You Don't Have to Take a Course to Get Your Amateur License, but it Sure Helps.
(These comments are the opinions of the writer and as such do not reflect official policy of the SAARC.)
We often get emails asking if there is some way that you can just challenge the exam without taking a course. Of course you can challenge the exam anytime on your own. There are many amateurs that have done just that including myself. Mind you that was over 50 years ago when I took my exams and things were a lot different then. I had a keen interest in radio communications and had studied it both as a youth but also was a trained communications operator in the Navy.
The material has changed quite a bit in those years, but the theory is still the same and we have a lot of other options open to new amateurs that we didn't have in those days now. The excitement of writing the exam is still just as stressful and there is nothing quite as enjoyable as passing the exam and then the long wait for your call sign to show up on the Industry Canada site. But, then the wait is over and you can finally put all that studying to use and get on the air.
So what's the advantage to taking a course through the club? You get to spend some time with others that want the same thing and are truly interested in becoming proficient in amateur radio. Proficiency comes with experience and experience opens up more avenues into the intricacies of the hobby and reveals the enormous resources available to active ham radio operators. Ham radio is a hobby and, as such, those that are keen will get more out of it than people that just memorize answers to get their license. Because you are spending time finding out how it really works you are becoming actively involved instead of sitting on the sidelines.
If, however, you have no interest in the theory or curiosity towards why radio really works the way it does and just want to use the license to talk to people or become involved in emergency communications perhaps, then I recommend the memorization route and then just challenge the exam and get your license. Most anyone can pass the exam if they memorize the material, but it sure is a lot more fun to actually be involved and experience the excitement of making your first contact and have an inkling as to why you were successful.
You can find an examiner in your area by going to this site if you feel you are ready to challenge the exam.
Tom Buchanan Sr. VE6ARG
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