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Tips for Success on Transport Canada Writtens
Page 3

Writing the Test: The Multiple Choice Format (AKA "Multiple Distractors")

When answering a question, read the question carefully, slowly and read every word. Then read it again. Note whether there are any references required to previous data or a table/chart.

Each question means exactly what it says. Do not make assumptions or jump to conclusions without carefully thinking over the problem posed by a particular question. Each question STANDS ALONE, which means you should not carry over any previous data or assumptions from earlier questions unless you are specifically instructed to do so. For example, if Question number 10 says "you may assume XXX applies to this question", when you get to Question 11, do not continue to assume XXX still applies in your calculations for the new question.

Do not look at the answer options while trying to determine the correct response. Multiple choice test answer options are also known as "distractors" which means they will try to lead you away with cleverly written wrong answer options that "look right". For example, if winds are described as "southerly", it means they are blowing to the south, right? Are you sure? It is always best to come up with your own answer on the basis of the question provided, then look for your answer in the options provided. Reading the answer options before thinking about the problem can quickly generate confusion. Drawing a little sketch can help solve many questions. If you need to compute an answer, always have a "rough answer" in mind, then work out the specific, exact number and double check that it "makes sense"; e.g. if you are working out a groundspeed based on a tailwind, the groundspeed that you calculate on your computer had better be greater than the TAS!

For the answers given, it may appear that there is more than one possible answer; however, only one of the answers is correct and complete. The other options are either incomplete or derive from common misconceptions. Sometimes an answer option will itself be a perfectly correct statement, but it will not be the MOST CORRECT or the MOST RELEVANT option on the basis of all of the options provided in the question.

If your calculated result based on a calculator problem does not match exactly, simply go with the closest answer. Often the correct answer needs to be "rounded off" or otherwise approximated. When making rounding off choices, go with the safest option: for example, if your calculations yield a fuel requirement of 6.5 gallons, and you have to choose between the options of 6 gallons and 7 gallons, round off to 7 gallons because this is the safer option.

As previously stated, you should use the type/model of aviation flight computer that you are most familiar with. For example, if you have always used an E6B flight computer in ground school, don't suddenly change this practise for the sake of the exam by bringing in an electronic type flight computer (or vice versa); if you have always used a "Pathfinder CX2" type electronic flight computer, don't suddenly change over to an HP scientific calulator for the purposes of the written exam (or vice versa) etc. For the purposes of the ATPL or IATRA writtens, there is no need to use the CR-5 circular type flight computer: it is tricky to use correctly and many pilots I have observed in ground school that use the CR type flight computer can't even correctly calculate basic problems such as time/speed/distance, groundspeed etc. Although the CR type computers offer the capability to solve some advanced problems based on high speed, high altitude operations, they are complex to use properly and are simply not needed for the purposes of any of the problems or required calculations that will be on the ATPL/IATRA writtens: unless you are prepared to really devote yourself to learning how to use the CR circular computer properly, use a basic E6B or electronic computer as these will be less difficult to use and your chances of making errors will be less. Note to Helicopter Pilots: the CR circular computers are totally un-necessary for helicopters, since all helicopter operations are in the low speed, low altitude regime.

When you write any aviation exam, try to REMEMBER THE BASICS and to THINK. Ask yourself the following as you write each question: "Is there any basic requirement or assumption behind this question that has not been expressly stated but is of obvious importance?" For example, if you are completing a weight and balance question, don't forget to include the actual aircraft itself (empty aircraft weight and moment) in your additions! Another example involves fuel calculations: if a question asks something like "what is the minimum fuel required for this trip"; the question will not state the obvious "remember to include fuel for minimum VFR/IFR day/night reserves" but if you do not allow for and calculate this unstated requirement, you will get the wrong answer. Note to IFR Pilots: many candidates writing their INRAT exam lose points on minimum fuel calculation questions by forgetting to allow for fuel to reach the flight planned ALTERNATE AIRPORT, which is in addition to fuel for destination, contingencies and reserves!.

If you encounter a question that is too difficult, it is best to go on to the other questions. After you have completed the less difficult questions, return to the more difficult ones. Be sure you indicate on your question sheet the questions you will be returning to later. Following this method, once you get to the end of the exam, you will realize that you can handle most of the exam and it gives an "uplift" as you charge into the more difficult questions.

If there are questions that you simply cannot get, look at the possible answers for any selection options that are clearly wrong. Then make an educated guess from the remaining answer selections. Be sure you do not leave any answer choices blank! Be careful that when you mark your answer on the selection sheet, that is the one you want it to be. For instance, one could accidentally select "C" when "A" was intended - after doing all the hard work to determine the right response, be sure you select the intended option!

Keeping your Concentration

For many, sitting a Transport Canada aviation exam can be quite an intimidating experience. Many have scored poorly or failed despite having strong overall knowledge and preparation by allowing the pressure and stress of sitting the exam to deter performance. Try to keep your concentration throughout and not get distracted by the cold and serious atmosphere or by other candidates making irritating noises, movements and theatrics. It seems in every exam sitting there are those who make audible snickers, noisy movement of desk paraphernalia, and proud, loud slamming closed of exam booklets as they make a display of leaving early. [I remember in the old days when I wrote my Private Pilot written, smokers were placed in the same exam room as non-smokers (I'm a non-smoker), and the person seated beside me was actually smoking a large Cuban cigar while writing his test, casually glancing up to the ceiling to ponder the exam questions as he puffed up clouds of smelly cigar smoke - talk about distracting!] Keep your eyes focused on your exam in front of you and do your best to ignore all external distractions.

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