New IFR Test Observations

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by FlyingTiger, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. FlyingTiger

    FlyingTiger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just took the IFR written on Friday. Since they recently changed the testing format, figured I'd give some observations while it was fresh in my mind.

    First off, as has been widely publicized, the vast majority of the questions are new and not published in the study databases so you can't just memorize the answers and expect to pass. That being said, I did see 4 or 5 that looked really familiar. I'm guessing they may have changed some of the wording of the wrong answers on these or at least the order of the answers but they were close enough for me to consider them duplicates.

    Overall I felt the test was fair for the most part. The new questions did appear to have more an emphasis on scenario based questions but most were reasonable and you knew what they were looking for. That being said, as with every FAA exam I have ever taken, there were a few that had me scratching my head as to what they were actually asking. One question said I was "at final" on a GPS approach?? The use of "at final" was confusing to me, they didn't mean final approach fix because there was another similar question where they did specifically state final approach fix. If they said on final, I would of assumed I was between the FAF and MAP. Maybe that makes sense to you guys but "at final" had me scratching my head.

    Another question talked about how during climb out you experience increased air temperature, turbulence and clear skies. The two competing answers were temperature inversion or indications of unstable air mass. Well the two aren't mutually exclusive and you can have both. That was the most annoying question on the test, lol.

    Another item of note is that they had 3 winds aloft questions on a 60 question test. That seemed excessive to me and be forewarned, they estimate the speeds in the answer. This had me second guessing myself with the ones where you had to add 50 to the heading for winds speeds over 100kts. Why estimate when there is a way of calculating an exact answer? I got them correct but spent a lot more time then I should have because I thought maybe I was doing something wrong.

    I used Gleim for my test prep. I was a little concerned that under the new format their information might be outdated but after taking the test, I can conclude that it did provide everything necessary. I'm guessing that goes for the other study courses as well. As long as you understand the material, you will be fine. My score after working through all the study material was a 90 and that is exactly what I got on the test. Ironically, I took the Commercial last year after scoring a 94 in their course and ended up with, yep you guessed it, a 94 on the actual exam.

    If anyone has any questions post them and I'll do my best to respond.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  2. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Congratulations. I took my written a month ago. Now I need a bunch of hood time to finish up the hours for the rating. I also had one question on the written test that took up 1/3 of my time in the room, because two of the answers were equally plausible. It was a flight planning question and the correct answer would have been (numbers made up now to approximate what I can't exactly remember from the test) 42 minutes but the two closest answers were 38 and 47. Between the two, 47 minutes was significantly closer to the ground speed that I calculated (four different ways by the time I was done) but 38 was closer in minutes so I went with that. I didn't get any missed question categories for flight planning, so either I got it "right" or I was a guinea pig for that question. Glad I didn't get yours. With numbers I at least knew they were wrong. Weather phenomena might have given me an aneurism trying to decide which way to go.

    Did the Gleim commercial course help prepare you for the flying skills or just for the written test? I'm planning to work toward my CPL once I am a little closer to 250 hours. I used the Sporty's iPad app for my instrument rating and the videos were actually helpful to understand the flying skills before getting into the cockpit, as well as giving me a written test endorsement and good preparation for the written test itself.
     
  3. somorris

    somorris Pattern Altitude

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    Congratulations FlyingTiger, and thanks for the PIREP.
     
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  4. farmerbrake

    farmerbrake Line Up and Wait

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    Did the book they give you during the test (the name is escaping me right now....) have the legends section in the front? I'm prepping for my commercial written and my test book from ASA does not have it?
     
  5. FlyingTiger

    FlyingTiger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes, all the legends were in an appendix in the front of the testing supplement; also a few other things like a glide slope chart, inoperative equipment minimums. You raise a good point; check out what information is provided to you first so you know what you have at your disposal. I had a minimums increase question with an inoperative lighting system. I couldn't find any help on the plate. Decided to look in the testing supplement and sure enough found what I needed to answer the question.

    iamtheari, Gleim's study course didn't provide any assistance for flying skills other then the theoretical stuff required for the written.
     
  6. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Is that the one where they give you a flight, including SID and STAR and ask you to calculate the time to the minute on the assumption the winds will be exactly as forecast and you will never get vectors for traffic, clearance amendments, holds, etc?

