Real Answers from Real Pilots

A "typical" day as an ATP student

Hello mentors,
I was wondering what a “typical” day as an ATP student is like? I will be starting from zero in June and I would like to have an idea as to what a new student at ATP does when first starting out. I am assuming new students don’t just climb on a plane with an instructor and set out right away…

Also, I’ve read that students can get ahead by taking the written tests ahead of time. Would you recommend this versus waiting until actually starting ATP and possibly having a better understanding of how things work? How heavy is the study load???
If I can get ahead somehow I would like to so I can be as prepared as possible to succeed.

Thanks in advance


Hi Evelyn,

I’m sure Yarden will chime in with the most current “typical” day since I haven’t been a student at ATP for quite a while so I’m sure a few things may have changed. I also already had my Private. That said I doubt they’ve changed that much so here’s how it was: First off will be some ground school. We were given quizzes to take every night so we’d usually review the quiz and go over anything that was incorrect or confusing. Then we’d go into the day’s lesson plan which was typically discussing and getting a “profile” for the maneuvers or skills for that day as well as some aerodynamic and regulatory things. If there was a maneuver we’d usually go into the sim and work on the procedure itself as to not waste flight time. Once the instructor was comfortable I had a clue we’d go fly it. After the flight we’d debrief how the flight went and get the assignment for the next day etc etc etc.

I HIGHLY recommend you take the advice and at least get a jump on a few of the writtens (if not all). I understand you’d like to have a greater understanding but the fact is the FAA writtens are somewhat dated and the material while still “valid”, really doesn’t follow the normal learning progression. It’s for that reason it’s a good idea to get them out of the way and have that box checked so you can concentrate on the day’s lesson as the work load can be pretty heavy at times.



Hey Evelyn,

Welcome aboard!!

First off I wanted to say that you most likely will be flying on your first day, so bring your headset! I made sure to have all of my zero-timers fly on the very first day because I think it is important to start out with something fun and memorable.

So a typical day at ATP will be made up mostly of self study. Each event that you will have with your instructor will have reading assignments and quizzes, which will take you about 3-4 hours to complete. On top of that, you are expected to expand on the topic a little bit on your own. That means researching on the internet, watching youtube videos, reading articles, asking fellow students/instructors, etc.
All of this will be in preparation for your syllabus event, which will be a flight/sim or ground lesson. These events are usually around 2 hours, with 15-20 min pre and post briefs for flights and sims.
Now as you progress through the program, your daily schedule will change a little bit, but this is the rough template of your schedule.

With regards to the writtens, definitely get them out of the way. I will add to Adam and say that they are not only dated, they have absolutely no educational benefit. The standard method of preparing for these exams is to memorize the answers. Literally, the prep books/apps are based on memorizing the answers to all the questions in the question bank for the specific exam, and that goes from the private written all the way up to the ATP written. So since you have some time until June, do yourself a favor and get them out of the way.

Let us know if you have any more questions.



Thank you mentors for your feedback! I truely appreciate that you took the time to answer my questions.

I will most definitely take your advice and get the writtens out of the way. That being said, how can I get started on taking the writtens? Can I only take them if I’m already signed up and ready start ATP? Also, I know I read it somewhere in the forum where to find study materials but I couldn’t find it just now. Could you suggest any study materials that will be helpful for the writtens?

Again, thanks for your time!


Here is a link to a thread with the info you’re looking for.


Yarden, thank you so much for that link! I’m already looking into the study materials.

I’ve also been watching YouTube channel Prop and Gear which is an ATP student documenting his experience week by week. He mentions night flights. By night flights, is it over night flights or just night time flights? Do you know how many night flight hours are required?



He’s referring to flying AT night (night is defined as the ending of civil twilight to the beginning of civil twilight aka it’s gotta be DARK out). You’re required to have 3 hrs of night flying for your Private and 5 for your Commercial so that’s the minimum. You’ll also find yourself doing some of your cross-country time building at night as well. It’s usually quite pleasant as the air is often more still and there’s much less traffic.


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Thanks Adam for the insight! I hope I am not bothering with all these questions.

Not in the least Evelyn. This is what we do :slight_smile:


Good morning Yarden,

On these “syllabus events”, are these daily events are do you have a few days to prepare for each concept?

Thanks in advance,



These are daily. Everyday you’ll be given a homework and a quiz. The next day you’ll discuss, maybe practice in the sim and then fly it. The program progresses quickly.


Hey Adam. Thanks for the quick reply. Have a great weekend.