General Info

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the top reasons our subscribers choose us.

Can I run your software on a Mac or iPad, or only Windows PC?

Yes. We have written three versions of our Flight Test 5 software: Windows, Mac OSX, and iPad. The Windows version will run on any Windows OS (though it will not work on a "locked" Surface tablet since they can only install software from the MicroSoft Store... it will work on the "Pro" models of the Surface tablet that do not have that restriction). The Mac version will run on any Mac running OS10.7 or later. The iPad app will run on any iPad with IOS 8.0 or later.

Do I have to be connected to the Internet to study?

No... that would be too limiting for our subscribers. A lot of people study while traveling with laptops and often don't have internet access. However, you only receive automatic database updates when you have an Internet connection.

Do I have to call you to sign up?

Yes. We are available to sign you up, during our signup hours, every day of the year. After you sign up, our technical support is available to you 24 hours a day. FAA testing is so complicated that we have found many advantages to signing people up for our courses in person by phone. However, if you are deployed U.S. military and calling is not an option for you, please email us at SheppardAir@aol.com and we will make special arrangements for you.

Why isn't your technical support a 1-800 phone number?

We're just trying to keep the purchase cost down. 1-800 numbers cost money as you know. Some subscribers end up not needing much technical support, while others use it a lot. So if we added an additional amount to the purchase price to cover the 1-800 number, some people would be paying more for a number they'll hardly use, while others won't have paid as much as they'll need. So we'll pay for our tech support experts to be available to support you 24 hours a day, and then those of you who end up using it the most pay the most in phone charges. Of course, people often call us with their cell phone, and most cell phones don't have long distance charges attached to them anymore.

Are FAA question changes done once a year? - or - It's December... should I wait until January (next year) to buy your test prep... that way I am studying the newest question bank from the FAA?

No, there is no special "timing" consideration to taking your FAA test. It's a common mis-conception that the FAA puts out a new “bank” of questions once each year. Perhaps this misunderstanding comes from the book publishers reprinting their books once a year and stamping a new year on the cover. But FAA changes can come at any time and are very fluid. Because of the frequent FAA database changes, we're Seriously concerned about the currency of the materials you study with our program... after all, we've guaranteed you no surprise questions and that you'll get 90% on the ATM/ATH or FEX tests. So our 24-hour a day support team works very hard at staying ahead of question bank changes. Also, and perhaps just as important, we're making you study at a computer with a software program (not a book) so that when we put out a change to your study materials, we have a good chance that you will get the changes thru our automated system the next time you study. Study when you want... take the test when you want... we'll be here 24-7 watching your back and keeping you current.

How do your subscribers do on their tests?

Ok, there's a couple of ways to answer that question. First, let's see how we did in FY2011, with our guarantee of a minimum score of 90%. In FY2011, 2.1% of our subscribers called to get their money back after their test because they got less than 90%. Now how about average scores? In 2006, the national average score on the ATP 121 test (amongst all test takers, no matter what prep system they used), according to the FAA's web site, was 86.24%. Our subscribers averaged 96.8% on the ATP 121 (average of the scores reported to us in the same time period). Similarly, in 2006, the national average score on the Flight Engineer (FEX) exam was 94.97%. Our subscribers averaged 99.25% on the FEX exam (average of the scores reported to us in the same time period).

Why not sign up for an ATP Multiengine flight checkride preparation course and study for the ATM exam when I arrive there?

Lots of reasons:

  • Guarantees... no other program guarantees no surprises on the test or a mimum score of 90% or your money back.
  • Cost... the total cost of our ATM study course and the FAA test at your local testing center will be less than the total cost to do both at your ATP checkride location.
  • With us, you can study as much as you want up to a year so that you don't have to take the test until you're comfortable and confident you'll get the score you want. So why sign up for a program that will not allow you to study for more than a day or two? How tired will you be after staring at a computer screen for 2 straight days? Would you be rested and ready to fly the next in preparation for your checkride?
  • Wouldn't it be better to study for the ATM exam at your own pace, go take the test, and then spend the rest of the days before your ATP flying program learning the aircraft and other knowledge you need for the flying and checkride (approach plates, Oral Eval guide, checklists, etc.). So why get to the flying location and have to jumble all that aircraft info with ATM test questions and make yourself tired in the process?

There's an ATM question file on the FAA web site at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/airmen/test_questions/ Aren't those the questions that will be on my ATP Multiengine test?

That would be great, but the answer is no. If you look carefully at those questions in that file, they come from 5 different FAA's tests: ATM, ATP 135, ATP helicopter, Dispatcher, and Flight Navigator. The questions provided in that file are very similar to actual test questions for those tests, but there are only a few from each test. The FAA calls these parallel questions, and they serve as example questions for a person who is trying to prepare for one of the tests independently (by themselves). The FAA's active test bank questions have not been available to anyone outside of FAA in any way since the court order expired in 2001.

How can your approximately 1300 questions possibly prepare me for the ATP Multiengine test, and guarantee me no surprise questions on the test, when other companies say I need to study 1700+ questions to be prepared?

