I'm just curious about difference between US and European exams

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by LongRoadBob, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    My experience in Norway:

    - ground school test you first to see if you are ready to take the exams. They in effect screen students.
    - minumum 20 hours ground school classroom is required.

    You get an email from the equivalent of the FAA explaining where the exam is held in your area (in my case Oslo, Norway, in Asker at Scandic hotel conference room) and the rules.

    You are allowed to take with you:
    - a simple non memory calculator, with only numeric keys and simple as well as square root function
    - protractor, ruler, e6B or equivalent with no instruction booklet, compass (for radius, was not needed) pencil, eraser.
    - no telephone, had to remove wristwatch, no backpacks, etc.

    Then:
    - you sit alone and get a packet with your name in it, with nine subjects quizzes, one answer sheet, a scratch sheet of paper that will be turned in at completion, and a complaint sheet if you want to spend time contesting a question.

    - you have, I think it was, five hours to complete. Each quiz is twenty questions.

    - here it is kind of murky. The regs say, you can take exams up to six times but can fail only four. If you fail any one subject four times you have to start over. Go through ground school again. In reality when failing more than one, they require you take all failed subjects again next exam so no way to spread them out.

    - you wait three full weeks of hell before you get the results.

    I passed six of nine with good grades, but terrible (60's) with the three I didn't pass.
    Even worse, I had to pay full price again to retake the three. If I had only failed to subjects I would have only paid half price to retake them. Oh well.

    I got great grades on the three remaining second time around.

    Very tricky questions, all students complain that it seems designed to trick you instead of measure your understanding. I felt this too, but also...I can see the value in making students be very aware of what exactly is being asked or answered, in a pressure situation, some of the questions were cheap though, and mixed in with the very tricky were ridiculously easy questions. Not just for my bias, but I mean so easy that if you couldn't answer correct you should have been weeded out already. While other ones, had usually two correct answers, both were true, but there was one "best" correct. Sometimes you had to try to anticipate their mindset.


    How does this differ from the US?
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  2. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route

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    One big item about US test is the test questions are published (most of them anyway). However they dont publish the answers. So you take free practice tests on your schools computer until you are passing with room to spare, go in and pass the test the first time. At least thats what most of us do. There is no required ground school, just an instructor's signoff. For most private pilots, the written is not much of a stumbling block to the certificate. Sticking it out to the end, passing the practical and having enough money to complete the hours are all much more difficult for most.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  3. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Testing in US is done at commercial test centers using one of two available software systems to present ~100 questions pulled from the FAA test question bank. The qualification to take the test is nearly always a CFI sign-off. Cost of the test is set by the FAA.

    The test has an FAA supplied booklet (supplement) with various portions of charts and other aviation stuff. In the past the supplement was poorly reproduced and added to the error when determining correct answers.

    E-6B with instructions allowed. Electronic E-6B allowed. Non-memory calculators allowed. Scratch paper and pencil provided. Backpack maybe could stay in the room but better not touch it.

    Test questions were designed so very few people could get 100% correct. Some questions were very situation dependent (emergency off field landing at night) that required the specific canned FAA approved answer.

    Fail the exam? Pay full price to retake.

    Edit to add: brain dump after each exam to get rid of the useless FAA crap in my brain. The hours of flying, discussions with instructors, and the practical exam are far more meaningful for actually flying the aircraft. Instrument stuff is a little different -gotta remember more rules.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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  4. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    When i took my PPL test, I spent the first ten minutes scribbling things on the provided scratch paper that I wanted to remember--like correction factors for DA, figuring cloud bases from temperatures, other simple equations from the books that I had not used while flying.

    Oh, I took the written test near the end of my training, after finishing most if not all of my XC hours.
     
  5. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    If I'm reading correctly your standards are more stringent than the US.

    Here we take the whole question series and a raw percentage determines passage. We are not subjected to a minimum score per subject area. So, we could essentially miss every weather question without failing.
     
  6. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    Ok. I do know a lot of folks here travel to England or the US for ground school (and also actual flight instruction is cheaper in both places so some also do the whole thing) and they day it is easier there. I don't know. I do get the the impression from folks that have don it that the US at least is better at actual flight training.

    Luckily I have a great instructor, he's an experienced pilot and does acro, but I get thi pressing that here it is heavy on thirty but in the US, heavier on stick and rudder and flying.
     
  7. upstateny

    upstateny Line Up and Wait

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    Pet peeve -
    To be a Coast Guard licensed captain, there was a battery of tests on various topics and I had to get 90% or better on each one to pass.
    To be a scuba instructor, there was a battery of tests on various topics and I had to get 80% or better on each one to pass.
    To be a pilot there was one test covering all the topics and I only needed a 70% or better.

    What's wrong with this picture?
     
  8. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nothing is necessarily wrong. I can design tests so that avg students score 90%. I can design tests that no one scores over 50%.
     
