First CAA commercial pilot ATPL exam done and it wasn’t what I expected!

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I took my first ever CAA ATPL pilots exam and share what it was like for me along with some unexpected developments on the first day.

If you’re relying on the question banks then you need to listen and take note!

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Podcast Episode Transcript

  [00:00:00] Aaron Henriques: Right. So I've just got back from my first CAA exam for the ATPL's. And I decided to take meteorology first because it's the biggest subject out of the six exams I'm doing on this. And they're sitting and, you know, I, I felt okay with metrology. It's always been about borderline for a path, but it's not, it's not so bad. [00:00:29] It doesn't feel. And, you know, when I first walked into the exam center, it was, it was, it was, you know, it looks scary or their security and as you expect, and there's notices everywhere about coronavirus, but with, and when you walk in here, it's actually pretty relaxed. So you went, went to the back and half my class was. [00:00:54] We all sat down, having some have done exams in the morning, some were just, you know, sitting there preparing for the exam coming up and we're all getting pretty nervous. You know, before we got called into the exam, then once we record him, it was all pretty chilled, really delayed. She, I guess she did it, you know, to keep people relaxed and try to not feel nervous about things, but she was very informal about such a professional, but she just wasn't as formal as I'd expected. [00:01:25] It would have been which is good because it puts you into a good sense of, you know, being able to just relax and sit down and concentrate on the exam ahead. And you know, when that, when the first exam. A question came up for the meteorology. I could see her immediately, you know, we're the first few questions. [00:01:49] This isn't, this isn't going to be a bank exam. And it definitely wasn't. It definitely, definitely wasn't. There were a few in there, which I do recognize from the bank. But there were also some others that I hadn't seen before. Like typings where, you know, calculation. Altimetry questions we've typed in. [00:02:09] Only got one. One of my co colleagues got four. So another thing I didn't realize is that I assumed we'd all be taking the same exam this week as the next guy will go. And that's not the case at all, because after that exam, when you speak to people you find out very quickly that, okay. [00:02:32] Everyone's had slightly different questions. They give you a pack. It's all over the place today. Sorry. I've not had any time to tool to prepare just making a cup of tea before I sit down and revise a puff. But basically what they do is they give you a pack effect, pack of like aeronautical charts and stuff where like weather maps and whatever where they will get you to. [00:02:53] Refer to those throughout the exam. And there are lots of questions. Well, certainly in my exam, because like I said, they are quite different and everyone's exam is actually taken from a, like randomly from a bank. It doesn't really appear to be the case. In my, in my exam, you know, there were quite a few altimetry questions. [00:03:15] There are quite a few questions that I literally had no idea. And when I say I had no idea, I mean, Yeah, it hasn't come up at two in the course of our training. You know, maybe it's buried somewhere like a one-liner in the book that it's like 900 pages long. But it's, you know, there are quite a few things that I hadn't come across it too. [00:03:35] I had no idea. And so, yeah, I did best guess on a few questions and. Yeah. I finished with about 20 minutes to go. And within that 20 minutes I had flagged probably about 10 questions where I had come across it before, not necessarily actual question, but I come across, you know, what it was trying to ask you, but. [00:04:02] And I'd selected answers by just wanting to go back to them, just to see. And there was only one I hadn't answered at two, it was an altimetry question type in that was really long, it's worth two points. And so I thought, let me go back to that one. I've got, you know, the amount of time at the end, cause I, whenever I do these exams so far, I've always been finishing pretty early. [00:04:23] So it gives me plenty of time to go over. So I went over all the questions. I only changed one of my answers and that's because I was, you know, 90% confident that the original answer that I put was completely wrong. Now, normally I'd recommend, just go with your initial gut instinct for me anyway. [00:04:43] That's what I think, because most of the time in exams, you know, for our exams where they're multiple choice in the past, You know, your initial thought is normally the real answer and you go back and you convince yourself, actually know something else is probably down. So, and then you go and select that one. [00:05:01] And then when you get your results, you find out