Real Answers from Real Pilots

Studying, briefings, and test prep

Hi all,

I know this has been discussed at least some on this forum, but I had some questions about what studying, briefings, and written/oral test prep looks like for a typical student at ATP.

I suppose I’ll start with what this looked like for me at the Part 141 school I went to for my Private certificate to help draw some comparisons. Being a 141 school, ground school consisted of scheduled classroom time in which subjects such as weather & meteorology, regulations, aerodynamics, and aviation physiology were taught by an instructor to the classroom in lecture format with each subject getting its own class period of about two hours. This would also consist of the occasional graded homework assignments, quizzes, and tests as this was also part of a college course through the school I was attending.

Apart from the classroom time, studying on my own usually involved reading the provided FAA textbooks, taking notes, and highlighting content along the way. I would also often use the PowerPoint presentations used in the classroom lectures to supplement my studying time. Also involved would typically be memoriz-I mean studying those written exam questions. :wink:

Flights and briefings with my assigned instructor were always very well outlined before going into them, so I would always know the topic and even some of the detailed questions my instructor would ask me before going into a briefing.

With all that said (maybe I didn’t really need to), I was curious what these particular areas of acquiring knowledge and developing an understanding of the various subjects necessary to pass a written/oral exam for a particular certificate would look like at ATP.

While I don’t have a problem with the idea of simply cracking open a textbook and highlighting and taking notes, my understanding to this point is that ATP uses their own software or third party software (or both) as part of the material used to develop the knowledge portion of the training. I also have noticed from watching YouTube video series of current/past ATP students that ATP will mail you a box of material before your start date that includes textbooks, ACS (almost said PTS there), and those AMAZING oral prep books (I used the Private one for my Private oral exam). My questions at this point then, are:

  1. Are the training software modules used as a primary means of learning the material or are they more of a supplement to the textbooks or some other source? What will be the primary source of initially learning the material if not the software?
  2. Are briefings with an instructor very well outlined before you go into them? Generally, what does preparing for those look like?
  3. In general, what would a typical independent study session look like for yourself, whether that be preparing for a briefing or studying for an oral exam?

Kyle,

Things may have changed some since I attended but here’s how it went for the most part. Also know ALL the training for the Writtens is now provided by the King Schools and is completely self study, unless you have an issue or question.

  1. We were sent home every night with homework (required reading) and quizzes. The quizzes were great for getting you to dig deep into ALL the provided materials. The idea being not only to learn the materials but being able to source the info. In any Oral exam no one is expected to know everything but you do need to know where to find it.

  2. Very well outlined and structured.Typically we’d review the quizzes, make any corrections and clarify anything that needed to be clarified. We’d the brief the goals (maneuvers etc) for the day. Try them and practice them procedurally in the sim then go fly them in the plane. You see that’s one of the benefits of Part 61. There is no required hours for any particular module or skill. If a student can read and understand say holding pattern entries, you’re not required to spend 1.5hrs discussing them, you can simply move on. If someone needed more time in an area it was always available. The idea is flexibility.

  3. For me it was really doing the homework and the quizzes. What was great was being in the housing with the other students. There was always someone ahead or behind you. If you had a question you always had someone to ask and someone would always be asking you. Great way to solidify your knowledge.

I’m sure Tory will chime in with a more recent experience.

Adam

Hello Kyle,

I actually just wrote an article on this subject. I would share it with
you, but I’m still waiting for approval before it gets published. Instead
I’ll extract the content pertaining to your questions.

1 & 3. The main resources required to maximize a student’s learning
potential include the instructor, Self-Study Lessons, ATP supplement
booklets, aircraft checklists, written exam test prep software and the
Airmen Certification Standards (ACS). Each of the aforementioned resources
will now be discussed in more detail.

