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 The old method of question and answer memorization seems no longer valid and was educationally useless.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.