How do you prepare for and pass your ATPL exams?
In this post, I’ll offer the best advice I’ve received to help you pass your ATPL tests, as well as what I’ve learned from passing my ATPL exams in less than nine months.
What are the ATPL subjects?
- Air Law
- Radio Navigation
- General Navigation
- Flight Planning
- Mass and Balance
- Human Performance and Limitations
- Aircraft General knowledge – Airframes/ Systems/ Power Plant/ Electrics
- Operational Procedures
- Principles of Flight
One of the gaps I discovered during my ATPL examinations was that no one actually teaches you HOW to study – something I struggled with at first due to the fact that I had been out of school for a long period of time. But salutes to all my instructors especially Capt Rana.
(Ps: No Can Ever Replace Him )
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Practice and Spaced Repetition are Important.
After finishing all of the course material, I recall completing my first practise exam on general navigation, which I passed with flying colours. During the two weeks allocated, I had only completed 20 percent of the questions and had gotten the majority of them incorrect. I recall that the subjects of Meteorology and General Navigation had the greatest amount of questions in the question bank. At the time of my employment, we were utilising AVEX and BGS. However, those are out of date at the moment. The most recent is ATPLSGS and ATPLQ.
I just felt like there was no way in the world that I was going to be able to pass the examinations in the first place. It wasn’t that I hadn’t gone over the material and taken notes: I had done so, but it was evident that I had forgotten a lot of what I had learned, and I would need to go back through the notes to fix the weak areas. However, the summary notes that were tied together in our question banks proved to be really useful.
How do you slow down the process of forgetting? That is the million-dollar question.
This is where the concept of spaced repetition comes into play.
- Establish a schedule for reviewing critical information.
- Writing down the information and using flashcards to help you remember it can be a great technique to help you remember it.
- The first review can be done the next day, then in a week, then in a month, and so on.
The idea is that as time goes, just a periodic review should be required to ensure that you are satisfied with the concept. You can retain information for much longer periods of time if you use spaced repetition – which involves revisiting the content – and you will have a procedure to review and learn as time goes.
The ATPL examinations are harsh, and I recall my school’s course teacher telling me that they are used to pick out those who wish to fly professionally.
No, I am not exaggerating when I say that studying for ATPL exams will be the most difficult and intense you have ever done.
If you work hard and regularly for 6-12 months depending on your course type, you will pass the ATPL tests.
Everyone hits a ‘wall’ when they can’t be bothered anymore. You must have a cause to persevere and work in order to get your desired outcome.
In other words, I could leave my possible engineering profession and follow what I loved.
Find a reason why you want to be a commercial pilot and have that reason near at hand so that when you start to get discouraged and want to give up, you can remember why you are learning in the first place.
Instagram has the potential to be beneficial. I would look at profiles of other pilots who had gone through the process and had secured employment, and the desire to be in the flight deck as their images indicated was a great source of inspiration and motivation for me to continue on my path.
Subjects are grouped together.
For example, general navigation and flight planning are both quite similar in terms of substance; as a result, certain subjects may overlap in particular regions.
This is why you should categorise your subjects in as logical an order as feasible in order to reduce the amount of effort and take use of shortcuts when subjects are similar or overlap.
Taking a breather
It would be beneficial if you kept a steady pace during the ATPL tests. If you are enrolled in a full-time course, you can expect to put in at least six months of effort.
If you are doing distance learning, the minimum time frame is generally approximately eight months, with the majority of students needing between 12 and 18 months to finish the ATPL tests. Therefore, it is necessary to take appropriate short- and long-term rests.
I divided my study time into 35-40 minute spurts, followed by a 10-minute rest period. To maximise my productivity, I would aim to complete two or three of these sessions in the morning before going to class on the weekdays, followed by a study session in the evening.
Concentrate on the areas that need improvement ( Weak Areas)
Continue to question yourself: if the test were tomorrow, where would you have the most difficulty – and concentrate your efforts on those topics.
I divided it down into smaller chunks, concentrated on the weak portions, and began practising the questions. The question banks, such as atplGS or BGS, among others, were helpful @ keeping track of questions and flagging those that I was getting incorrectly answered.
Eventually, you reach a point where you can recognise what is being asked only by reading the first portion of the question, and your speed increases as a result of this increased confidence.
Speed comes through practising questions – especially active recall – which is a nice way of saying that you are pulling information out of your memory. Regularly practise a certain activity or skill until you are able to recall the data or procedures used without trouble is reached.
Seek Assistance ( Pan Pan )
If you are having difficulty with a topic (grid navigation, for example), don’t battle it and struggle alone. Inquire for assistance. Your ATPL theory provider will often have individuals that you may contact through e-mail or in person if you have any issues. Your buddies may be the most reliable sources of information. I studied with a friend of mine in a group setting. More studying in pairs is more effective than studying in groups. You may also experiment with different ways, such as viewing YouTube videos.
ATPL tests are difficult because of the time constraints, the number of sittings, and the need to have as clean a record as possible in order to increase your chances of landing your very first job after graduation.
You must, however, find a means to control your stress because, regrettably, if you are unable to cope with the strain, you will rapidly feel overwhelmed, burn out, and lose your concentration.
- Here’s what I did to assist me cope with the stress:
It was necessary for me to take regular pauses (both short-term and longer-term) between modules in order to reset and re-energize.
- If I was not prepared for a test, I just postponed it until I was. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress by setting unrealistic goals.
- I sought assistance if there was a subject or idea with which I was having difficulty, and I made every effort not to set myself unrealistic objectives or expectations.
Instead, I concentrated on being consistent and putting in 2.5 to 3 hours of study each day of the week, and then I watched to see where that led me.
ALL YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND IS ‘”75% Passing MARK”
On the subject of study materials, I would suggest that if you are utilising study materials that are not from your primary source, you should be cautious not to overload and overwhelm oneself.
I’ve seen students opt to forego the course materials provided by their provider and instead purchase books from a different supplier, only to find themselves in an even worse state of confusion as a result of being overwhelmed and confused with too much knowledge.
Schools are required to teach the ATPL syllabus for each topic, however the manner in which various schools present the content in terms of sequencing varies substantially.
Pay Attention to Question Banks. Repetition is the key to success in your tests.