General Pre-Admission Study Prep?

Hello! My name is Seth (19 Years Old), I am currently almost finished with my associate’s degree in math and science in Chattanooga Tennessee and plan on moving to the only ATP school in the great state of Tennessee sometime next year. I have been doing tons of excited research through the forums here and of course lots of other sources as well. My research is slowly ultimately ensuring the ATP route for me simply for the fixed cost and speed of the training. As i’m sure you’ve all heard many times the speed at which the training is done is very daunting. The fear of investing almost 100 grand simply to be drowned in material and overwhelmed with the amount of information to process is a fear that i’m sure everyone has. However, I fully intend on performing to my upmost potential and studying as much as humanly possible. So with all that said I just have a few basic questions here. I’ve heard mixed things on whether or not attending the ATP school has much instructing other than the instructing relating directly to your flights with your CFI. Is this true? I’ll be entering the program with little to no knowledge on proper aviation and airplane mechanics. I simply have loved flying as a passenger enough that I know being a pilot is what I want to pursue. So if the CFI’s at ATP are primarily for flying purposes only does these mean that most of attending ATP is going to be done in my bedroom self teaching and studying? Although i’ve done alot of research thus far the answers that i’m seeing on this topic have been mixed. Some say CFI’s have little incentive to have solid ground schooling therefore your often referred to manuals and guides for further studying. Some also say it purely depends on your CFI. I guess my main question here minus all of my rambling on is that is ATP a school? Or is it simply a fast accelerated way to link students who are self teaching through studying rigorously with CFI’s who can assist them with the actual flying and such? Sorry if I sound extremely ignorant on the subject, I’ve never had flight lessons and my college career thus far has never consisted of any aviation classes. So I am a true ground zero student.

Finally what is suggested for someone as uneducated in aviation and airplanes to do BEFORE beginning the ATP journey or does the learning and studying start at ATP?
If the journey begins at home before starting the school then what books could you recommend for purchase. I’ve seen some things that say you should take your written exams before you even start ATP and that’s what inspired me to post on these forums for the first time because it made me wonder how much of the ATP program is actual schooling as far as book study and such goes minus the real instructing in the air and such. Thanks! Sorry if my ramblings are difficult to read, simply an overly excited and curious student at his computer at 2am typing away looking for answers! Haha


Yes, ATP involves a huge amount of self study, but any aviation program or even professional level program will require large amounts of self study. That being said, the ATP instructors are there to teach you as well and their success is directly tied to yours. An instructor with a poor pass rate will likely find them self without a job. My CFIs at ATP were all great about sitting down and explaining concepts, but they did expect us (the students) to put in the hard work studying.

As for best preparing yourself for the program, I highly recommend completing all of your written exams prior to starting the program. Yes, this will mostly be self study, and this sounds crazy, but the written exams are really just a formality and an exercise in memorization. Once you complete the exams, the real learning can start.

Before you go any further with this, you need to complete an introductory flight. It is one thing to ride in the back of an airplane, it is quite another to actually pilot it. You can take an introductory flight at any ATP location or just about any other flight school out there.


Chris, when you say “all your written exams,” do you mean beyond private pilot ground school as well? I didn’t realize we could go beyond that without actual flight time.


You do not need any flight experience at all to take the written exams.

Thanks Chris! And yes I certainly will schedule my introductory flight before going for the loan and such. As for solo pre self studying what books do you recommend? I purchased sportys study buddy like I’ve see recommended but it’s dufficult for me to gain anything from it currently cause I have 0 prior knowledge of the vocabulary being used and such. Do i keep using study buddy but googling every question or are the solid books i can grab off Amazon to take notes with then use study buddy to keep myself sharp. And finally what all exams and knowledge am i expected to have before even walking through the door?

Nice! I missed that info somehow. Thank you.


Chris attached a link which lays out all the required FAA Knowledge exams. Once you select a start date and give your deposit ATP will send you all the required study material. That’s why it’s important to get that going at least 3 months prior.

A quick note on your first post. You, as many people do, have concerns with ATPs “pace” and “self-study”. While as I said this is a common concern it always makes me smile. ATP was created BY airline pilots to train airline pilots. The reason the pace is high and yes there is a fair amount of self-study is because that’s the way it is at the airlines. If you think they’ll be someone holding your hand and telling you “relax and take your time” once you get hired you’re in for quite a surprise. If you fail to keep up you will fail out of airline training and your career will be over. I always wonder if a person doesn’t think they can keep up with ATPs pace what makes them believe they’ll survive actual airline training? That is the reason why ATP students were getting hired years ago, before everyone with 1500hrs and a pulse could get a job like it is today. Because the airlines knew they would be successful.


Thanks, never expecting any holding hands or anything just simply was curious exactly how it was ran since it is referred to as a “school”. Didn’t know if it really was a school or not or if its just a good template and location to get alot of scheduled instructor time in the air and such.


ATP is without question a school with a VERY well defined curriculum and finite footprint. They’ve been training pilots for over 30 years, have over 40 locations, has the largest fleet of training aircraft in the country and have had over 600 pilots get hired by airlines in the last 12mos alone. They even have a polo’s with logos and everything! They also have a really nice website with tons of great info you might want to take a look at.


The biggest issue is we simply do not have enough time to teach you everything there is to know about flying. Personally, I do not learn well from someone standing in front of a room lecturing. I can do a ground lesson with my students in a topic they have never learned about, and the next day they still know nothing. So, we guide you to what to study, and then help clarify or explain anything that doesn’t make sense. We do ground lessons on big topics like aerodynamics, navigation logs for cross country’s, weight and balance, weather, etc… the topics that people have a hard time learning on their own, but again, we expect you to come in knowing somthing about it.

Some students I give hours upon hours of ground too, others I give barley any, it completely depends on how the student learns and how well they learn. Personally I had probably less than 10hrs of ground in my program, but that was because I told my CFI I really didn’t need it, if I needed help he would help.

Thanks Tucker! With that being said ATP is more of a flight instructor training program than an actual school. Thanks for being clear on that. Any suggested books or such to start with for someone who as at ground zero for knowledge on these subjects? I went to college for math and science I’ve never been to a school that’s offered anything that would teach me anything about what you guys might suggest knowing ALREADY before attending the program

Just basic stuff. The PHAK (Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge) has a lot of good information. An app on the AppStore is Sportys Private Pilot Study Buddy. I think it’s $9.99 and geared mostly towards the written exam but still good.

If/When you sign up for ATP they send you a large box of books for your training.