less replacing the position the ARRL page was on). I suspect actually that the ARRL essentially shot themselves in the foot by removing the info for that page; the info isn’t there so people use other resources now and still find HamStudy.org by other means.
It’s surprisingly difficult to break into such an entrenched area as ham radio study software; much of the software which existed when we started has *hugely* improved, but when we started there was very little that compared unless all you wanted was a “one shot” practice test, didn’t care about history, didn’t care about things like intelligent flash cards, reading questions, having explanations, etc. Despite this, it wasn’t until Icom started sponsoring us that we really started to climb the search engine rankings to where people could find us. Previously we had a lot of people who loved our site but most hadn’t heard of us.
It’s been an interesting thing to watch =] I’d like to think that we’re helping other sites to step up their game a bit, though, and the overall scheme has improved a lot in the last 5 years!
By Michael A. Bartsch March 28, 2015 - 23:27
Did see anywhere to leave a general comment.
I’m having a problem with practice exams. After taking an exam and scoring the test, when select review, the page will crash out of the browser. I running the latest version of iOS 8 on an iPad Air.
Thank you for your time.
By kd7bbc March 31, 2015 - 21:16
I have occasionally seen that issue on an iPad, but I haven’t been able to figure out what is causing it 🙁
By JoAnne April 20, 2015 - 01:49
There is a link to HamStudy.org on the ARRL web page to which you link above.
By kd7bbc April 20, 2015 - 05:43
The versions of the page linked to above which have links to other study websites are all from the internet archive showing what previously was there. Currently the only study resource linked to is ARRL’s own. See
By John April 27, 2015 - 13:42
ARRL is more interested in the almighty dollar to keep itself afloat. Never mind that their license prep manuals are probably the worst and most confusing to prospective hams. IF ARRL really wants to promote and advance amateur radio, why is it they charge (penalize) the newcomer by charging for the tests. Our local Laurel VE’s are busy every month with 3 to 10 people entering as a Technician, or upgrading to a higher license class. Somewhere along the way, ARRL needs to re-think it’s purpose and position. They do a good job with QST for the experienced ham but, the newcomer would be lost. They do a good job in protecting the frequencies we use and hold off or stop attempts to take our little portion of the spectrum. They do a good job of patting themselves on the back and their board of elitists (directors), are merely a rubber stamp to whatever is presented to them. Maybe the higher echelon needs to be cut off, and use that salary money FOR ham radio. Hiram Percy Maxim has turned over in his grave because of the way HIS ARRL has changed direction from what he perceived.
By kd7bbc May 5, 2015 - 18:30
While I agree with many of your points, you may be being a bit hard on them on some of them. Much of the $15 testing fees that ARRL charges goes to the VE team to pay for venue and materials. Much of what they keep is probably needed to pay for in-house costs. I would imagine that Laurel VEC probably doesn’t have nearly the traffic ARRL does and uses volunteers, whereas ARRL hires people to do it. A business is a business, even a non-profit, and they do have to keep things paid for…
That said, one of these days I need to get ahold of the Laurel VEC people and see if they are interested in using our free ExamTools software to help with reducing their costs and processing time. I’ve not been able to get ARRL or W5YI interested so far…
By Jack Malone May 7, 2015 - 11:24
I want to thank you for your time you put into your site, its very nice site. I used the flash cards and practive exam while studying for my Extra exam, then I used the read the question area to bone up on the areas that were giving me the most trouble. It paid off I past the Extra Exam this past Sunday. 🙂 now awaiting for the results to go live then I plan to upgrade my call back to a 5 land call.
73 de N1JEM
By kd7bbc May 7, 2015 - 23:13
Congratulations on the upgrade, Jack! Thanks for the kind words and letting us know. Hope to hear you on the air some day.
By Greg May 13, 2015 - 12:36
I stumbled across your site while searching for amateur radio practice tests. I have used both this site and another popular one and you guys have, by far, the better “presentation” and I LOVE the flash cards. I was consistently getting 50-55% on my practice tests until I spent two days going through the flash cards. Now I am getting mid-90s to 100% almost every time I take the Tech exam.
By Kaliram September 9, 2015 - 14:13
I was inspired to get my Ham License, and found your website via a quick internet search. The first thing I did was take 2 practice tests, and I scored a respectable (!) 60% on both. Now properly motivated, I reviewed all 400+ questions and their explanations, which took about 5 hours over two days, and then took 4 practice exams in a row. I scored 100% on the very first one! (How could it get better than this?), and only got 2-3 wrong on each of the others. I’ll go over all the questions and explanations again, and will take my Technician test in 3 days. ~ Then I shall have a License to really start learning about Ham Radio!
~ Well done, HamStudy.org, and thank you!