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%.
The simple three steps process:
- Give yourself a time boundary to take the exam;
- Commit to studying for IFR written;
- 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 makes the difference?
Those who works hard and have better resources to study, pass the exam with ease.
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, contrary to 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:
- Rod Machado’s Instrument Pilot’s Handbook;
- Gleim’s Instrument Pilot Test Prep; or
- Instrument rating test prep by Dauntless Aviation.
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 ratings to buy this book rather than studying the FAA’s instrument pilot handbook. In case you studied FAA publications free Instrument handbook, you will view Rod Machado’s book is noticeably improved and illustrated.
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 begin preparation using Rod Machado’s Instrument pilot’s handbook.
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.
On the contrary, if you think Gleims Instrument test prep is a suitable option for you, then go for it.
Finally, to clarify further for instrument rating, you can buy an online course. However, this is optional.
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.
If you have the budget to buy only one instrument rating online course, buy Rod Machado’s Secrets of Instrument Approaches and Departures.
I wouldn’t pick this course for theory studies. To pass your FAA instrument written test, following STEP 1 and STEP 2 is sufficient.
Purchasing this online course is like a final touch for both Instrument written tests and actual IFR flying lessons.
Private pilots frequently struggle with instrument approaches and departure procedures, and these 8+ hours online course will decipher all your approach and departure procedure complications.
Following the STEP 3, you will be ahead of many Instrument rated pilots in the IFR flying world.
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 study book and a test prep online or offline.
A book to study and a test prep to test your knowledge and revise. My recommendations are for you are still the same:
A test prep helps instrument rating trainees to prepare for the written exam.
Test prep software is optional. It helps practice further and test your knowledge after 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 answer a question in test prep repeatedly, you must contact your flight instructor to further clarify the topic.
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 differ, but the questions’ fundamentals will be the same.
Tip number 2: Don’t leave any questions 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.