Monday, March 05, 2001

FAA "Written" Exam (98%)

Supplemental entry (non-flying): This past weekend I was home and and able to focus on flying stuff.  Mainly I studied for the FAA written exam so I could finally get that thing out of the way.  I used the Gleim book and my preparation notes to brush up on general rough spots (light gun, magnetic compass errors, category vs. class, takeoff distance charts).  I also read a few chapters in the Jepp Practical Test Study Guide (a great book, BTW, even though it's from 1997 – I need to do more with this before my check ride).  This was mainly to review airspace topics, FAR's, and weather reporting formats.  Finally I re-took the final exam in the FliteSchool software and got 94% (6 wrong on that 100 question test).  I reviewed the missed questions and called it a night at 9 pm, drinking a couple of beers and watching a documentary on test pilots (Aviation Week video I bought some time ago at Buck-a-Book, very good stuff) and then the video of "Independence Day" (a live-action alien invasion cartoon, but it has some cool SFX). 

Sunday I went over to Amity where I checked in with Mario (to get my sign-off for the written) and with Bill Allen (the CFI who gives the tests).  The LaserGrade software is great – very user friendly, with on-screen figures and excellent review/summary features.  The 60 question test was harder than I expected, at first glance.  There were two pressure altitude questions that I forgot how to do (later remembered – it's just the right side table of the density altitude chart).  There were many questions I had not seen for a while on reviews and tests, including what to do if you suspect detonation on climbout (lower the nose a bit for better cooling).  On one of the landing distance graphs, I could not get anywhere near the answers they had, but I took the largest value, and I guess it was right (it was #3690, and I still get only about 1600 feet, while the answer is B, 1925 feet).  I hate those graphs!

Airspace questions gave me some trouble, and there was one I thought I missed but did not (#3622, Lowe Airport on Figure 27).  This is a private airport with no airspace markings (though it's in a MOA which confused me).  I finally said it was Class G, surface to 14,500 MSL, which was right (NB: this is a rule I didn't remember at all, but there are several cases for the lower limit of Class E, such as 1200 feet for Federal Airways, but default if none of these apply is that Class E begins at 14,500 feet, extending to 18,000 feet which is where Class A starts).  There were others that confused me (there was one I can't remember where I wrote "NFI" on my notes, but it wasn't an airspace question, and the one question I missed WAS an airspace/chart question, subject area J37 according to the printed test report – though I read through all the J37 questions in my Gleim book and as far as I recall, I answered all three that were on my test correctly – oh well).  I check-marked the questions I was unsure about and went back and reviewed them, keeping my original answers in all but one or two cases. 

It took me about 90 minutes, but the bottom line is – I did GREAT, missing only one question for 98% on the real thing, better than any practice test (other than a few of the 10 or 20 question no-figures-mini-tests I did on Kip's FAA Practice web site).  Mario says this can really help with the DPE (check ride examiner), since they tend to go easy on the oral stuff if you have a high score on the written.  I sure won't ASSSUME that, so I have a lot of study left to do, but it doesn't hurt.  There is a big difference between multiple choice and spitting out an essay question on the day of the check ride!