The next item I checked off my list was the Private Pilot Knowledge test. It is a 60 question test that you have 2.5hrs to complete. Out of the 28,473 Private Pilot Airplane exams administered during 2008, 91.58% people passed with an average score of 84.14 (source). Those are very good statistics. I would attribute that to the fact that anyone taking the test actually wants to fly so they put extra effort in learning the material.
Up until this point I had been reading through the big Jeppesen book chapter by chapter. It really is a great book in my opinion and has a ton of information. When it comes to learning the theory and information you need to fly that book does the job well. That being said I do not think that book by itself could prepare someone for the knowledge test. This test like all other standardized tests has a very particular way they ask you questions. Getting accustomed to the questions and how they are answered is by far the hardest part.
I used several resources to prepare. The one I thought helped the most with learning the actual material was the King School DVD course. John and Martha King go through every section on the exam and show exactly how each question is answered and the best part is how the FAA tries to trick you. I sat there hour after hour and watch the entire course while taking notes, it was a huge help. Now my next task was to practice the actual test taking using real questions and timing it. For that I used two more resources. Exams4Pilots and Gleim Private Pilot Software. Both of these were critical in preparing because they have the exact same questions and figures that are used on the test.
Exams4Pilots is an excellent free website that has the sample questions from the FAA database. It has two areas, study mode and test mode. When you use test mode it shows you 60 questions and times how long it take you to complete. It does a good job of giving you an accurate spread of the questions that should be on the test and the best part is it’s free. For the most part though I used the Gleim software to practice my test taking. I like the software because it kept track of my progress. It enabled me to take test after test of areas that I scored poorly in. And after countless hours of using the software I literally practiced every single question in the software. The instant feedback and explanations in study mode were excellent.
The software also reproduces the actual test software. There are two computerized test versions to choose CATS and Lasergrade. They are fairly similar and you will just end up taking whatever version is offered in your area. For me it was CATS. It was nice to have the actual test simulated, fonts colors and all. I like knowing exactly what I am getting into.
Lucky for me there is a CATS test center right at my airport. I am happy to report that I successfully passed the written exam with flying colors. Everything I mentioned above helped a lot.
Time for more flying…