Don’t want to fail your IFR written? Then this guide is for you.

how to pass the FAA instrument written exam

Passing the FAA instrument written exam will be a breeze if you follow the instructions and tips in this post.

I recently took my instrument written, and I took the traditional approach of going to instrument rating ground school and prepared for the instrument written exam.

After you read this post, you will know which approach is better to score above 90% in the FAA IFR written exam or at least pass during your first take.

There are two ways you can study for IFR written:

  • Traditional way of going to a physical ground school;
  • Conventional method of self-study using online ground school.

Regardless of which path you select, you must self-study at home to pass the instrument written test.

It is essential to understand the IFR flying materials in detail to pass the FAA instrument written exam. Merely memorizing the test prep questions and answers doesn’t work anymore. Thoughtful studying and fully understanding each subject will lower your chances of failing the instrument written exam.

Sounds quite complicated?

Well, it is not as complicated as it sounds. If you follow a syllabus and stay committed to pass the IFR written, you will pass the exam with over 90%.

Give yourself a time boundary to take the exam and commit to studying for IFR written, and use test preps to practice answering the IFR questions as much as you can.

Remember failing the IFR written exam and retaking multiple times is not ideal.

What is the conventional path of self-studying for IFR written?

I believe you already have a private pilot license, and now you are going for an instrument rating.

Once you start studying for IFR written, you realize it is a whole lot complicated than the private pilot materials.

Nevertheless, passing the instrument written test is not impossible.

Many fail the instrument written exam, yet many are joining the club of instrument pilots.

So what is the difference?

Those who worked hard and had better resources to study passed the exam.

Self-studying was never so straightforward in the past for instrument rating. But with tons of excellent resources available online, one can self-study and, and with some practice, pass the IFR written during their first take.

How to self-study for IFR written?

Although you are a private pilot and have aeronautical knowledge, you need a decent guide to pass your instrument rating.

To self-study for IFR written, you need:

  • A textbook for studying theory;
  • A test-prep to practice and equip for the exam.

Student pilots study the PHAK (Pilot’s handbook of aeronautical knowledge) to prepare themselves for the private pilot written test. And why not? It is adequate to pass the PPL written, and anyone can find it for FREE.

Some student pilots are different, and they prefer to study using an online course.

However, as I mentioned, passing IFR written requires a lot more in-depth education than for a private pilot license. Private pilots rely on the free materials available online.

But I always recommend pilots the same technique I used for passing my instrument rating written.

I used a combination of books, online courses, and a test prep to pass my instrument written.

My recommended materials to study for IFR written are these:

Step 1

I suggest pilots first purchase the book by Rod Machado. Rod Machado has a reputation for straightforwardly teaching complex subjects.

The language he used writing his book is understandable, and the overwhelming instrument flying information doesn’t seem alien anymore.

Thus I recommend all private pilots taking instrument rating to buy this book rather than studying the ASA’s instrument pilot handbook.

Regardless, it is best to study everything you get your hands on as an instrument rating trainee. Because the more you read, the more you learn.

But first, let’s study Rod Machado’s Instrument pilot’s handbook and keep it on the side.

Step 2

Now that you have studied the textbook or at least the materials you think were necessary, it’s time to buy a test prep.

Many pilots only rely on Gleim’s test prep and memorize the question to pass their written test.

One reason why I recommended to read up on the textbook and not just memorize the Gleims instrument test prep because the FAA updates their question bank multiple times a year.

They do this to discourage pilots from memorizing the questions and answers. Today, the examinee can’t find many familiar items that he learned and undoubtedly fails the instrument rating written exam. Therefore he has to re-take the IFR written exam multiple times to pass.

Hence, I recommend private pilots to purchase the Instrument rating test prep from Dauntless Aviation.

Reasoning the test prep software is affordable, and the collection of questions in dauntless software is enormous.

They have thousands of questions in their software. Do you know what the best thing about their software is?

Imagine you practice using their question-answer software and chose an incorrect option. The software will show you why your answer is wrong. Likewise, the software will also explain why the correct choice is the right answer.

