Testing Your Knowledge Before You Fly. When you boil down to the basics of the things you must do before you can get a private pilot’s license, it is basically three things. You must log 40-50 hours of flight time with your instructor with at least one solo flight in there. You must pass a flight test where an FAA examiner goes up in the airplane with you to check out your knowledge and skill in handling the aircraft. And you must be able to pass the FAA written pilot’s license exam.
Maybe because it’s a written test, that exam is often the thing that is most intimidating to people. For many of us, fear of written exams starts in school. So the more you know how to pass that exam, the better prepared you will be when you go to the testing center to take the test.
When you were in school, it was considered cheating to know what was on the exam before you took it. But your instructors and the FAA want you to pass this exam. So you can pretty much know the questions you are going to have to answer before you get there. When you attend flight school, almost all of the classroom time will be devoted to preparing you for this test. So they can help you get a feel for what is going to be asked. But you can also download from the internet preparation kits, test manuals and example tests that will have the contents of the test laid out for you.
So before you start day one at ground school for getting your pilot’s license, get a feel for what is needed to pass that test and make sure you capture that knowledge from class, the textbook or wherever you find it in your training. You can virtually build a data base with the answers they FAA test will want word for word and study that concentrated guide extensively before going for the test.
There is just one thing that will defeat the jitters of taking the pilot’s certification test and that is when your knowledge is so complete that there is literally nothing that they can ask you that you don’t know well. So when you attend class at ground school, approach it differently than you might have at high school. Be an aggressive listener and note everything of substance that you will need. Go in there like a hungry bear and gobble up the knowledge the instructor has to share with you. If you miss even one little thing or don’t understand something, ask questions. Sit on the front row so you don’t miss a thing. In this way, you will walk out of each day in class with a complete encyclopedia of what was taught.
Be just as aggressive about the text book and any supplemental material you can pull together. The pilot’s exam is not a mysterious entity. Lots of people have taken it so you will be able to find a huge amount of information out there on what to expect. Eat that information up and go over it every day over and over again until it is deeply buried in your brain. Then when each question comes up, the answers will flow out just as naturally as telling someone your name when they ask.
This approach to taking the pilot’s certification test has a double value. By being very active and going after the knowledge you need, you are also putting all your energies into becoming a great pilot too. And then when you finally get your pilot’s license and start pushing ahead in your career in aviation, your training will pay off over and over every time you take an airplane into the air.