Study the material provided by the flight school or study the ATPL question database in order to pass the ATPL exams? What is the best way to prepare yourself for the ATPL exams? You will find the answer below. I have been in this situation myself and at that time I didn’t know how to study for my ATPL subjects, until I got slapped in the face and realized how the game had to be played. Be smart, don’t spend loads of time to reinvent the wheel, just read the article below and ace the ATPL exams!
Step number 1.
Throw your books out of the window… Whoot?? Just kidding, don’t throw them out literally but just put them aside for a bit. During the last few months you have studied a lot of (Oxford) books and had many intermediate exams. I guess by this time you know at least 80% of what is all in there. Not sure of that? Fix that after the ATPL exams but definitely not before! Is that a promise? 😉 When the ATPL exams approach those books are no longer important. The only things that matter are: your notes and the ATPL question database. To get started: get a membership at ATPL online, get your notes ready and let’s go! 🙂
Remember that even though at that stage you don’t need your Oxford books anymore, it is very important to always maintain and increase your ATPL knowledge. Without knowledge you are less safe and you will not get any Airline job. This book helped me a lot in maintaining my ATPL knowledge and it has been one of the best purchases I made since my graduation. If you want to study the same books as pilots did during their flight training (including me) you can take a look and find one of the cheapest versions of any Oxford ATPL book by clicking the following link: Oxford JAA ATPL Manuals Set of 14
For the suspicious people out there, this is how it will go down if you do not follow this method… 😉 You will probably start studying your Oxford books because you are being told over and over that this is what you should do. Time will fly and in the meantime you will try some of the practice questions about the subject you just studied. You notice that you get short on time and that your results from the question database are miserable. You realize that studying and reading the books takes too long and that it is also too late to practice all 15.000 questions at this stage. So you try to fix that with the little time you have left… Ending up with understanding 3000 questions and low confidence. Wauw! Can you imagine the stress level just before some of the most important exams in your life? Not good is it? So skip his whole process and immediately start going through the ATPL question database.
Step number 2.
You can use the ATPL question database to study literally every single question of each ATPL subject. The official exams consist of questions taken from that ATPL question database. There are more than 15.000 questions so you better get to it. Make a schedule and start with one subject at a time. A faulty answer? Study the answer by heart if the questions was a fact and look it up in your notes if the question was about a system or something more complicated. Still having trouble to understand the question? Look it up on the internet and get ready for the next question. If you just want to pass, go through all 15.000 questions at least once. If you want to pass with flying colours… make sure you go through every question at least 3 times!
I studied everything about HPL (Human Performance & Limitations) and knew almost the entire book by heart. I entered the classroom for my HPL Final (the last school exam 2 weeks before the ATPL exam) and started the test. The questions were clear but the answers? Pff, they all looked so much alike. In some cases there were at least 3 correct answers. It took me a lot of time to figure out which answer was just a little bit better. The result 66%. No way?! I thought I knew the whole book by heart and my score was 66%? Other students had scores of 90%, 93% etcetera. Luckily this was just the school final and not the actual ATPL exam. As flabbergasted as I was, I looked around and asked the my classmates how they managed to get such good scores… You know the answer.
The longest answer or ‘B’
From that moment on, I did not touch any Oxford book. I invested my time in the ATPL question database… I made sure I understood every question, whether it was a huge calculation or just a fact. Guess what my score was on the HPL ATPL exam? 98%. Quite a difference don’t you think? 66% studying books and 98% without studying the Oxford books. I completely understand that there are many people who disagree with me but I honestly believe that this is the only way to get a high score. Mistakes are easily made because the answers on the ATPL exam are so incredibly similar. In most cases you have to choose the ‘most correct answer‘ instead of just the correct answer. If you studied the question database you know which answer they are looking for. If you haven’t, you will spend ages on one question. Last but not least when you really have no clue of the correct answer? Try the longest answer or ‘B’, haha! 🙂
A few guys from my class did not use the question database but studied the Oxford books. Whenever anyone of my class had a question, those guys were the ones who could explain every single detail about any subject. I am not joking, they knew almost everything! Not to make you worry, but this is what happened: they flunked out. Why? Because their mark on the ATPL exams was way below the pass mark of 75%. Why? Read the above. It is simply not do-able to pass 14 subjects without using the ATPL question database. Of course everyone was blown away when, especially those guys, were told they wouldn’t be able to finish their education. Crazy world isn’t it? Safe yourself a lot of stress and just play the game.
Why is a high score important?
The ATPL exam is the most important written exam during the training. Airlines pay a lot of attention to ATPL results when they look for pilots to fill their vacancies. There is too much competition going on nowadays, it is hard to get that first job. ATPL results can make a difference in getting that first commercial airline job or ending up doing something completely different. You can read more about this subject here.
I had no retakes and my average score of all 14 subjects was above 90%. It took me 2 years to obtain my first job in the cockpit. More or less, your ATPL score is directly related to how fast you will get the airline job compared to other graduates.
I wrote this article because I received an email from M. de Leeuw. He asked some questions about this subject. Do you have questions of your own that you would like answered? Feel free to write me an email or use the contact form 🙂