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  9. Wheels

    Wheels Pre-takeoff checklist

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    To be a Coast Guard licensed captain you needed 90% or better on each written test but there was no oral or practical.
    To be a scuba instructor you needed 80% or better on each written test and there was a practical but no oral.
    To be a pilot you needed a 70% or better on the test but had to pass an oral and practical.

    With both an oral and practical it is possible to measure your knowledge and abilities much better than with just a multiple choice test.
     
  10. upstateny

    upstateny Line Up and Wait

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    I was just talking about the written. Seems like with the first two, if one didn't know what to do, they could just stop. Not so with flying.

    And yes, tests can be designed so you can get any result you want.
     
  11. Wheels

    Wheels Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you just talk about the written then it looks like becoming a pilot is the easiest of the three certifications. I found it much more challenging to become a pilot than either of the other two.

    Since you can attend a prep course for USCG captains and your graduation certificate serves as an equivalence to passing the written tests, for a lot of charter captains I know the hardest part of getting a license was passing a drug test. Although your post makes it appear that it is much harder to get a captain’s license than a pilot’s license the reality is much different if you include the entire testing process.
     
  12. Half Fast

    Half Fast Cleared for Takeoff

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    The US test appears to do a random draw from the pool of test questions. Okay, but...

    The random draw does not ensure coverage of the subjects. I had several chart questions, but they were all airspace and airport questions. Not a single navigation question on my entire test. Not one.

    Also only one weather question.

    Of course, not knowing what you may get you have to study it all, but the test itself does not guarantee knowledge of all subjects. I scored a 93 without demonstrating I knew anything at all about navigation. Seems weak.

    OTOH, the XC solo is a pretty good test of navigation. Also the flight planning and review with the CFI covers weather fairly well.

    I think the entire licensing process as a whole does a decent job and everything gets covered somewhere, just not necessarily on the written.
     
  13. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I doubt that there is much difference between the European and U.S. tests. It's pretty much the same material.

    The one thing that I've noticed is that in the U.S., unlike Europe, there's quite the cottage industry selling test preparation. This probably appeals to young people for whom passing, or not, can have financial and career consequences.

    In my situation, my world does not depend on passing this exam. I'm reading the materials that the FAA has published, the handbook for the plane that I'm training on, and that's about it. I turned down one flight school that insisted that I purchase Cessna's video course. I couldn't see the point of it, and I was underwhelmed (that's putting it charitably) by the presenters.

    Based on what I know at the moment, I'm also not planning to take any materials to the exam, including a flight computer, manual or electronic. We're talking about grade school arithmetic plus a couple of very simple formulas.

    There's only so much time that I'm prepared to put into this, and I want to spend that time focusing on learning to actually fly the plane.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  14. Half Fast

    Half Fast Cleared for Takeoff

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    Please consider this carefully. I respectfully suggest a better and safer mindset would be “I am prepared to put in however much time is required.” There is much more to flying than what you mean by “actually flying the plane” and failure to give sufficient attention to the entire subject can have very serious consequences.
     
  15. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Actually, I wrote that quite deliberately.

    I need to know the FAA materials (which are comprehensive and well written) and the handbook for my plane. I do not need to spend time and money supporting the US cottage industry in test preparation and “interactive” video tutorials, which are in fact rightly criticized for resulting in exam results based on rote memorization.
     
  16. Half Fast

    Half Fast Cleared for Takeoff

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    No argument. I did not use any of the formal ground school materials. Just the PHAK and the FAR, plus an online practice test. But I put in a lot of study time. Your post sounds like you may be unwilling to put in adequate study time and just want to get into the airplane and fly. If I am misinterpreting that forgive me; taken at face value it sounds risky.
     
  17. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think my point was that I need to know what is in the FAA materials and my plane’s manual.

    As it happens, I am doing a few other things. If you look at a recent thread that I started (https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...ences-between-manual-flight-computers.107731/), you will find that I’ve read the original patent applications for the E6B and CR flight computers. As a result, I know a bit about how they work. I also know enough about the FAA test, and enough grade school arithmetic, and how easy it is to compute things like density altitude to a precision these devices won’t, that I wouldn’t bother bringing one to the test.

    I’ve also come across a UK/Australian book on traditional air navigation, apparently the standard text in the U.K., that is head and shoulders above anything available on the subject in the US. For this ocean sailor, quite a good read.

    What I’m not going to do is throw money at the Kings, Sporty’s, Gleim, ASA, or go to one of the many commercial cram sessions, so that I can waste a lot of time (and money) effectively memorizing the answers to the questions. Which as far as I can tell, seems to have become the norm in the US.

    Yes, I have only so much time to spend on this and I intend to focus on learning to actually fly the plane.

    I hope that’s clear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  18. pepsi

    pepsi Filing Flight Plan

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    Theory is easier in north america, flight test are more difficult.
     
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  19. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    Center vs Centre and Tire vs Tyre?