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ATPL exams are not fair!

Old 21st Apr 2021, 11:35
  #1 (permalink)  
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ATPL exams are not fair!

This may look like a personal outlet, but I just want to be objective.
EASA is supposed to be a standardised authority for Europe, so the exams it creates should be standardised too. But as I understood every EASA country has a big degrees of freedom. Yes, the central question bank is the same, but every country can choose the questions to use, deleting the ones not considered valid.
There's also a problem regarding the time limit of 18 months. In some countries you have lots of sittings, (I was reading in this forum that in Sweden you can even get personalised sessions), while for example in Italy you get 2 sittings a month and often you can't even successfully take part to then because they're already full ( also add the covid) , but the 18 months are equal for everyone.
The last issue is about the fact that the question bank is secret; what's the point of this? If the questions were 100% secrets, they fail rate would skyrocket, because no one would be able to pass without studying on the QB. So we have to rely on third parties websites that collect the questions ( from students feedbacks they say) and then kindly sell them back to us ( I wonder how them avoid copyright violations accuses from EASA). This said, wouldn't be better for everybody to get an official QB released from EASA where the students can do exercise? This way we could also avoid to find out at the exam that the QB has been updated to the most recent version overnight, and that our study was done on a wrong set of questions, like happened in UK ( I can't post the link to the article, but it was published by Bristol GS and the title was: caa refuse either credit exams introduce quality controls ). All this to say that we would need some kind of class action to get a more transparent a standardised way of testing, because in the current situation the ATPL looks a lot like a game of luck.
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Old 21st Apr 2021, 16:30
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I can understand your frustration but i don't see the merit in EASA releasing their official database. This would totally nullify the integrity of the exams and thereby the qualification gained from them, too. What weight does an exam have if its questions and answers have all been provided by the examiner already?

EASA seem to have turned a blind eye to the question banks and so would argue you already have 'access' to the majority of the questions, the few you dont? Well this is supposed to be an exam afterall ...

And 3rd party question providers are often careful not to replicate questions 100%, that is partially why there is so much 'same question different wording' exam feedback.

All in all whilst frustrating, it is not difficult studies per se. Not when compared with medical studies for example, in fact i think they would jump at an ECQB type setup.
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Old 21st Apr 2021, 17:23
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Doctors already have a database!

The questions should be secret - but that only works IF the questions match the learning objectives, which they still don't despite a recent syllabus overhaul to which I was a contributor. It is frustrating for the schools as well!
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Old 21st Apr 2021, 18:58
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Can you imagine what would happen if EASA released the question banks under Freedom of Information? So many questions, hundreds certainly if not thousands would be found to be invalid, based on the wrong regulation, outside the syllabus, no correct answer, two correct answers, unintelligible. Why don't they release it? Go figure. Amusingly the UK CAA up to the end of last year used to repeat the EASA statements that there was a copyright (although they carefully avoided saying who owned the copyright) and copyright infringements would be pursued, the harshest penalties sought etc. Then the UK left EASA, and the CAA appropriated the EASA Question banks wholesale, renamed them the UK CAA Question Banks and all copyright admonitions disappeared. Go figure again. I'm waiting for EASA to enforce their copyright claims against the UK CAA with an injunction - whoops, no UK exams.
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Old 21st Apr 2021, 21:10
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FAA stopped publishing questions over 10 years ago. Whilst question banks now are common for FAA (just like EASA) the question are periodically reviewed to comply with airman certification standards. That means that questions must be specific, relevant and enhance safety.

I took the FAA ATP exam a few years ago and whilst it wasn't overly difficult, the questions were relevant and things you need to know.

Unlike EASA who seem like they want you to know the voltage of an A320 flap actuator!
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 05:13
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a320 - It's called passmedicine - Online revision for the MRCP Part 1, MRCGP Applied Knowledge Test (AKT), GP ST Stage 2 - Specialty Recruitment Assessment, Medical student finals, MRCP. It was used by a niece who I wouldn't trust with a pram yet now she's a doctor. Go figure.

