I Need Help!

I’m trying to knock out these writtens before I start class in April. I understand that is a ton of time. But also juggling a military retirement, home ownership, a wife, 3 kids, and life. I killed the PAR with a 95%. But I owe that to Kings and the ground school instruction. I bought the Sheppard IRA material and planned (and am already scheduled) for it plus FII and IGI on 8 Dec. This Instrument stuff without the ground school instruction IS GREEK. I like to study for understanding. It alleviates the need for straight memorization. I’m not dumb. I can pick up a lot of it reading the explanations. But now I’m getting into the Holding questions and my confidence and understanding are tanking fast. Direct, Parallel, Teardrop, Hold West Standard, Hold East Left. What the heck?! I know I don’t HAVE to do these tests now. And I feel like even though it will add some stress trying to study for the writtens while also flying. Does the stress even out by having the Instrument ground training (if there even is such a thing) to actually teach you the material? I need advice bad. I’m a little stressed right now trying study stuff I don’t get.

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Take a deep breath. All is good. You knocked the PAR out of the park. You’re already set up well to start. Most people rely on rote memorization for the IRA. Going over the questions so many times that it’s just knowing the question and the answer based on memory aids not understanding. Sheppard air has memory aids created for those that rely on it. Try going about it this method. If not, don’t get too frustrated about it. You may need to wait and take the IRA during the instrument phase and have the foundational knowledge. You definitely won’t be the first student to take a written exam at the assigned phase.
Instead, move on and take the Commercial written (CAX). That one is just a little more advanced version of the PAR. The commercial phase is also very short and you have to complete the CAX, FOI and FIA during that time. Try knocking out as many of those now that you can. The CAX and FIA are based on VFR flying and FOI is all about the fundamentals of instructing.

Hey Jeremy! I remember studying with Sheppard for the IRA Written and being so overwhelmed but in all honesty, following Sheppard’s study strategy really is the best way to knock out the writtens. For certain topics (such as holding) they have some links to YouTube videos that actually explain the concepts so you don’t have to straight up memorize it. I found their holding video extremely helpful because I was also having a tough time with understanding holds. As for instrument ground training, it certainly helps the pieces click into place, but unfortunately I don’t think you get access to the instrument Kings school until you start your instrument training. If there’s a particular concept on the IRA you need help understanding I’d recommend YouTube (I did it for a few topics that I was having trouble grasping). Best of luck!


As the others have said relax. While I agree it’s better to have understanding rather than just rote, even with a ground school course much of it will be out of context. Trust the method, it works well.


Adam’s right, and trust me…it’s Greek for EVERYONE without any ground knowledge, but the method works. Try to power through as many writtens as you can before school, as it will be quite a load lifted off an already packed schedule. I did mine before I started, and have been in the program with others who waited, and it certainly hurt their scores because they were in a rush, which means more PLT codes to go over in your grounds, and perhaps a more difficult checkride depending on the DPE.

Thanks all for the replies. I definitely have to power through as many writtens as I can while I’m here before we move. I can’t in good conscience give up access to the base education center that administers the writtens for free. That’s not a flex. Just thinking logically.

I did find the Sheppards Youtube video on Holds after I posted, and you’re right @njscott, it explained a lot. Makes way more sense. I haven’t looked at the material again since last night, but I’m thinking that video kinda makes the memorization aid obsolete. If I know how to sketch out a Hold, no need to memorize anything…I think. I’ll find out later.

I’m calm now (for now haha).



Man I’m late to the party with advice, but have no fear…everyone else is 100% accurate in their tips/tricks/advice. I always felt the PAR test is the hardest because of how the tests are conducted, it’s not like your high school ink in the circles kind of test, where your teacher takes it to an electronic scanner to grade them…it’s digitally and you’re being monitored on cameras to ensure you’re not doing anything secretive. Every written after the PAR I thought was easy and it only got easier because I felt comfortable with my studying techniques etc.

For every written hereafter, I couldn’t stress enough about using Sheppard Air like Hannah mentioned. I’ll be real, I scored a 78% on my PAR in 2018, every written after PAR I used Sheppard Air, I scored above 96% on all. I like Hannah’s advice about moving onto the CAX, then the FOI and FIA…I watched the King Ground School videos and ATP modules for Instrument before I even started studying using Sheppard Air, I think it greatly helped because I had an understanding for what was being asked.

Follow the Sheppard Air method and trust the process, you will do fine. Relax, take a few days off between writtens if you feel overwhelmed to get your mindset ready for the next. You’re already a step ahead of the game with the PAR knocked out! Keep up the hard work, Jeremy.


I just want to point out, as a reminder, that there is plenty of time during the program to prepare for the written tests. I took all of my written tests during the program and did just fine.

The fact that you completed the PAR already puts you in a good position entering the program. Not only that, but also the Private phase of the program is 8 weeks and the Instrument phase is 6 weeks. That’s a lot of additional time to prepare for any remaining written tests that you don’t have time to prepare for prior to the program.


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