I finished the first 3 writtens in 4 weeks and so can you

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.

PAR:
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
Score: 93%

IRA:
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
Score: 100%

CAX:
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
Score: 96%

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

Logan

20 Likes

Adam’s gonna love this write up :rofl:

Thank you for writing this!

1 Like

I actually do (you can even see one of the little hearts up there is mine).

Logan took the advice given, came up with a system of study that worked for him and voila, banged out 3 with fantastic scores. Well done sir.

My only caveat (as always) is when you say “and you can too” you’re making a big assumption that everyone has the same learning capabilities as you do. Some do, but some don’t and may take longer. That said, those who take our advice generally do very well and then there’s everyone else.

Adam

2 Likes

Adam,

Right you are! I meant it more as a motivational thing. I see so many people here getting bogged down in what and how to study, and wanted to reinforce the “just follow the guide” advice that the great mentors always share. That’s all I did, follow the guide to the letter, and it led me through on this schedule, putting in 6-ish hours per day. Of course if a student needs to take it slower, they should. I would definitely not have been able to do it this efficiently if I’d waited to take the exams until after my start date!

1 Like

Logan,

Btw, (just a suggestion) but you really should bang out the FIA while the Instrument stuff is still in your head. Same test bank as the IRA.

Adam

That’s what I was wondering, FIA or FII, since they both share question banks with IRA and CAX, right? I assume it’s not exactly identical? I should still get the Sheppard prep I assume.

Logan,

You are 100% correct, my bad, I meant the FII (Flight Instructor Instrument).

The FIA is very similar to the CAX but recently I’ve heard there are enough differences (now) to warrant using the separate prep?

Def not the case with the FII and you should be fine with the IRA prep you have, but your call.

Adam

1 Like

Excellent scores, Logan! Thank you for sharing details on your experience. Definitely helpful for anyone that wants to see an example of someone else’s process.

I just also want to add (for anyone who may be reading) that everyone learns differently. So, if anyone out there needs months instead of weeks to learn the material, that’s ok.

I second Adam’s suggestion on the FII and FIA. You have already done most of the work, but seeing as you start the program soon, I would focus on Day 1. You are still way ahead of the game. There is plenty of time to get the other tests done. If you can take them sooner rather than later while the Q&A’s are still fresh, not a bad idea.

Tory

I’m guessing that when you want to take a written, you just tell your CFI you need a couple hours to go take the test, and then you can come back to the training center after? The testing place near us doesn’t do tests on the weekends at all.

I am not familiar with each testing site. When I was a CFI, I was trained to be a testing proctor and all of the tests were done at the training center. If YIP is set up differently then just coordinate the tests with your CFI. The specific logistics of it all is beyond me.

Tory

I wish we had testing on-site! Luckily it’s only 15 or 20 minutes away at the Ann Arbor municipal airport.

1 Like

Logan,

Congrats and well done on your writtens, thank you for an awesome write-up on your strategy and how it worked for you. If you can get your FII out of the way as well, the sooner the better since the IRA material is still fresh. I recommend using software prep for the FIA, I have talked with a few individuals from my old training center who informed me of some difference in material. I think studying for a week with it would be sufficed, I believe it took me a solid week to study the material doing 3-4 hours a night.

For test taking during training: If your location does not have a PSI center, if you schedule it, just let your instructor and TSS know so they don’t schedule an event during the timeframe. Scheduling a written in the morning could still constitute to lessons later in the afternoon.

Brady

2 Likes

In-house testing was nice, for sure. More work for the CFIs, but convenient nonetheless. If that is your primary testing center and if they are not open on weekends then yeah, your CFI will help you schedule around your training.

Tory

2 Likes

Logan,

Nice write up and good work. You will be very glad that you have completed so many writtens.

Chris

1 Like

Hey Logan,

Curious, how did you get endorsements to take the written tests prior to starting the program?

Aaron,

All you have to do is email a screen shot of 3 90% or higher scores on practice tests to training support, and they will have a CFI write you an endorsement to print out and take with you to the testing center.

Outstanding. Thanks for the quick reply and assistance!

Aaron,

Reference this for more info: Get Ahead By Taking FAA Knowledge Tests Before Starting ATP / ATP Flight School

Tory

Thanks Tory!

1 Like

I just took my written PAR and passed and hope to finish up my flight and checkride within a few months. Looking ahead to complete my training, I am researching ATP and hope to enroll in Jan. Do you suggest waiting until I get closer to completing my Private Pilots to take the other written, or show I plow through and get them done as soon as possible. I have some flexibility with my schedule and should have ample time to study now and complete them.I would love a suggested timeline or path.
Thanks in advance