Ah, Boney, I can definitely relate.
Ever since June, I have been trying to wrap my head around the question pool for the Amateur Extra Class radio exam. I simply cannot find enough time to sit down and study it like I need to. The Technician and General Class exams are, frankly, superficial compared to what you need to know for the Extra.* While I’m not a terrible rote memorizer**, I want to at least understand how this whole thing we call “radio” works before I walk away with a shiny new license grant. This does not seem to be the way most folks do it anymore, but I’m old-fashioned that way.
So I compromised a bit. I’m using the HamTestOnline test prep website. It seems to strike a balance between rote memorization and actually helping you understand why the answer is what it is. Plus, since it’s online, I can use it during slack or break times at work, or on the iPad when I don’t feel like sitting at my desk. (I spent an hour and a half with it in bed last night instead of reading like I usually do.) What I like about the HamTestOnline method is that it keeps beating you over the head with the things you got wrong until you get them right. While I do have the ARRL Extra Class book and the associated CD, which includes exam review software, and while that software does let you mark things for later review, it doesn’t just pop up a random question that you missed earlier while you are working on other things. That really helps cement the concept in one’s brain.
The bottom line is that I’m thinking I might try for the Extra at the Fort Wayne Hamfest a week from tomorrow rather than waiting till whenever the next VEC exams are here in Indy.*** That’s how much the “compromise” is helping.
* Unless of course you have a great memory and can just memorize the answers to all 702 questions in the current pool and then get at least 37 out of 50 right on the test.
** For instance, I have tonnes of Masonic ritual tucked away in my brain — alas, my rememberer sometimes stutters when I’m on the floor trying to perform it. Such is life.
*** There is a VEC exam tomorrow here in town, but I am definitely not ready yet 🙂 Plus I have to go to Kokomo tomorrow morning for a meeting, so I couldn’t take it then even if I were ready.