PPL Written Test

13 Replies

PPL Written Test

Posted by Drake Ellis on Aug 13, 2018 8:31 pm

I am a 16 year old who is currently going through every single bit of aviation information I can obtain to prepare for the written test. Even though I have been studying like crazy I still feel like I'm just going to disappoint my instructor and parents. I have been using the ASA 2018 written test prep, the practice tests that come with that and the sportys written tests. I am getting extremely inconsistent results with the practice tests and I'm just worried that the written will be a big waste of money. If anyone has any suggestions I would be more than happy to try them.
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Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Brennan Callan on Aug 13, 2018 9:47 pm

Drake,
first I am congratulating you for being ahead of where most people ever were when we were your age!  Take your time to build your confidence on the materials.  I recently purchased the ASA PREPWARE 2018 for the Basic Ground Instructor/Advanced Ground Instructor and I found myself a bit disappointed because they ONLY had the questions, but not all of the other materials to help you understand the WHY IS THIS THE RIGHT ANSWER FOR THE RIGHT QUESTION material I hoped/anticipated to get.  Therefore, while I really wanted to plow through the materials, I knew I needed to review all of the traditional materials as I will be teaching from those anyway.

Let's talk about the various vendors who sell aviation materials.  1. OFTEN OVERPRICED; 2. You can get from the FAA, many of the identical materials FOR FREE: https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/
3. The aviation vendors (intentionally not naming names), are in business to make money.  You need to know that many of them put their own book cover/binding over top of the FAA (written) books (legally), and you can pay these vendors to get what the FAA already provides you FOR FREE.

It is one thing if you could find the most efficient/effective way to earn any of your ratings, but too often, we are getting milked by flight schools, by aviation vendors, and some others.  For example Drake, did you know you can earn the LIGHT SPORT PILOT CERTIFICATE for 1/3 (approximate cost of a Private Pilot Certificate?).  No, the flight schools don't want you to know about it as they would rather get you and your family to pay them over $10,000 to fly instead of about $3,000ish. 

You can earn the other ratings over time and you do not need to overwhelm yourself moving too quickly.  The Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) has a site to confirm what I am discussing with you: https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-communities-and-interests/light-sport-aircraft/getting-started-in-lsa/become-a-sport-pilot-and-fly-light-sport-aircraft

Here is the problem, YOU NEED TO FIND someone who has a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) that can be used for instructional purposes.  You still need to have the same "Aeronautical Knowledge" as you are still sharing the identical "National Air Space" with all other pilots and Remote Pilots, but you have a minimum number of instructional (20) hours and (5) solo hours.  All of the LIGHT SPORT AVIATION is Visual Flight Rules (VFR), but as a new pilot (no matter your age), this is what is best for you to start your training.

All of the hours you earned in any aircraft will still count toward the Sport Pilot Certificate and don't let anyone talk you into the more expensive Private Pilot especially if your family cannot afford the more right now.  The point is that you can earn this first rating and then start flying ON YOUR OWN to build that experience, confidence, and skills.  It means you are renting a lighter weight aircraft for a lower price (hopefully), and then you will be able to SAVE MONEY and when you decide to work on a RECREATIONAL or PRIVATE PILOT rating, you are going to sail right through these additional hours of instruction.

Too many flight schools do not want to purchase brand new planes and then the FAA unfortunately did not include planes above 1,320 lbs. to be within the LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT category.  They used a similar European Rule and we really need to get the FAA to update their rules so it would allow more flight schools to use a number of their older 2-seater airplanes as LSA planes.

Overall, the NATIONAL PILOT SHORTAGE is based on several factors up and down all levels of aviation and you can summarize it into one word, "GREED."

Drake, "TAKE YOUR TIME," and earn the Light Sport Pilot Certificate and allow your parents to pace out how much it is costing them to have you take these lessons.

Some flight schools and instructors do not know much about the Sport Pilot Certificate even though the rules were finished around 2004.  Even when I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) working on a Masters of Aeronautical Sciences Degree with two specializations: 1. Space Studies; 2. Aviation/Aerospace Safety Systems; not one person told me that I could earn a pilot rating for 1/3rd the cost of a traditional Private Pilot Certificate.  While my degree was earned online, in attending ERAU from 2001-2007, you would think that SOMEONE would have mentioned it with an Aeronautical University!!!  How frustrating.  Just like too many people, we put our dreams and goals onto the back-burner because they are too expensive.

Then I had several "fly-by-night" flight schools that went out of business on me.  One of them owes me for 47-hours of flight time and I shall never get that back.  Then I attended a related flight school at Greenwood, Indiana and those guys were not even licensed with the Indiana Secretary of State.  Then I started taking lessons at a field in south central Ohio, but this flight school DOES NOT USE HEADSETS and it means the instructor and student must shout at one another.  Just how much did I learn of quality at that "school?"

