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A while back, I shared some of my tips and tricks for success in the article 4 Methods to Succeed at Your Initial Type Rating. Many people responded with their tips and tricks, so I wrote the article 4 More Methods to Succeed at Your Initial Type Rating.  Some of these were new to me, so I gave some unfamiliar methods a try.  Normally, I focus most on limitations and memory items before going to school.  I hadn’t yet tried it, so before leaving for Challenger 605 initial training in January, I made study guides of all the systems.  Rather than scribbling notes by hand, however, I used Microsoft OneNote.  I blended a technological approach with old-school tactile notetaking, and combined, this method was super effective.  After using the OneNote study-guide method, I was better prepared for the oral exam than any previous checkride at a Part 142 facility.

A teammate in my MBA class exposed me to the wonders of Microsoft OneNote. What a great tool! When I started, I planned to just do a basic bullet point type study guide, but I found that there were several other features that made note taking in Microsoft OneNote superior to other study methods.

Step One: Make notes in OneNote before you leave

Most part 142 training facilities now offer the course materials via a web portal about a month before your training session begins. This web-based access is essential to utilize this study guide method.  Of course, I advocate taking notes from the book, but I also advocate including important pictures, schematics, and diagrams using a snipping tool.  It’s imperative to honor any copyright restrictions associate with the material.  That said, I believe that utilizing the reference material for your personal learning is within the spirit of its intended use.  But of course, check to be sure.

Whatever method you choose, learning requires absorbing then repeating, absorbing then repeating the material over and over again. Whether you memorize flashcards and repeat the answer aloud, or you read the book and then take notes, learning is a process of repetition. The OneNote study-guide method is no different but in electronic format.

Start taking notes

Essentially, I had two windows open on my computer side-by-side. On the left, I had the pilot training manual (PTM) open on the screen. On the right, Microsoft OneNote was open. As I read through each chapter, I took notes on the salient points. A bullet-point note taking style was fast and helped me become familiar with the aircraft systems.

Taking notes on the CAM Study Plan Article. Use the same method with the training materials for your new aircraft. Open the Pilot’s Training Manual (PTM) and Microsoft OneNote side-by-side and get busy!

About the bullet-point method

Particularly when combing through all the systems before you go to ground school, the bullet-point method is the perfect way to take succinct, abbreviated notes. I started by laying out the major sections of each systems chapter before I began actually taking notes.  I wrote down all the section headings and “snipped” the pertinent graphics.  This help me keep my notes organized. The indenting was uniform, and all the headings, sub-headings, and sub-sub-headings were aligned identically. Laying out my notes in advance also helped me see how I was progressing through each chapter.  To include the important pictures, tables, and schematics, you must use the snipping tool. This is where Microsoft one note really differentiates itself from other applications.

The “snipping tool” opens an adjustable box and copies your selected image.

The snipping tool

Game-changer!  The snipping tool is like the “print screen” and “crop” features built into one.  When you hit the combination of keys to use the snipping tool, it opens an adjustable box and copies your selected image.  This eliminates intermediate steps like using 3D Paint and having to edit an image there. It’s fast and easy. Being able to easily include important graphics into your notes really will transform the learning experience.  On my PC, you open the snipping tool by pushing the “Shift” button, the “Windows” button, and “S” simultaneously.  Click here to learn more about using the snipping tool.

On my PC, you open the snipping tool by pushing the “Shift” button, the “Windows” button, and “S” simultaneously. Other computers may differ.

Plan your work

I tried to just get through one system per day and doing so took me about two weeks. Now, some bigger systems like electrical took me two days, but I was able to combine smaller systems like oxygen with ice and rain. This seemed about right; normally, a couple of weeks of solid studying helps me feel  prepared.

Step Two: Make a binder

It may feel a little old-fashioned but print up your notes from Microsoft OneNote. You can print them up in the current “.one” format or save them in “.pdf” format.  Neither format will change the paper version, but if you save them as a “.pdf,” they are no longer easily changed. This may be important if you wish to change them in the future, whether alone or with other collaborators. If you do want this flexibility, leave them in “.one.”

Either way, go ahead and print them up, and put them in a three-ring binder.  Use dividers and tab each system for easy reference.  I also added some blank sections and included ruled paper just in case.  These extras came in handy for extra gouge and miscellaneous notes about performance and publications. Why go through all this trouble? We are getting there.

Step Three: Take notes by hand

Welcome to ground school! Now that you are somewhat familiar with the material, you have a good base of knowledge to start taking notes by hand.  As with any method of preparation, you will be so much better prepared than going into the first day “cold.” Double-down on your hard work by taking notes by hand in the binder you built and brought to school.  I found that the bullet-point note taking style left plenty of margin on both sides of the paper. There should be plenty of room to take notes by hand if you write neatly. As your ground school instructor explains the more in-depth functions of these systems, start to fill-in, literally and figuratively.  As you fill in your notes, the gaps in your knowledge will fill in, as well.  The ground school slides typically correspond with the PTM material, so you can track right along by the headings and snipped images in your notes.

Admittedly, my notes tend to deteriorate as initial wears on, and I grow weary of ground school.  Creating your notes in advance with Microsoft OneNote solves that problem.  Also, the great side effect here is that I now have killer notes for when I return for recurrent.  If my coworker or colleague is going to initial behind me, I have a great resource that I can share with him or her.

Good luck, and GoEightOh!