A list of study materials to get your private pilot license with ease.

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how to study for private pilot written exam

Can’t decide which book to buy to have all the wisdom in one place? Looking at lists of study materials for a private pilot license can be frustrating.

Unfortunately, no such book compiles all the aeronautical knowledge to obtain a private pilot license. But if you’re smart, you can pair multiple books to sharpen your aviation knowledge.

I created this list for aspiring pilots to effortlessly grasp aeronautical knowledge without breaking the bank by buying books.

Student pilots are mainly on a budget and can’t spend on private pilot license books they don’t need. Buying books with fancy hardcovers and not reading them is shared among student pilots.

Every time you see books on the shelf of a pilot store, you decide to become a fantastic private pilot and want engaging books to acquire knowledge.

I emphasize purchasing books that are captivating and easy to study. There are plenty of publications that are boring and stuffed with baffling sentences.

private pilot study materials

Private Pilot Handbook.

Rod Machado.

A 704-page long book with extreme depth of aeronautical knowledge in an easy language. Effortlessly learn & comprehend topics like never before using illustrations & images.

Price: $ 84.95

Stay ahead of most student pilots by learning what to expect on your FAA knowledge test. Practice answering MCQs to answer questions correctly during the test period.

Price: $ 53.10

Improve practical flying by reading this book. Spend less time grasping actual flying maneuvers & use superb tips to make flying a breeze with this small investment.

Price: $ 59.95

Don’t fret over your checkride. Revise your aeronautical knowledge before the final day. Understand what DPE expects from a student pilot before signing your eligibility.

Price: $ 13.46

Rules & regulations make Aviation a safer place. Learn to comply with rules and conduct safer flights. Know aerodrome information to ease your flights to new destination airports.

Price: $ 26.96

What are the only study materials you need to buy to get your private pilot license?

Assuming most student pilots are on a budget, I listed the study materials that are reasonably priced. Also, I included some free alternatives that you can find online. Here are the following study materials:

For each book, I mentioned a FREE alternative that you can find online. Likewise, I gave details about why each book is necessary for private pilot license training. So you’ll know where you are spending your hard-earned cash.

Many student pilots like collecting aviation books, and many never study them. I say save your money for something better.

Each book is necessary to improve in different stages of private pilot training. You can purchase all seven books at once or buy them in order as you progress toward a private pilot license.

All these books are acceptable for pilot training in the United States and Globally.

It’s crucial to grasp the right resources to excel at pilot training.

Private/Commercial pilot handbook by Rod Machado to learn aeronautical subjects in depth.

The Private pilot handbook is the first book you must buy to become a private pilot.

You’ll get an introduction to the fundamental of aeronautics from this book. Without studying an aeronautical handbook, you shall not begin your flight training.

You may acquire knowledge from an online PPL ground school and get an endorsement for the FAA private pilot knowledge test, but reading a book makes facts more rational.

You may pass your FAA private pilot knowledge test by taking an online ground school, but a private pilot handbook will further boost your aviation knowledge.

Rod Macahdo did an excellent job of using humor and transparent language to discuss topics in this book.

If you intend to become a competent pilot, there is no better option than reading books and applying in actual flying.

Rod Machado is a pioneer in the aviation training industry and an excellent flight instructor. He authored this handbook for both private and commercial pilot training.

Student pilots need to begin somewhere, and the place to initiate training is by reading this handbook.

This book contains aeronautical information relevant to pilots and safe flight operations.

The biggest setback for student pilots is they find aeronautical subjects overwhelming. Apart from that, authors use tricky language to make studying even harder.

This private pilot handbook stands out from its competition because of its author. Rod Machado is best known for using easy-to-understand and non-monotonous language.

Rod Machado is renowned for his ability to articulate and instill information for novice pilots.

On the contrary, the book has hundreds of illustrations and occasional jokes from Rod Machado to keep studying entertaining.

To become a private pilot, you’ve to study multiple matters you were unaware of before. Thus learning becomes challenging. However, this handbook is best for aspiring pilots for private pilot license training.


Most pilots recommend the Jeppesen private pilot manual for private pilot license training. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best books out there.

The most popular Private pilot Manual. Reasoning this book contains hundreds of images to clarify aviation matters.

Price: $ 84.97

Nevertheless, I’m not fond of the Jeppesen private pilot manual. Indeed, the book has excellent images and illustrations, but I find the language much more demanding to understand.

I suggest beginning pilot training with something easy to understand and remember. Hence, the only alternative to Rod Machado’s private pilot handbook is the Pilot’s handbook of aeronautical knowledge.

It has useful facts and essential detail to get your private pilot license. However, this book is only helpful for getting a private pilot license and no further.

