Hints and Tips for Passing the RSGB Intermediate Amateur Radio Examination

August 25, 2020  •  1 Comment

Hints and Tips for Passing the RSGB Intermediate Amateur Radio Examination

So... you have your Amateur Radio Foundation call sign, and you're wanting to book the Intermediate RSGB Amateur Radio examination, or maybe you even have it booked, well here are a few sure-fire tips that whilst they won't do the work and get that pass for you - that's down to you, by following these simple hints and tips will undoubtedly improve your chances of gaining a pass and enable you to get your new call sign.

This next statement is obvious, but it really does deserve mentioning.  Everyone is different!  Many of us are able to breeze through examinations without a care in the world, while others feel intimidated, pressured and stressed.  We all begin to experience the effects of an encroaching examination, all of us - without exception.   A month away and the thought of the examination brings an occasional pang & release of adrenalin and a butterfly briefly appears in our stomachs, an hour away and our blood pressure and heart rate will be increasing, overall adrenalin levels will be rising, and though we may not be aware of it but we will be sweating more than normal.   20204318 x 2430-1-220204318 x 2430-1-2 Each of us will be beginning to experience the wide ranging effects of the exam on our bodies in varying ways and amounts.  Whatever way these affect you, whatever it is that you personally experience, try to remember this... embrace it, take it in, accept it, because these effects that we have little to no control of are designed by Mother Nature to help us in such situations.  They are all perfectly normal, healthy and expected bodily responses. Use them to your advantage.

OK, now that we have the psychology and physiology out of the way, let's get right to some specific hints and tips that are a proven aid in these circumstances, and will significantly increase your chances of passing.  These suggestions are not for everybody, and some I am sure will scoff and perhaps laugh at me, at this document and its contents - ignore those people, they are not important.  What is important is you, and how you prepare for your exam.  You are an individual, different to everyone else, different in the way that you learn, the way you embrace new knowledge, all of this together with your level of desire to enhance your abilities will of course be different from everyone else.  Use what I have included here as you wish, in whichever way you want, take it or leave it.  But however much you take from this brief document, a little or a lot or nothing at all, I sincerely send you my regards, and wish you the best of luck in your forthcoming Intermediate amateur radio examination.



OK, here goes... 

Prior to the exam - and stating the obvious!

  • Carry out research regarding what specific learning materials and resources are available to help you with your RSGB Intermediate examination studies. There are a plethora of materials available, and each of us will use these in varying degrees.  I am sure there are more resources available than are listed here, but I have linked to some examples of these resources below for you.
  • You know yourself best, so you will also know how to most effectively make use of your time and thereby determine which is the most effective way for you to learn.  Determine which of the available resources fits closest with your specific learning style. 
  • Ask yourself the question "Do I know enough to pass this examination"?  Those who are not honest with themselves in answering this are only fooling themselves - pretty pointless don't you agree?  Answer this honestly, and you will know what you need to do.
  • Make a plan.  OK, for sure this isn't a project where we are controlling a roving vehicle on Mars, but if you are so inclined it can help if you make a plan, scheduling times for when you will carry out your learning.  Note: this approach varies greatly from person to person, but if you are someone who likes to take a project-type approach to tasks, then it really would benefit you to make a plan, and more importantly if so - stick to it as much as possible.
  • Create as comfortable an environment as you are able to for when you take the exam.  Minimise the chance of interruptions, have all permitted materials available with you, ensure that you are settled, seated comfortably, and have a refreshing drink to hand.
  • Of course, specific and detailed academic knowledge is required for anyone to pass an examination in any subject, but using a combination of these other items can significantly improve your chances of getting through any exam.  Surely anything that can help improve ones chances of getting a pass and that desired 50W, is a good thing, yes?


Examination Hints and Tips

  1. You have plenty of time for the exam, 1 hour and 30 minutes to be precise.  Relax, do not rush, and take your time.

  2. Read each question 3 times.  Seriously, read each question slowly, 3 times.  Read #2 twice more (see what I did there :) ).

  3. It is advisable that you read and become familiar with the Ofcom License Terms Conditions and Limitations document.  Some examination questions can appear confusing if one only refers to the RSGB Intermediate training manual.  The correct and accurate answer to many questions can be found in the terms and conditions document.  Please ensure you download and read the License Terms and Conditions document linked above.  In so doing you may attain those few extra marks.

  4. Understand what the question is asking you.  The questions are not designed to trick you, but they are designed to seek out specific knowledge so make sure you clearly understand the detail in the question.

  5. Don't assume you know the correct answer - look at each of the 4 answers to ensure you can eliminate the other three.  Mistakes are easily made by not doing this, we're all human and prone to making this type of easily avoided error.

  6. Flag any question where you are not 100% sure of the answer.  Seriously, use the Testreach system to flag it, and in addition make a note of the question number on your notepaper.  You will have ample time to go back over any questions you have flagged.

  7. If you are totally unsure of the answer to a question, flag it and come back to it later.  It could be wasteful to spend any additional time trying to figure out the answer to those questions before you have at least taken a look at and attempted all of the questions.

  8. Obtain a copy of the booklet with the formulas and tables that you will have available in the exam, and get familiar with what is in it. You'll find it will help you answer several questions.

  9. If you are totally stuck with a question, try to at least eliminate some of the answers, so that you 'guessing' between 2 or 3 possible answers rather than 4.

  10. Mental preparation can be vitally important. Perhaps use this guide or any of the other resources available as a basis in preparing how you are going to use your time in the examination to complete the questions.

  11. Have a strategy for the time actually taking the exam, and know how you will use your 90 minutes.  

  12. A pass is a pass, there is no grade.  Remember that you only need 28 correct answers.  Set your goal according to your own assessment of your capability.
  13. Use your time wisely and revisit your flagged questions before you revisit those you may have taken a note of.  You may be able to figure out the answer to flagged questions more easily than those questions you have made a note of.


If you have any suggestions as to how I can add to or improve this document, please feel free to message me, email me, or leave a comment. 


Boab the Bear(non-registered)
Hi John ,

Thanks very much for this help and the tips you have shared .
I failed my first attempt at the intermediate exam and scored 27/46 , the last question i got wrong regarding a soldering tip being cleaned which i went back and changed to the wrong answer. Had i left that bloody question alone i would've gotten the 28/46 required to pass. I was absolutely devastated!
First run , i had not had enough time to revise which is vital but have nevertheless rebooked for next week (After failing you cannot contact the RSGB for at least ten days or i would have rebooked the test for that day).

I can thank you enough for your wisdom and am glad i found this site.
In my opinion there is far too much Technical theory which is irrelevant in modern times, i mean most hams will buy a radio (or two, or three) and will then cherish and learn every aspect of that radio(s). Most will not require to know the ins and outs of building a receiver/transciever these days. I've read the RSGB proposition to ofcom with regard to an upheaval to current usage terms of the spectrum. I know there are a lot for, and even more against the RSGB recommendations at the moment. However, i do feel the exams need to be relooked at and perhaps tailored to what each hobbyist wants to actually do.

Thanks very much 73
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