I’ll never forget that stressful night before my first Commercial Pilot License theory exam in South Africa. Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, I was downing what felt like my hundredth coffee and cramming new facts at the last minute. This nightmare situation wasn’t my fault – I hadn’t procrastinated or underestimated the work. On the contrary, I had studied for weeks! My textbook was highlighted, my colour coded study notes memorized and, as far as I could tell, I was ready to ace the exam. 

That was until I received a life-changing phone call. “Did you study all the online questions?” my friend asked. “Um, no,” I replied, confused. I didn’t know what he was talking about. After a brief explanation, I reluctantly purchased an online question subscription. My eyes grew wide with fear as I raced through the database – if this was the exam standard, I could potentially fail – my textbook didn’t cover most of this material. 

It was a race against the clock from that moment. With only a few hours to get through hundreds of questions, I had to compose myself quickly; Deep breaths, a new study strategy and bottomless coffee were my tools to survive.

Despite the odds, I aced my exam. 

As the adrenaline wore off, I took a moment to reflect on the series of events. I noted that failing to complete the online practice questions would have been a disaster. Yet, purely memorizing questions without understanding the material in the textbook would have been even worse in the long run.  So, what was I supposed to do to prepare for my next exams?

I followed the advice of a famous B737 pilot YouTuber in Europe, (who?). She/he explained that memorizing all the online questions is the only way to pass pilot exams since textbooks are insufficient for exam preparation. The multiple-choice style questions that we face are often complicated with only one word distinguishing the correct answer. Without exposure to the questions before the exam, most of us would fail. 

So, through trial and error over my next exams, I found a study method that combines practise questions with broader information in textbooks for long term success. To help you develop a study routine to ace your exams, let’s jump in:

  • The Exam Syllabus
    Select your preferred method of study – whether it’s textbooks or distance learning ground school. Read through the entire subject to gain a solid foundation. Highlight and make some study notes but focus on understanding broad principles instead of focusing in on details.

    If you attend ground school, arrive at class already prepared by reading through the topics the night before. Use the lectures as an opportunity to clarify confusing topics and to solidify what you already learnt at home. 
  • Online Questions, Round One
    With your solid foundation from step one, some of the online questions can be tackled without problems. However, not all of them will be a walk in the park, so, you’ll have to look further. For example, read the explanation at the bottom of the question, watch a video on YouTube or reach out to an instructor for further assistance. Continue to focus on understanding concepts while working through the database sequentially. Don’t forget to update your original study notes as you learn!

43 Air School recognises the importance of using practice questions as part of the learning process, so they equip their student pilots with fantastic up to date questions and answers using a product called: PILOTEXAMS. This is an industry’s leading provider of SACAA exam questions. The PILOTEXAMS team of professional subject matter experts continually update the database and questions are carefully selected to resemble the official Central Question Bank.

What do you get with PILOTEXAMS?

  • 1,000’s of carefully selected questions
  • 1,000’s of detailed explanations
  • PPL(A), ATPL(A) and CPL(A) courses (No Heli yet)
  • Progress monitoring dashboard
  • Mock exams for all subjects
  • Support from professional pilots and instructors


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27-year-old influencer, blogger, female pilot and a former flight attendant with a love for aviation. Well-known as Aviatrix West, originally from Canada but grew up in South Africa. After working as a flight attendant in the Middle East, Aviatrix moved to Belgium to pursue a career as a pilot – after completing her Airbus A320 skills test. Aviatrix also holds a degree in Architecture

My aim is to help others realize their dreams in aviation by providing guidance to both flight attendants and pilots. I’d especially like women to see how exciting and accessible a career as a pilot is. 

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