Passed the IR written today...what a ridiculous test.

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by tawood, Feb 23, 2017.

  1. flyersfan31

    flyersfan31 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Dear God - how can one possibly fly in modern airspace without being able to calculate distance from a VOR? And how can they call it a legitimate test without requiring one to demonstrate the knowledge of how to fly a radio range?

    Sigh. One wonders what it must be like to wander the halls of the FAA.....
     
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  2. MD11Pilot

    MD11Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Having BTDT for almost 40 years, thankfully my last FAA written is long gone. (I hope) What you have is a bunch of government bureaucrats that are tasked with coming up with these examinations, who are "experts" in one area (perfectionist) and they are determined to show everyone just how smart they are...thus poorly worded questions that don't test a persons real world knowledge. When I first read about the change from PTS to ACS standards, I thought that maybe this was an attempt to go real world...but I forgot who I was dealing with. At least now, you have King and other ground schools, videos etc. and exam guides that give you the correct answers...I had the old ACME books that gave you the question and three answers...yes, you had to actually study but that is not the real purpose of these tests...it is not testing your knowledge, it is testing your reading ability.

    Two real world examples of these FAA experts....
    FAA Inspector, who I personally respected because I knew he had been a real world pilot for many years, but his expertise was knowing all the various modes of the Terrain Warning System...so his orals were centered on that. My reply to him when asked what warning I would get if such and such was happening, was, "I don't know, if the warning goes off I do not wait to analyze the source of the warning but go into the proper procedure for keeping my butt alive...he just smiled and said "Ok, next question".

    The other example of the FAA "expert"...Attended the FAA High Altitude Chamber in OKC. Class was mainly private pilot types and a smattering of actual high altitude pilots...FAA Instructor - you know the type - hair cut with bangs (greasy), pants six inches too short, pocket pencil protector etc. was teaching High Altitude Physiology. He made a comment about blood boiling above 60000 feet and you should never fly on the Concorde because you will die. Cue me in now...smart aleck airline pilot with years of high altitude flying...and a dislike for the Feds...I raised my hand (my partner was sitting next to me groaned) "Sir, you say that if you are flying on the Concorde at 60000 feet and there is an explosive decompression that my blood will boil and that I shouldn't fly on it? He smiled and said "Yes"...to which I replied "then why did you certify it? Break time
     
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  3. Clip4

    Clip4 Pattern Altitude

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    If you were a perfectionist and over studied, wouldn't you have scored 100%?
     
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  4. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Nope, 110%.

    dtuuri
     
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  5. Tantalum

    Tantalum Pattern Altitude

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    Very happy I stumbled upon this thread. I would also consider myself a perfectionist (frankly, I think a lot of pilots, especially IFR pilots would say the same) and I've been studying for the IFR written heavily over the last several weeks using Kings and Sheppard. I am absolutely amazed at how "old school" this stuff is, at least in the Kings course, and how much of a carry over from private pilot stuff there is. I expected that most of the coursework would be studying approach plates, IFR charts, managing enroute deviations, picking up IFR clearances in various situations, you know the stuff a VFR pilots assumes IFR training would be like, etc. etc... but rather, I would say 2/3 of the course is very basic stuff that A.) I learned in PPL and B.) still use on my cross country flights

    Do most instrument candidates (IE, VFR pilots) forget the basics of VOR navigation? So many questions and "milk this dead cow" videos and quizzes were about interpreting what the VOR needle means in various scenarios

    Totally the same. The approach plates, holds, charts, etc., all seemed to make "logical sense" to me however things that maybe should be simple had me rewatching the videos a couple of times. I also found that some of the coursework's "helpful hints and tricks" only served to confuse me more.. I think you're better off understanding something than trying to memorize a trick..

    Yes. When they took out the E6B and started doing wind calculations and time and distance stuff I almost fell out of my chair

    **I guess the reason this surprised me so much is that E6B and VOR navigation is pretty basic stuff, you don't have to be in the clouds to be comfortable using the nav radios in your plane.. especially so because a lot of class B VFR transition routes involve tracking VOR radials, etc. And yes, an E6B may look daunting to a non pilot, but it has the directions on how to use it RIGHT ON IT

    Not really a rant (well sort of), but I was panicking for a minute that I was using some ancient study material.. since, you know, it is not 1985 anymore. Assumed there would be a lot more rules and regs and policy questions on there, not just a rehash of VFR navigation basics
     
  6. Tantalum

    Tantalum Pattern Altitude

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    I think a lot of non-school exams are like that. My wife had to take both a federal and state licensing test so she could practice psychology in CA (shameless plug) and after undergrad, masters, doctorette, several hundred hours of training and internship, etc. the exams were pretty ridiculous and expensive... I didn't take it personally but my impression was that it was designed as a speed bump and a way to collect additional fees, etc. That's why this IFR training material surprises me, I would assume a written test is prefect real estate for policy and rules and regs questions, kind of stuff like "can a controller clear you if X" and "are you legally able to do X given Y" etc. etc. not just figuring out what a VOR needle means and how to track a radial

    I totally agree... but that's stuff we covered in VFR PPL stuff and things you should stay proficient on... especially in busy airspace. I have had socal give me instructions to track radials before when navigating on flight following in the LA area.. and have received VFR distance instructions as well. Maybe everyone these days just plugs that stuff into the 430 or Foreflight, but I mean being able to use a DME, figures out groundspeed and time (for fuel calcs) should be basic stuff
     
  7. spiderweb

    spiderweb Final Approach

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    Thankfully, I can skip that one.
     
