Real Answers from Real Pilots

Head-start & Study Tips

Gabe,

As a current student, I would suggest two things:

  1. Get your written exams done. It’s one less thing you have to worry about when you’re flying up to 5x a week.

  2. If you aren’t comfortable on the radios, start practicing. Get on LiveATC and practice responding to controllers. The faster you can pick up the radios, the easier flying will be.

What location will you be starting at?

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Im about half way through the King school private pilot right now so far it hasn’t been hard only thing I’ve found difficult is VORs. So you are saying I should just focus on trying to memorize the questions at the end?

When it comes to the written exams, just memorize the questions. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it really is the best way to get through the writtens. There will be time for actually learning the material later.

Hey Chris,

So I finished the King schools a few days ago, I’ve been averaging about 5hrs of studying a day. My problem is with such a large information dump I’m having trouble memorizing everything. Typically how long do people study for the written? My start date is May 18th, and I know you guys said to just memorize the questions but memorizing 700+ questions seems somewhat impossible and I’m someone who really hates getting anything lower than a 90% on just about everything I do. I’m currently averaging a low 80 started almost 2 weeks ago. Do you think getting the instrument & commercial written done before my start date is also possible?

Gabe,

Possible? Sure, probable, not so much. Different people learn differently and at different paces. It’s better to not rush, focus on the PPL and get those scores up. 2 weeks really isn’t that long.

Adam

Gabe,

It seems that most people say two weeks is enough for them to study for each written exam. I spent about four weeks per exam. I agree that it is a lot of information to memorize, just keep plugging away at it, you will get there.

Chris

Gabe,

Here’s a thorough break down from another student. So you want to knock out the written tests early? A Guide

Tory

Took it today got an 83! Somewhat disappointed because I was averaging 90-95 on the practice tests guess I’ll just have to do better on the instrument written!

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One thing to remember on the written: you don’t get extra credit for scoring over 70. Don’t sweat not getting a high score. I scored 86 on the private, 92 on instrument, and 82 on commercial. The check ride was the same regardless of how I scored (although the DPE WILL check your knowledge of the knowledge codes you missed — go back and study those!).

Be prepared, the instrument test bank is over 1000 questions. It takes a while to get through!

Neal,

I have to respectfully disagree. While no there is no “extra credit” many examiners see this as an indication if how much work you put into it and your level of knowledge. While your probably right your checkride was the same honestly how would you know? Further I have a few good friends who are examiners and they absolutely adjust the level and intensity of their orals based on the written test score. Why wouldn’t they? The Knowledge tests are considered the simplest part of the process and if someone is weak in that area it’s their responsibility to make sure they have a good understanding of the material.

Putting that aside, aviation is not nor has it ever been an occupation where just “good enough” is good enough. The pilots who think that a min level of effort is sufficient are the same pilots who get hired at an airline and then have to tell their family and friends they couldn’t pass training.

Adam

Let me rephrase: you want to score as well as you can, but fixating on 90 vs 80 isn’t going to help. Look at how we (generally) study for our writtens other than private now: via something that, while not rote memorization, is awfully close. Those of us that choose to read the explanations of answers given in Sheppard are going to learn the material, but doing that isn’t required or even recommended by them.

Should we go back and review the topics pointed out by the learning codes? Absolutely! Should we expect the DPE to dig in deeper on those topics? Absolutely! Should we TRY to do our best? Absolutely! But as a gating function, a written test score of 70 is no less passing than a written test of 100.

I spent the better part of a month fretting over how I got in the 80s on my private written. I went back and studied my learning code topics. I was absolutely ready for my oral when the DPE took my written results and went down the list digging in on them. But the point is that the LEARNING CODES are what is important, not the score.

Neal,

I would strongly disagree with you on this. While yes, a 70% is passing, one can expect an extremely thorough oral exam and flight check from most examiners with a score like that. I cannot speak to your experiences, but most examiners will look very poorly on scores that are in the 80s and 70s. I always shot for 100% and would never settle for anything not in the 90s. By the way, when you get to the airlines (at least thew ones I have worked for), 80 is the lowest possible passing grade.

Chris

So are you suggesting a student that scores below the 90s go back and retake? This is a question that comes up often in forums other than this one. I’m not arguing the point, I’m hoestly asking for clarification.

To be clear (something I should be doing the first time I type), I’m not suggesting someone AIM for 70, but I am suggesting that someone not fret over a PAST score that wasn’t in the 90s.

Neal,

If I had gotten below a 90%, I would have taken the test again.

Chris

Neal,

I disagree with Chris. Whether you score below 90 or your test sheet shows Attemps: 2, either will raise similar flags and I believe have the same effect on your examiner’s mindset.

What I recommend is that students devote sufficient time and energy studying to the point where they’re consistently scoring in the upper 90’s before taking the exam. It’s really that simple.

Adam

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So the way that I see it is most people just use Sheppard Air which is essentially just memorization of the questions and I feel like most examiners know this. I’ve been trying Sheppard Air for the last few days and I can’t learn that way I’m more of a hands on/visual learner I loved the King Schools private ground school. Someone who got an 85 using King Schools or equivalent could essentially know more about the subject than someone who got a 100 using Sheppard Air.

Either way everyone should strive for the best grade. I am disappointed I only got an 83 after all I was getting 95s on the practice test. I think the best combo would be King schools to actually learn the material and then Sheppard Air to go over questions you don’t necessarily know about.

I used the Private Study Buddy for my Private written, got a 95.

My new friends who are all in instrument phase used Sheppard Air for their tests. Don’t expect to learn everything perfectly for the test. You’ll learn via the ground school videos and during flight. The point of Sheppard Air is to get your written out of the way, so you don’t have to think about it while studying for your flying, and eventually for your checkride.

The thing with Sheppard Air is I was sitting there for hours just reading questions and answers I felt like a zombie. They basically have you read an entire section with the question and just the answer then you go back and read the question with all the answers and I guess for most people that works but for myself i was falling asleep on my iPad so i couldn’t really focus.

Based on chatting with the other guys, they only did maybe 2-3 hours a day, and not necessarily all at once. Especially now, since you haven’t started the program yet, take time to pace yourself.

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I actually forgot that the written results show the number of attempts. I am with Adam on this one.