Studying for the Advanced Amateur Radio License: Distance Learning 18

Advance: The Full License CoverBath & District Amateur Radio Club (BADARC) offer a distance learning course for the Advanced Amateur Radio exam. I started this course back in July, just after passing my intermediate exam. I wanted to move to the final stage and get my full license, but i didn’t feel confident in revising from the book alone. For the last exam (6th December 2013) a third of the candidates had come from the distance learning course and 95% of the people who got to the end of the course in early 2013 passed it, really proving how good the course is.

If you wish to register your interest in a future course email Steve Hartley (G0FUW). Currently two courses take place a year, January to June and June to December. The course is free, but they ask for a deposit of £30 which is donated to charity if you drop out of the course. You get this back if you finish the course and can use it to pay for your exam place.

Structure of the course

The course obviously has to cover a lot of material in preparation for the final exam. It uses the Advance: The Full License Manual as the core of the course. The manual is written by Steve Hartley G0FUW (founder of the distance learning course) and Alan Betts G0HIQ (my allocated tutor on the course), so i was in very good company throughout the course!

The Advanced License Syllabus will give you an idea of the topics covered and what you’re expected to know for the exam. This will prove to be a good taster of what’s to come if you start it.

Here’s a break down of the course structure we followed:

  • Week 1 – License Conditions and Operating Practices
  • Week 2 – Maths Primer (driving a calculator)
  • Week 3 – Amateur Radio Safety
  • Week 4 – Basic Electronics (Part 1)
  • Week 5 – Basic Electronics (Part 2)
  • Week 6 – Basic Electronics (Part 3) + mock exam
  • Week 7 – Basic Electronics (Part 4)
  • Week 8 – Transmitters (Part 1)
  • Week 9 – Transmitters (Part 2) + mock exam
  • Week 10 – Transmitter Interference
  • Week 11 – Receivers (Part 1)
  • Week 12 – Receivers (Part 2) + mock exam
  • Week 13 – Feeders
  • Week 14 – Antennas
  • Week 15 – Propogation + mock exam
  • Week 16 – EMC (Part 1)
  • Week 17 – EMC (Part 2)
  • Week 18 – Exam Briefing + mock exam
  • Week 19 – Mock Exam
  • Week 20 – Two Mock Exams
  • Week 21 – Real Exam!

Student Commitment

The level of time and effort required for the course shouldn’t be underestimated. This was made clear at the start of the course and i would definitely endorse it. Each week consisted of sections of the book to read, additional summary notes, homework and sometimes a mock exam to test learning to date. I estimate this took me around 3-4 hours each week.

There were times where i didn’t do a weeks work and then had twice the amount to do the next week. I think a number of people drop out as a result of falling too far behind. That said if you can make the commitment you shouldn’t have too much of a problem and perseverance is key.

My Experience

I would love to say i enjoyed the course from start to finish, but that would be a lie! At this level you need to learn things at a detailed level and in quite a lot of detail. I found the foundation and intermediate exam revision fun and enjoyable, but the advanced license was a hard struggle especially as it’s over such a long time.

I did most of my revision on the train journey to and from work which probably made it harder than it had to be, i wouldn’t recommend trying to learn electrical component theory on the Monday morning journey to work!

You get feedback throughout the course on how you’re doing in terms of marked homework and mock exams, i found this really useful for checking my progress and exam readiness. To be completely honest it wasn’t until week 19 of the course that i felt enough of the information had sunk in and felt ready to take the exam!

Sitting the Final Exam

I chose to travel down from Hertfordshire to Bath for the final exam, although you can sit the exam at a number of registered exam centres across the UK. I wanted to meet and thank some of the people who setup and ran the distance learning course and my XYL also found out that the Bath Christmas Market was on, so we went down together to make a weekend of it.

The final exam has 62 multiple choice questions covering sections on licensing, operating, electronics, transmitters, receivers, feeders, antennas, measurements and safety. The pass mark is 60% and you have 2 hours to complete the exam. I needed almost all that time to answer, check my answers and complete the optical marking sheet, so there’s not too much time to spare even though it sounds like a lot!

You get an Exam Booklet to reference for the exam, which contains the license conditions, some band plans and the formulas you need. The answers for questions on license conditions and band plans are all given to you, you just need to know where to look!

Unlike the Foundation and Intermediate exams you don’t get to find out if you passed straight after the exam. Instead the papers are sent off for optical marking. So fingers crossed for a shiny new M0 call sign!

Update: I passed and am now the proud holder of an advanced license as M0JCQ!

18 thoughts on “Studying for the Advanced Amateur Radio License: Distance Learning

  1. Pingback: Advanced License: From Zero to M0 in One Year ← Randomize This!

  2. Reply Andy Dec 22,2013 01:22

    Well done James. I know steve and most of the ‘gang’ up in Bath personally, as my home City, hope the XYL enjoyed the Christmas market? It gets extremley packed ! As i and the fiancee know from experience.

    Andy, m0hlt / VP8doh.

    • Reply James Stevens Dec 23,2013 08:26

      Thanks Andy, yes me and the XYL did enjoy the Christmas market, she’s German and an expert in Christmas markets so this is quite rare! It was surprisingly budy though, obviously very well known now 🙂

      73s James M0JCQ

  3. Reply Mark Dec 28,2013 00:00

    Well done on passing. I’m signed-up for doing the course that starts in January 2014. I am reassured that part of the course is learning how to drive a calculator as I asked for one for Christmas because I was doing this course but I think it has more buttons than my laptop and it looks very confusing!