  8. spiderweb

    spiderweb Final Approach

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    Test taking woes? It was fun back in the day when you could simply memorize all the answers in a matter of two or three days.
     
  9. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    For those who think that spending two or three days memorizing is fun. :dunno:
     
  10. spiderweb

    spiderweb Final Approach

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    Touche.
     
  11. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    This might help you memorize the answers and pass.
    However, do not expect it to be of fany use in the clouds when you need to know something important. :)
     
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  12. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    One of these days I'll do the IR (hopefully one of these days in this year) and I'm going to have to completely relearn VORs. Spent a decade flying an aircraft that didn't have one. That said, I don't recall them being overly difficult.
     
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  13. spiderweb

    spiderweb Final Approach

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    They aren't.
     
  14. Mistake Not...

    Mistake Not... Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well, they are and they aren't.

    I mean, fundamentally, the equipment is measuring an angle. That's all you get, unless it has DME. But for now, just assume 'angle'. That's all you have. There IS NO OTHER INFORMATION. Simple, right?

    I still don't have a good mental model for quickly answering questions like "Turn to intercept the xxx radial, 30 deg intercept, shortest turn direction". I can figure it out, but I have to think about it. Every time. I can answer simple ones, like "where are you relative to VIH? Tune to get a centered FROM indication. Want to track to it? Centered TO indication. But the more complicated scenarios... I'd rather just look at a map.

    Yes, yes. If anyone is still reading this thread, this will trigger a chorus of "It's easy", "I have no problem", "You just have to practice".

    Screw that. VORs (and the primitive electromechanical display) need to die.
     
  15. spiderweb

    spiderweb Final Approach

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    I do feel your pain. I guess it might be a matter of attitude. I always liked these problems, and thought of them as fun puzzles. (I know, I'm a complete nerd.) But it is also true that, as you say, the more you do them, the better and faster you get. Nothing wrong with thinking about them to get the right answer!
     
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  16. Mistake Not...

    Mistake Not... Cleared for Takeoff

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    I can probably get proficient at any skill, but VORs are ancient tech. It's unlikely we'd design them today if we were starting over.

    For the time (1950s?) fine. But the only purpose for them remaining that's at all persuasive is as a ground based back up to GPS. And even then, they suck. Bring back LORAN. Better, implement eDLoran http://gpsworld.com/edloran-the-next-gen-loran/

    Loran is ground based, jamming resistant, and more accurate than VORs. It would also drive a moving map display just like GPS.

    NDBs are all but gone. VORs should be next.
     
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  17. Tantalum

    Tantalum Pattern Altitude

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    I agree. The "match illustration A with the correct plane orientation in figure B" is a fun exercise to me.. but like @Mistake Not... points out it does require some mental wizardry for me to orient myself based on the VOR and then apply it to the illustration

    What I hated on the tested (just took and passed) were questions that just required rote memorization of various FARs, regulations, etc. I like and prefer things that make sense, vs just committing them to memory. Maybe that's why I was very good at physics but absolute dogsh** when it came to organic chemistry. Oh well

    Yes...! it is an incredible esoteric system.. "at this altitude you will get obstacle clearance, but probably not nav reception, unless you are within 22nm and it is the third day of the month and the crow has cawed twice, but even then you may not get coverage if you see the little "R" flag on a waypoint" yada yada yada. Like you said, for 1950 it was "decent" but there is no way someone would purposely design a system like that today (oh, and let's not even talk about back course sensing, lol)

    *I do think though we need an active backup for GPS navigation though. With the ever evolving threat of hacking, etc. it seems very reasonable to have some old school tech still alive and well. I guess the most "hack proof" system though is a mechanical INS
     
  18. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route

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    Did anyone comment that you "Passed" the exam, not that you "Past" it? If you had "Past" it, would you know its need for ridicule?
     
  19. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    It's now in the passed.
     
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  20. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    To be replaced with electroluminescent displays that depict the same information the same way? LOL. :)
     
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  21. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Just be glad that NDBs are being decommissioned! :eek:
     
  22. 1RTK1

    1RTK1 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I like vor's, it's the only way my one axis auto pilot knows how to navigate
     
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  23. asicer

    asicer Pattern Altitude

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    Frost the thickness of medium sandpaper on the wings can:
    1. Reduce lift by as much as 50% and increase drag by as much as 50%
    2. Reduce lift by as much as 25% and increase drag by as much as 25%
    3. Reduce lift by as much as 30% and increase drag by as much as 40%
    OK, what practical application to operational utility can that possibly have?
    "Hey Bob, this wing's got sandpaper-like frost on it. It'll increase drag and reduce lift by 50%."
    "Actually Joe, it's 40% and 30%."
    "Oh in that case let's launch!"

