Ham Cram,
or the One-Day Tech Class

by Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

I used to be skeptical of one-day ham radio classes, sometimes called
"Ham Cram" classes. After teaching a couple of these classes over the past
year, however, I've become a supporter of this method of teaching, at least
for the Technician Class license test.

One reason I'm an advocate of the one-day class is that I think a lot
of people "learn by doing." I'm not an expert on pedagogy, but my guess is
that more people learn by doing than learn by reading or by listening.
That being the case, isn't it a good thing that new hams get their licenses
quickly so that they can begin doing--thereby learning--more quickly?

Second, people are busy. Tell them that the class is going to eat up
one evening a week for six to eight weeks and a lot of them will tell you
that they just don't have the time to do it. Squeezing in six to eight hours
on a Saturday is, however, something that they can do.

Critics of the one-day classes say that if people just cram for the
test, they may learn enough for just long enough to pass the test, but they
really don't know enough to be "good hams," whatever that may be.
There's some truth to this. It's important not to abandon them once they get
their tickets. I encourage all of the students to join a ham radio club and
make myself available to answer any questions they may have as they get
started in ham radio.

Critics also say that releasing this horde on the amateur bands will
createnothing but chaos. Fortunately, I've personally seen no evidence that
the hundreds of folks that have taken these classes across the country have
created said chaos.

Make Your Next Class a One-Day Class.
I would encourage you to give this a try. Make your next Tech class a
one-day class. You don't conduct Tech classes? Well, get started!
Another benefit of the one-day class format is that it's easier to find
teachers,since it takes less time for them, too.

As I mentioned previously, over the past year, I've taught two "ham
cram" classes. We've learned a few things along the way.

Perhaps the most important thing is to stress that students should
study the material before coming to class. The study guide we use is
one that
I've written. You can find the KB6NU No-Nonsense Study Guide
online at http://www.kb6nu.com/ tech-manual. There is a FREE PDF version
and links to inexpensive e-book versions for the Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook
as well as printed versions.

Another key is to not get bogged down on a particular topic. Our class
runs from 9 am to 3 pm, at which time, the VEs come in and give the test. To
cover all of the material, you have to keep one eye on the clock and
keep plowing ahead. To help you do this, a set of PowerPoint slides for
teachers of Ham Cram Tech classes is available at: http://w9pe.us/.

We conducted our first class last August. Nine out of twelve passed the
test that day; the remaining three passed on their second attempt. In
early May, we taught our second one-day class. This time, eleven out of
twelve passed. I've now taught 14 of these classes (and will be teaching the
15th in a month), and have graduated more than 150 new hams.

I am encouraged by these results, and I am planning to make these
one-day classes a regularly-scheduled event here in Ann Arbor. Time will tell
ifthese people become active, life-long hams, but so far, so good. If you
have any questions about our experience with the one-day class, please
e-mail me at: [email protected]