Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Taking the Instrument Written

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


A serious CRM problem!
Dec 1, 2001
I have a good friend who is interested in getting his instrument rating. He is a Private Pilot - SEL & SES.

I know that things have changed since I got my IFR ticket. When I got my IFR ticket, I took a 2 week ground school that met several times a week and was just like a regular classroom. The course was designed to know how to operate IFR not to just pass the test. Now, you can use tapes, do a weekend seminar, or even go online.

Unlike most of us who had a money problem, his basic problem is the lack of time in the day to commit to self study (a demanding wife), and a very hectic work schedule. However, he has told me that he can plan in advance to take several days off to take the written, but would have to "get out of the house" in order to get it done.

If you didn't have a money problem, but rather a time problem, what would you do? Has anyone out there done a IFR Weekend "Cram Course" either seminar style or like ALL ATPS but for the Instrument not the ATP?

Looking for some help from the gallery in order to give this guy some advice.

Weekend Schools

I went to Aviation Seminars for my instrument written. When I went they had a deal in which you could repeat the course as a refresher for free. So, I came back and took the course for my CFI-I written. It worked for me, but . . . .

Honest to goodness, your friend would really be better advised to do what you did, especially if he plans to do something professionally with the rating. There is so much to flying IFR and knowledge really is power. The weekend schools really teach you only enough to pass the test. Of course, you will soak up knowledge, but not enough to really benefit your flying experience.
Last edited:
Does your friend want to "just pass" or does he have the motivation to do well?

I did the Gleim method. I got the Gleim Instrument Prep book. It has about 1,000 questions. It took me 2 weeks and a couple of hours each day to do all 1,000 questions, review all the ones I got wrong or was not 100% sure about. I got a 94%.

I took the written just a week and a half prior to my checkride so I had a lot of information going into it.

The test will be difficult if your friend is going straight from his private to taking his IFR written without any ground school or instrument training.

Since your friend does not have a lot of time, I would strongly advise against even pursuing the instrument rating. I might recommend 10-15hrs in the simulator or under the hood but thats about it. That way in the event he encounters IMC while VFR, he can climb above or below it without getting himself killed. The instrument rating itself requires a lot of hard work and dedication which it sounds like your friend cannot put in due to lack of time.

As you know, it is one of the most important ratings. It requires 'heavy maintenance'
Since you do not meet the Part 61 or 141 mins for the instrument rating even, how do you come up with such a statement? Additional training cannot be a detriment. If anything it would make him a safer pilot. Just remember, it's all about surviving your first 1000 hours. I say get the instrument rating. I hadn't shot an approach in 4 months when I started my initial training at Air Wisconsin. Guess what...single engine to minimums and I did just fine. Instrument skills don't vanish from lack of use. It's just like riding a bike (assuming you've ridden a bike more than a few times aka not fresh from your instrument ticket). Keep the brown side down and.............See Yooooooooooooooooooooo!
With nearly 200hrs total time, how could I not meet the minimum Part 61 or 141 requirements for the instrument rating? Maybe I have not understood what you meant. Regardless, a DE awarded me my instrument ticket in Oct 2001.

Regardless, I stand by what I said. I recommend his friend get some instrument training as and when he gets time, but I don't think the rating is going to be possible unless his friend takes a week off and does one of those 8 day cram sessions where he will go for a canned checkride and possibly not be a safe IFR pilot.

I agree that instrument training is like riding your bike, AFTER a certain amount of experience. We don't have more details about his friend so who knows if he is going to get his ticket and then fly IFR once every 2-3 months for a couple of hours or just go sit in the sim every 6 months w/ a CFII to stay current or fly a few hours a month to stay on top of things.
Instrument skills are highly perishable. Others may have the capability to retain those skills just as they do riding a bike, but I can tell you that I certainly don't. I find that the edge comes off after even a few weeks off the gages.

While the instrument rating knowledge exam can certainly be passed by cramming with a prep book, the instrument rating is complex enough that dedicated instruction and study is in order. I strongly disagree with the cram training courses for the instrument rating (as with most training). Consideration should be given to thoroughly absorbing and learning the material with an eye toward retention, rather than rote memorization to pass a test.

Much more critical is retaining that information for use in the cockpit. "Written" scores are meaningless, especially considering the farsical nature of the FAA knowledge exams and the bountiful supply of verbatim answer books from which to study. A high score only means that someone read the answer book. While your friend can certainly pass the test with minimal study of such a book, or a weekend prep course, he should be more concerned with passing the test based on a thorough understanding of the material involved.
Thanks for the advice!

It looks like most folks do not think highly of the written exam, so therefore it does not matter how it is passed.

On the other hand, it appears that it is extremely important to prep for the practical and oral exams to a high degree of proficency with some real world scenarios, and actual conditions.

I personally disagree with the idea that accelerated training is no good. Lets face it, that is all we do in the airlines.

In addition, the gentleman who scoffed and said that no instrument rating is better than a "cram course" is incorrect in my opinion. Check out www.ifrwest.com if you think "cram courses" are bad.

The instrument rating represents a certain level of proficency in understanding of the IFR environment and stabilized aircraft control which is not taught for the Private. In addition, the instrument rating will assist in better insurance rates, and more utilization of his aircraft (he is an owner) and more flying time since he will not have to constantly cancel everytime the weather is marginal. I wouldn't suggest he go flying when it is 200 and 1/2 however.

I will steer him to make sure his training is thorough and comprehensive.

I think I was about in the same boat as your friend. Hectic work schedule, not a lot of time and a demanding girlfriend. I ordered the King CD Rom course. They've broken down the tapes into much smaller segments which can be viewed on your computer. (Anywhere from 1 to 10 minute segments.) When I got a few minutes free at work, I'd put on the earphones and learn about the profile view of the approach plate. Next break, the plan view. etc, etc. During lunch, I'd grab something unhealthy to eat, head back to the office, close the door and get a whole hour's worth of studying done. After each little session, you are quized on the FAA questions pertaining to that subject. I thought it was a pretty good product. Supplemented that with the Gleim book just before the test and got a 100%. And I actually feel like I learned the material instead of just learning the answers.

This isn't the quickest method, but I found it worked well.
I have to agree that the road to instrument profiency is a long one.

I took approx. 6 mo's of training to get my rating and felt i had trained and studied to learn and not just pass the check ride. But this was only a beginning. It's been a year since, and i've been, pretty much on a weekly basis, filing and flying IFR. Only now am i starting to feel comfortable. It's not just flying the plane but is as much about efficiently and professionally existing in the ATC environment.

And maintanance is a must. nuff said, bring on the actual!
I've visited IFRWest.com. It isn't a cram course at all. It is a finishing course. It is for people that have basically done some training and feel like its never ending. They show up there for 10-12 days and just crank *the rest of it* out.

"Finish Your Instrument Rating on a 10 Day, 5,000 Mile Flying Vacation"

"To enroll in the West Coast Trip, you must log 15 hours of instrument time and receive passing score on your Instrument Rating Knowledge Exam."

Lastly, the instructor teaching at IFRWest has *a lot* of experience as a CFII. He isn't someone with just a few hundred hours of instrument dual given. He knows what he is doing, and dozens of methods to teach the same idea.

I would also like to add that the King CDROM suggestion was a good one. I did the Cessna Instrument Pilot CDROMs (made by King for Cessna Pilot Centers) and they were very good.

Best of luck to your friend.

Latest resources