Air Law Exam : Passed

This is a bit of a belated post, but in the grand scheme of things is largely in sequence.

For those thinking about learning to fly, passing the air law exam is 1 of 3 tick boxes for being allowed to fly solo (the others:  Hold a Class 2 Medical, Have an instructor say you’re good to go……it’s as simple as that :-\  ).

The air law book is one of the thicker books in the set of material to learn and more than once it certainly went through my head “How on earth do you memorise all of this…?”   Countered of course with the fact that people do, all the time, so it must be possible.

40 questions, multiple choice (4 answers per question), with an hour to reach the finish, a pass mark of 75% is required.

In my experience, most of the questions had 1 answer you should be able to immediately dismiss, one you should be able to reasonably dismiss and then two that are both reasonable.

Looking back I found that if you try and pick it up and read sections, what actually happens is you start reading the same sections over and over and get quite good at them.   However, the sections you’re not so interested in don’t get much coverage or the sections that the book doesn’t naturally open to gets sparse coverage.   The best solution I found for this is not actually to read it cover to cover and then repeat, but actually to follow a recommendation from someone else at the aero club, get the Simplifier book.   This has 3 example papers in it, now when you think you’ve read up and know your stuff, run through a paper.   Any questions you don’t immediately know the answer to, make a note of/mark, then take your best guess and keep going.  Three important facts will come out of this:

  1. What areas of questioning needs more attention.
  2. Can you get through a paper within the time allowed.
  3. Did you pass – and did you pass by fluke (how many marked up questions did you have), or did you pass by knowing your stuff without hesitation.

Be careful though, with only 3 example papers it’s very easy to become an expert at the questions on those papers (effectively you’ve memorised the answer sheet, not learnt the subject material).

You can read and read and read…..and if you have no purpose for the reading, you can put the book down for a bit, then pick it up, read some more, put it down, pick it up and put it down again.   I had the air law book months before I started learning to fly and I’d been reading it off/on like this for months into my training.   Nothing quite focuses the mind like having a fixed in stone date.   So as a top tip to others, I’d say once you’re approaching your first circuit lesson (e.g. somewhere just after the time you do stalls), start reading up as if you mean it – then set a date to do the exam.  Once you have a date in the diary, you should find it focuses the mind and gives a purpose to the revision.

How did I do on the day?

My preparation results suggested I could finish in time and that I should pass it, but with such a wide topic area there’s always a chance each one will pick the one thing you missed.

The strategy was to make a first pass blitz through the paper and only answer the questions I knew, with absoluteness, the right answer.

On a separate piece of paper I marked up those I thought I knew but could be wrong and from there I would know just how far away from passing I was.

It’s easy to write only about the positives and how well it’s all going for you in blogs like this, I don’t think that adds much value to other readers though and it doesn’t really capture the memories of the experience for myself…..

Suffice to say, by the end of the first run through the paper, I’d counted 11 questions I was doubting myself on – any other day of the week I probably would have been absolute on 7 of those, but when you’re doing it for score it’s amazing how doubt creeps in.

11 questions!    If I got them all wrong, I’d have just failed my first attempt at air law and would have two attempts remaining – this is not the position I expected to be in from the hours of revision and test prep that had gone in the weeks before.   However, statistics were on my side, if I guessed 11 questions I should statistically get 1 in 4 right by pure fluke (2.75).   If I rounded that down to 2 by pure fluke, so long as nothing was wrong in my “absolute right” answers, we’d have 77% and a pass.   That’s with a 1 in 4 guess, I said earlier you can get it down to about 1 in 3 or 1 in 2 with a bit of thought, it’s not like I hadn’t revised this stuff so I should be able to get it in the ball park.   That would put the worst case score closer to 5 out of 11 and give a little margin on the others.

In the end I made my best and final answers, went back through the paper a couple of times just to make sure nothing really silly had happened (like start on line 2 of the answer sheet with the answer for question 1 etc.) and went back to the office to hand the paperwork in for marking.   I’d reached the point of “this is as good as it gets on the day.” inside of 30 minutes, upon returning I got the impression I was quicker then expected.

I walked away with 11 questions engraved in my brain, how I’d answered these I was sure would be the decider on whether I passed or not.   Thankfully it’s not far to drive from the aero club back to my house……..and there I had an answer book 🙂

Armed with the answer book, I worked out that unless something else had gone wrong, I’d scored about 85%.    Some of the stuff I got wrong, I still kick myself about but there are two things to remember here:   1.)  Exam environments change things, you doubt yourself a bit more, you second guess your instincts etc.   2.)  The objective is to pass, setting a record here is both impossible and pointless.

It would take 24 hours to mark the paper, so we’d have to just wait and see.

End Result

There was clearly nothing wrong with my ‘absolutely sure I’m correct’ answers, because when I called the aero club, the shout I heard from across the room of their office was “He passed, 85%”

Tick in the box………One step closer to flying solo.

As a foot note as this post is written up some weeks after the event, nobody has ever asked me what score I got.   The act of passing is a demonstration of knowledge competence in the area of air law – you could debate what questions you were asked verses the next person all day, but there’s no point.   Either you passed or you didn’t, if you did, it’s a tick in a box that opens a door to attempt the next tick box.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *