A guide to achieve over 93% in your PPL written exam.

how to study for private pilot written exam

To improve flight performance and pass the FAA private pilot written exam, you need a step-by-step guide.

I passed my PPL exam with an over 90% score, and I followed the exact method.

I shared a private pilot study guide for passing the FAA knowledge test. Similarly, this post will help student pilots to pass their PPL oral and check-ride.

I divided the article into several sections for you to obtain your private pilot license quicker:

  1. Online ground school course to gain aeronautical knowledge;
  2. Books or software that you need to familiarize with the FAA questionnaire;
  3. Only two books to ace your oral and check-ride;
  4. A Step by Step PPL study guide to master both flying and theory knowledge;
  5. Tips on taking the exam for better chances of scoring high.

If passing the written test is your only concern, then all you need is to memorize questions and answers using private pilot practice test preps.

Nevertheless, if you intend to eliminate any chance of failing your PPL exams, You need a combination of an online pilot ground school course with a couple of books.

Aeronautical Knowledge Books.Resources for Written Exam.Books to Master Flying.Passing Oral and Check-ride.
Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Handbook.Dauntless Aviation Test Prep Software.Rod’s How to Fly an Airplane Handbook.ASA’s Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide.
Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual.Gleim’s PPL Test Prep Book.ASA’s Airplane Flying Handbook.Gleim Oral Exam Guide.
Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.FAR/AIM

Seeing all these books on the table may seem overwhelming. A student pilot doesn’t need to study all those books. But reading books indeed helps. I described later in the post which book is essential for which phase of your private pilot training.

Which online course to gain aeronautical knowledge?

Attending a structured ground school course is essential for acquiring aeronautical knowledge. However, physical ground school is not a requirement for the private pilot knowledge test.

So, you can enroll in an online pilot course or a physical ground school course.

To obtain aeronautical knowledge and the private pilot written exam endorsement, one must take ground school and complete the corresponding tests to become eligible for a private pilot license.

I prefer online PPL courses. Therefore, I suggest it to all student pilots. Online courses are affordable and convenient for self-studying.

RELATED: Online ground school vs. Physical classroom.

I suggest buying Rod Machado’s online course for student pilots.

  1. Once you complete Rod Machado’s PPL ground school course and pass the tests, you will get your PPL knowledge test endorsement.
  2. Rod Machado is an excellent instructor with 40 years of experience. Thus, learning from him is a privilege.
  3. His explanation techniques are understandable, and you will remember topics concisely.

Often student pilots struggle to keep pace with the overwhelming information in a physical ground school course.

Taking an online ground school course like this, you can repeat and re-watch lessons.

This eLearning course with Rod Machado’s PPL handbook and Dauntless Aviation test prep is a powerful combination to pass the FAA knowledge test with ease.

RELATED: Online ground school vs. Classroom.

Anyone training for a private pilot license knows about Jeppesen’s private pilot manual. Without a doubt, this book is excellent for learning the fundamentals of flying.

Most of us don’t know about the Private Pilot handbook by Rod Machado.

Purchasing any one of these books is excellent for student pilots.

Remember this: Aeronautical subjects are overwhelming initially, and studying everything you get your hands on will lower your chances of failing the private pilot written exam.

Another mentionable book is the ASA’s Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. You can check it here for FREE.

The only books or software that you need to familiarize yourself with the FAA questionnaire.

Lastly, a crucial self-study element is test prep. Memorizing a complete book is not reasonable, but grasp the facts by studying a handbook.

To test your aeronautical knowledge, how much you have learned, and how well prepared you are for your exam, you need private pilot mock test books or software.

The two best options to test your aeronautical knowledge are:

  1. Dauntless Aviation test preparation software;
  2. Gleim’s Private Pilot Test Prep.

There are numerous benefits of using test preps to practice before the PPL written exam. I discussed more the benefits in this article >>> Private pilot practice test.

Test preps are essential for the private pilot studying method. A critical aspect of using test prep is answering multiple-choice questions using a timer similar to the actual test.

Thus I prefer the Dauntless Aviation test prep software. This test prep is very popular since 1997 among student pilots.

It isn’t easy to pass the private pilot written test solely by reading a textbook. You need at least some idea of the type of questions you will see in the exam. A test prep software exactly helps you to do that.

RELATED: How difficult is the private pilot written exam?

As a student pilot:

I memorized all the questions and answers from Gleim’s test prep and passed the exam with 90%+ marks.

However, today it’s more competitive, and to test a pilot’s aeronautical knowledge, FAA modifies the questionnaire.

Failure to understand a topic, you may fail your private pilot knowledge test. Therefore, to understand and master aeronautical subjects, online pilot courses are essential.

Step by Step guide to study for the private pilot written exam.

Most important is to set a deadline. Select a date on which you will take your FAA private pilot knowledge test.

The best practice is to set a date for three months from now.

Two months is adequate for any student pilot to prepare for the private pilot knowledge test.

The steps described in this article are not only to pass your exams with a 70% mark. Follow the instructions, and you will pass the exam with a 90%+ score.

Step 1: Buy only the books necessary.

The common mistake of student pilots is they buy many unnecessary books. Student pilots deem they have to study a lot to pass the FAA private pilot knowledge test.

And most of the time, they buy books that they never read.

So only purchase these two books:

  • Rod Machado’s Private pilot handbook;
  • Gleim’s private pilot test prep.

RELATED: The only books you need as a student pilot.

Step 2: Make a routine.

The routine must be like this:

  • Study for 2.5 hours each day;
  • Use an hour to memorize at least 20 questions and answer from Gleims’s test prep;
  • Another hour to read the Rod Machado’s Handbook;
  • Watch 30 minutes of Rod Machado’s eLearning every day.

This system is just an example. You can make your routine which you think is suitable.

Gleim’s test prep is designed for student pilots to practice in MCQ style. Why an answer is correct is also explained next to the questions.

If you want to study in-depth about any topic, refer to Rod Machado’s handbook for better understanding.

Step 3: Watch the eLearning course and use the tools for practice.

The purpose of an online ground school is to prepare you for everything.

Take your time and watch the online ground school course at your own pace.

Buy the online course by Rod Machado before buying your books. Online courses come with multiple available resources, and you will get Rod Machado’s private pilot eHandbook for FREE.

Likewise, the online course by Rod Machado comes with a practice test after each chapter. That will allow student pilots to take mock tests.

Pass all the exams, and you will be eligible for an endorsement to take the FAA knowledge test.

Once you get your endorsement, you can schedule a date for taking the test in the FAA.


You may wonder: Why do you need to pass the exam with a better score?

Once a student pilot passes the FAA private pilot written exam with excellent scores, the check ride becomes easier for the pilot.

There are two reasons for that:

  1. You have adequate knowledge of aeronautical subjects and can answer check pilot’s questions quickly;
  2. Likewise, when the check pilot sees your excellent score in the written exam, they avoid asking too many questions.

If you follow all the instructions in this guide, you will not only ace your written exam, but you will be overall a better pilot.

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