General Class License Manual [With CDROM] Paperback – Apr 2011
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Excellent book. I'm very pleased with it. The book is laid out rather like a textbook: they take a subject like Antennas and discuss that in depth. After each section, they refer you to the relevant questions in the question pool (included in the back of the book) so you can immediately test yourself. Every question in the pool is answered (one way or another) in the text.
The question pool is set up so you can test yourself, and each question has a reference back to the page where it's answered in the text. So if there's a specific question you want answered, you can quickly find it in the text.
The book is heavily illustrated, well laid out and well written. The print is relatively large so I don't need my bifocals to read it. It's large and quality bound. Some books fall apart as soon as you open them; not this.
I have not tried the CD-ROM with the computer testing. I used the online tests on QRZ.com instead, so I can't evaluate it.
If you're already familiar with the concepts and all you really need is the question pool with a few notes, you'd be better off with another book. But if you want something that covers the material in-depth, rather than just answering specific questions, I don't think you can find a better book than this.
* Gordon West's book: Gordo's book is the only thing you need to pass the test. He gives you just the information you need to answer each question on the test, but the book is rather small and provides very little in-depth explanation. Gordo's book also provides an audio CD that is fun to listen to in the car. You can actually hear communications of all sorts, on many bands, and Gordo explains exactly what it's all about. You certainly don't need this to pass the test, but it's fun and interesting to listen to.
* ARRL License Manual: The ARRL book is much larger than Gordo's book and provides significantly more information. It will of course teach you everything you need to know to easily pass the test, but also gives you a lot more in-depth (and very interesting) information. Just as with my Technician license, I plan to use Gordo's book to get through the test, but have also purchased this book because I want to know a lot more. The AARL book also includes a computer CD which includes practice tests.
* SUMMARY: BOTH books are excellent. Which one you buy is really a matter of how much you want to learn about ham radio. Buy Gordo's book if you just want to pass the test, or buy the ARRL book if you really want to understand a lot about the hobby and pass the test *easily.*
The book itself is well laid out and well written, providing an easy to understand explanation of the theory and principles that one needs to know. As a stand-alone manual/textbook, it deserves very high marks.
Now for the 'secret sauce' in the book. Interspersed in the text are references to specific questions from the question pool, alongside the text that represents the answers to the questions. So you know which parts of the book to concentrate on to pass the test (as opposed to generally understand the entire subject as a whole).
I found it helpful to highlight the exact phrases in the text and link them to the question pointers.
Moving on to a 'learning to pass the test' strategy, there are several things to do. The back of the book has the entire pool of questions, and the answers to each question, and it would be possible to learn them by rote. In addition, each question is also cross-referenced back to the text in the book.
So I'd test myself each question. If I knew the answer and understood it, great. If I didn't, I'd then flip back to the appropriate page in the book and bone up on the theory behind the question and answer until I did know it. Then on to the next question, and so on.
Okay, so far so good. But wait, there's more. Also provided with the book is a CD that loads a program onto your PC (not Mac compatible) and you can use this for several different purposes. You can use it to auto-generate tests and test yourself, to see how you are doing. This is great (although I also very much like the auto-generated tests on eham.net). It also allows you to step through the test questions, either in order, or randomly, and each time you answer a question it then immediately tells you if you got the answer correct or not - this is good; and also then explains the answer - this is great.
So if you get a question wrong, you are immediately given a mini-overview of the topic by the program. This makes it a very efficient way of learning. Only if the mini-overview is insufficient do you then need to go back to the text book.
If you do need to go back to the book, you can zero in immediately on the specific point you need to understand because of the way the specific paragraphs in the book are labelled by the questions that refer to them, allowing you to first get the exact answer/explanation you need, then to read on around the paragraph, before and after, to put it in a broader concept.
Effective use of the book and the software together means you should be able to learn all you need to know in very short order to pass the test. In my case - and I say this not to boast, but rather to simply indicate the efficacy of this learning method - I spent a week of moderate learning prior to sitting the test. At the start of the week, before opening the book for the first time, I was passing about 25% of the questions on eham.net generated tests, and totally lost/out of my depth. At the end of the week, I was getting 34 or 35 of the 35 questions every time, and feeling very comfortable, due to the incredibly efficient learning process this book allows. Best of all, I wasn't merely regurgitating rote-learned answers that I didn't understand, I was feeling comfortable with the topics being tested and the underlying knowledge needed.
Oh yes. The final 'for real' exam? It took me about 5 minutes, and I got all 35 correct. Not because I'm clever. But because this book and learning system is so effective. Thank you very much to the people who designed and wrote it.