Passing the FAA Written Exam

The last two weeks of Ground School were pretests for the actual written.  My goal was to take the FAA written exam within two weeks of class finishing while everything is still fresh in my head.

Sporty's Study Buddy App

Sporty’s Study Buddy App

 In preparation, I bought the Sporty’s Study Buddy App for the iPad/iPhone to help me prepare and get an idea of where my weak areas are. I thought this would help me focus on specific areas, rather than trying to study everything randomly. There are areas that I feel very comfortable with and a few areas that I know I need to go back and freshen up on before the class tests.

I know I’ve learned a lot but there is so much that we covered over the last few months.  I wonder sometimes how I will remember it all.  I’ve been studying almost every night.  Reading through the chapters in the Gleim Pilot Handbook and going through the questions in the Gleim Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test guide each night helps it stick with me.  I feel confident about most of it, but I know there are areas that I will need to practice.

Ground School

I reviewed a few of the ‘Learning Mode’ quizzes to get started with on the Study Buddy App. Once I felt comfortable with several of them, I decided to try the “Test mode” just to get a starting place.  It’s a 60 questions test just like the FAA Exam is supposed to be and they give you two and a half hours to take the test as well.  I scored a 77 on my first test and did it in 30 minutes.  I didn’t score where I wanted to but I passed.  I was able to go back and look over the questions I missed so that I’d know where I need to focus my energy on before I test again. The good thing is I passed, and that I either knew the answer or I didn’t know it all.

What I found was that I’m strong in the FAR Regs, engine and flight instruments, weather, ATC, airspace and weight and balance.

My weak areas were identified as VOR, ADF, figuring headings, winds, navigation and remembering the different types of altitude.

After reviewing for a couple of days, I decided to take another practice test.  This time I got an 87.  I was happy with that score because I felt like this test was harder than the last one, and that’s a score I felt I could live with.  I want to be in the 90’s because I feel like it’s important for my oral exam that I’ll have later for completing my license.

Monday night at ground school and this test is 100 questions. I got an 82 on the pretest.  I reviewed the ones I missed and most of them I had put question marks on when I answered them, because I felt like I just didn’t know them and sure enough, those were the ones I missed.  I will review these during the week to make sure I have them down.  I was hoping to do better but it’s still a passing score.

I studied every night for the next class, which is to be our final test for the instructor to endorse us to take the FAA Written.  I was a little nervous but knew I could pass it after what I had done already.  It was 100 questions again and I scored an 87 this time.  I can’t seem to get out of the 80’s but I’ll take it and keep studying over the next two weeks.  I got the written endorsement to go take the FAA exam from my instructor.

I decided to buy Sporty’s electronic E6B to use instead of the paper E6B.  I struggled enough with it in class and thought the electronic one just seemed to make more sense to me.  I couldn’t find any tutorials for learning to use it, so I got out the manual and worked my way through each page and worked problems from my book to get comfortable using it.  Once I had it down, it was so much easier to use than the paper E6B.  I believe it’s a personal preference on which to use but for me there was no comparison once I figured it out.

I worked through the navigation problems till I felt comfortable computing magnetic headings, en route time calculations, speed, distance and wind corrections.

Next I knew I was weak on the ADF and VOR systems since I haven’t used them yet in flying.  I know they will come easier when I start seeing them in action.  I spent the night before my test studying these areas and refreshing on weather and aerodynamics.

I scheduled my test for a Friday morning, took the day off so I could focus on getting through the written.  I showed up early and I sat in my truck for about 30 minutes just reviewing different things.  I finally took a deep breath and headed in for the test.  I was crazy nervous. I really wanted a score in the 90’s and I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to do that since I couldn’t get out of the 80’s on the previous tries.

Well, I’m pleased to report that once it was over, I scored a 92!  I saw my score and had to look twice to confirm it, and then I started jumping up and down like a crazy woman. It was an amazing feeling to have it behind me but also to see that all that studying and hard work paid off.

Celebrating passing!

Celebrating passing!

The best advice I can give you is to study, review everything and focus hard.  It was worth all the effort that I put into it to get it done.  Now, I can focus on the fun stuff, flying!


  1. I’m studying for the written test now. Thanks for posting this. Great info that I’m sure will be helpful. Congrats on the 92. I hope to score above 90 myself.

    • You’ll do great! It was hard but I felt very prepared between the Gleim Test Guide and the Sporty’s App. In fact, the proctor of the test said that everyone that has practiced with Sporty’s App has passed. So, that was nice to find out afterwards as she asked me if I used it to study with. Good luck! Let me know how you do!

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