The best part is you can find this book for FREE on FAA’s website. If you want a hard copy, you can order it online.

ASA private pilot test prep+ to practice answering multiple-choice questions and answers.

You finished the private pilot ground school and got your endorsement to take the private pilot knowledge test.

You must pass the FAA private pilot knowledge test to obtain a private pilot license. It’s a straightforward exam that checks your knowledge of aeronautics.

You could answer all the questions by studying the books I mentioned above.

The challenge most student pilots face during the exam is answering all sixty questions in the given period.

But do you know how to prepare for your FAA private pilot knowledge test?

All you need is one book to practice and sharpen your aeronautical knowledge.

The ASA private pilot test prep+ is an MCQ-style book with correct answers to understand topics better.

Use this book to learn what questions to expect in your private pilot knowledge test. Practice answering the questions in this book and know the why behind a correct answer.

Many PART 61 student pilots take flying as a hobby and encounter a theory exam after a long time. Student pilots who have already forgotten the sense of taking a written exam must practice ahead of time.

To experience the feeling of taking the MCQ exam, you need a Private pilot knowledge test prep.

The book has hundreds of questions on aeronautical subjects and prepares you for the exam.

Nevertheless, I recommend all student pilots practice using this book to cement aeronautical cases.

Study this book like you are taking a mock test and look for the correct information in the right column of the book to understand why an answer is wrong. That way, the facts would get drilled into your brain.

Consider this book as a mock test for the private pilot license written exam.

Practicing using this book instills knowledge further and makes it difficult to forget once you learn.

As a result, you’re ready to pass your private pilot knowledge test. This book also comes with software to take mock tests on your PC.


There is an alternative to ASA’s private pilot test prep+. The Gleim’s test prep is also an excellent choice to practice for the private pilot knowledge test.

The last option I recommend that compliments Rod Machado’s private/commercial pilot handbook is the eWorkbook by Rod Machado.

The best workbook to combine with Rod Machado’s Private pilot handbook. Test your knowledge for an affordable price.

Price: $ 19.95

Using this workbook and the handbook is also an excellent way to understand and memorize topics.

I decided to add this book to the list because FAA frequently changes questions in their question bank, and if you only memorize answers to a specific question, you would have a hard time answering questions in the exam.

Using this workbook is a perfect alternative to prepare for unseen questions.

What issues may you face without studying this book?

Many student pilots underestimate the use of knowledge test prep before the exam. Without practicing this book, the student pilots have no clue what they will see in the written exam.

Even though they study the Private pilot handbook and have the intellect, they fail to process the correct answer within the limited time.

In this situation, student pilots become more confused and answer incorrectly. As a result, many student pilots fail the private pilot knowledge test.

“How to fly an airplane handbook” to understand flight operations and become competent in actual flying.

Flying an aircraft is the only way to sharpen your flight maneuvers and operation skills. However, it isn’t apparent how reading books can contribute to the flight performance of student pilots.

Many student pilots naturally acquire flying skills quickly, and others have difficulty getting their first solo flight.

For some student pilots, the situation can be embarrassing.

Instead of discussing with others how they got their solo flight quickly, get your hands on “How to fly an airplane handbook” by Rod Machado. This book teaches simple tips and tricks and how to apply them to become a better pilot.

Many student pilots fly for hours with flight instructors yet fail to perfect airplane landing.

In VFR flights, the landing begins even before entering the traffic pattern.

One mistake leads to another and, finally, a lousy landing. With little changes to how you maneuver the aircraft during and timing, a turn can significantly improve your touchdown.

A flight instructor can’t explain all the details during a flight, but if you read a flying handbook, you’ll know every tiny detail about controlling an aircraft.

The FAA requires 40 hours of flying time, 20 hours solo and 20 hours dual, to become eligible for a private pilot license. The reality is far from this. Student pilots in America fly around 60 hours to get their private pilot license.

Student pilots’ most prominent issue is landing an aircraft smoothly. If you can’t land a plane safely even after hundred hours of flying time, your flight instructor would never release you for solo flights.

Student pilots who take longer to get their first solo flight flies more hours than the required 40 hours to obtain a private pilot license, and the entire process becomes lengthier.

Study the How to fly an airplane flying handbook to make learning quicker and safer for airplane operations.

  • The book will teach you the aircraft limits and to what point you can maneuver an aircraft.
  • This book boosts your confidence.
  • You’ll notice the tiny things that matter that you ignored before.

I suggest everyone utilize this book during their flight training. How can you do so?

  • On every flight, note where you struggle the most;
  • After each flight, refer to the note and study the chapter where it explains your flying problems;
  • After reviewing that chapter, apply your new lessons during your next flight;
  • Practice regularly to become better at flying.