I now have 71-hours, but no rating.  I have gotten screwed over in KY, IND, and OH.  This is why Drake, I want you to have better experiences.  Aviation is collapsing on itself due to extensive and abusive fraud against the students.  There is no reason for any headsets to be over $50.  No one needs to be worried about listening to their iPods while flying.  HELLO, we have enough idiots on the  roads and we don't need similar problems in our skies.

Drake, you already sound like a sharp, sane, and intelligent young man.  Take time to feel comfortable with your knowledge and skills.

I used the Gleim Light Sport Aviation materials.  They were in their early versions and they had so many typographical MISTAKES that I kept a running list and at the end of each chapter/sessions, I would send Gleim the massive list of mistakes.  Their complacent answer was, "We find that putting in and leaving those mistakes help the students better learn the materials..."  WHAT? 

Drake, I have seven completed college degrees; I was on the Kentucky Governors Commission for Aviation Education; I had four years of Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training School (ROTC), and then three years with the Kentucky Air National Guard.  Now I own a company called "Astronautic Spaceflight Training and Research Organization (ASTRO), LLC.  If anyone tells you the answers I got from Gleim about why they REFUSE to update/correct their materials; RUN AWAY FROM THEM QUICKLY.  This is why I purchased the ASA's PREPWARE 2018, but it only contains the potential TEST QUESTIONS/ANSWERS, but none of the materials.

Finding quality flight schools, flight instructors, places to rent airplanes, and Fixed Base Operators is all similar to the Country Music song from the late 1970s called "Looking For Love In All Of The Wrong Places."  You can keep looking for "true love" or a "quality school," but the best thing is to start ASKING EVERYONE about the airports near your house/town.  Start looking for a school that has Light Sport Aircraft.

Best wishes,
Brennan
Aeronautical Scientist / Underwater Archaeologist

 

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 14, 2018 10:31 am

I'm not an "aeronautical scientist" (whatever that is), but I am a flight instructor of 45 years and over 5000 hours of instructing experience including running a collegiate aviation program for five years as well as holding a master's degree in the field.  

The issue here is not whether you chuld be pursuing Sport versus Private, but rather how you are studying.  What I'm not seeing in your post is anything about a knowledge training program, such as a formal ground school or computer-based training program.   Trying to learn the material by taking practice tests isn't an effective plan.  Also, while the FAA books such as the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowlege are excellent reference materials, they are not written as training courses, just a book to be used as part of an organized training program.  There are several options for such training, including:
  • Formal ground school at a local flight school or community collage
  • Video lecture training program such as the King Schools programs
  • Interactive on-line programs such as Jeppesen Flite School
  • Multimedia computer-based programs such as Sporty's
You should consider one of those methods, making the choice based on which method best suits your own personal learning style.  Only after you have completed such a course should you be taking practice tests.

 I'm also not seeing the involvement of an instructor in your efforts.  Simply taking those practice tests without having an instructor to help you understand why the answers are right or wrong isn't going to teach you much of anything.  When I'm training someone for the written test, part of the process (but only part, and only in the later stages)) is having them take practice tests and then going over the results with me.  This allows us to identify and correct areas of weak understanding or misunderstanding.

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Drake Ellis on Aug 14, 2018 1:49 pm

Ronald Levy:
I'm not an "aeronautical scientist" (whatever that is), but I am a flight instructor of 45 years and over 5000 hours of instructing experience including running a collegiate aviation program for five years as well as holding a master's degree in the field.  

The issue here is not whether you chuld be pursuing Sport versus Private, but rather how you are studying.  What I'm not seeing in your post is anything about a knowledge training program, such as a formal ground school or computer-based training program.   Trying to learn the material by taking practice tests isn't an effective plan.  Also, while the FAA books such as the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowlege are excellent reference materials, they are not written as training courses, just a book to be used as part of an organized training program.  There are several options for such training, including:

  • Formal ground school at a local flight school or community collage
  • Video lecture training program such as the King Schools programs
  • Interactive on-line programs such as Jeppesen Flite School
  • Multimedia computer-based programs such as Sporty's
You should consider one of those methods, making the choice based on which method best suits your own personal learning style.  Only after you have completed such a course should you be taking practice tests.

 I'm also not seeing the involvement of an instructor in your efforts.  Simply taking those practice tests without having an instructor to help you understand why the answers are right or wrong isn't going to teach you much of anything.  When I'm training someone for the written test, part of the process (but only part, and only in the later stages)) is having them take practice tests and then going over the results with me.  This allows us to identify and correct areas of weak understanding or misunderstanding.

 

I understand where you're coming from and I really do wish my instructor would teach me stuff on the ground. I have known him for years and I have gotten to realize that he is an amazing flight instructor but is not an amazing ground instructor. He has been giving me copies of the king air flight training stuff but that is about 30 years old and is using the old testing system (ACC or whatever it is called). Also the program on sportys is the video based version (with practice tests that follow along). You also have the ability to study select material and such. I am just so frustrated at the extreme prices on these ground school programs. I do understand the the dude above us is saying because the prices on everything "flight" related is about 100x higher. I will try and find some video lectures and stuff like that though and maybe it will help out.

