Might be joining ATP


I might be joining ATP and wanted to know a few things before I start. I know I have to study and try to get the written exams out of the way before starting. I’m almost done studying for the PAR exam on Gleim. Do you guys recommend Gleim by the way? Once I pass that, do I just move on to the next one and go through the same process? There was so much information to learn about the PAR exam. Do the rest of the exams also pertain this much information, or are some less than others? Do some of the material from each exam possibly overlap or does each exam have completely different things? Also, after I take these exams, do they expire?

How do you end up failing in a program like this?

Is it easy to fail a checkride? I know these are important, so I wanted to know since they pertain so much information. Do you have to know everything you’re asked on to the tee, or is the examiner just looking to see if you get the idea, even if it’s not the answer he is looking for? Sorry, I’m just a bit intimidated by these checkrides.

Thanks in advance.


I can answer one of your questions, exams are good for 24 months.


You have to retake the same exams every 2 years?

If you do not complete your rating within the 24 months then yes you will have to retake the written.

Rote Memorization for the writtens, you will learn the material later on. The sportys study buddy private app is good for the par if you feel like the gleam isn’t helping you. Shepard air for all the writtens after that, and again, rote Memorization! Also, the exams do expire after 24 months, but if your starting sooner then that, you will have no issue!


First off completing some or all of the writtens is not required, it’s just recommended. If you’re struggling with the PAR, you can understand how time consuming the material can be. That’s why it’s best to get them out of the way if possible. All are comparable to the PAR, some a little harder, some maybe easier. There’s little overlap except for those that share a test bank (ie, the IRA and FII). Gleim is fine but we recommend Sportys for the PAR and Sheppard Air for the rest. The exams expire after 24mos if you have not taken and passed your checkride.

The most common reason people fail is a failure to put in the work. Everyone is very attracted to ATP because they like the short timeline but that timeline comes with a price. The training is highly accelerated and requires a 100% commitment. People washout because they don’t understand that. The good news is most do not and ATP has been successfully training pilots for the airlines for over 35yrs with thousands hired.

If you’re prepared you won’t fail a checkride, if you’re not you will. If you believe “good enough” is good enough or that “you get the idea” but can’t really answer the question, or know the information “pretty well” for will definitely fail. Flying airplanes is serious and potentially dangerous. The Examiners are certifying that you’re capable of the task without harming yourself or others. If you think they’ll “cut you a break” they will not.

If you prepare and know the material there’s nothing intimidating about a checkride.


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There is no requirement at all to get the writtens completed prior to starting the program. If you have. time, that is great, but do. not delay your start date just to work on the writtens.

I do not recommend Gleim. I recommend Shephard Air for written prep. The strategy. is solid and gets the job done.

On a checkride the FAA is looking to see that you are able to safely operate an aircraft within the parameters they establish. You need to know everything that the FAA requires and know it much more in-depth than just “getting the idea”. But look, these are not Blue Angels check rides either. Know the material and fly within standards and you will do fine.



Each checkride is governed by the associated Airman Certification Standards (ACS). Here is a link to PDFs of these. https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs

Come checkride day, the examiner will use the ACS like a checklist to ensure that your skills and knowledge are satisfactory.

While perfection is not the goal, there are some things that will need to be memorized and applied like laws, memory procedures, emergency procedures, aircraft limitations, etc. and there are other things that just need to be performed within the specified tolerances, which you’ll find explained throughout the ACS.

Here is another article worth reading: What does an ATP student need to do to be successful? - #4 by Chris



Completing any writtens ahead of your start date is a recommendation, it is not a requirement. The more you can complete now if you don’t have a start date, the lighter the load will be when you do officially start. Since you did not give us a potential start date, Airman Knowledge Tests’ scores expire after 24 months, so be diligent with how early you take these tests. If you plan to start ATP in the next few months, that shouldn’t be an issue, but a start date next fall could raise concerns if you get stumped along the way in program. Once you complete your PAR (which you may study with whatever material you find, we recommend Sporty’s Study Buddy App), you will use Sheppard Air and the rote memorization method to complete the other writtens. You may learn the material, but it seriously is a “check in the box” for written exams and you want to get the best score as possible, a 100%. We have an short guide of how to prepare for a AKT:

The most common failure I saw occurring is lack of preparation/unprofessionalism. ATP lays out the foundation of your training through a standardized program which every student receives the same training across all 70+ locations. When I was a lead instructor at ATP, I emphasized the importance of coming prepared to every flight that I did with a student, those that did not come prepared either had their flight cancelled or they received a training improvement plan to get things figured out for success. I would say I think during my 13ish months in honesty I seen 3 out of dozens maybe not make it through the program. And it all reflects back to preparation and readiness.

Is failing a checkride easy? Well yes, it is just like failing a test during your primary education and that comes from a result of my above explanation to why I think individuals fail during their program. There are other extremities that we can’t predict, like getting sick and having a desire to really complete the checkride or factors that you get tunnel visioned. Thankfully ATP provides students with a “Checkride Checklist” to ensure you have everything prepared for the checkride. I would say half/half would either fail the oral or flight, because you have to make it through the oral to get to flying. Setting the tempo and impression early will make a difference, come into the checkride unprepared and not professional, a DPE will sense it.

Tory linked a good FAQ article on what you need to do to be successful at ATP.