Another point is that EASA are extremely generous with the 4 attempts at each exam - train drivers in the UK get one and in extreme cases 2 goes only. I have always thought that the maximum attempts should be reduced to two.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 06:13
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Maybe I am looking at this from a wrong perspective but if they were to release their questions database, where would this leave some of the ground schools which only focus on the theory?
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 07:22
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his may look like a personal outlet, but I just want to be objective.
EASA is supposed to be a standardised authority for Europe, so the exams it creates should be standardised too. But as I understood every EASA country has a big degrees of freedom. Yes, the central question bank is the same, but every country can choose the questions to use, deleting the ones not considered valid.
There's also a problem regarding the time limit of 18 months. In some countries you have lots of sittings, (I was reading in this forum that in Sweden you can even get personalised sessions), while for example in Italy you get 2 sittings a month and often you can't even successfully take part to then because they're already full ( also add the covid) , but the 18 months are equal for everyone.

I can't see why this is a problem, so long as the 18 months and maximum number of sittings is identical, it's just a reflection of the different scales in different countries. I only did CPL writtens in the UK and had a fraction of the opportunities ATPL candidates had - it was fine, I just planned for it.


The last issue is about the fact that the question bank is secret; what's the point of this? If the questions were 100% secrets, they fail rate would skyrocket, because no one would be able to pass without studying on the QB.
To force you to actually learn the subject, instead of memorising the questions. Same with university exams, school exams, etc. And quite right too.

So we have to rely on third parties websites that collect the questions ( from students feedbacks they say) and then kindly sell them back to us ( I wonder how them avoid copyright violations accuses from EASA).
No, you have to learn the subject.

This said, wouldn't be better for everybody to get an official QB released from EASA where the students can do exercise? This way we could also avoid to find out at the exam that the QB has been updated to the most recent version overnight, and that our study was done on a wrong set of questions, like happened in UK ( I can't post the link to the article, but it was published by Bristol GS and the title was: caa refuse either credit exams introduce quality controls ). All this to say that we would need some kind of class action to get a more transparent a standardised way of testing, because in the current situation the ATPL looks a lot like a game of luck.
It's fine if you actually learn the subject, and just use sample questions for practice.

If your approach to becoming a professional pilot is to simply memorise the minimum information and parrot it with minimal understanding, you don't belong in a professional flying environment.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 07:30
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Alex Whittingham

I work in the university world, where we manage this with systems of external examiners, who review exams, marking, etc to insure common standards across the sector. It works, albeit that it puts significant burden on those people. If this isn't going on within flying TK exams, this is a problem - but it's still not an argument for publishing the questions.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 11:10
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Having both sat & written exams for my previous (non aviation) profession these exams are bloody disgrace & embarrassing especially for a so called 'professional qualification'. As stated they give learn objectives then ask/do something different without telling anybody & the 'system' seems to get worse every time there is a modification/update. The aviation authorities seem to have a vested interest in you failing as it generates income for them - remember CAA stands for Cash Again & Again when you fail the exam & they are in denial as to how bad it is.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 11:50
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Ghengis, sadly RichardH is correct. EASA have very poor quality control and in many cases you couldn't have passed the exam unless you had seen most of the questions before. Questions can be wildly outside the syllabus, sometimes after 30 years teaching I can't even answer them, There are so many examples I could give you.... how about the role of squitters or echo protection circuits in DME? The closest LO is probably "Describe the principle of distance measurement using DME in terms of a timed transmission from the interrogator and reply from the transponder on different frequencies", but how would anyone, ATO or candidate, ever guess this was required knowledge from the LO? These questions have made it through several layers of EASA 'quality control' then into exams. Even if the questions are objected to and eventually withdrawn the damage is done because we have by then included squitters and EPCs in the ATPL training manuals, and of course they don't tell us when questions are withdrawn. They should hang their collective heads in shame.

