I’m 30 and have about 2 years left on my undergraduate degree before I enter pilot school. I have zero experience. I plan to enter pilot school within 3 months after my graduation. What can I do over the next 2 years to prepare me for pilot school?
I recommend you take a look at the FAQ section as that will take you through the process and answer many question you may have. As for what you can do before hand there’s really not much. You’re either flight training or you’re not. Obviously visiting forums like this is helpful and there’s tons of info online, but the fact is until you’re actually sitting in an airplane much of it will not make sense as you have no reference. Complete your degree and then dive in with both feet.
A lot of aspiring pilots like yourself want to start reading as much as they can before they start flight training. I’ll tell you that it will be difficult to comprehend most of what you read out of an aviation textbook. If you want the challenge, you can read as much as you want. The FAA has PDFs of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the Airplane Fliying Handbook, among others.
Most people actually find that taking as many written tests as they can prior to beginning flight training to be a better use of their time.
https://atpflightschool.com/faqs/acpp-prep-written-knowledge-tests.html. This link explains how to do that. Most people choose to spend more time studying for these tests, because they know that if they complete them early, they will have more time DURING the program to focus on more important things.
Also, you say that you have 2 years left of undergrad, plus 3 months until you’ll be ready to begin. If you plan to take the written tests, don’t take the tests too early. The test results are only valid for 24 calendar months. So, how much time should you give yourself to prepare? It varies person to person.
If all you did was study all day, every day, you could take the three core tests (PAR, IRA and CAX) over the span of one month. If you are the type of person that needs more time to study, add however much time you need. 2-3 months is conservative.
So, to recap, read FAA publications at your leisure, but don’t get irritated if the concepts are too difficult to grasp. Without context and the guidance from an instructor, it is very difficult to learn. If you choose to study for the written tests, follow the instructions provided and take the tests as close as you can to your start date. Don’t worry about not actually learning the concepts while preparing to take the written tests. The tests themselves primarily require only memorization. I know it may be hard to believe, but it’s true. The real learning will begin after you’ve started training with an instructor.
Thanks a lot, Tory. I really appreciate the detailed response. I just copied your entire post into my notes for future reference. I do have a question. Forgive me for my ignorance as I’m just now getting started with learning the steps to becoming a commercial pilot.
PAR, IRA, and CAX. Are these test I have to take before entering pilot school?
You’re welcome, DeAndre.
Good question. Unless ATP changes their admission requirements, the tests are NOT required to be completed prior to starting the program. It is up to you to decide. There is plenty of time to take the tests during the program and I believe that most pilots wait to take them during the program because most aren’t aware that taking them prior is an option.
If you go back and reread the instructions provided by following the link I sent you, you will notice that you can actually take ALL of the writtens if you want. I just initially mentioned the 3 main written tests as an example. ATP also offers an incentive to those that complete the 3 main tests, which is explained on the same page if you follow the link from my previous post.
Also, I intended to copy the link to the PDFs of the FAA publications that I referenced. You can purchase the books if you want, but ATP will provide them to you once you put your deposit down. So, you might as well wait. For now, I would just use the link. Here it is:
If you take a look there’s a brand new post by a new student who’s month in. He didn’t take his writtens prior, he’s fine but he clearly says he wished he did. I did as well and was very happy I did. Thing to keep in mind is the exams expire after 24mos so I don’t recommend you taking them until you’re much closer to your start date.
Sounds good except there are actually 6 required exams.
I want to cast my vote in for taking the written early, but want to add caution that while in college, nothing is more important than your college studies and maintaining good grades there. Don’t let the current task suffer while you look towards a future one.