Every student pilot has difficulty controlling the airplane at the beginning of flight training.

The worst part is when a student pilot struggles to descend and maintain the centerline while steadily landing the aircraft.

A student pilot doesn’t know the simple tricks to operate an airplane smoothly.

In the How to fly an airplane handbook, you’ll find many simple yet helpful pieces of advice to operate smooth flights.

A flight instructor doesn’t always remember every necessary information to share with student pilots during flight training. I don’t blame flight instructors for doing so because student pilots are also responsible for learning from different sources.

Therefore, reading and learning from a book like this can drastically enhance your flight performance.

Imagine learning everything from your flight instructor; you can’t be further from the truth.

Your flight instructor may be an excellent pilot but doesn’t have the moment or patience to teach each trick during a flight.

In the How to fly an airplane handbook, you can learn all the details about operating an airplane. You’ll identify why the aircraft behaved as it did on your last flight and how to prevent it from happening the next time.

A flight instructor may think sharing a piece of information is unworthy, but the author of this book generously shared everything.

After reading this book, your flight performance will improve, and you’ll readily get your first solo flight. As a result, you would be ready to get your PPL before many others.


There is an excellent book by FAA that you can find for free on FAA’s website.

The airplane flying handbook is in plain language and offers on-point instructions to become better at flying. However, this book misses all the details you can find in Rod Machado’s book.

The airplane flying handbook is in comprehendible language for better clarity.

If you prefer a hard copy, you can order it online.

Students mostly struggle during takeoffs and landings. An inexpensive course from Rod Machado is available to master the art of takeoffs and landings.

Yet again, the best alternative book to learn practical flying is the Airplane Flying Handbook from FAA.

You can find the airplane flying handbook on Amazon. The book is inexpensive, unlike the How to fly an airplane handbook.

The airplane flying handbook by FAA is in comprehensive language, but this book contains significantly less content than the first choice.

If you are a visual learner, you can enroll in this short course and watch the flying lessons.

Oral exam guide for building confidence to face the examiner on your private pilot checkride.

Now that you are at the final stage of your private pilot training, you must prepare for your checkride.

At this stage of your private pilot training, you will naturally be ready to answer all the questions of your designated pilot examiner. However, it’s better to recognize the questions to anticipate during your oral exam.

Checkride is often intimidating for student pilots. Many student pilots fail their checkride because they are not confident.

Designated pilot examiners are predominantly friendly, yet student pilots fret over what a check pilot may ask.

Hence it would be best if you prepared for your checkride. A check pilot wouldn’t ask you anything outside the stage of your pilot training.

In case a pilot asks you something beyond a private pilot’s knowledge, understand that you have already satisfied the check pilot, and he is testing what else you know.

It means the check-ride oral exam and practical exam are straightforward. If you use the above private pilot study materials, as I explained in this article, you’ll pass your checkride.

However, to prepare for all the questions, your examiner might ask, read the private pilot oral exam guide thoroughly.

Private pilot checkride has two parts:

  • The oral exam: The DPE will ask scenario-based questions relevant to your navigational Flightplan;
  • The practical exam: It’s a cross-country flight, and you will demonstrate maneuvers according to the ACS.

The private pilot oral exam guide aims to boost your confidence.

To pass a private pilot knowledge test, you need a test prep to practice the questions and answers. An oral exam guide functions similarly to preparing for the checkride oral exam.

Studying an oral exam guide is familiarizing yourself with the questions designated pilot examiners (DPE) typically ask.

After reading this book, you’ll know what to expect on your checkride oral exam and how to answer them briefly to make the grade.

At this stage of private pilot training, a student pilot knows most of the information, but explaining it to an examiner in an organized way makes all the difference.

What issues may you face without this book?

This book is essential to pass your private pilot checkride. If you can’t meet your Designated pilot examiner’s high hopes, you’ll fail the checkride.

As a result, waiting until you’re ready to re-take the checkride and obtaining a private pilot license will be delayed.


Use the FAA Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) to understand the essential skills of a private pilot and what you may need to demonstrate to your Designated Pilot Examiner.

What does FAA expect a private pilot to know? You can find all the answers in this book. A private pilot must meet certain aspects to make aviation a safer place for everyone.

Price: $ 19.95

Airmen Certification Standards is not truly an alternative but an essential book for aspiring pilots.

By studying this book, you’ll know what is expected from a competent pilot. You’ll learn the specialties to conduct safe flights.

The ACS is a must-have book to prepare for the private pilot checkride. The Designated pilot examiner would ask you to demonstrate different flight maneuvers during your practical exam.

The designated pilot examiner will examine your performance.