your original thought was correct in the first place. So I've got a rule, generally speaking, I won't change an answer. I'm 90% confident that, you know, something like I've misread the question. When I first read it, didn't understand it or whatever, but most of those I kept exactly as they were. [00:05:20] There's only one that I changed. And here we are, here we are. We finished the exam. I ended up closing the computer with one minute to go. And walked out and went to meet my colleagues and the looks on their faces, even the brightest of them. You know, they were, they looked horrified by what they got and yeah, there's some people that relied heavily on the bank who have said a lot since then on the drive back that it's, it probably didn't help them as much. [00:06:02] As it didn't help them as much as they thought it would, because one in particular, who I know who has spent a lot of time in the bank when I'm saying the bank, I'm going about question banks for anyone who doesn't know spent a lot of time going over those questions, banks, doing them, doing them again, doing them again, and, you know, getting high marks on it. [00:06:23] And for him, it seemed like he was actually devastated. The, you know, the majority of his exam, we're not paying questions at all. And again, for him, it relied on best guests for a lot of stuff. And so I've never been, I've always been of the opinion that the bank shouldn't be your, it shouldn't be the thing that you were alarmed. [00:06:50] Although some people differ with that opinion. Me personally, I feel like learn the content. Use the bank to sort of reinforce you know, your, your, your sort of knowledge, you know, check your understanding of things. And you know, when you're coming up to exam time, like we are now yes, go through practice tests, you know, practice your sort of speed for the questions. [00:07:14] Also practice certain things like the way they phrase things that keep coming up, which might be useful, but try and just to learn the answers to individual questions may not. The best thing to do. And actually there was one question that I noticed from the bank today which had I not bothered to read it properly would have caught me out because the bank answer is different to the answer that they would have wanted purely because of a change of a word. [00:07:46] And that is something that people who bank too much can be caught out on because they're looking at certain trigger words. And when they see those trigger words, which were also in this question, they immediately go to the answer that they associate with those trigger words. But they've ignored the, the word where they've changed something from like a positive to a negative. [00:08:07] I mean like that, which completely flipped it on them. And then that means they click, they select the wrong answer. So that's something to be mindful of if you are going to see your ATPL's, but for now I need to get off some straight my cup of tea, chill the hell out, and then start POS, which I still may drop tomorrow because I went in there thinking that Matt would let me Trelegy would be. [00:08:37] Difficult, but I wanted to do it because more often than not getting high enough scores that I would pass the exam path. Yes. In my final exams with with the flight school I got a good score with that. I got remembered it was 80% or 84%. I can't remember, but it was mid eighties somewhere. And I, I didn't want to sit down thinking that. [00:09:03] Yeah, that's me. I've got this. Because when I then went on to what people are saying is one of the best question banks for it. I did a test and I got 56% and I was like, what the actual fuck? What is that? You know, that is not a passing score. It's nowhere near a passing score. And so it's going to depend a lot on what I do this evening. [00:09:30] For me to decide whether or not I'm going to be taking the exam tomorrow morning. Or if I'm just going to not blah, blah, and, you know, leave it for August when I've got more time that I can just focus in on that. And you know, if there's any others that I have to retake for out this course But it is a massive worry to do that because PAF is, is probably as fresh in my mind now, as it ever will be in the rest of my life, you know, we've done so much work on Poff that the teachers and instructors have put a lot of work in, into our course with path because everyone is being like failing badly at it for out and. [00:10:18] Yeah, but anyway, we'll see. I'll let you know, at the end of the week, how things have gone on and I'm fingers crossed, touch wood. It's all going to be okay on the day. If you want to get in touch with me or see my dates. It's AaronHenray that's @AaronHenray on Instagram or on Facebook. Well, you can email me. [00:10:43] It's Aaron, aaronhenriques.com and you know, feel free to share your stories or if you've got any hints tips for other people, or if there's anything else that you want me to talk about, let me know.

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