The end result, of course, is that the ATPL theory courses get more and more complex trying to meet the challenges of the exams as well as the syllabus. We even, sometimes, have to include 'half truths' in the material to meet dodgy LOs and questions. The icing on the cake is that EASA 'subject experts' now use ATO manuals as a reference for questions, and so the circle of disinformation widens. Its a challenge.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 12:12
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Exactly Alex which is why with some regret I am retiring from TKI this year as I can no longer put up with this crap.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 19:59
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Red face Agree with RH and Alex

RichardH

Exactly the way I feel I have taught in 4 different ATO's and still going. I do not want the question bank CAA or otherwise, open to all, but this is what I have found over the years, and even more so with QB2020

1. Questions outside the LO and when I say outside, I mean from a different subject sometimes. RNAV questions in Instruments etc.
2. Questions with 2 right answers.
3. Questions with wrong answer marked as right.
4. Questions not in Level 4 English. Either very bad grammar or Shakesperean in quality with words that would fox Stephen Fry.
5. Questions that do not have any relevance or content in ANY of the common learning materials.
6. and finally, since the existence of the internet, questions that have clearly been trawled up from the bottom of the internet barrel, and which are so obscure, they are meaningless.

In every other exam that I can think of GCSE's, Degrees etc the learning material is recognised and certificated. You learn the material and understand it (hopefully) you practice tests based on real past papers, and after the exam, at least the Teachers/Instructors/Lecturers get to see the paper and are able to verify that they are fair and valid questions.

All that is going to happen over the next few years, is that students will yet again feed question banks, allowing those who simply have a good memory, to "Learn the question" instead of learning the subject and passing on merit.
It is at the very least fraudulent, that the CAA (who incidentally had never seen the new question bank while it was being produced I'm informed) charge customers for a flawed inaccurate question paper, which if they then fail, they have no right to see and if they appeal (paying even more money) they still don't get to see the questions and are told "You're wrong it was a fair question" I could do that without getting out of bed.

The system is seriously flawed, and the arrogance and immorality of the CAA beggars belief.

Last edited by PFD; 22nd Apr 2021 at 20:00. Reason: Grammar error
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 21:58
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Well yes, that's fair. The JAA exams I passed circa 2008 were bloated with excess material, and often contained poor answers that forced you to think your way into the examiners head, rather than simply provide correct answers to questions, and from what I've heard it has got worse. By comparison, I did an FAA CPL a couple of years ago and it was totally the other way - the TK/written was in most technical aspects frankly much too shallow, although it compensated in large part by the strict and relevant oral. I also do not accept the need for the massive exam load imposed upon people (in Europe) now, which is even worse than the daft exam loads I had to pass 13ish years ago.

So there are two "no excuses here". There's no excuse for not learning the subject, but no excuse for the mismanagement and bloating of the present TK and exam system.
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 00:06
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Maybe Alex should hire some Savants to start failing tests? 4 failed tests each (per subject) should build up a nice little database of genuine questions...
https://www.theguardian.com/science/...o-never-forget

Last edited by rudestuff; 23rd Apr 2021 at 01:29.
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 06:14
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And questions that would kill the candidate if they ever used the recommended procedure in the question....
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 09:16
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Gents, believe me, remember the question without knowing anything, he/she will not pass the interview, even though she/he get through, they will not succeed in the career. Especially if you're in complexity small Helicopter World, everybody know each other.
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 11:03
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paco

I'm curious, do you have some specific examples in mind
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 13:42
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How do you land in trees? Gear down......
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 14:17
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"I can understand your frustration but i don't see the merit in EASA releasing their official database. This would totally nullify the integrity of the exams and thereby the qualification gained from them, too."
Well.

The thing is that we have pretty known 2rd party who claim they have full coverage in their application. Now - from what I know and you can read that all over EASA internets there is solid bunch of people who do learn from that bank and not from handbooks. Most of these internets claim that indeed that 3rd party bank has VERY SOLID coverage of actual questions seen in exams.


And technical interviews? They are just proof that all these 14 exams are a joke. You can have FAA ATP style exam and no one would die anyway.
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