    If so, AFAIK it's a rarity. I've only seen it once. On my CFII written. Not in any test prep or anything. I looked at it, figured, "what BS" and didn't waste my time.
     
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  7. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I saw those in my test prep, and didn't waste time on them. I knew I could get one figured out well within my extra time if it came up on the test and I did most of my test prep on the iPad on the couch or in bed without a pencil, calculator, or scratch paper anywhere in sight. I am glad to hear that they aren't likely to come up in any test I'll ever take, and I can just focus on the ridiculous CPL questions about distance and time to station based on the CDI.

    This question was not one of those complete flight planning questions. It was a very simple one-leg airway calculation, of the form: Refer to Figure X (IFR low altitude en route chart). How long will it take to fly from VOR A to VOR B on Victor Whatever? Winds are 123 at 45. (Again, all numbers are made up because I immediately forgot them after I walked out of the test.) I even tried to make simple mistakes like going the wrong direction on the airway, messing with true vs. magnetic headings for the wind, and so on. Nothing I could do got me any closer to the possible answers. The answer choices were just wrong.
     
  8. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Ah, you mean the one with the unlisted correct answer:
    (e) If you kept flying straight instead of turning off course, you'd be there by now.​
    :D
     
  9. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Exactly. For job security, a compensated commercial pilot should probably stick to the revenue-generating route rather than flying so far in the wrong direction that he can use the CDI to determine accurately how far away from the station he is.
     
  10. RotorDude

    RotorDude Pattern Altitude

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    If the OAT rises as you climb, the air mass around you is considered "stable" (i.e. a rising warm bubble of air would immediately sink back down since it cools adiabatically as it rises and would become heavier than the surrounding air). We normally call that section of air an "inversion layer".
    For "instability", the air has to get colder (more than average) as you climb, which is not what your example states. So I don't see any ambiguity, unless I am missing something.
     
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  11. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Line Up and Wait

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    I think the reference to turbulence indicates that it's an unstable air mass. IMO A temperature inversion would be more like a clear cloudless night where the air is smooth and stable.
     
  12. RotorDude

    RotorDude Pattern Altitude

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    Turbulence is typically correlated to instability (due to rising thermals), but not always. It can also be caused by wind going around (and over) terrain, so turbulence is not a definitive indicator of instability. OTOH, a rising OAT as you climb indicates temperature inversion (hence stable air) by definition, so the answer to the exam question is straightforward. And a temperature inversion is not necessarily related to cloudless sky, since clouds can form at many different levels (that have their own lapse rate), and clouds require moisture (no moisture, no clouds).
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  13. cowman

    cowman En-Route

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    Those kinds of questions infuriate me so much. Estimation is an important tool for a pilot and it definitely has it's time and place- but put into a calculation question on a test right now it doesn't make any sense.

    I would set up a question in a more realistic way... eg Your fuel indicator is bouncing between 10 and 15 gallons, your ground speed has been between 130 and 140kts for the past hour. Your destination is 135nm away, do you need to divert for fuel?

    Ok so maybe that's a no-brainer but you get the idea... a question where if you estimate optimistically you don't need more gas but if you estimate pessimistically you do.
     
  14. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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    Do they provide an e6b or do bring my own. was it even needed. Sounds like its only 1-2 questions out of 60. Silly how they still expect us to do these calculations by hand when there are apps out there that can do it a fraction of the time. I'm using King and may use gleim as well after KING. Halfway through king now. thanks for PIREP!!
     
  15. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I brought my whiz-wheel E6B and an old version of the Sporty's electronic one. They did not allow me to use the electronic one, which I believe I was supposed to be allowed to have but I didn't fight it. I used the whiz wheel on maybe 2 or 3 questions. The electronic testing software has a flight computer built into it that you can use, as well.

    Another category of questions that I saw a lot of in my practice tests but not on the real exam were those stupid ones where they give you a flight plan form with true airspeed and altitude and then ask you what calibrated speed you need to maintain to match your planned TAS. Easy on an E6B but not useful and not on the actual test I took. So they seem to be cutting back on E6B-solvable questions. But bring one anyhow. They're actually fun to use and we don't really use them other than in written tests anymore.
     
