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Eleven days out from taking the Amateur radio technician license test, the anxiety begins to set in. I’m fairly confident that I haven’t worked this hard to acquire knowledge outside of my comfort zone since college.

Consistent daily review over the past three months of the various categories of information provided in the National Association for Amateur Radio’s manual has given me some small measure of understanding, helpfully supplemented by my sweetie, already a licensed amateur, who also happens to be an electrical engineer.

In my effort to calm the growing nerves I went looking for online guidance about effective study habits to help me over the finish line and I discovered that I’ve been doing many of them all along. Here’s the list:

  • Quiet place, consistent time for study. First thing in the morning, coffee in hand, I sit down with the study guide.
  • Have a goal: I’m studying to pass a 35-question test that requires a passing score of 26 correct answers. The manual lists all of the possible test questions. And the ARRL web site offers practice tests, you can take repeatedly, which I do.
  • Take written notes. When I miss questions on the practice test, I write them down in longhand and then search out the relevant section of the manual for review. Research has shown that writing things down is a good way to help embed concepts in the brain.
  • Stepping away periodically. I’ve been known to push a little too hard. But you can’t push learning, especially in areas well outside your knowledge base. Things come over time. I knew I couldn’t cram at the last minute on this effort. And I haven’t.