ATPL Theory Month 6: Revision

Another month down so here is a quick recap of ATPL theory month 6: Revision.

Bristol hand outs

I had my revision week at Bristol this month which was intense but good and helped me to work out where I was in regards to the other people in my class.
I made two decisions, I decided to not do my GNAV exam yet as it was taking up to much of my time and I was neglecting the other subjects, so I will now only be sitting Met, Instrumentation and Human performance. The Bristol course is split into 3 modules but you do actually have six sittings so I think I will try to do it in four sittings.
The second decision I made was to push my exams back one month from December to the start of January to give me the time over December to get up to the required level in these three subjects. I made this choice while at the revision week as I saw some people who were sitting the exams the following week and feeling unprepared, so I decided I shouldn’t put myself in the same position as really its a marathon and not a sprint.
Apart from the week at Bristol I have just been going through the question bank as much as I can and trying to get my scores up. Most are sitting between 70% and 80% and I really want to them to be at least at 90% before I sit the exams. It’s funny, you feel like you have a lot of time but you really don’t. For instance a Met exams in the evening takes me about an hour and 45 mins to complete. That is the hardest part about these exams for me, doing them around a full time job. Sometimes when you get in from work you are just so worn out and tired that you just want to chill out or go to sleep but you have to get your second wind and study.
The time passes very quickly and if I was taking my exams next week (like I was scheduled to) I wouldn’t be feeling super confident now.
Over the next month I will be doing more of the same really with a little bit of time of for Xmas but I will be taking the exams the second week of January so there is just over a week to go.

Module 1 revision week at Bristol Ground School

So last week I was attending Module 1 revision week at Bristol Ground School.
Bristol Ground School
This is a requirement before you are allowed to sit the exams and takes places in Clevedon which is about 2.5 hours away from me.
There are some cheap B&B’s around and I stayed with a lovely couple in a village just outside Clevedon which cost a very reasonable £30 a night.
Bristol is a school which seems to be mainly ex military men who are all super knowledgeable in their areas. If you have something that you need help with, they will get an answer for you.
Your first day will start with an introduction from Alex Whittingham who you will know was the owner of the school. He then introduces all his teachers and gives you a bit of background about them all. They are all pretty much former military men and some also have some civilian airline experience also.
From this point it’s in at the deep end, we went straight into instrumentation.
The days are long 8:50am – 5pm. You do get a break of about 10-15 mins every 1.5 hours or so and a 1 hour lunch. I must admit, sometimes by 5pm you are seriously burned out. Every day at night I did some questions in the question bank.
Our class was once again mainly military guys getting their ATPL, one licence conversion and about 6 of us “self improvers” so a mixed bag overall.
As always there are people at various different stages in their studies. This week was good to try and find out where you are in relation to everybody else.
By Wednesday I had a decision to make. I had already decided 2 weeks before that I wasn’t going to sit General Navigation yet and will sit it at the end. The reason for this is that maths is not my strongest subject and General Navigation was taking up so much of my time the other three subjects were getting neglected.
I didn’t feel quite ready to sit the remaining three exams either which are Met, Human Performance and Instrumentation. I decided that there was no need to rush into it and pushed my exams back 1 month to the start of January. More time studying can’t really hurt can it? Also I think I will be more than prepared to sit these three exams by then.
The week was full on but on the whole not that painful, sometimes it helps having someone in front of you explaining and being able to ask questions.
We managed to “escape” around 3pm on the Friday which was nice as you can try to miss the traffic. Some people were sitting the exams at Bristol the following week, others at other centres in a few week and some the following month.
Between now and my January sitting I will just spend my time going through the question bank.
Oh yeah, when you first walk into the school you will see Noush sitting on reception. No doubt by this point you would have communicated with her at some point.

ATPL Theory Month 5: Revision

Just a quick post on ATPL theory month 5: revision.
Bristol hand outs
This month was spent going over the question banks and trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge paying extra attention to Gnav and Met.
I must admit that I am finding them both quite hard, but I am slowly gaining a greater understanding of the concepts behind both subjects.
At the moment I am doing Gnav pretty much 6 days a week including all Saturday and then I dedicate Sunday to Met. I rotate Met, Instrumentation and Human Performance and limitation throughout the week also.
My revision week is booked for mid November at Bristol Ground School with my exams being two weeks after that at the start of December. This has come round pretty fast but it feels like I am now at the business end of module 1.
I am quite looking forward to the revision week as you are sort of studying blind until then. I feel it will be good to see where everyone else thinks they are and what the teacher think you should know .
I expect the next month to be pretty hard with the time starting to run out and the exam dates getting closer. In the mean time I will keep cracking on with the revision and hopefully by the time the exams come I will be ready.