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  16. FlyingTiger

    FlyingTiger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sad to say I had temperature inversion as my answer and changed it. Figured it couldn't be that easy and got hung up on the additional information provided i.e. turbulent air and clear skies. I don't recall ever reading that increasing temp was a sign of stable air so appreciate your input; now I know.

    lmanny, you are allowed to bring an electronic E6B. Think I only used it once or twice.
     
  17. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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    thanks for the reply FlyingTiger. did you do the Geim KIT or just the test prep thats some 65 bucks?

    Iamtheari, thanks for the reply as well.
     
  18. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    @RotorDude beat me to it. They definitely wanted the "inversion" answer, @FlyingTiger. They purposefully worded it to get you to scratch your head with "turbulence" though.

    An example of how you'd have an inversion (stable air) with turbulence is what we get every winter here in Denver...

    The city is in a "bowl" and creates a heated "dome" of air that is trapped below the much much colder air blowing across the top of it off of the mountains to the west. Since the mountains block the mixing needed to cool off the air mass over the city, the temps are warmer in town than out a little further east, and the warm stable air is trapped underneath the colder air moving in from the west.

    So during climb out you're in the "brown cloud" as it has been nicknamed, the warmer air trapped in the bowl, and right at the top of the inversion where the temps start falling (rapidly) again, the visibility goes way up, and there's often wind shear right at the top of the "dome". Both air-masses are extremely stable but the one in the bowl isn't moving, and the one above is.

    The wind shear creates the turbulence, not unstable air... So right at the border there's turbulence and wind shear.

    Here's a photo I took yesterday here, showing some clouds that indicate wind shear aloft, but both the air mass below and the air mass aloft were insanely dry and quite stable.

    Kelvin-Hemholtz clouds. Nifty looking. Rough as hell right at the interface. Without the clouds there to see it, we'd be seeing PIREPs of "clear air turbulence" surprising people on descent into Denver from the west who don't know that phenomenon is almost always there as cold fronts push into Denver from the northwest.

    [​IMG]

    (In the case of the photo, the shear is actually southwest to northeast which is not the common direction but it was still warm out. Temps today are dropping like a rock so all the winds aloft were rushing toward that low that was headed here.)

    Even more confusing is that that sort of directional interface wave is often called Kelvin-Hemholtz "instability" but that doesn't mean the air mass is inherently unstable, as in "wanting to lift on its own if heat is added". The lifted portion of those waves doesn't want to continue to rise, it curls over and falls back down, looking like ocean waves curling.

    Fun stuff.
     
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  19. FlyingTiger

    FlyingTiger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I just did the test prep ($99.00)
     
  20. labbadabba

    labbadabba Cleared for Takeoff

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    Really?? Everything that I've read is that electronic E6Bs were kosher as long as you didn't bring in the reference card.
     
  21. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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    thanks FlyingTiger. Just finished the King IR coarse and doing their practice tests. debating if I should also do the Gleam test prep too.....Off to the first practice test from KING now....
     
  22. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Same here. It was a younger person probably new to running the tests. I learned at another testing site while waiting for my airplane to thaw out in their hangar that the same testing centers are often used for other federal exams, including for post office employees. That one said that most of their test takers are not there for FAA tests and have never been to the GA side of an airport before. So for a new test proctor, the rule about calculators having the memory cleared is going to throw you for a loop when you see this weird big non-graphing calculator from the early 1990s for the first time. Like I said, I just didn't need it and didn't want to waste time talking about it. Given my whiz wheel proficiency and the flight computer built into the exam software, I knew I wouldn't miss it and I was right.
     
  23. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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    Got a 83% on first practice KING test.
     
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  24. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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    took two more practice test... 2nd was 80%. 3rd was 93% hope to take the test soon...
     
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  25. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    @flying Tiger , you can see the inversion in DEN today. That brown blob at low altitude over there is Denver.

    Quite stable.

    [​IMG]
     
  26. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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  27. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I thought inversions occurred in stable air.
     
  28. LmannyR

    LmannyR Pre-Flight

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    Passed with an 82. King coarse was accurate. Wish I went thru the king questions again. Got an 83 after going through thier coarse once. If I had gone back and done it a time or two more, I'm sure the woukd be much higher. Many questions were familiar. Not word for word. I did not review the incorrect answers. I just wanted to know my score. Lol

    On to finish the flight portion