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 14, 2018 2:14 pm

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Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 14, 2018 2:16 pm

I realize that good training packages cost several hundred dollars, but it's money well spent.  If that's a big problem for you, you need to think about how you're going to pay for all your training, because that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what the flight training costs.

As for your instructor, if coaching you on the ground side isn't his forte, perhaps he can recommend someone to help you with that part.

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Drake Ellis on Aug 14, 2018 6:17 pm

Ronald Levy:
I realize that good training packages cost several hundred dollars, but it's money well spent.  If that's a big problem for you, you need to think about how you're going to pay for all your training, because that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what the flight training costs.

As for your instructor, if coaching you on the ground side isn't his forte, perhaps he can recommend someone to help you with that part.

Welllllll I do have over 90 hours logged because I've been flying since I was 10. I just can't seem to justify 300 dollars for something that does not even know what will be on the test. Especially with the fact that the FAA does not release their questions anymore. 

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 14, 2018 6:31 pm

Drake Ellis:

I just can't seem to justify 300 dollars for something that does not even know what will be on the test. Especially with the fact that the FAA does not release their questions anymore. 
You seem to think that it's all about learning the answers to the written test questions, not about learning the material.  Unfortunately, that won't get you very far towards either the written or practical tests.  And while 30-year-old materials may teach you some fundamentals, the rules, procedures, airspace, weather products, and techniques have changed significantly since then.  I suggest you reconsider spending that $300 on a current, complete training package, as it will save you a whole lot of money in the long run.

Good luck.

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Nicole Applegate on Aug 15, 2018 5:40 pm

Hi Drake. The practice tests give you a good idea of how the questions are phrased on the actual exam. If you understand the material and are familiar with the wording FAA uses then you should do just fine. Also, I see that you are an AOPA member, so if you get stuck on a concept or just need some advice, you could always call the Pilot Information Center. 
Good luck. Try not to stress. Stress is bad for flying!

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Thomas Woodside on Aug 21, 2018 10:51 am

Drake Ellis:

Ronald Levy:
I realize that good training packages cost several hundred dollars, but it's money well spent.  If that's a big problem for you, you need to think about how you're going to pay for all your training, because that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what the flight training costs.

As for your instructor, if coaching you on the ground side isn't his forte, perhaps he can recommend someone to help you with that part.

Welllllll I do have over 90 hours logged because I've been flying since I was 10. I just can't seem to justify 300 dollars for something that does not even know what will be on the test. Especially with the fact that the FAA does not release their questions anymore. 

 

2 things:  1) At 16 years old, you will qualify for darn near every aviation scholarship that is out there.  Apply for some and get them to pay for your ground school (and flying).  Us old guys can't get those scholarships, usually.  Take advantage of this while you can and get your instrument rating and commercial paid for by the time you are 18, and 2) You'd be shocked at how current the online ground schools keep up with the questions the FAA asks.  Most of the questions haven't changed much since the FAA took the question bank out of circulation and they have an army of people constantly reporting back to them with anything new that comes up on FAA exams.  I have the feeling that Sporty's, King, Jeppesen, etc. just have their employees go in and take exams looking for new questions.  But, I can't verify that. You'll find that most of the practice stuff is word for word for what's on the actual exam.

FWIW, I did King's School and the Jeppesen Test Prep book.  Did really well on the written.  The few that I missed, I was able to go to my Jeppesen book and find the EXACT questions that I missed to see where I went wrong.  It was that accurate.  [Side note: READ THE QUESTION!  I immediately read "tailwind" when the question said "headwind" on a taxiing question.  That's a REALLY stupid one to miss.]

Also, I know this is putting the cart before the horse, but the King checkride video (it costs a bit extra) was some of the best money I could have spent on my training.  John King goes through a full oral exam and checkride with an actual DPE and she puts him through the ringer.  Your checkride won't be nearly as bad as what he goes through (at least, it shouldn't be).  But, it gives you an idea for what to expect and how to handle yourself during your checkride.  They take some breaks where the DPE states what she is looking for during this phase of the evolution and that's really good knowledge.

The King videos are cheesy as hell, but for some reason the corniness of it made me remember the material better.  I have no idea why that is.  No experience with Sporty's ground school, so I can't help you there.  But, their Study Buddy app is really handy when you just have a few minutes to take a look at some questions.

Best of luck to you!

Re: PPL Written Test

Posted by Michael Walpole on Aug 21, 2018 2:55 pm

How about this.  You are under age 18, so find a way to go on a EAA Young Eagle flight.  On the back of Young Eagle logbook there is a code you can use to get the Sporty's PPL video for free.  I used Sporty's to pass the Instrument written so they are good.  Free is good BTW.
Mike W