Tuesday December 10th 2002, FAA Written Test

I’m writing this almost a month after the fact so it will be brief. I took the whole day off work, even though the test wasn’t scheduled until 4pm. This gave me a chance to finally finish the Glime book and study some of the tricky bits that I keep getting wrong (like altimeter errors, compass errors and once again going over the FAR’s). It was actually a nice relaxing day laying on my couch with all the aviation books spread around me.
I got to Nice Air a little early. The receptionist had me fill out an application form, checked my ID and log book and then asked for an $80 check to do the test. The actual testing room is a tiny (hot) room just behind the front desk, it had three computers and there was one other person doing a test when I got started. I was allowed to bring in my chart plotter, E6B and a calculator. The test starts by asking you to reconfirm that all the personal details entered on the application have been correctly entered into the computer. Then it asks gives you some demo questions (not related to flying) to show how the software works and some other screens that explain the various controls. Finally it asks you if you want to take a practice test (I declined). At last it gets to the real test (after asking you about three times whether you really want to start the test).

The actual test was really a breeze. I think most of the questions I had already seen from the Glime book. Basically, if you complete a ground school class like the Cessna Pilot Center and study something like the Glime book then it really shouldn’t be too difficult. many of the questions can be answered very quickly, you either know the answer or not – for example all the FAR related questions. The ones that take time are the performance calculations where you really need to take care to read the example performance charts. There were questions on takeoff and landing distances using that complicated combo performance chart – take the time to actually draw in the lines on the chart, its really easy to make a mistake trying to just eyeball your way across. The cross country calculations (like calculating ETE from one airport to another) also need care and attention, in most cases the available answers are only a couple of minutes different so any inaccuracy measuring the heading or calculating using the E6B can easily put you closer to a wrong answer than a right one and don’t forget to add any time given for climb out from the airport. There was one question on weather depiction chats that asked what the weather would be like for a flight from southern Michigan to north Indiana. I laughed when I saw this, I was born in Ireland, and while my geographical knowledge of the western USA is fine, I’m really hazy about all those scrappy little states in the mid-west and east. I had seen this question in the Glime book this morning and actually went and looked up an atlas to find out where Michigan and Indiana were – thank goodness for that.

Once you complete the 60 questions you can go back and review any of the answers. You are also able to checkmark any answers that you want to review at the end. I had checked four or five that I wanted to review, either because I wasn’t sure or I wanted to double check calculations. The software won’t let you complete the test until you have removed all the checkmarks. Once you decide that your done, and having confirmed about three times that you’re finished the test, it goes into a survey to find out how the test was conducted. For example it asks did the computer work ok, was the room comfortable and quite and so on. Finally, it tells you to call the test supervisor to grade the test. This takes no time and you get a printout of the results which is then embossed with a stamp from Nice Air. I scored 98%, just one question wrong in subject matter area I22. A little research in the Glime book (which had a table that relates all the questions to the FAA subject matter codes) and I discovered that Pressure Altitude is equal to True Altitude for Standard Atmosphere Conditions, not when pressure is 29.92 as I had thought. This was actually one of the questions I had checked, oh well, I just guessed wrong.