How Hard Are Pilot Exams?

Becoming a pilot is no easy feat, after all, this is a job that requires vast amounts of expertise, skill, and responsibility, so not just anybody can step up to the challenge.

Before you can become an airline transport pilot, you need to apply for a private pilot license. Alongside completing the required flying time, you’ll also need to pass both written and practical exams.

The PPL exam has a relatively high pass rate, and most people pass the first time around, while others require two attempts. As long as you study, you should be absolutely fine with this one. 

To earn money as a pilot, however, you’ll need a CPL, and to get your commercial license you’ll need to pass not only the practical exam but also the written exam - which will test your knowledge of Flight planning, Cockpit Resource Management, Airframes and Engines, Air regulation, Aviation meteorology, and Air navigation.

However, the hardest written test will be the one you do to get your Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL) - that’s if you want to fly planes for an airline.

It goes without saying that the ATPL  exams are tough. There are 14 exams in total, so there’s a lot to cover, and a rigorous revision plan is essential if you want to pass. 

How can I prepare for pilot exam?

Hopefully, if you’re preparing for your ATPL exam, you’ll know by now the revision techniques that work - and don’t work - for you. 

However, if you’re preparing for the first of your pilot written exams, you may be wondering how to approach it. 

Here are our top tips for ensuring you pass with flying colors… 

Create a plan of action 

Make sure you leave yourself with plenty of time to cover all the material required for your pilot exam. 

Work out how long it will take you to cover everything and leave time to go over any weak spots too. 

Set goals for each day, week, and month (depending on which exam you’re preparing for). This way, you can motivate yourself with short-term goals while ensuring you leave time for any last-minute revision. 

Find your learning style  

We all absorb information in different ways. For example, the majority of us are visual learners, while others learn best through audio. Many of us learn well when using an amalgamation of techniques, though. 

You may know straight away how you learn best - whether it’s flashcards, watching videos, or using your memory to learn chunks of information by heart. If you don’t know your learning style, take a quick test, or experiment with a few different styles. 

Be consistent with whatever technique works for you. Use spider diagrams, different colored pens, online resources - whatever it takes to get information to stick. 

Structure your studying 

Whether you study in the morning or at night, make sure you dedicate this time to your studies every day and stick to your schedule. This will mean missing out on social events with friends, but it’s necessary. 

When you’re studying, you can reward yourself with breaks depending on how long you study for. 20-30 minutes of study can be rewarded with a 5-minute break; 30-60 minutes with a 10-15 minute break; 2 hours of revision should get at least a 30-minute break. 

Though bear in mind that for most of us, the brain switches off after around 45 minutes, so try to stick to these kinds of windows. 

Ask others for advice 

If you know someone who has sat the exams before, you should definitely ask their advice: what did they find difficult, what didn’t they expect? 

If you don’t know anyone, don’t stress. There’s actually a great range of resources online, including YouTube videos where people share their experiences of the exams. 

Doing this research can help you prepare yourself far better for the real thing.

Is CPL exam hard?

The CPL examination (for both Aeroplane and Helicopter) is a 7 subject-part examination, that is delivered by PEXO. The pass threshold for the CPL exams is 70%, except for the Flight Rules and Air Law exam which requires 80% to pass.

These examinations are generally considered less difficult than the ATPL ones, due to you needing more extensive knowledge to fly an aircraft for an airline. 

The CPL exam is tough, but it’s not notoriously difficult. As long as you are dedicated to your studies and you put in the time and effort required to learn the material, there’s no reason why you should fail your CPL. 

It all comes down to preparation. Leave yourself plenty of time, be consistent with your study structure and techniques, and allow time to revise any weak spots.