ATPL Theory Month 4: Revision

Just a quick recap on ATPL Theory Month 4: Revision.
Bristol hand outs
As I have my revision week booked for November and my first exams booked for December (General Navigation, Meteorology, Instrumentation & Human Performance & Limitations). With these looming I have taken my first look at the question banks this month to get familiar with the phrasing and style of the questions. I have focused my time on General Navigation where I try to work through 30 questions a day and Meteorology where I try to work through 70 questions a day.
I try to do some General Navigation every day so that I get faster with the CRP and also how to do it is fresh in my mind.
I don’t think just learning question bank answers is much help so if I can’t work it out I then look online or through my material to work out how to get the answer some areas are a lot harder than others but I just keep cracking on and working through them.
The work load is high and as I haven’t sat any exams it’s hard to know what the correct exam technique is.
I deliberately left a long time before finishing the material and sitting my first exams (3 months). The reason for this is so I don’t feel time pressure and that I can be really prepared when December rolls round and I sit the exams.
I have a few days away coming up so I am happy to take a break and not deal with any study for the first time in about a year (PPL then ATPL’s). My brain is overloaded and I think that this will be good to have a break and just chill out a little bit.
It is hard work however, and doing it around a full-time job is even harder, you have to be pretty dedicated to keep this up.

ATPL Theory: Module 1 is Complete

Good news, ATPL Theory: Module 1 is complete.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 12.27.29

Slightly earlier than anticipated I have completed the theory (all the lessons) in module 1 of the Bristol Ground School ATP digital software.
I have booked my revision course for November which may seem like quite a while away but really it isn’t. Also the course before the November course is on the 3rd of October which is far too soon.
What I will do now is use the question bank to get up to speed on what areas they will really be testing in the exams and to look for areas I need to go back and revise.
The issue is some subjects I haven’t looked at for months now, so I need to go back through and make sure that the information has stuck.
I won’t be sitting the exams until the first week of December as I have an exam centre where I live so I didn’t see much point in staying in Bristol and paying the extra fees to stay there to sit them just two weeks earlier than I could here.
From the first quick look at the Bristol question bank it seems quite intuitive and easy to work out how to use. I suspect I will be putting a LOT of time into this over the next month or two.
It seems like finishing the subjects in the CBT is only 50% of the work, now I need to get exam ready which seems to be a completely different thing from learning the information as presented.
Out of all the subjects, I must admit General Navigation is giving me the most cause for concern so I will be spending a lot of time going through that and getting up to speed with the methods etc.

ATPL Theory Month 3: Meteorology and General Navigation

Just an update from me about ATPL theory month 3: Meteorology and General Navigation.

ATPL Theory Month 3 - Instrumentation and General Navigation

As you can see from the graph I am making great progress through the module and am scheduled to complete it mid September. I must admit I thought that Meteorology was quite complicated however then I started General Navigation which is normally referred to as Gen Nav.
I don’t really have the words to describe my initial feelings however this GIF does a pretty good job.

Gen Nav blew my mind, this is where the maths comes into play, big time.
There are areas you have to draw graphs, areas you have to use the CRP-5, areas you need to use the calculator, you need to know formulas, division factors and there are areas you have to spend time working out what exactly they are even trying to ask you!
I have booked my revision week for November and will take the exams the first week of December. I must admit this subject has me the most worried of the four I have to take. I have a lot of time to practice and get up to scratch before then and I anticipate that a lot of the time will be spent on Gen Nav.
I think the best way to go about Gen Nav is to hit the question banks, not to learn the answers to the questions as they could easily change figures, but so that you can work out how to answer the questions constantly. Literally keep practising until you can work them out! When you can’t work something out go back to the material and relearn, I don’t see any other way to go about this.
It has been a pretty intense 3 months studying before and after work to get to this point but at least the first part of module 1 is almost at an end.


Registering for ATPL exams with the UK CAA

Once you start your ATPL study, eventually you will need to sit some exams. In this post I will go through the process of registering for ATPL exams with the UK CAA.
Navigation planning
The first link you will need is this one. This is where you register on the UK CAA website to be able to take your exams.
The CAA will then ask your for your details and then to upload copies of some documents. The first one is a passport, driving licence or national ID card. Next you will need to upload proof of address. If you have a PPL or letter from the UK CAA they suggest that you use this.
They will take a few days to verify your documents and then send you an email when it is done.
Now you have to log back into the portal and register for the flight crew licence service. Your application once again goes back to the UK CAA who will let you know when the service is available to you in the portal.
You would think you are done at this point but you would be wrong! Now you have to register with your school and they have to accept you as a student, so more waiting lies ahead.
Once your school has accepted you, you can now log in once again and FINALLY book an exam!
As you can see this is quite a time-consuming activity so make sure that you do it as soon as possible as you don’t want to leave it till the last min!
Now you just have the small matter of passing all 14 exams!

