Frequently Asked Questions About ATPL Theory

ATPL theoryBefore you start studying your ATPL theory, you might have some questions about what you’ll be studying, what you’ll need to have before you start and details on exams and revision.

We’ve created this short FAQ guide to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get asked by students about ATPL theory.

If you cannot find what you’re looking for, feel free to contact a member of our training team for advice and support or visit our ATPL(A) and ATPL(H)/IR pages, to find out more about our modular courses.

What do I need to have before starting my ATPL theory?

Before you start your ATPL theory course, you must have a PPL issued to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. You should also have a reasonable knowledge of maths and physics as these are essential skills to have to learn sections of the course – if you need a refresher of these, you could consider enrolling first on a refresher course to bring you up to date before starting your ATPL theory.

We would also recommend you have a Class 1 Medical before embarking on the time and expense of flight training.


Should I choose EASA or a UK CAA course?

This will depend on a number of factors including where you currently live and where you intend to work after gaining your ATPL. For more information, please visit our resource dedicated to helping students understand what Brexit means to their training.


What are the ATPL subjects?

  • 022 – Instrumentation
  • 061 – General Navigation
  • 050 – Meteorology
  • 040 – Human Performance and Limitations
  • 062 – Radio Navigation
  • 021 – Aircraft General Knowledge: Airframe and Systems, Electrics, Power Plant and Emergency Equipment
  • 010 – Air Law
  • 033 – Flight Planning and Flight Monitoring
  • 090 – Communications
  • 070 – Operational Procedures
  • 081 – Principles of Flight
  • 032 – Performance
  • 031 – Mass and Balance


How much do ATPL theory courses cost?

This will depend on the provider and if your course is classroom-based or completed via distance learning. A complete distance learning ATPL course with Bristol Groundschool is £2,490 or, alternatively, you can purchase by module to spread the cost.


Are ATPL exams difficult?

Some ATPL theory exams are harder than others. They can be challenging to get through, you will need to score at least 75% for all 13 exams – but with the right support, guidance and revision, most students are able to achieve good scores in their exams.


How long are ATPL theory exams valid for?

You have 18 months from the date of your first exam sitting to pass all 13 exams. Your exams are valid for 36 months from the date of your last exam pass for the issue of a CPL and IR. Once an IR or Helicopter type rating has been entered on the licence the passes are frozen for a 7-year period for the issue of an ATPL.


How long does it take to study for an ATPL?

Based on doing a part-time distance learning course with Bristol Groundschool, most students take around twelve to eighteen months to complete their theory, during which time you can build up your flying experience, this includes a combination of distance learning and classroom work. However, this can be condensed down to six months if studied full time, it all depends on how much time you have to dedicate to your studies.


Where can I take my ATPL exams?

Once you’re ready, you can choose to sit your ATPL theory exams at your chosen exam venue. The UK CAA exams are £74 per exam and can be booked via the CAA website you can sit UK CAA exams at any UK CAA venue. The Austro Control exams are £80 per exam if sat at Bristol Groundschool and can be booked via us.


What study materials will I need during the course?

You will need a CRP-5 navigation computer and a scientific calculator throughout the course for multiple subjects. A Jeppesen student route manual will be required for the subjects General Navigation and Flight planning. The Civil Aviation Publications (CAP’s) for Mass & Balance, Flight Planning and Performance. You will find a compass and protractor useful during General Navigation for chart work and measuring angles. We would recommend our complete study kit as this contains all of the items required to study and sit the exams, it is also cheaper than purchasing them individually.


Ready to take your next step?

 Bristol Groundschool is a world leader in modular tuition for fixed-wing and helicopter pilots. Our extensive and innovative suite of learning materials contains all the knowledge you need for success, allowing you to learn at your own pace and track your progress with ease.

With the option for online-only tuition, you can choose to fit your studies around existing commitments too – no matter where you are in the world.

We turn today’s students into tomorrow’s pilots. And we can do the same for you.

Find out more about our modular ATPL and CPL training courses by clicking the buttons below.

ATPL (a)    ATPL (H)/IR    CPL (A)    CPL (H)


Download our Free Ebook: The Essential ATPL Student Guide to Studying and Passing your Exams

Starting your ATPL theory soon?

Check out our new ebook on how to study and pass your ATPL exams. Discover what you’ll need to know about ATPL theory including:

  • What each ATPL exam includes
  • What to expect from each ATPL subject
  • Choosing the right ground school for you
  • How to study your ATPL theory
  • Note-taking techniques
  • Tips leading up to exam day