What can I do to prepare for ground school?

My time between discovering my starting date and actually start was somewhat short – just over 2 weeks to be exact. This left me limited in options with what I could achieve in such a short space of time, especially as I was still in full time employment. However, for those who find out weeks and even months in advance, here are some things I would suggest you do before you discover the gruelling effects of ground school…

Get ahead of the game!

Read, write and start revising. I would suggest finding out how you work best, whether that be kinaesthetic, visual or reading and writing. Try and find a schedule that works for you and what you can achieve in a evening. As soon as ground school begins you’ll be immersed in a world of work and textbooks – I really wish I had the time to read through some of the books and get to grips with each of the subjects a little bit before starting ground school. Some cadets on my course even read through all 14 ATPL PadPilot books before beginning.

Know what to expect…

Reading blogs like this can give you a real insight into what to expect when starting ground school. It can be somewhat daunting not knowing what you’ve signed up for – but there are thousands who have been through the experience before and they can give you tips and advice on what worked for them during their ground school. I will reiterate that I believe nothing will prepare you for what ground school will bring as everybody deals with it in different ways – but it can certainly give you an idea on what to expect.

Think of ways to revise…

Working for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week can begin to get repetitive and quite boring. I tried to think of new ways to keep my mind interested in what I was learning. At times it feels like there’s no end to the new content so I found this very useful in helping me to remain focussed on the end goal. Here are a few ways I revised during ground school:

Revision Cards

    : Keep them short and sweet. I tend to use these for short facts and figures that I needed to commit to memory – the continuously reading and speaking aloud really helped to make them stick.

Post it notes

    : My walls were practically a different colour every Module – I used them for noting things I couldn’t remember, no matter how hard I tried. Post it notes may jig your mind if you have forgotten something as you may be able to locate where that post-it note was in the room and from there remember what the contents were.

Posters

    : I tried to condense large topics into posters – for example, the e-book for Principles of Flight was over 1000 pages, most of it information explaining that particular topic. I tried to make the posters colourful, brief and included pictures or diagrams to help my understanding and to vary the ways in which I was revising – rather than just continuously writing.

 

A day in the life…

Ground school is challenging, rewarding and certainly stressful – however one thing it does provide is structure and routine. A typical day at ground school can last 16 hours, mostly always jam-packed with revision and general studying. I tried to structure exercise and eating around my revision to ensure I still maintained some form of normality; it also allowed me to stay focused and keep in a good mindset ahead of the next set of looming exams.

My day during ground school with L3 CTS looked something like this…

0645 – Morning: Wake up and get ready for the day, set for a prompt departure at 0745 to the Southampton training centre. Having a big breakfast was something I became a massive believer in, it fuels you for the morning of intense studying and makes you feel good and energised.

0830 – Lessons begin: The day is usually split into 2 subjects, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, however subjects like Principles of Flight are over 1000 pages long and are therefore more time consuming than others, so don’t be surprised if you have a whole day of some subjects! We tend to break every hour or so, to catch some air and refresh the brain.

1200-1300 – Lunch: Time to refuel and get ready for what the afternoon has in store for us! I used to get back into the classroom 15 minutes before class was set to restart, just to read over notes from the morning’s classes – this certainly wasn’t hardcore revision, more just a brief recap. If we had time, a few of us would go for a 10 or 15 minute walk to enable us to stay focused for the afternoon’s lessons.

1600-1630 – The end of the day…at the centre! Life doesn’t stop when you’re back at the accommodation! Driving home into the city centre can sometimes take up to 45 minutes, I gave myself 30 minutes at home just relaxing, before grabbing a drink and beginning the evenings study.

1900 – Dinner: I enjoy cooking so saw this as having some time out from studying, not just ‘cooking dinner’. I’d typically break at the same time as my flat mates, we’d just chat or even go over some things from class that day. It can be so helpful as others may understand something in a different way which may help you.

2200-0000 – Bed: Depending on how the evenings revision had gone I’d typically go to bed some time between 10 and midnight. I never used to set a timeframe as if I felt I was working well and could continue doing so I would give myself another hour revising or even just going over questions on Bristol Ground School’s question bank. However, some nights my body felt like it couldn’t take anymore so I would go to bed earlier, tomorrow is a new day and I had to make sure it was a better one!

As we got closer to exams this timeframe became somewhat non-existent. The 16 hour days sometimes turned into 18 or even 20…However trying to maintain a balance of what keeps you going and workload is so important. On a Friday evening we used to play football together and sometimes go for a few drinks and I’d try and go for a walk in the New Forest on each day of the weekend, exercise and social events are what keeps you human on such an intense course.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, thanks for reading and please contact me if you have any questions! You can also sign up to receive notifications of when I post at the bottom of this page!

2 months in the UAE…

Nearly 2 months into my time in Al Ain and I thought it’s time to write a blog post on what I’ve been up to…other than flying!

Al Ain is somewhat remote, they seem to build outwards rather than upwards here so everything is considerably spread out – especially when you compare it to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In terms of attractions, Al Ain is quite limited and we seem to have been to or seen the majority of the suggested sites. However, having Dubai and Abu Dhabi just one and a half hours away means we have endless things to do…

Here are a few of my best bits since arriving in the United Arab Emirates in early October…

Dubai Creek and Old Souq, Dubai

Visiting Old Dubai was incredible and one of my favourite trips so far. Compared to central Dubai, it is extremely cultural and you can find so many things to do and see. We took an hours long trip on an Abra (an old wooden boat) along the Dubai Creek for just 40 dirhams each – approximately £8! It was amazing to see so many different sights. The creek is predominately used for transporting industrial goods such as fabrics and tyres around Dubai – something you certainly don’t see in Dubai itself.

Formula 1, Abu Dhabi

Since discovering I would be conducting my flight training in the UAE, I had my heart set on attending the Abu Dhabi Formula 1. We managed to get some last ditch tickets from a couple on holiday in Abu Dhabi who were selling them on behalf of a friend. It all seemed too good to be true…Marina Grandstand, Row A, access to the After Race concerts…it turned out to be one of the best weekends of my life. We had access to the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday as well as their respective concerts which included Post Malone, Sam Smith and Guns n Roses – we also luckily picked up some tickets from one of my friends parents for the Friday night concert of The Weeknd. It was incredible, the racing, the entertainment – I would recommend it to anybody visiting Abu Dhabi or the UAE in November.

It was also topped off with an incredible flyby, all coordinated by Etihad Airways. It included their incredible Boeing 787 – painted in a special Formula 1 livery, the Airbus A380 and the Al Fursan aerobatic display team…what a combination!

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Perhaps one of the most beautiful and picturesque buildings in the world. It’s size and stature is overwhelming. I felt such a presence whilst visiting – everything is so peaceful and tranquil. The building is kept spectacularly clean, emphasised by the fact you can only walk around without shoes on. The pictures speak for itself on this one…

Jumeirah Beach Resort, Dubai

JBR is one of the most credited hotels in all of Dubai, and understandably so – it’s absolutely huge and seemed to have everything you could ask for. We were walking through shops and restaurants for over 45 minutes before reaching the beach – where only hotels guests may reside. However, we somehow managed to wriggle our way to enjoy the views of the Burj al Arab as the sun set…

This was definitely one of those moments that I’ll look back on and pinch myself to remind me that I actually lived in the United Arab Emirates…

That wraps it up for now – I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you want notifications of when I post be sure to sign up below!