Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Getting the Most from Your Ground School

by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
Getting the Most From Your Flight Training, January 2005

1.  Be on time for class.  When you arrive late, you cheat yourself out of valuable training time to learn the required material. Even more, you disrupt the remainder of class that did show up at the proper time.  If you are coming to class from far away, plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled class start time so that you can adjust according to traffic delays which are known and inevitable.
2.  Make a commitment.  You have invested your money to build a new skill.  Don’t make excuses, just make the commitment.    If you miss a class session, don’t expect the instructor to slow down for you.  In a class that builds technical skills, it requires that you show up to every class meeting so that you can progress at the pace everyone else is.  You may need to supplement your studies with additional material if you miss a class session.
3.  Prepare for each class by completing the assigned homework and readings PRIOR to the beginning of the class session.  Even the best instruction cannot fully compensate for lack of preparation. 
4.  Practice skills that you learned in your classes.  Having a technique explained in class is quickly forgotten for students who neglected to do the homework prior to the lecture on the material.  If not practiced after the lecture, the skill is easily and quickly lost.
5.  Create a study group of your fellow classmates.  Partner with another student to review material, ask each other questions, and determine what material needs to be reviewed and discussed in class with the instructor.  You can learn a great deal from asking others how they understand a concept. 
6.  Set aside time each week to review the material from your previous class.  Reviewing material helps you to retain the information.
7.  Over-learn the material.  Don’t put the just enough effort to achieve a minimal understanding.  Not only will you most likely forget the material, when you really need the information it won’t be easy to recall.
8.  Good notes are insurance.  Taking good notes allows you to later recall the important material. Your instructor will emphasize various points and those are certainly good points to record.  If your instructor says you will cover more about it later, other examples given, or topics your instructor indicates is important should all be mentioned in your notes.  Good notes provide an outline from which you can further develop the information on a particular topic through other sources
9.   Ask questions based on your prior study of the material being covered.   When you have heard the answer to yours and others’ questions, include the results in your notes.
10.  Understand the purpose of ground training.  It is not meant to be exhaustive nor is it meant to be your introduction to the material, but will
  • provide a framework for you to study,
  • it will emphasize essential information for later review,
  • provide a starting point for further research, and
  • provide opportunity for discussion of things you did not understand from your study.
11.  Tutoring.  Course materials are quite good these days so in the unusual event you are having difficulty with a topic that was not resolved through prior study, lecture on the topic, and discussion, consider extra help outside of class.  When others in the class seem to be ahead of you and you still aren't getting it, unfortunately your instructor will not slow down for you as it will impact the class schedule.  In that case consider getting additional outside tutoring which you will most likely pay for.  

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