Did a little ground school work with my new CFI regarding navigation, and I asked about how one determines their correct VFR altitude, as in the odd thousand + 500, or even thousand + 500 thing. My understanding was that it's determined by the course you're flying, and NOT on the heading of the plane. In other words, even if you have to point the plane eastward due to the wind, if the plane is overall moving westward, then you'd do even thousand + 500 feet. He then tells me "no", and you go by whatever the heading of the plane is based on what the compass is telling you. I thought I was misunderstanding him, so I then asked "So, whatever my compass is reading, I go by that in order to determine my correct VFR altitude, no matter how I'm tracking across the ground? In other words, I go by the heading of the plane, and not the course?". To this he said "Yes, you strictly go by where the plane is pointed". This goes against the FAR, which in a nutshell says this: (1) On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd thousand foot MSL altitude +500 feet (such as 3,500, 5,500, or 7,500); or (2) On a magnetic course of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any even thousand foot MSL altitude +500 feet (such as 4,500, 6,500, or 8,500). It deinitely says "magnetic COURSE", NOT "magnetic HEADING"! I couldn't find the definition of magnetic course anywhere in the FAR, but a Google search says: "Magnetic Course is the airplane’s course across the ground, relative to magnetic north." This to me makes sense. I'm also thinking that the ATC people watching you on their radar are expecting you to be at the proper VFR altitude based on how you are tracking across the ground. So, if they see you tracking at say 355 degrees magnetically, they consider you going west, and thus expect even thousand + 500. They couldn't care less about where your plane is pointing. My instructor also said that you never need to compute magnetic course. The one odd thing with this though is that if I'm right, in that you base your VFR altitude on your magnetic course, then why is it not computed when filling out the VFR Navigation log? In that, it's all about headings.