How do I Prepare for the Pilot Exam?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Preparing for the pilot exam can be done in a couple of different ways, independently or formally. Most student pilots, especially those who are receiving a private pilot's license or sport pilot's license, will do so independently, with materials provided or recommended by a flight instructor. Online or software-based preparation is also offered by some groups, but is still mainly an independent study model. "Ground school" classes are also available that specifically help prepare students for the written test. Taking practice tests may also ease your anxiety.

Generally, most students find it more convenient to simply study the materials recommended or provided by a flight instructor. The instructor will know the pilot exam well, and know what has worked for students in the past. In addition to the practical aviation training provided, it is partly his or her job to get you prepared for the pilot exam as well.

If the flight instructor does not provide test preparation materials, you still have many options available. Traditional test preparation books can be found at many major bookstores and online outlets. In addition, test preparation by computer offers another avenue if you wish to study independently. If you choose online preparation, you may be granted access to a site for a certain number of hours or days, or you may have complete access as long as is needed to pass the test.


Some students find they are able to learn better in a formal classroom setting. If you feel that this is the case for you, classes are often available especially in larger cities. Though this option may be a little more expensive, and could be more time consuming, but it may be worth it if you need the encouragement and expertise of a professional instructor. There is no classroom requirement for taking or passing the pilot exam, however.

Once you feel you are ready for the pilot test, it may be best to take some practice tests. These are often available at the back of test preparation guides, and can also be accessed by computer software or online. Though the self-graded practice test cannot guarantee success when it comes time to take the real thing, it is usually an accurate measure of whether you are ready for pilot exam. Unlike many standardized tests, the FAA literally makes all of the questions on its tests available to students, so be sure to avail yourself of this advantage.

As with any test, remember to get plenty of sleep the night before the pilot exam, and eat something prior to the test. This allows the brain to focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about secondary matters. This is especially important if you find yourself often becoming anxious before taking a test. After the written exam is passed, a flight exam, or "check ride" is also required for most pilot licenses.



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