Saturday, January 4, 2014

Preparing for your Commercial Check Ride? Studying Helps

As I posted a couple weeks ago, I tried the "no study" method to prepare for my CFI's oral test before my commercial check ride with the predictable result of a lot of stumbling and a need for a retest on those sections. I did learn more in the process so it was not a wasted experiment. However, it was not the way I like to perform for my CFI or for myself.

Earlier this week we met to test me on the weather, cross country flight planning and aircraft performance knowledge sections of the PTS. I had a head cold and not much voice. When my CFI saw me and heard my voice he asked if my excuse that day would be that I had no voice. I told him I wouldn't need an excuse. I knew I wouldn't because I prepared and studied before that session. I had the predictable result. I breezed through the practice test with a couple minor suggestions for improvement from my CFI.

I still had my cold bad when my CFI asked me Thursday if we were flying or doing more oral testing. I told him oral since I wasn't sure my cold would be cleared up enough to do major altitude changes. This time the questions would be aircraft systems and aeromedical factors. We could cover more if we had time.

Aeromedical factors I've done before for my private pilots license. The newness on this one was the level to which I had to be able to explain the aircraft's systems. As a commercial pilot you are expected to know your aircraft systems at a deeper level than your average private pilot.  I studied the POH and made notes and reviewed and reviewed. I even considered sleeping with my reference material under my pillow, just in case osmosis works. I also went ahead and studied the rest of the PTS topics too (equipment malfunctions, supplemental oxygen regulations, pressurization and special emphasis areas). If I did well, we could go through all of them in 2 hours. If I didn't it would take extra time.

We met today. Once again studying worked. I did very well. There were a few areas where I could explain the aircraft systems slightly better so he gave me tips for improvement there. We were through the two planned sections very swiftly. Then I told him I was ready to do the rest of it too. He would ask a question, I'd start to answer and the answer was obviously right so he would go to the next and next question. Done.

Next time we meet we will retest on what I did poorly on when I didn't study then get back up in the air again. My CFI requested I bring the studied version of myself for that session. I assured him I will.

So, if you are getting ready for your Commercial Check Ride and want to know what you can do to improve your chances of success in the written, or with your CFI getting ready for the check ride or for the check ride itself. I highly recommend studying and thorough preparation. I think both are skills that are important for commercial pilots to have and exercise frequently.

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