It’s essential to know all the basic maneuvers and perform them precisely to satisfy the DPE.

The DPE’s priority is to ensure you’re well-experienced in performing maneuvers and conducting safe flights.

The ACS gives you the big picture of what to expect and perform in your practical exam for a private pilot license.

What issues may you encounter without this book?

Without this book, you would not know the basic standards for becoming a private pilot. Naturally, you would stick to knowing what you learned only from your flight instructor.

So, to have an overview of the airman certification principles, you must go through this book.

RELATED: Checkride Prep Materials.

FAR/AIM to refer to FAA regulation and Aerodrome information as necessary.

The last book I find essential for pilots of all stages is the update FAR/AIM.

This book details all the Federal Aviation Regulations and Aerodrom information.

It’s best to keep a hard copy of this book handy. You can keep the PDF version on your iPad, but having a book aids in an emergency.

As a pilot, you must be aware of all the Federal Aviation Regulations to operate safe flights.

Rules and regulations are crucial for ensuring safety. If you study the rules, you can prevent yourself from harm’s way.

On the other hand, you’ll see questions during your private pilot knowledge test related to Aviation regulations. You can find the updated answers to those questions in the current version of this book.

It doesn’t mean you’ve to purchase this book every year. Having the most updated version is adequate for learning the fundamentals of flight operations in Federal airspace.

FAR/AIM stands for: Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual.

As a pilot, you must know the aviation regulations to maintain a safe flight.

The FAR/AIM contains all the rules and regulations for flying in American airspace. Thus it’s an essential book for all pilots operating in the USA.

Pilots flying in other countries must refer to their respective Civil Aviation regulation books. Though Federal aviation regulation is the mother of almost all civil aviation regulations, it’s best to refer to individual regulations to avoid treacherous situations.

Following improper regulations can jeopardize the safety of your flight. However, having this book is a must if you’re operating in the United States.

This book also has all the Aeronautical Information required to fly and operate in various airports in the USA.

Having all this information in your spare is critical at times.

6. Pilot Weather.

Weather is a crucial aspect of flying. Yet, many VFR pilots don’t realize the need to understand the weather. Private pilots may think understanding the weather is explicitly for IFR pilots only. This ignorance can lead to a catastrophe for pilots.

Weather makes flying very challenging unless you know how to avoid weather. An intelligent pilot knows the dangers and limits of weather flying. This book teaches you everything about aviation weather.

Price: $ 72.15

There is a book about aviation weather and rarely do private pilots consider reading this book.

Reading this book would keep private pilots out of danger.

Imagine you take off one day, and before you know it, the weather changes. What would you do in this situation?

I know private pilots train to avoid adverse weather. Remember this: weather is unpredictable, and a lot happens in nature surrounding us.

If you read this book, you’ll learn precisely when and how to prevent exposure to adverse weather and perhaps even save your life.

Despite having experienced pilots in the cockpit, many airliners had fatalities only because of bad weather.

Indeed, IFR pilots must learn about aviation weather and decipher weather reports and forecasts.

It’s not any less critical for a VFR pilot to predict the weather and how the airplane would react in such weather.

Pilot Weather is a meteorology book explicitly published for pilots to become great at their profession.

Both meteorology and aviation are fascinating subjects, and this book is a must-read for all pilots, regardless of their stage of training.

What issues may you face without reading this book?

A seasonal private pilot who flies once in a while and selects the best weather for flying may not need this book. However, a pilot that flies regularly or is a private pilot building hours to become a commercial pilot undoubtedly needs this book.

Not knowing the weather and wildly predicting the weather can be fatal for you and your passengers.

This book is to help all pilots, from students to professional airline pilots.

What are the alternatives to Pilot Weather?

There is a popular book among pilots about aviation weather. It’s the Weather Flying. It talks about the journey of a pilot and shares his experience flying in various weather.

Though the book is an excellent read, many materials in that book are irrelevant today.

In this age, advanced technology makes many things more manageable, and Weather Flying is not the best book to refer to if you want to become a great pilot.

Yet, if you have the time and want to look at this book, you can find it in any pilot store.


In this article, I mentioned the only study materials to get your private pilot license as a competent pilot.

The books mentioned here can be used by both PART 141 and PART 61 pilots.

Some books are pricey, but you always get what you pay for. Most pilot training books are like an investment and can aid you throughout your entire flight training.

Regardless I mentioned inexpensive alternatives for each book.

Some books are essential, but the first two books are adequate to pass your private pilot knowledge test and checkride during your entire flight training.

Lastly, I want to mention that piling up your shelf with aviation books won’t help if you don’t put effort into becoming an intelligent pilot.


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