Until 2001, what the FAA called the "ATP Question Bank" was publically available on their web site. (Since then only parallel questions are available on their web site... see the previous FAQ.) At that time, the FAA said that the "ATP Question Bank" provided questions for the ATP121, ATP135, Flight Dispatcher, Flight Navigator, and ATP Helicopter tests. But the FAA did not identify for anyone which questions were for which tests. So if you yourself had wanted to write a test prep book or test prep software, you could have gone thru the 1735 questions at that time in that big "ATP Question Bank", looked at each question, guessed at which of the 5 tests it might appear on, and marked it accordingly. However, if you did this, you would have also found that many of the questions seemed to be applicable to more than 1 of the 5 tests, so you would have marked those questions for multiple tests. By doing so you would have over-selected questions... ie. you would have selected questions that did not go with a certain test, and would have not selected questions that did go with a certain test.

When I installed the program, I got the 'Open File Security Warning - Publisher Could Not Be Verified' message (Windows XP) or the 'Unidentified Publisher' message (Windows Vista or 7) or the 'Unidentified Developer' message on a Mac. What does that mean?

It means we refuse to pay a registration company, like Verisign, $499.00 per year to have a digital signature in our software. That digital signature might be nice to have if you were writing software at a brand new company and were concerned that people wouldn't trust your program, and therefore wanted this type of third-party, good-faith endorsement. But we've been doing this since June 1999, and most of our new subscribers heard about us from a friend who has used our program. So we're going to assume you wouldn't have paid your hard earned money to subscribe to our course if you didn't trust us, and that'll save us the $499.00 a year. If you do have concerns about your privacy and computer security while using our program, then please click here to see our Privacy Policy.

I looked at the trial version, and you're software's not too flashy/fancy?

You're right.We haven't imported high-resolution aircraft photos or flying animations into our program.Fancy graphics just take up space, increase download time, make a program sluggish on older systems, and make the software less stable and reliable. Instead, our focus during software development sessions is on your results... accurate questions and answers... fast automated database and software updates across the internet from our central computers... software functions that enhance studying and help you avoid learning errors... refining the science in our Study Strategy and accompanying software features so that you spend as little time as possible preparing for your test. Unlike other study systems, not a single feature of our software will ever positively reinforce a wrong answer. So you clearly have a choice... you can have fast and effective study, with one-of-a-kind money-back guarantees, and a study course that takes up very little space or resources on your computer, or you can have fancy screens and graphics and study twice as long with a legacy company. You'll be glad you studied with us, and you'll be amazed at how fast you are ready for your test.

What about rote learning?

Ok, we put this question and answer at the end of this web page because it's long, not because we think it's unimportant. We get calls occasionally asking if "rote learning is the way to study for these FAA tests" or "isn't preparing for these FAA tests just rote memorization to fill a square?" Our answer is this: we would never advocate nor characterize studying for these tests as an exercise in rote learning. Our study courses give you all the tools necessary to support your exploration of the material to whatever depth you wish, and we feel that the more you explore the material, the safer you will be as a flight crewmember. So you are not limited to rote learning, and the decision is really up to you.

There are some facts about preparing for your test. First, standardized testing is just that, standardized testing. Second, your life, needs, learning objectives, and time constraints are going to define how you choose to study. And third, the amount of effort you choose to invest in preparing for your test will probably directly affect your score. For our part, we have to provide the tools necessary to help ALL of you prepare for your tests, whether you want to spend hours studying the background material behind each study question, or whether you have to get your test taken in 2 day's time and are forced to study fast. We have given you four key tools to ensure your success on your test, no matter which scenario you fall into.

Here are the four major tools we've given you to study with, no matter to what depth you wish to explore the material. 1) We have given you accurate questions to study so that you're never wasting your study time and effort. 2) We have given you explanations to the study questions that are centered around the source documents/FARs/handbooks that the questions were taken from. We think this is essential to learning pilot/aviation professional material. It's not enough to know the answer to a question, you should know where answers come from too. So if a question asks how to overtake another aircraft, you have to know the correct way to overtake another aircraft, but you should also know that it comes from 14 CFR part 91. So our explanations to questions give you the text of regulations like part 91 so you can read it (or re-read it) during your studying, instead of just memorizing the answer and accepting that it's correct. 3) If you don't understand a question, and then you read the explanation and still don't understand, we have included with your study subscription on-duty FAA certificated instructors to take your call and answer your question. So with just these 3 tools alone, you don't ever have to stop at just rote learning. But no matter what you are studying, you need to approach your studying in an orderly, organized, well thought-out manner to be most effective, and that is our fourth key tool. 4) We have given you a time tested, formal, organized Study Strategy that combines with our study software features to ensure your study time is effective, no matter how fast you are trying to get ready.

So again, we don't advocate just rote learning in preparation for your FAA test, and we never would. However, it doesn't matter what we advocate, some people will choose to approach it that way, and that's their choice... we will support ALL of you with the necessary tools either way. Someday, instead of textual questions with 3 answer choices, FAA tests may involve watching short videos that freeze before the key moment, and then force the flight crewmember to discern what the issue is, and decide on the right course of action. Perhaps responses will be open form, and graded by hand and more subjectively, like oral evaluations are. But for now, these tests are constructed the way they are. We encourage you to explore the subjects covered by the questions until you thoroughly understand the material itself, and we encourage you to explore the sources from which the questions were taken. We hope you gain a solid grasp of the material, and that in turn you'll always be able to contribute to the safety of flight operations. Have fun studying, and call us if we can help you.

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