Studying in this manner clarifies subjects, and the instrument rating student can comprehend materials which they will likely never forget.

Dauntless aviation test prep will allow you to memorize the latest question. Still, Dauntless will clarify topics so that even if you don’t comprehend the exact item in the FAA written exam, you can always think and select the right answer from your memory.

Buy the affordable dauntless test prep and take the time to use the software to prepare for the exam.

Finally, to clarify further for instrument rating, you can buy an online course.

However, this is optional.

Step 3

If you follow the technique I mentioned above, you will pass the instrument rating written without a doubt.

Many private pilots buy online course out of curiosity. I find the Instrument Rating course by FLY8MA to be very good.

I would pick this course only for theory studies. There are other options that I would choose for actual instrument flying lessons.

In FLY8MA’s course, the instructor doesn’t only explain in a classroom. He will explain topics depending on where he thinks suitable.

Sometimes the instructor is inside an airplane, and sometimes he is explaining using a whiteboard in a classroom.

I can assure if you study Rod Machado’s book and use the test prep by Dauntless to test your instrument flying knowledge, you can say you are ready to take your Instrument rating written.

Don’t just rely on these two materials. I suggest studying anything that you get your hands on.

What is the traditional way of studying?

Many students prefer learning in one on one situation. For instrument trainees like that, a traditional ground school is suitable.

Many private pilots choose to go to actual ground school in flight school to take an instrument rating course.

While I don’t see it is a lousy way of studying, merely going to ground school training for instrument rating would not help a private pilot pass his instrument rating written exam.

Valid for students who are not good at self-study, they should take instrument ground classes at a flight school.

Taking instrument ground classes can be costlier than an online instrument course. But if that works best for you, you should go for it. It is essential to understand the materials to lower your chances of failing the IFR written exam.

Regardless of where you study theories for your instrument rating, you will need a test prep online or offline.

A test prep helps instrument rating trainees to prepare for the written exam. Like I recommended above, you must get yourself a test prep software like the one by Dauntless.

Test prep software will help you practice further and test your knowledge even if you complete your instrument rating ground school.

You can use the tool to answer questions and figure out which topics you need to study further.

If you fail to repeatedly answer a question in test prep, you must contact your flight instructor to clarify the topic further.

Selecting the wrong answer multiple times to a question means you are unclear of the subject’s concept.

The software helps you determine your weaknesses, and your instructor can help you with if you request.

That way, in no time, you will ready for your instrument rating written exam.

Passing the instrument rating written exam will be a breeze for you if you follow the instruction in this post.

One last bonus tip to help you pass your exam with an over 90% score in the next section.

How to take an instrument written exam?

I believe you have a clear understanding of the instrument rating theories if you have followed the instructions above.

But did you know many student pilots still fail the instrument rating exam after all these efforts?

I guess you don’t want to be one of them.

Tip number 1: Do not memorize the answers to the test questions to pass the exam.

It’s the wrong way, and you will fail your exam if you find unfamiliar questions. Thus understand each subject and relevant concepts clearly to prepare for the unknown.

Your FAA instrument written test questions may be different, but the questions’ fundamentals will be the same.

Tip number 2: Don’t leave any question unanswered.

Answer every question. Leaving answers blank means you have failed to respond to the item already. If you really can’t find the answer to your question, then make your best guess.

Tip number 3: Do not overthink the answers to any question.

Always go with first instinct. Usually, your first instinct is the right answer to a question.

If you overthink and are confused between two solutions, then answer the first one you thought is correct. Take a close look at the answers.

The FAA often makes slight differences to the options, yet they look correct at first glance. However, you will realize the other option’s tiniest flaw by taking a closer look and breakdown.

Tip number 4: Try to answer the most straightforward questions quickly.

There are only 60 questions, and answering the easier one quicker will leave you with extra time to answer the difficult question.

When you follow the study method I describe in this post, you can answer the most strange question.

If you know the fundamentals and understand the concept, you can answer any item in your instrument rating written exam.

So keep the pace, answer the more straightforward question, and save time for the difficult ones. With proper time management, you will likely finish your exam before the scheduled time.

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