Bristol Ground School Accelerator Weekend: General Navigation

Last weekend I went on the Bristol Ground School Accelerator Weekend: General Navigation.
Bristol Ground School
The accelerator is held at the Bristol Ground School in Clevedon which is around a 2.2 hour drive for me, I set of at 6am and got there in plenty of time.
I have gone about module one slightly differently from most, I didn’t get on with the switching of subjects so I have actually worked through them one by one. I have completed instrumentation, and I have just about completed Meteorology so I just have General Navigation and Human Performance and Limitations left to do. After seeing how involved general navigation really is I think I will do HPL next so I can then really focus on general navigation as it is going to take a lot longer than the others.
I would have taken a later accelerator but the dates didn’t line up so this was the only one I could take.
The class was a mixed bunch, around 70% were armed forces converting, there was 3 PPL holders and 1 US ATP holder converting to an EASA licence. The age range I would say was mid 20’s to early 40’s, with the majority being around 30 ish.
The class was taken by John Jones who really knows Gen Nav inside out. We did some work on the CRP 5 which is a lot easier to understand when somebody is explaining it to you.
We then went through questions around the CDMVT formula. Obviously these questions made more sense to the rest of the class who were a lot further through gen nav than I was.
On day two we went through solar, time, maps and charts.
Both days the class lasted from 9 till 5 with 1 hour for lunch and two 15 minute breaks.
Bristol hand outs
You get a lot of handouts during the two days which is really useful and you get tips and tricks around quicker ways to work things out. I would say go on the course when you are around half way through or at the end as it will help to fill in any gaps in your knowledge. Obviously I can’t upload them on here as they are the schools documents but you will get your own when you attend.
You will need to take the following with you.

  1. CRP 5
  2. Calculator
  3. Marker Pen
  4. Paper and Pen

When distance learning you are on your own a lot of the time so it is nice to be in an environment where you can bounce of other students and see how they are finding it also.
All in all I think it is a worthwhile thing and it is included in your course so why not do it? There are lots of cheap places to stay nearby with a list on the Bristol Ground School website. Food wise there is a Tesco just a few minutes drive away but apart from that I didn’t see much else.


ATPL Theory Month 2: Instrumentation and Meteorology

Just an update from ATPL Theory Month 2: Instrumentation and Meteorology.

ATPL Theory month 2

I have made pretty good progress over the last month and finished the instrumentation subjects and I am around 80% through meteorology. This is ideal as this weekend I will be down at Bristol Ground School for the General Navigation accelerator weekend. I really want to have meteorology finished by then so I can focus on General Navigation for the next few weeks.
I found instrumentation quite a fun subject and enjoyed learning about things such as TCAS and the PFD. Meteorology I found a much more difficult subject and I will need to put a lot more time in when it comes the stage to revise and practice for the exams, I can see YouTube being quite handy for this.
As you can see from the graph I am around 60% of the way through module one. I revised my estimate date of  completion and I am now on track to have module one finished around the second weekend of September at which point I will start preparing for the tests and looking at the question banks for the first time.
I will do a post with my views of the accelerator weekend after next week.

ATPL theory week 4: Instrumentation

Still studying hard for the ATPL theory, so here is my recap of ATPL theory week 4: Instrumentation.

ATPL Theory Week 4

Following on from last weeks decision to focus on one subject at a time I have been working through the instrumentation lessons.
This week I was learning about gyro principles, direction indicators, artificial horizons, turn and slip indicators, rate gyros, magnetism, direct reading compasses, remote indicating compasses, deviation and compass swings. On top of this I had two practice tests thrown in for good measure.
Now I must admit, I knew the ATPL theory would be hard, but the sheer amount of information you have to process and learn can be quite overwhelming. I am now four weeks in and I can already see that when I get to the end of the module I will have to spend a lot of time going back and looking things up to make sure they have stuck. I anticipate at least a month (maybe two) of revision before I enrol on the revision week at the school.
I also have my accelerator weekend coming up at the start of August so ideally I would like to be doing the general nav subjects around that time.
It is hard to fit in so much study around work so you have to be very strict about getting in from work and putting a few hours in on your ATPL.
I will just do one update a month from now on to prevent all the posts being very similar.