The PPL e-exams

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

From 5th October 2020, the UK Civil Aviation Authority implemented a new examination system for Part-FCL PPL aeroplane and helicopter theoretical knowledge exams. The new system has done away with written exams in favour of computer based testing.


Why has this changed?

There were several reasons for this change. Firstly, the question database can be updated at any time to ensure that it keeps up with changes in regulation. Previously, exam papers were only up-to-date at the time of their publication and any changes in rules and regulations or even aeronautical charts were not reflected in the questions, leading to misleading or potentially incorrect answers.


The new system also reduces administration and errors with automatic marking. It allows the CAA to have real-time access to your results which are stored on their system.


Another reason for this change was to prevent student pilots from using online question banks which included the actual questions that were found on the papers. This resulted in students learning the answers to questions, but not understanding the concepts behind them. The purpose of the exams is to test the student's knowledge on a subject, because that knowledge is deemed vital to safe flying. A student pilot who passes the exams simply because they rehearsed the questions beforehand is ill-equipped to hold a licence. To be clear, you must know this stuff to operate as a competent pilot, not just to pass an exam.


The new questions are updated regularly, perhaps even monthly, and with such a large database of questions, it is not possible to rehearse them all. When taking the exams, there is every chance that you could have a completely new question that has not been used on previous tests. The student pilot will need to learn the subject matter and have a genuine understanding of the theory in order to pass the exams. There are no trick questions in the new e-exams - if you understand the theory, you will be able to answer the question.

A screenshot of the candidate's view on the CAA exam portal

General information about the new questions.


  • All the questions are new and have not appeared on previous exams.

  • All questions are random and drawn from the CAA database of over 1,000 questions.

  • All questions are stand-alone, so an incorrect answer in one question cannot then be carried over to another question causing the student to answer that one incorrectly.

  • The answers will also rotate (so if the correct answer is A, that same answer may appear as option D on another exam).

  • The questions will be updated frequently. The questions will change by a minimum of 15% each year.

  • Questions which provide several statements and then ask you to choose which ones are correct are no longer used. For example:

Which of the following are correct...

1. X

2. Y

3. Z


Answers:

A. 1 and 2

B. 1,2 and 3

C. 1 and 3

D. 2 and 3


How can QuizAero practice exams help?

Our online question bank allows you to test your knowledge and ensure that you have an understanding of the theoretical subjects. You will have a clear picture of your weak areas and your strengths. When used with our highly popular online ground school, you can learn the subject material in an easy-to-digest manner and take it with you on computers, tablets and mobiles. It includes clear diagrams, beautiful animations and videos to bring the information to life, help you retain it and take the new e-exams with confidence.


Our exams have never included the real questions - we don't want that on our conscience, but our products will help you to learn all nine of the subjects and pass the exams first time.


You can view our products for the PPL and LAPL here.


Frequently asked questions.


Are the exams still the same length?

Yes they contain the same amount of questions and the time allocated has not changed.

  • Air Law: 16 questions, 35 minutes

  • Meteorology: 16 questions, 50 minutes

  • Navigation and Radio Aids: 12 questions, 45 minutes

  • Human Performance: 12 questions, 25 minutes

  • Communications: 12 questions, 20 minutes

  • Aircraft General Knowledge: 16 questions, 35 minutes

  • Flight Planning and Performance: 12 questions, 45 minutes

  • Operational Procedures: 12 questions, 30 minutes

  • Principles of Flight: 12 questions, 35 minutes

What is the pass mark?

The pass mark remains 75% on all exams.


Are the new exams more difficult?

The feedback we've received suggests that they are not more difficult than the previous papers, though they are certainly different.


Is there a charge for the new e-exams?

Your training organisation will incur a charge for using the system. This is currently £10 per exam, though the fee you pay to the organisation for taking the exam is typically £35-£40.


Can I take the exams at home?

No, they must be taken at your training organisation.


Can I opt to take a paper exam instead?

This is no longer an option, though there is a short-term exception process if your training organisation has problems accessing the online exam portal.


What if I have already passed some of the exams on written papers?

You will not have to take those exams again unless they expire.


Will I receive feedback on the questions I got wrong?

Following the exam, the system produces a Knowledge Deficiency Report. The KDR details the syllabus reference of the questions that the candidate answered incorrectly during the exam as long as the candidate’s exam result is 50% or higher.

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