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Study Tips for the FAA Written Test




Taking your written exam for your private pilot license may seem a bit daunting but it doesn’t have to be. In this article we’ll share some key points to help with your FAA written test prep.

What is the FAA Written Test?

With every pilot certificate or rating, there is an associated FAA written test that must be taken. Keep in mind that you must meet the minimum age requirements for your specific test.

You will usually have 2-3 hours to take your exam. These exams typically have between 40-100 questions and, in most cases, you must have a score of 70% or higher to pass.

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How To Study for the FAA Written Test

This may sound silly, but you need to actually study. So many people think they can meet with their instructor, listen to them talk, and then pass the written test.

It just doesn’t work like that. You’ll need to spend time on your own prepping. We recommend taking practice tests repeatedly. If you can take three practice tests consecutively and score over 85%, you’re probably ready.

5 Study Tips for the FAA Written Exam

1. Create a Consistent Study Schedule

Create a consistent study schedule. Your schedule should reflect a balance between rigorous preparation and rest, ensuring that you retain the material effectively without burnout.

Identify Your Peak Study Times: Determine the hours when you’re most alert and productive. Slot your study sessions during these times to maximize focus.

  • Morning person? Schedule complex topics for the morning.
  • Night owl? Reserve evenings for intensive study.

Create Structure: Assign specific topics to each study session. This structured approach helps to compartmentalize your learning and manage your progress. This will help you get through all of the material you need to cover before you take the FAA written exam. For example:

  • Mondays: Airspace classifications and requirements
  • Wednesdays: Weather patterns and their impact on flight
  • Fridays: Aircraft performance and weight-and-balance calculations

Set Milestones: Establish weekly goals to measure your progress. This keeps you motivated and helps track your preparedness for test day.

Remain Flexible: Life happens—be prepared to adjust your schedule as needed, but aim to make up any missed sessions.

Lastly, include short, regular review periods in your sessions to reinforce previously covered material. Consistent revision help solidify understanding and improves long-term retention.

2. Focus on FAA-Approved Study Materials

When preparing for your FAA Written Test, utilizing FAA-approved study materials is crucial for success. You’re expected to have a comprehensive understanding of various aviation topics, and the right resources will guide your learning process effectively.

While there are many online learning programs (which can be incredibly helpful) the FAA gives you study material so focus on that first and foremost.

  • FAA Knowledge Test Guide: It’s essential to go through the FAA Knowledge Test Guide, which comprehensively outlines the structure and type of questions to expect.
  • Online Resources: Utilize updates and resources from trusted aviation education platforms such as Sporty’s to stay current and understand the emphasis areas in the actual test.
  • FAA Practice Test: Regularly take practice exams from reliable sources to assess your knowledge. This not only makes you familiar with the question format but also highlights areas where you may need additional study.

3. Master Test Taking Strategies

When preparing for your FAA Written Test, it’s important to have a solid grasp of basic test-taking strategies to navigate the exam confidently. Your approach to the test can greatly influence your performance.

Understand the Format: Know that the FAA Knowledge Test consists primarily of multiple-choice questions. Familiarize yourself with the layout, including the number of questions.

Practice with FAA Practice Exams: Simulate the testing environment with practice exams. This will not only test your knowledge but also help you manage time effectively. A good strategy is to first answer the questions you are sure of, then return to the more challenging ones.

Read Questions Carefully: Misinterpreting a question can lead you to the wrong answer. Pay attention to details in the wording and ensure you understand what is being asked before choosing an answer.

Eliminate Obviously Wrong Answers: Often, you can eliminate one or two options right away. This can increase your chances of selecting the correct answer from the remaining choices.

Stay Calm and Focused: Your mental state can impact your performance. Stay calm, and if you find yourself getting anxious, pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths to refocus.

4. Take Notes as You Study

When studying for the FAA Written Test, taking effective study notes is key to retention and understanding. Start by organizing your notes from the start. Use a clear structure to categorize information by subjects such as airspace, weather, and regulations.

Follow these steps for effective note-taking:

  1. Highlight Main Points: Identify the main concepts and definitions.
  2. Use Visuals: Incorporate diagrams or charts where applicable. Visual aids can help clarify complex information like aeronautical charts.
  3. Summarize in Your Own Words: Rewriting information in a way that makes sense to you can aid in deepening your understanding.
  4. Bullet Points: Present information in bullet points to isolate important facts and steps.
  5. Create Mnemonics: Mnemonics are great tools for memorizing data, especially when recalling ordered steps or lists.
  6. Include Practice Questions: After each topic, draft potential exam questions to quiz yourself. This method links your notes to practical application.
  7. Review and Revise: Regularly go over your notes, updating and refining as needed to ensure they remain clear and concise.

5. Review Weak Areas Through Practice Tests

Taking practice tests is an essential part of your study plan when preparing for the FAA Written Test. Identifying weak areas through these exams allows you to concentrate your efforts and strengthen your knowledge where it’s needed most.

  • Start by taking a few full-length practice tests to simulate the exam experience.
  • Review your scores carefully, noting the sections where you scored the lowest.

For example, if your scores in airspace regulations are consistently lower than in other areas, dedicate more focused time to that subject. Consider working with an instructor to help you better prepare for the exam.

The following is a list of FAA written test prep programs available:

*Sheppard Air does not offer test prep for the private exam.

What ratings require a written test?

There are many FAA knowledge tests across certificates and ratings. For flight training, these are the most common FAA written tests you may need to take:

  • Sport Pilot Airplane (only taken if you’re only pursuing a sport pilot certificate)
  • Private Pilot Airplane
  • Instrument Rating Airplane
  • Commercial Pilot Airplane
  • Flight Instructor Airplane
  • Flight Instructor Instrument Airplane

There are additional exams available for those who are converting from other countries or from the military.

What to Bring to the FAA Written Exam

Before your exam, make sure you have all your necessary forms of legal identification and an endorsement from your instructor.

Forms of ID

Acceptable forms of identifications must be valid and current and include the following:

  • Photo
  • Date of Birth
  • Signature
  • Physical,residential address

If your ID does not state your current physical address you can still use that ID so long as you also have a form of address verification.

If you’re under 18 your legal guardian can present an acceptable form of ID and verify your identity.

Don’t forget to bring any necessary endorsements or authorizations for your FAA Test.

Prohibited and Allowed Items

Once you’ve been checked-in by your proctor you will be required to leave behind any personal items such as:

  • Cellphones
  • Smartwatches
  • Advanced Calculators (anything above 4 function)
  • Supplements
  • Paper/Pens/Pencils

Be sure to leave these items in your vehicle or, if the testing center has them, in a locked container. Each facility is different so ask beforehand.

Your proctor or yourself may provide the following for your exam:

After the Exam

After finishing the test, all materials such as scrap paper, pens/pencils, and other exam materials will be collected.

Do not leave the facility until you verify that your information matches your ID and pilot certificate.

Your proctor will print out and emboss your score sheet.

After you leave you cannot come back to the facility to make changes to your information. Make sure you hold onto your score report since you’ll need to present this to the examiner when you take your checkride.

Taking an exam can be stressful but by following these tips and being well prepared, it doesn’t have to be.

If you study your materials and follow this procedure, you’ll be more than ready for your FAA Written Test!

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One response to “Study Tips for the FAA Written Test”

  1. Rafi

    What about advance ground instructor test prep resources. Is their an iPad app or other resource to recommend?

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