I’m happy to report that I passed the PPL Theory Test with 94% good answers for the common module and 93% for the specific module. The threshold is 75%, so I passed hands-down 😉
The exam contained 48 multiple-choice questions for the common module about Air Laws, Meteorology, Human performance & limitation and VFR communications. The specific module contained 72 questions about The mechanics of flight, Flight performance, Flight preparation, Operational procedures, Navigation, Radio navigation and General aircraft knowledge.
I choose EASY-PPL.com for their question bank which is one of the best out there and it helped preparing for the exams.
Below are few tips to follow if you want to increase your chances to be successful.
1. Book your exam well in advance
Don’t do what I did. I procrastinated and booked late. The only date left was just few weeks before my PPL in-flight test. Success was my only option.
Depending on which assessment center you go to, there may be multiple sessions per week or only one every month or even two months. Or you may be sick on the day. Or have a personal emergency. Remember that if you fail the exam you’re going to have to wait several weeks, maybe months before having the chance to take it again.
2. Show up early
Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the examination center. This way you can get familiar with the location, find where the bathroom is, drink and eat before the exam, nicely organise your material on the table and relax before the exam starts. The last thing you want is pull into the parking lot downstairs two minutes before, run up the stairs and drop your stuff on the table with your hearth still racing and sweat across your face.
3. Read the bloody question
More. Than. Once. Understand what the question actually says, not what you would like it to say. It’s way too easy to fool yourself into thinking a question matches an answer you already know, or a question you’ve seen in a practice exam. Negations, for example, can be easily overlooked if reading in a hurry: there’s a difference between “which of the following animals is a bird” and “which of the following animals is not a bird”.
Watch out for qualifiers such as “most likely”. This is an indication that, although more than one answer are formally acceptable, one is definitely more acceptable than the others and is the only right answer to the question.
There are no “trick” questions. If you’ve studied well and read the questions carefully you will pass. Studying “well” is different from studying “a lot” though. Which brings us to the next point.
4. Do plenty of practice exams
OK, that’s an easy one. Of course you’ll practice beforehand, right? You won’t find the exact same questions at the exam obviously, but they’re very close in spirit.
Practice in exam conditions: time yourself and only use the documentation you will have at the exam. No cheating. Identify the questions you got wrong and also the ones you got right only by chance. This will give you a list of topics you need to study again. Only redo the practice exam after you’ve studied and understood the topics you got wrong.
5. Double-check every single answer
An obvious one again. What I did was keep a separate sheet of paper on which, for each question, I wrote down how I came to the answer. If the question required, say, a weight and balance calculation I would write down the entire calculation.
After you’ve answered all questions, go through the list, re-check every single answer and double-check you didn’t make any stupid mistake.
6. Stay hydrated and well-fed
Don’t let yourself get dehydrated or your blood sugar level fall too low, this will impair your ability to think. Don’t let your bladder distract you either, pee breaks are allowed. Bring a bottle of water or energy drink and cereal bars. Take a short break when needed, have a sip and a bite to eat. If you are well prepared you have plenty of time for answering, double-checking and triple-checking all questions. No need to rush.
7. Aim for a very high mark
The pass threshold if 75%. But you should aim much higher. Why? After you’ve submitted your answers the examiner will hand you a certificate saying that you have passed or you haven’t passed. Unfortunately you won’t be able to know which questions you got it wrong.