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Welcome to the IREX question and answer forum. Please feel free to post your questions but more importantly also suggest answers for your forum colleagues. Bob himself or one of the other tutors will get to your question as soon as we can.
After a bit over 2 months of rattling the cages of my cerebral cortex, I finally attempted the IREX earlier this morning and am more than glad to report I passed it with 88%. This now marks my final CASA exam (I'm not doing ATPL's) - I'm still in disbelief about my mark and also the fact I won't be attempting a CASA exam again I must caveat that the IREX was the only exam that I repeated the 2nd time, after having failed my first attempt last year - In my defence though, my preparation then was haphazard and it was too late for me to reschedule. With that memory still very fresh, I decided to study like I've not studied before for my second attempt and felt I had redeemed myself upon seeing my score.
In the spirit of giving back, here's my debrief about the exam and my tips and suggestions on how to ace this so-called 'exam from hell'.
- The first thing you need to know about the IREX is that it is not difficult, but it does require a great deal of preparation. I used ATC's book to prepare for my first attempt but used Bob Tait's book this time and I can tell you it is more than enough and much simpler to understand compared to ATC, who bombard you with interesting but unnecessary info. Having said that, you need to give yourself the time to comb through every chapter and question and be sure you understand what it is asking you and develop strategies to answer them in the quickest time possible i.e. knowing which reference to look up, speaking of which ..
- The key to getting at least halfway there is knowing your AIP back to front. A lot of the questions (practice and the ones in the actual exam) will test your ability to directly look up the relevant reference out of the AIP and are really easy marks to grab. But, if you do not know the contents of your AIP well, you will struggle with time, despite the 3:30 Hours time-limit. And this brings me to some broad strokes about my exam today -
- My question bank consisted of 40 questions and essentially contained circa 3-4 questions from various components of the syllabus. I was asked everything starting with recency requirements for single pilot operations, calculating NDB drift/TE, cruising levels under FL, compulsory reporting points on a route, interpreting STAR/SID to calculating minimum fuel requirements, assessing if an alternate is required and missed approach and holding procedures etc. Bob Tait's book and questions are a Godsent! some questions were nearly exact copies of those I found in the text's question banks. The famous question about YSSY where you're given all sorts of info about payload and fuel requirements but where it actually wants to you answer what the alternate minima at YSSY are, was also there!
- I think you get my drift (pun intended ) - study Bob Tait's text really well and attempt all the questions including the online exam sets (incl the bonus sets) and if you score 85% or above without memorising any answers, I'm inclined towards believing you should pass.
- Surprisingly, I was NOT asked a single question around GNSS (except reporting errors to the ATC and RAIM Loss during a GNSS/DME approach), nor was I asked anything about applying PEC on an ILS approach, min vis due to missing HIAL and visual approaches at night. Maybe I got an easier question bank
- Similar to Air Law, make sure you organise a print and bind of the Command IFR Extract CAO's/CAR's/CASR's that are available off BT's website. I got the job done at Officeworks for $30.00!.
- Apart from the AIP, be very confident and thorough in your understanding of the various sections within the ERSA, particularly the EMERG section and also knowing where to look for the fine print about traffic management, lighting and radio frequencies at various aerodromes. A way to answer the trick questions about calculating fuel/alternate requirements at night or even NDB ranges is to cross-reference aerodrome information and this really brings me to my next point ..
- RTFQ! While that's true in case of any CASA exam given they are equal tests of your grasp of the English language as much as they are a test of the actual subject, the IREX takes the application of this adage to another degree! The question about YSSY's alternate requirements is a classic case in point, but there are many others, I can guarantee you. Let me repeat, you have a 3:30 hour time limit which is oodles and oodles if you go in well-prepared. I actually managed to do one whole revision and managed to spot a couple of mistakes.
- Make use of your highlighter in your AIP, ERSA and CAO/CAR/CASR extracts. You are still bound by the 10-tag limit on the 3, but there's no limitation on how much you can highlight. When attempting the practice questions, make sure you take the time to highlight your references so that life is much easier during the exam.
I strongly recommend you attempt some CPL exams first, specifically Air Law, Met and Nav. These 3 will give you enough practice with concepts which will get tested again in the IREX - e.g. fuel policies for charter flights, 1/60 rules, calculating the freezing level, decoding TAF's and understanding effects of thunderstorms etc. While some people may prefer to attempt the IREX directly after the PPL, I personally benefited by finishing all my CPL exams first as much of the knowledge mentioned above was fresh in my mind and it made applying the same easier (I have provided separate briefs/summaries for my CPL exams if you'd like to learn more ) To be honest, now that I've been there and done that, my recommended order of attacking the CPL theory exams along with the IREX is as follows:
1) Start with AGK/HUF/ADA (in any order) or FPA (Performance) - by doing this, you will get rid of the content-heavy theory exams first or get rid of the hardest/time consuming i.e. Performance. Doing Performance first has an additional plus - you will get a good understanding of fuel-policies for commercial/charter flights which does get tested again on the IREX.
2) Then attempt MET/NAV/LAW (in any order)
3) Then get rid of the IREX
4) And then wrap up with AGK/HUF/ADA or Performance (depending on which ones you did first).
In terms of preparation, think about the IREX as CPL-Performance (CFPA) on steriods or like an 8th ATPL. I personally found the theory-intensive CPL's such as AGK and HUF harder to study for but you need your time before you know you are ready to attack the IREX and you'll then realise its actually not a very hard exam once you know how to counter the wordplay in their questions, which comes from prolonged practice.
Good to luck to anyone else doing their IREX - I hope you found this summary useful!