By: Steven Daun, National Chief Pilot
You’ve dreamed about flying since you were a child. You’re finally in a position in your life where this dream is about to become a reality.
All your friends and family know that you are training to become a pilot. There is only one thing standing between you and your coveted certificate; the FAA knowledge test, otherwise known as “The Written.”
There is a joke that I heard a few years ago that is relevant to this moment. “Two shoe salesmen are sent to a recently discovered tropical island. One salesman reports back to his company that there is no use. The island is full of natives, but none of them wear shoes. The second salesman writes back to his company that they hit the gold mine. The island is full of natives that don’t wear shoes.”
The good news in your case is that the only thing standing between you and your certificate is the written. It’s all about perspective. Since you learned the information instead of memorizing the answers, passing the test won’t be a problem. To give you a little extra advantage, here are some tips and recommendations on how to prepare and pass your knowledge test.
Don’t memorize the answers: Your goal going into a written prep class should be to learn the information rather than memorizing the answers. If you learn the information properly then you won’t have to worry about what questions are asked, you will know the answers. We see it hundreds of times each year. It takes people twice as long to prepare for the written by memorizing the answers. And in the long run, they end up paying an instructor to teach them the same information anyway. Do it right the first time.
Don’t worry about your grade: Many of our students are successful business people and professionals. Their goal is to score a 100% on the written. The truth of the matter is that any grade over a 70% will yield you the same result; you pass. If you wait until you feel like you can score a 100% you will only delay your checkride and prolong your anxiety.
Get to know the exhibit book: Every knowledge test has an associated exhibit book that is given to you before you begin. Many of these graphics are embedded in the test as well. While you are preparing for the knowledge test take some time to look through the exhibit book and make sure that you are clear on what many of the images are telling you. While the FAA no longer publishes the possible questions, you can be sure that the questions are going to reference the images in the exhibit book.
Be prepared: There are certain things that you will need to show the test proctor before they will allow you to take your knowledge test. You should organize these together the day before and make sure that you bring them with you the day of your test. You may want to take a few minutes a day or two before and call your testing center and review everything that you will need to bring with you.
Learn the code: The FAA publishes a document called “Learning Statement Reference Guide for Airman Knowledge Testing.” While you don’t have to memorize them, you should read through them. These codes will give you an idea of the variations in subject matter that you could see on your knowledge test.