    • Reply James Stevens Dec 28,2013 09:33

      Good luck Mark. The maths is a big part of the course and i felt really prepared for those questions through the course, but after all that only accounts for 10 out of the 62 marks, so you can still pass even if you missed these questions. The moral is not to give up during the maths tuition – it gets easier 🙂

  4. Reply Lucy Knight Jan 18,2014 13:59

    I thought about being a radio amateur about a year ago and after 6 months I managed to get on a foundation course about 10 miles away only because someone had dropped out and I turned up anyway on spec. Even though I could complete the multiple choice on line one still had to take a 6 wk course to get the practical piece of paper signed eg for morse awareness. No luck so far with an intermediate course but I think there will be one running about 10 miles away in future months. I was wondering if one can start the course for the advanced level before the intermediate. I realize one couldn’t take the exam before gaining the intermediate but at least I would be able to take it soon after. The stumbling block for the foundation and intermediate is having the piece of paper signed for the practical unless one goes on a course eg intermediate 10wks + exam. If one has qualifications from the past eg MRGC, MED, MEC is there any way around exemptions for the practical components of the foundation and intermediate levels. One isn’t likely to fail the morse awareness test if one has worked as a R/O in the past! I’m thinking of calling it a day now as it is a year since I decided it might be a good idea and am only at foundation level and don’t seem to be going anywhere.

    • Reply James Stevens Jan 18,2014 17:51

      Hi Lucy,

      I believe you can certainly start the Advanced course before you have done your intermediate exam. I’ve certainly heard of people starting the advanced Bath distance learning course while they hadn’t passed their intermediate.

      Some clubs will do the intermediate course (practicals and exam) in a single weekend. I did it this way and saves some time, worth looking to see if a local club offers this?

      At the end of the day progression is not mandatory and you should take the time to learn at your own pace, enjoying it as you go and progress when you feel ready, it’s a hobby after all and not a career!

      73, James M0JCQ

  5. Reply Alan Oct 26,2014 21:23

    Do you have the mock exams you did stored locally? The links you’ve got on your site no longer work (hosted externally)

    • Reply James Stevens Oct 27,2014 09:12

      Hi Alan,

      Sorry to hear the link doesn’t work any more, I’ll remove it. I do have the mock exams stored locally, I’ll email these over to you now.

      If anyone else wants a copy of these just leave me a message.

      73 James M0JCQ

  6. Reply M6GXX Mar 4,2016 12:25

    Hi James,

    Great summary – thanks for that! I’ve just taken two 8 week courses for Foundation/Intermediate so have a bit of course fatigue at the moment. I’d be happy to use the materials online + book to self-teach the advanced course, and just turn up for the next exam when possible. Do you think this is feasible/allowed? I know there are no practical assessments so it should be in theory, at least…

    Thanks for the post,
    73 de M6GXX (still waiting for Intermediate call!)

    • Reply James Stevens Mar 7,2016 16:07


      First of all congratulations on getting your foundation and intermediate licenses sorted. I understand the exam fatigue and remember it myself. You can certainly revise everything for the advanced by yourself and then just book an exam slot with a local club. I know people who have done this and passed.

      I personally found that a distance learning course kept me committed and accountable each week and made sure I didn’t slip behind, but each to their own 🙂

      73, James M0JCQ

  7. Reply Dave Neill Apr 1,2016 08:47


    Would be interested in the mock exams for the Advanced licence.Just gained my intermediate licence at the end of February and hoping to do my advanced one in the middle of July.

    73, Dave 2I0FPB

    • Reply James Stevens Apr 6,2016 13:17

      Hi Dave,

      First of all well done on getting your intermediate license, and good luck with the M0 in July!

      Take a look at they provide mock questions for the Advanced license as well as Intermediate and Foundation.

      73, James M0JCQ

  8. Reply Paul Herron Jun 22,2016 08:14

    Hi James ,
    Just came across your site. Congrats on passing all three exams. I have the first two and as work and having a elderly mother have rarely bothered with radio since. Reading your page i now feel a need to start from scratch and get M0 if possible. My brain do’s not retain info as it once did , but hell thats life.
    Cheers and good luck for the future

  9. Reply Kevin Maddy Oct 10,2017 20:46

    Hi James ,
    Congratulations on passing all three exams. Guys and potential licence holders, I too took all 3 exams within one year, foundation to advanced in 364 days, would I recommend it…..Absolutely not. It was bloody hard work and at 57 years of age the stress was almost intolerable. However the rewards and feeling of achieving the accredited M0 are phenomenal. Study at your own pace through foundation and intermediate, gain your licences and enjoy the hobby, now if you really want that M0 badge be prepared to buckle down and give it some serious consideration, are you really prepared for this? do you have the time out of family life for this amount of study? if so then go for it. To be frank and honest with you guys, I have done no more since passing my M0 than I have ever done with my 2E0 licence and still use the M6 occasionally, however, I can and one day will. Good luck and fair well.
    Kevin M.

    • Reply James Stevens Oct 27,2017 08:58

      Well done Kevin, I hope to catch you on the air sometime with your shiny new M0 callsign!

      73, James M0JCQ

  10. Reply JP Mar 29,2018 21:55

    Hi James

    I noticed your reply to Alan (October 2014)…I would like a copy of the mock exams if you can Email them to me.

    Thanks for a very helpful blog.

    • Reply James Stevens Apr 3,2018 11:13

      I’m very sorry, but I’ve had a look and I can’t seem to find these files anymore 🙁

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