I started flight school knowing that I would need a minimum of a year before I got my license and that I would come out knowing more about aviation than I ever thought possible. Yesterday, I took the FAA Private Pilot knowledge exam and I passed with a 95%! Out of 60 questions, I incorrectly answered 3 of them. The thing about the exam is that out of 3 multiple choice answers, 2 of them are likely correct, but 1 of them is ‘more’ correct. Ugh. You get used it this stuff through the training. It keeps you on point.
After so much studying for the past 9 months, it all sort of sunk in. The most challenging part at first was the navigation questions about position related to VOR stations and some FAR type questions. It seemed to me that 50% of the questions I had were FAR/AIM questions, so that was surprising. It helped me quite a bit to read and memorize most of Part 43, 61 & 91. It was worth the effort.
I completed my Jeppesen ground school training months ago, but continued studying by watching Youtube videos and taking many other online classes. Highly recommended is the Boldmethod.com site for daily quizzes and their courses. Everything I needed to know about airspace and aviation weather products and how to read weather reports were there. Thank you Boldmethod!
For navigation questions and test help, this guy on Youtube was immensely helpful, if you can get through the bad graphics and production, quirkiness and bad jokes. The knowledge he offers is immensely valuable. His trick for interpreting a VOR is awesome!
My top 5 tips for taking the Private Pilot Exam
- Use all of your resources available to prep for the test. It is our expectation as pilots to use every resource we have. Utilize the free test prep web sites, I took at least 12 practice exams prior to the real exam to get myself in the groove. Many of those questions came up on the knowledge test, so I was well prepared. Plus, I’ve gone over them now so many times, I’ll never forget them. I took practice tests from these sites below. They each focus on different aspects of the test, so it was a good balance for me.
- King Schools
- ASA Prepware. I paid for the ASA Prepware, but I think the free Exams4Pilots was the better choice overall. It’s free and tells you why you got the any questions incorrect, after scoring. I kept a detailed log of my struggles along the way, so I can further study those sections.
- Memorize airspace weather minimums. I used the memory aid below, from Rod Machado. This was super helpful and I aced those questions. Use whatever memory aids you can find. I personally find the visual aids like this super easy to commit to memory. As soon as I sat down for the test I redrew this in front of myself from memory for reference.
- Study and memorize the FAR/AIM. I read it a few pages at a time. I didn’t try to memorize the specific reference numbers to rules, the basics. Every question that I had was based on dates and times, such as incident reporting time after an accident or when an inspection is due.
- Practice using the E6B, you’ll need it. If you’re a nerd like me, you’ll have fun with the more complex problems. You’ll need a good understanding of it’s use for the navigation questions. Invest in a decent metal version, it’s $15 more than the cheap cardboard and really helped me. I purchased the ASA color-coded which makes it much easier to read. Also, I purchased a large and small plotter, as the smaller one comes in handy for smaller charts on the test.
- Read the questions very carefully and double check your answers! I went through my entire exam 3X after I was done. I found 3 mistakes and fixed them. It’s easy to get slipped up. One gotcha for me was a question about which VOR indication was correct for a specific course from VOR A to VOR B? Since it asked for the course, it’s looking for a VOR indicating a TO flag. If it was asking for a radial from the VOR, you’d need to find a VOR indicating a FROM flag. I slipped up on this at first, but thankfully double checked my work.