Passing the Knowledge Test

FAA Knowledge Test

Several years back, I went to renew my driver’s license. When I got to the front of the line, I was informed that because I had received a few speeding tickets that year I would have to retake the Driver’s Ed written exam. I got through it and lived to drive another day, but the thought of taking a standardized written test in my grown-up years was incredibly stressful.

The average age of someone starting flight training is 31. For private pilots, it’s 48. That means the average person in the initial flight training process is probably quite removed from taking standardized written assessments, but very accustomed to practical and real-world evaluations. So, most flight training candidates are at least apprehensive about the FAA Knowledge Test.

Up until about 5 years ago, one of the most accepted methods of passing the FAA’s standardized written exam was question and answer memorization. The question banks were all published, so applicants would prepare by taking test after test after test, simply remembering the correct answers for each question. This was an unnatural process for many of us who felt we needed to actually understand the material to be successful as pilots.

All of that changed in the spring of 2011 when the FAA announced it was changing many of the questions, adding to the total number of potential questions, and no longer publishing the banks in their entirety. Since that change, there have been regular updates to the lists of questions and the possible answers. It would seem the tried and true methodology of knowing the answers without truly understanding the material was no longer effective.

The black and white, two-dimensional, multiple-guess knowledge test for your pilot certificate does little to test your flying skills, but those skills are only half the battle; a good pilot is always learning, which means a good pilot is constantly being educated. Not only do these non-practical evaluations force you to spend some time on the why and how, but these questions are often cleverly written to force you to pay attention to detail. And while the answer – whether A, B or C – might be irrelevant; the detail-oriented and problem-solving skills acquired through pressing through the test are an invaluable asset to pilots.

So how does one conquer the FAA written? The old method of question and answer memorization seems no longer valid and was educationally useless. Yet learning everything there is to know about aviation would be a very time consuming and lengthy process.

American Flyers suggests a third option: learn the specific information evaluated on the FAA knowledge test. This education is transferrable to your flight training because you are actually learning it, you can stop fretting about the standardized test, and you can complete this part of your pilot training in a weekend. Once completed, you can put your new knowledge to work for you in the cockpit, where a good pilot is ALWAYS learning.

Every weekend, American Flyers offers a 3-day weekend preparation course to assist you in passing the FAA knowledge test. We also offer weekday courses and one-on-one courses for those who cannot tie up a whole weekend. If the written exam is still staring you down, give us a call today and let us put you at ease. Enroll in one of our written demystification courses, and enjoy the last few steps of your pilot training journey.

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Don’t Be a “Wannabe” Pilot… Finish Up!


Everyone who starts any sort of pilot training fully intends on finishing what they’ve started so they can go flying. Flying is the dream and flight training is the path to the dream, or the means to an end. “Means to an end“ is usually a phrase we use to describe a less than enjoyable experience that will pay off in the long run. And as much fun as the journey to certification can be, most of us see flight training as the means to an end, where the end is becoming a certified pilot. In this case, however, I’d like to think that the “means” is a rewarding experience in which you have the opportunity to learn.

Last year, there were 50,000 student pilot certificates issued; we might say there were 50,000 people that were serious enough in their decision to pursue flight training, that took the proper steps to get a student pilot certificate. However, of the 50,000 student pilots only 16,500 completed their goal, and earned their private pilot certificate.

The good news is that 3 out of 10 people completed their goal. So what happened to the other 7 people who did not? Well, for starters, some people won’t necessarily finish their training in the same year as they received their student pilot certificate. Some will have “life” get in the way. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these “wannabe” pilots are let down by the very people who are supposed to educate and motivate them. That is the training process and in many cases the training environment becomes averse to learning, and they become disenfranchised with the process and simply quit. Ironically, these same people have selected schools or instructors that they perceived to be “cheaper” or “faster.”

By the time they realize this reality they have already quit. Lucky for them, this is where American Flyers comes in. We not only understand their frustration; we have been catering to these “wannabe” pilots for over 75 years.

The majority of our customers have already experienced the frustrations of flight training – scheduling, lack of organization, aircraft maintenance issues – at a local school, but instead of quitting on their dreams of flight, they come to one of our locations so we can either get them back on track, or help them finish what they have started.

Every finish–up program is as unique as each pilot. These programs are custom tailored to the individual and structured around two goals: completing all FAA requirements, and gaining the proficiency needed to become certified. As far as duration and scheduling, just like the program composition, it is going to depend on the individual pilot. With some people, it’s a regular schedule that can fit around their current work and family commitments; with others, it is a full–time program; maybe a long weekend or two in which they can just buckle down and get it done. We have the tools and personnel that specialize in doing this so that the student is never left wondering if they will ever finish. We ensure that they do.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is this something you have heard pilots complain about? Do you know someone that is dealing with this? Does this sound like you?

If so, call American Flyers today and let us put together a program for you. Let us help you finish what you’ve started, so you can stop dreaming and finally achieve your aviation goals.

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