Repost: Tech Test Gets More Technical

This is the column I sent to more than 240 ham radio club newsletter editors. If you’d like to get this column for your club newsletter (free of charge, of course), all you have to do is fill out a form………Dan

Tech Test Gets a Little More Technical

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

Ever since the FCC dropped the code requirement and the Novice license exam, the Technician Class license has really been misnamed. Being the first license that most hams obtain, it really should have been called the Novice license. The question pool was arguably at the appropriate level for newcomers to amateur radio, being heavy on rules and operating practices, and perhaps a little light on technical topics.

That’s about to change. On July 1, 2010, the question pool for the Tech test changes, and this version has noticeably more technical questions than the previous test. You could say that the Tech test is getting, errrr, a little more technical.

For example, the new question pool contains more questions about electronics components and their functions. In addition to that, examinees must also be able to identify the symbols for these components on a schematic diagram. This is a big change from the previous test, which had no diagrams at all. There are also more detailed questions about transistors and how they work.

There are also questions on how to make basic measurements with a multimeter how to troubleshoot basic problems that Technicians are likely to encounter. One question asks, “What two measurements are commonly made using a multimeter”? Answer: voltage and resistance. A follow up question asks, “What is the correct way to connect a voltmeter to a circuit”? Answer: in parallel with the circuit.

To make room for these questions, the committee dropped questions on operating practices and rules and regulations. In general, these are not big losses, but two questions that I was sorry to see go are the questions on the “basis and purpose” of amateur radio. I think these are very important for new amateurs to learn and keep in mind. (If you don’t recall them, go to and review them.)

By the time you read this–or shortly thereafter–the new version of my No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide should be available. You can download it free of charge from my website, Look for the link in the right-hand column. It’s currently in the hands of more than two dozen reviewers, who are proofreading it right now.

While it may not be in the initial release, I plan to include a section that contains links to websites that cover topics included in the study guide. That way, students can find more information on a topic, if they choose to do so. If you have any favorite websites that discuss making measurements with voltmeters or how to read schematic diagrams, I’d love to hear from you.


When not updating his No-Nonsense amateur radio license study guides, you’ll find him on 40m, 30m, 20m, and if we ever get any sunspots to stick around, 15m and 10m pounding brass. You may even hear him trying to get the hang of using the bug he bought at Dayton this year. You’ll find his blog at, and you can e-mail website suggestions to


  1. Todd Maraist says:

    Your prep course for technical and general class licensing was great and I passed both tests well. Thanks. Did you do the same for extra level?

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Congratulations, Todd. I’m sorry, but I don’t have an Extra Class study guide. I am thinking about doing one for the next question pool, though.

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