I wanted to begin with the instructor because I want to make it clear that
the instructor is just one of many resources that a student has available
to them. Students need to understand that an instructor can only do so
much. There will come a time when you will be an instructor and you will be
transferring your knowledge onto your students. The sooner you start
thinking like an instructor the better off you’ll be, not only as a pilot,
but also when you will be required to demonstrate your abilities as an
instructor.

Self-Study Lessons are accessed via the student’s Extranet account. Under
“Program Outline” you will find a list of upcoming flight and simulator
lessons. Each flight or sim lesson has a list of required Self-Study
Lessons that need to be completed prior to beginning the associated flight
or sim. Some Self-Study assignments are also accompanied with textbook
and/or Advisory Circular readings. Don’t skip those. Plan ahead and hold
yourself accountable. Complete the Lessons on-time, or even better, ahead
of schedule.

The supplement booklets are used to help a student become familiar with the
airplane currently being flown or prepare for a particular phase of flight
training. Memorize the supplement booklets cover to cover. Additionally,
the aircraft specific supplement booklets are summarized versions of the
aircraft’s Pilot Operating Handbook (POH). After you’ve gone through the
aircraft specific supplement, challenge yourself and read the POH.

I don’t want to spend too much time on checklist procedures, but I strongly
suggest, at the very least, memorizing the emergency procedures for each
aircraft flown. In a real emergency, a pilot should be able to perform the
appropriate emergency procedure from memory. After the memory procedure has
been accomplished, altitude and time permitting, the checklist should be
used to verify that the correct actions have been performed.

If the certificate or rating sought requires a written exam to be passed
then it is necessary to spend a few hours a day studying for the written
exam using the online test prep software. For time’s sake, it is okay to
memorize the answers for the written exams. The knowledge will come later
as you prepare for the checkride using the next, and most important,
resource: the ACS.

Read the entire ACS as early as possible. The ACS is not only what the
instructor uses to prepare students for checkrides, but also what the
examiner uses to administer checkrides. As previously mentioned, don’t rely
100% on the instructor to teach you everything. Being a skeptical and
resourceful student will boost your confidence during the checkride because
you actually took the time to research the origins of the material.

The ACS also includes flight standards/acceptable tolerances. The examiners
aren’t looking for perfection. The examiners are just verifying that the
applicant can safely operate the airplane within the specified tolerances.
Ignorance can lead to a preventable checkride failure. So, students need to
take it upon themselves to memorize the acceptable tolerances.

  1. Briefings and ground sessions with the instructor SHOULD be organized. I
    say should because no one is there to hold an instructor’s hand. Each
    instructor has their own style. My grounds were always very organized. I
    had a binder of material for each student, and I would write notes during
    every session so the student knew what they did or didn’t do well on. We
    would revisit all of the unsatisfactory items until the student was “check
    ride ready.”

Preparing for a flight or sim is easy. As explained above, every student
can prepare for their flights and sims by accessing their Program Outline
in their Extranet accounts.

Preparing for grounds will depend on your instructor’s style, but they
should be able to tell you what subjects will be discussed ahead of time.
It is important to understand though that since the instructors typically
create their schedules only a day ahead of time, all you can do is prepare
yourself as best as you can. Be prepared to take good notes and ask
questions. The big evaluations (takeoff and landing Eval, solo Eval, cross
country Eval, etc.) and check rides will be known well ahead of time to
allow the student ample time to prepare. The day to day stuff, you just
have to roll will the flow.

Tory

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Hi
am a student at secondary level and interested in flying since i love flying and my great wish is to become a pilot ,am ready to sit for my kcse next year what i want to know is which grade should i attain to achieve my dreams as à pilot.

Maxwell,

I recommend you contact (or Google) the airlines in your country and see what they require. The US has not equivalent requirements.

Adam

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is there an atp flying school in kenya & can i get there address?

ATP is strictly a US-based flight school. ATP does train international students in Daytona, but if you want to fly for hire in the US you have to
obtain US citizenship or US permanent resident status.

Tory

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