    Same with...

    Maximum downdrafts in a microburst can be as strong as:
    1. 8000FPM
    2. 7000FPM
    3. 6000FPM
    For whom is 6001FPM the threshold for a "go elsewhere and wait it out" decision?
     
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  24. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Are those actual questions from the test?
     
  25. brcase

    brcase Cleared for Takeoff

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    I was in a meeting last night (with John and Martha King participating, btw) where it was mentioned that there is a strong push to get rid of questions like the Frost question above. Or questions like under these conditions the take off distance required it a) 1602ft, b)1634ft c)1651 feet.

    The argument for getting rid of them is not only are they pretty useless questions, but they also promote that idea that it might be ok to take off if you have 34 feet more runway than you need, or that if it is only sandpaper like frost a 40% reduction might be OK. Obviously both bad idea’s but we shouldn’t be asking questions that make it sound like it could be ok.

    But it is the government it will take 10 to 100 times longer to get it fixed than it should and will introduce 10 more issues when they do it.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  26. asicer

    asicer Pattern Altitude

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    In the King test bank, yes. I vaguely recall getting a variation of the 6000FPM downdraft question on the actual FAA IFR written.
     
  27. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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  28. tawood

    tawood Cleared for Takeoff

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    When I passed I put it in the past!

    But yes, (damn voice-to-text).
     
  29. brcase

    brcase Cleared for Takeoff

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    I was in a meeting last night (with John and Martha King participating, btw) where it was mentioned that there is a strong push to get rid of questions like the Frost question above. Or questions like under these conditions the take off distance required it a) 1602ft, b)1634ft c)1651 feet.

    The argument for getting rid of them is not only are the pretty useless questions, but they also promote that idea that it is important to know that you have 34 feet more runway than you need, or that if it is only sandpaper like frost a 40% reduction might be OK.

    But it is the government it will take 10 to 100 times longer to get it fixed and will introduce 10 more issues when they due it.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  30. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    I agree it's a lousy question, but do you know why it's in the question bank?
     
  31. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Do you have some condition that prevents you from typing?

    I broke my right arm a few years back and my employer at the time got me the Dragon V-T software. I't worked much better that I would have thought.
     
  32. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    To see how well you can temporarily memorize something?
     
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  33. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    I'm really late getting into this thread, but this is my take on airman knowledge testing in general: The goal is to get pilots to familiarize themselves with the universe of documentation available on the world of flying. IMHO memorizing answers or taking a course that teaches to the test is self-defeating. I am constantly surprised by the number of pilots who know nothing more than what their instructor told them verbally and what they gleaned from test prep books. Advisory Circulars? What are they? Chart Supplement (AFD) Legend pages? You mean there is a place where the airport listings are actually explained in detail?

    The idea, as I understand it, is to motivate the student to look things up, because in doing so the student will be exposed to more information than the black-and-white answer being sought. I know that I can open the AIM or Aviation Weather Services to any page at random and either learn something new or be reminded of something I had forgotten. So the knowledge test is a means to an end.

    Bob
     
  34. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    Because a famous coulple's son died, one of the famous people and another son were injured, and the FAA (as an organization, not necessarily individuals) is prone toward impulsivity..."let's do something, even if it's wrong." The accident investigation included the sandpaper study, and so whoever decided we needed a written test question on the subject of frost apparently decided that was the thing to do, even if it was wrong.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  35. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's been so long since I've taken one, I've forgotten: Are knowledge tests open book?
     
  36. 1RTK1

    1RTK1 Pre-takeoff checklist

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  37. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    I would think, especially with today's computing power, VOR/DME or VOR/VOR or DME/DME RNAV would be viable for a comeback.
     
  38. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    The FAA has been coming up with some, what I think, are bizarre and subjective risk management questions for the written lately. I'm not sure those are any better than the ones above. I know part of the reason is that the FAA is concerned with rote memorization of answers, which is why they no longer publish the test bank. But since the writtens have not been "written" for a long time, I don't know why they can't computer-generate questions with various numbers. "The temperature is X and the pressure altitude is Y, what is the density altitude?" does not seem so hard to implement rather than having 6 different questions in the bank with various numbers, which is still few enough to memorize.
     
  39. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    No. But the figures booklet that they give you has many legends in it.
     
  40. TCABM

    TCABM Line Up and Wait

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    Someone mentioned open book earlier. The written portion of Air Force check rides consist of open book and closed book exams. You get to bring your required pubs and there’s a library with all the pubs that aren’t personally required. 85% is the passing score.

    My experience was the open book forced you into some obscure, but valuable information. The closed book questions were all from a Master question file that was part of your required personal pubs. Pure rote memorization, generally covering cautions, warnings, and notes, technical information, and tactics all pertinent to the airframe. Every single question references a specific paragraph somewhere in the pubs.

    People can argue against rote memorization, but I personally feel that a well designed open book and closed book test with appropriately high passing scores are valuable in that it ensures knowledge of specific material. The oral portion can then focus on more grey/subjective areas that can be presented as part of a scenario.