Real Answers from Real Pilots

How much of my time will be spent studying?

Hello everyone!

I’ve been surfing posts here for a few years now and I can honestly say this has been the best resource for pursuing flight training. A special thank you to the mentors who have sacrificed so much time and effort into getting us prospective pilots the information we need beforehand.

From what I can tell, ATP and it’s accelerated program will be a good fit for me. I was homeschooled through High School so the self study nature of the program should work well for me. I’m also going to have finished my Bachelors in just under 2.5 years so I’m no stranger to accelerated learning.

My current plan is to sign up with ATP when I finish collge next Christmas and I’m wondering how much time I’ll have while at the program that won’t be devoted to studying? I’m not intending to work duing that time because I can see how that would be impossible with the nature of the accelerated program, but I am wondering how many hours most people end up spending a week either at ATP or studying privately. However, I do understand that its different for everyone based on their study habits and skills so I’m just looking for an estimation. Will I likely have time for rec sports and dating or will my time be entirely studying? :joy:

Again, thank you so much for all your help and I look forward to joining the ATP community next year!


Thank you for posting and for your kind words.

Before we get to your questions, have you taken an introductory flight yet?

I would plan on spending just about every waking minute studying. I remember having some time for walks in the park, etc, but I basically put my girlfriend on hold for the time I was in the program, I think she came to visit me twice during the whole time. I would plan on a mild amount of time for exercise, but really save the rest for studying.

Save the dating for after the program, the girls will be far more impressed with you being a pilot than they will with you training to be a pilot.

Interesting side story, my second wife and I met on the Bumble app. She looked at the pictures of my three kids and thought “that’s a lot of kids”, then looked at a picture of me in the cockpit and thought “but that’s a cool job.” Three years later she loves my kids and we are married, thank goodness I chose to use a pilot picture :slight_smile:


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That’s actually a pretty cool story! Made me smile a lot.

I’ve taken two introductory flights but I quickly realized getting my well PPL before the rest of my ratings would be very time consuming and expensive so I decided to hold off until after college. Also, from what I’ve read here, I think it’ll probably be better for me to do all my ratings at ATP instead of getting my PPL at my local Mom and Pop school so I don’t develop any bad habits.



I couldn’t agree more. I got my PPL at a local school and learned the hard way that was not the best path.

Let us know how else we can help you.



I’m with Chris on this one. Plan on studying the majority of your time at ATP. There’s literally always something to be working. Whether it be your current rating, looking forward to the next, or reviewing past you can never retain it all but you definitely can try.


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Just echoing what has already been said. You need to remember, you’re training to become a CFI. You’re expected to know everything up to that point because there isn’t any time allocated for you to catch up. Not only do you need to be up to speed, you need to be reviewing what you’ve already learned so you don’t regress. That’s what gets most people. There’s not much new info in CFI school besides Fundamentals of Instructing and endorsements. It’s remembering the basics that gets overlooked.



That’s a really good point. I guess it does make sense that retaining the information enough to teach it would be quite the challenge. When people write negative reviews about ATP I bet a lot of that resentment comes from a lack of commitment on the student’s part. My hope is to join ATP after next Christmas so I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for what the change that’s coming. Thank you for your response!




You’re 100% correct. The fact is flying airplanes isn’t easy and ATP raises the bar to prepare people for training at the airline level. This can be extremely challenging and frankly not everyone is successful. It’s far easier to blame ATP than admit perhaps you simply weren’t cut out for the job or didn’t work hard enough.


Hey Jack,

I’m at the end of the program working on my MEI now. There definitely is a ton of studying involved in the program. The most important thing is to stay on top of things and be proactive about what’s coming up next. If you’re able to do that well then I don’t think you should have a problem with having some free time.

I did find myself feeling behind and incredibly busy at one point in the program. They want you to have your FIA and FOI knowledge tests (both needed for CFI) done by the time you finish your commercial certificate. Of course I put that off to the last minute and ended up taking both of those tests the week before my commercial checkride and needed to study for those and prepare for the checkride at the same time. For those couple weeks I felt like I was just breathing eating and studying. Aside from that totally avoidable scenario I did have a decent amount of free time throughout the program, some weeks more than others.

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One piece of advice I can give is if you are seriously interested in ATP’s program, try to get a start date of a month plus if by all possible, that’ll give you time to start nailing out those written knowledge exams, even though we all take them from rote memory, you’ll learn the material when you’re at your location. Jake here brought a great point up, he stated “I felt like I was just breathing eating and studying.” This is a 100% true throughout the program, but there are ways to stay ahead and be proactive. Aside from flying, you’ll need to take personal breaks, hence why Maslow came up with the hierarchy of needs. Everyday I walk/jog an hour, try and make healthy meals, and take some time to myself to sit back, relax, maybe play a few rounds of video games or watch YouTube videos. You’ll have to adapt a schedule that fits you.

I write this from CFI school (currently in Atlanta, Georgia), ATP is awesome. I highly recommend it, we’re spoiled here. You fly modern-new planes, equipped with some of the most expensive toys, but you have to discipline yourself in the plane to not get to crazy. The training simulators are an awesome feature that not every school has.


Great advice here from everyone! I’m starting ATP very soon here in Scottsdale, and have already drilled into my head how much self-study is needed to successfully complete the program. A friend of mine who is a pilot for AA, who actually met his wife while she was attending ATP said it best and straight-forward, and I quote

“I have seen some very bad pilots come out of ATP, but I have seen some great pilots as well. IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE STUDENT! If you work and study hard, take initiative you will be a great pilot. If you slack off and let the school push you thru, you will be a terrible pilot.

Pro’s- you will have all of your ratings quick. My fiancé did 8 check rides in 9 mos, which is crazy. They will offer you a job instructing at the school once you’ve finished, and you will meet a ton of people!

Con’s- if you do the fast track program that will be a full-time job. It is flying or studying about 12 hrs a day. Strict schedule adherence in regards to learning material, and if you slack or don’t pick up information quickly, it will delay your training.”

I think this along with all of the other honest advice from past experience, whether from a student or mentor, is great to understand before jumping into the program. It’s all about preparation, and failure to prepare is preparing to fail. I personally can’t wait to dive-in and take it like a full time job as well. I’ve moved from CA to PHX to live back home, and left my job to tackle this pivot of my life and career, and know it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I look forward to sharing my progress throughout the program, and this forum is an absolute treasure for preparing and learning, so thank you to everyone for that!



That all sounds about right. What I think is important to note is no one will be “pushed through”. They might survive and scrape their way but they’re only hurting themselves. The pace and intensity of the Fast Track is by design. It’s not to hurry or push anyone through quickly. ATP was created by airline pilots to train airline pilots and the program is modeled after actual airline training. We often get asked “what if I can’t keep up or don’t want to train that quickly?”. The simple answer is what makes that person believe they’ll be successful in airline training? The reason ATP students have gotten preferential hiring long before there was any pilot shortage was because the airlines knew they were capable of keeping up with the pace.

It’s definitely challenging but you’ll be happy you did it.


Completely agree! Thanks Adam