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Make the knowledge test easyMake the knowledge test easy

The knowledge exam stands above all other boxes a student pilot must check on his way to a certificate as the most esoteric, frustrating, and seemingly irrelevant. Although they may not ask directly, your students expect your school to help them overcome the hurdle.

In AOPA’s research into the ideal flight training experience, only half of those surveyed said their school helped them in their quest to pass the knowledge test. Given how many students struggle with this simple test, and how many resources are out there to help them overcome it, there’s no question your school can put in a little bit of effort and make a big impact in their training. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Designate a computer for practice knowledge tests only. There are a number of free online practice tests, and many excellent and inexpensive commercial software products. Set these up on a dedicated computer and carve out a small, quiet space in the office. Put a sign saying it’s for knowledge test practice, lay out the necessary test materials, and leave it free for anyone to use. Advertise it as a resource. Being able to keep students active and engaged on site has a number of side benefits as well.
  • Create a resource list your instructors can give their students. Make life easy on your instructors. Compile a series of online, print, and electronic resources your instructors can give to their students to help them study. Chances are your students know many of them already, but it won’t hurt to give them a few more.
  • Start a ground school. It sounds obvious, but ground school is an engagement tool, a learning tool, and a revenue generator. If you don’t already have one, start one today.
  • Require a preferred test-prep resource go with every flight training kit. Although most flight training kits have some sort of written test preparation materials already, add to it with whatever resource you or your instructors most prefer. Make sure everyone is on the same page and understands how to use it.
  • Organize study groups. Open your break room, common area, instructor’s office, or any other common space for a regular study group. Post notices in public areas and make sure your instructors are aware of it and tell their students. If you or your instructors know students who would benefit from working together, make the introductions.
  • Create comfort around the testing procedure. Computerized testing isn’t that difficult for those who have experience, but the testing software can be confusing for some. Help your students with this by making sure your instructors explain how the test works and the various rules associated with it.

The knowledge test is a challenge for many students. Don’t allow it to become a hindrance. Show you have the student’s interest in mind and help him or her through the process whenever possible.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

"Flight Training" Editor
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.

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