Math - on DPE Checkrides ?!

Hi everyone , future ATP student here taking written exams before starting.

I noticed on the CAX and FIA there are a significant amount of problems requiring math for weight and balance and time/distance/fuel. I think 110 alone on the CAX. The PAR math problems were so easy to me, these for the CAX are pretty lengthy math problems with tons of variables to factor in while calculating.

I find them to be pretty tricky since you don’t have any formulas to refer to during the exams.

Are the check rides by the DPEs like this as well where they give you random math problems to solve for W/B, and time and fuel and distance calculations, and I can’t use any help like looking at formulas or even using foreflight to make the calculations? I’ve heard from other pilots that in the real world foreflight does everything for you but I don’t know from first hand experience if that will fly during a check ride.

Not going to lie, I find all these math questions pretty tricky on for the CAX and kind of getting worried about check rides during ATP that I’ll get caught up on math issues. What is frustrating is the math it’s self is simple, but just the steps or the formulas for each question change based on one variable so then I end up getting the question wrong when I’m doing it with pen and paper.

Anyways any advice or input would help for someone like me that sucks at math and is feeling overwhelmed by all these math questions on the CAX!

Do I just need to worry about math problems like this on writtens and not in actual real life since I’ll have formulas to refer to and apps like foreflight??

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Welcome to the forum, let’s get right to your questions.

On a checkride, the DPE is more than likely going to give you a scenario where you are to carry passengers from A to C, maybe an intermediate point at B. You will have to calculate weight and balance, especially if you are changing weight throughout the legs. Where it may become on the spot calculations is if the DPE throws a “curveball” with carry-on bags. Overall, there isn’t much math calculations other than normal day-to-day preflight planning.

If you’ve checked the FAQs on the forum and scrolled through, you would see the biggest recommendation for written test prep is rote memorization. You will have time and be expected to learn and complete appropriate weight & balance and performance calculations. If you’re struggling to figure out how to do them, a quick Google or YouTube search may help you sooner rather than later. If you’re using Sheppard Air, you have an opportunity to look at an explanation which will include a formula - if you don’t have Sheppard Air, I extremely recommend purchasing their test prep.

Just for a quick reference here is the blueprint layout for the CAX written exam:


In the real-world, we have dispatchers and ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot to do calculations for us, but we MUST also be able to do them ourselves if something breaks and/or need to double check things for ourselves.


Thank you so much Brady for your detailed response and your advice. I also forgot to mention some take off distance problems too with different weight variables but I think based on what I’ve seen on YouTube those questions should be easier in real life by pen and paper by using my POH and just following the instructions on there to calculate take off distance and ground roll.

After this CAX I plan on completing the FIA and FOA here as well before my start date and hope this helps make the experience less stressful and free up sometime throughout the program to study on other things throughout the program.


The charts and graphs can be difficult to interpret even in a POH/AFM, sometimes it’s best to round up and be safe. If you’re using an iPad, you can screenshot the chart and use a markup tool if you really want to be precise. Again, rote memorization is key to passing the exams. Every chart has an example that is completed to demonstrate how the chart is done. You will have time to learn them.


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Know what’s easier? MEMORIZE THE ANSWERS as we recommend for the writtens.

You’ll learn what you need to know for the oral at the appropriate time. Trust the process my friend.



Thanks Adam, you’re right haha, I think I’m psyching myself out I just need to relax and need to trust the process ATP has like you said and just knock out these writtens for the check in the box.

Thanks you guys!


For the writtens, if you can’t understand the math just resort to rote memorization. Sheppard air typically has a supplement with ways to remember all the math questions because most people struggle with those.

When it comes to the checkride, you can practice different scenarios ahead of time with your instructor. Start with a basic weight and balance scenario, then change up the passengers at destination B, or the weight they drop off vs bring back on, etc. Preparing for different situations for preflight planning weight and balance will help get you toward the understanding and application stage so that you will be more comfortable and confident on check ride day.