Every CFI I know has some thoughts about how to prepare students for the Private Pilot written exam. There’s really no magic to it, but I think there are some ways to maximize your preparation and your grade.
First, realize that the goal of this is to pass the written exam. The real testing of your knowledge (in my opinion) comes at the practical test, specifically the oral exam. Passing a multiple-choice test of 60 questions is really insufficient to test your knowledge and safety as a pilot. I tend to treat the written as a rite of passage and an exercise in building a student’s knowledge base. It is also a huge confidence builder and gives a student a sense of moving forward in their training. But it really has a limited effectiveness as a testing tool.
Secondly, realize that all the questions are in the public domain and are published to the public by the FAA. (Another reason, but not the only reason, why I say it has limited effectiveness as a testing instrument.) Get over feeling like you’re cheating if you make use of this fact. You’re not.
Given my first and second points, here’s how I reccomend students prepare for the test:
1.) Get a copy of Gleim’s TestPrep Software. To me, it’s the best $54 bucks you’ll spend. Download it here>>>
2.) I’d suggest getting a paper copy of Gleim’s Private Pilot Written Exam Prep also. I kept it handy for those times I didn’t have my laptop.
3.) Using either/both the book and software, study the section outlines. Each section deals with a particular topic, for example “FAA Regulations”
4.) In the software, create a study session of the section you just reviewed. If they are short, combine a couple into a single session.
5.) The study session will give you acutal FAA test questions and the answers. As you answer, the software will indicate if you got the question correct or not. If you didn’t, then you’ll be given the right answer with an explanation.
6.) Repeat 4 and 5 until you know it cold and you have gone through all the sections.
7.) Once you have gone through all the sections, create a “Test Session” over 1/4 of the chapters in the book and make it a 60 question test. This gives you exposure to more questions and causes you to solidify more of the material. A test session won’t tell you if you got it right or not until the end.
8.) Use the test performance report to find your weak areas. Create study sessions of those and repeat 7 and 8 until you know it…cold.
9.) Find out what testing company will give your test (LaserGrade or CATS).
10.) Then create a testing session that exactly mimics your Private Pilot test. 60 Questions, timed. Start taking multiple tests. When I prepped for a test I took 1-2 tests a day for a couple of weeks prior to my exam. When you’ve done these steps, you will be more ready than you know to ACE your FAA Written Exam!