I do not want to drift the thread in a direction, but I have some thoughts on ham radio testing that may be of use to someone. They may or may not be coherent or relevant.
To get away from the question here are my thoughts on other study options, starting with paper: I think there are three competing written study guides, each with its own philosophy.
The first obviously is the ARRL License Manual
: It spends significant time going over the relevant theory, principle, or law that forms the basis of each question, and then has the questions for each pool.
The second is the "Gordo" book: W5YI/Gordon West study guide
. These go over each question in the pool and have a short paragraph explaining the correct answer for each one.
The third is the MFJ method. In typical minimalist MFJ fashion, they go over each question in the pool and only show the correct answer
. They claim this is the fastest way to pass the test, and that is probably true, but it is pure rote memorization with no explanation.
I prefer the first two books to the idea of an online training course that provides temporary access. I had the best luck with the Gordo book, because it is less a training course and more focused on the exam (and I am more of a natural test taker), but I find myself referring to both of the books as a reference to answer questions, mainly concerning FCC regulations, even now.
Plus I have helped create new hams afterward by loaning out the books.
For online materials, I had the best luck just taking the free tests on QRZ.com. Just going through that over and over made passing the tech Test very easy. I had attended traditional classes as a teen to get my Novice license back in the day and I think the online tests nowadays make things much easier than even studying in person (although studying Morse code from a real person is far superior to electronic training). One of the benefits to the online testing that it feels like you are taking a test instead of reading a book. Once you can pass online consistently I think the paper test is easier than the online testing because you can refer to other questions and answers at a glance, which you cannot do on the computer.
While in the bathroom, in bed, and other places away from the internet I also had phenomenal luck with the Amateur Radio Exam Prep
series of iApps from Patrick Maloney. Very well written. I credit his General app more than anything with getting that ticket. While in the car, I also had good luck with the Michael Dell/John Martin Ham Radio Podclass
, but it is difficult to focus on the material to the degree necessary while driving.
I did not have as much luck with online study materials or computer-based study materials. Many expose you to one question or element at a time, and I find it easiest to be able to flip back and forth with paper.
I think serious ham learning does not even start with exam prep or the exam though. Once you dive in and start doing it in the real world you learn more in a good afternoon than in preparing for the exam.
I would definitely find your club and make contact with them, but I would not expect much from them in terms of classes if you have any kind of a busy life. Established hams tend to have their own focus and interests, which may not be useful to someone trying to get up and running. You may find that someone is running an 'Elmer net' on a local repeater though that covers material that would help you get a license. If so you could listen in using a scanner. Some repeaters also stream their audio to the internet. This is a great way to learn the theory behind certain topics.
Frankly the Tech test is so straightforward that it is mind-numbing to go over the foundations of the material in a multi-week series of classes. Of the classes that I have attended or helped teach, I think more of an exam prep Q&A session is better than a theory class for the Tech test. Some of the questions are worded kind of sketchy and an experienced ham may not give you the best answer right out of the gate or you may not be able to deduce what the FCC considers the best answer from a knowledge of the theory.
In closing I will try to get back on topic and say yes, the online classes do work but may not be the best way to go. Yes, the internet is an invaluable means of test prep but there is little need to pay for a program to prep for the test. Yes, there are other electronic media for learning the material. And yes, I prefer paper in the long run.
I hope you two follow through on your ham licenses. I know several couples who are both hams and it opens a world of possibilities when it comes to managing a family unit in an emergency. APRS
for one would take a lot of uncertainty out of trying to link up on Zero Day after the dead start walking the earth.