Since I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately asking for help on studying, I thought people might be interested in reading my own experience.
I start at KYIP this coming Monday and couldn’t be more pumped. Since the start of the month I’ve been trying to get the PAR, IRA, and CAX done before my start date (not just because of the $80 Foreflight refund you get, but I won’t pretend that wasn’t a factor). Today I took and passed the CAX, and so wanted to share the general outline of my study timeline with y’all.
This one took me about 2 weeks on its own. Starting from basically zero aviation knowledge, this one took me the longest because I had to learn all the new terms, acronyms (so many acronyms…), and ease myself into a test taking mindset after being out of college for 8 years.
I used King Schools on the recommendation of the instructor who did my intro flight, as well as Sporty’s Study Buddy app. Looking back, I probably could have made it just fine using only Sporty’s, and saved myself about $275 in the process, but I’m glad I had the King course just to give me some context for what I was learning. If I had been studying for this one during my ATP classes, I definitely would have just stuck with Sporty’s Study Buddy.
Total study time: 2 weeks
Okay, this one is where you really need to listen to all the advice here on the forum. I’m looking at Adam with this one, with the best advice you could possibly receive. Ready? ROTE MEMORIZATION.
Get Sheppard Air’s IRA test prep software. It looks like it’s about 25 years old, and you have to speak to an actual human on the phone to sign up, but this thing works for real. I heard it described as a cheat code for the writtens, and they are right. That’s exactly how it felt. Follow Sheppard’s study guide strategy, memorize all the questions and answers, and then take the exam. Seriously, memorize the answers. I remain very confused about many concepts on the exam (looking at you, holding pattern entry), but I just memorized those things and will learn them for real with my instructor in person when I reach that stage.
Total study time: 7 days
Same as for the IRA. Just MEMORIZE the answers. The CAX has a much larger bank of math questions than the IRA does, mostly relating to weight & balance, fuel endurance, and takeoff/landing distances over obstacles. There are about 150-200 math questions in the bank, so I actually learned how to do the problems, but by the time I’d practiced enough I basically memorized the answers on accident.
The rest of the questions in the CAX are actually very familiar if you’ve taken the PAR and IRA. There are a lot of weather questions (about 200 possible in the bank), FAR, and other general questions such as visibility minimums, etc. I breezed through this one with Sheppard. Just in case you missed it the first time (dedicated to Adam), ROTE MEMORIZATION. Seriously. You don’t need any special learning method; you don’t need to understand why you’re going to intercept a VOR radial north or south of the station; you don’t need to know why an 80 degree bank results in a 6g load. Just memorize the answers.
Total study time: 5 days
The short version is this: Sporty’s Study Buddy for the PAR, Sheppard for everything else. I can’t wait to actually get in the plane on Monday and finally get started! Hopefully this helps some of the people who have been worrying about their own written exams. I’m happy to answer questions if anyone has more about my experience