The PSTAR Written Exam - Little, but BIG!
Written for people working on their Private Pilot's License,
and maybe also for people thinking about it.

by David Black
Founder and Director of Air Time Canada (

PSTAR is Transport Canada's code for one of their civil aviation written exams. You'll need to score a minimum of 90% on the PSTAR before receiving your Student Pilot Permit and being allowed to fly Solo. It also, by the way, is the exam that foreign pilots must pass in order to validate their licenses for Canadian use.
PSTAR covers 14 topics, ranging from right-of-way and communications, to flight planning and airport procedures (click here for the complete list). Pretty well everything on the PSTAR exam is covered again in the Private Pilot Written exam (which you will also need to pass at some point during your training).
Is the PSTAR Important? Isn't it easy?
Many people don't take the PSTAR exam seriously - thinking of it as simple or even unimportant. They are very wrong!
The truth is that the PSTAR written exam is challenging and covers a wide range of core aviation topics. Topics that need to be well understood, not just to pass the test, but because they really matter to your safety - and to the safety of everyone you'll be sharing the skies with.
You may be surprised how often people fail their first attempt at the PSTAR. You may also be surprised by how poorly licensed pilots sometimes perform on this simple exam.
Can I just memorize the answers?
Well .. Yes, you could try - but don't!
Transport Canada has published, for everyone to see, the 200 questions that make up the PSTAR Written Exam. Your exam will contain 50 questions, chosen from these 200. Transport Canada doesn't publish answers. Only the questions.
The list of questions is readily available on the Transport Canada Website - and maybe from your flight instructor.
However, it's a poor idea - a very poor idea - to try and memorize the 200 questions (and their answers). There are many reasons why:
  1. It's an awful lot to memorize.

  3. Where will you get answers that you can trust?
    You'll need to go read all of the reference material anyway - just to figure out the correct answers.
    So you may as well just learn it.

  5. You need to understand the answers - not just memorize them.
    Remember: your life (literally) may depend on it.
Free On-Line Resources
There are many free on-line resources to help you with PSTAR. Some are ok, some are poor - often containing outdated questions, inaccurate answers, or confusing hyperbolae.
By all means, Google "PSTAR" and check out the on-line resources. Some of the material out there is truly worth while. But, if you're studying to write the PSTAR, check with your flight instructor to make sure that the site you're looking at isn't leading you astray.
What's the Best way to learn PSTAR?
Well, the process is simple (but not easy). It goes something like this:
  1. Read the reference material provided by Transport Canada.
  2. Test yourself with the questions.
  3. Get your instructor to mark your self-test.
  4. Go back to the material and re-study any topics you didn't ace on the test.
  5. Repeat until you ace the test.
Of course you'll need to go dig-up the questions, find all the study references, make up your own 'marking key' (by finding the answers within the references), and stay very organized as you repeat steps 1 to 4 over and over again.
Or .. (ok, here comes the shameless pitch) .. you can take advantage of
Sensei Learning System's PSTAR Course.  :-)
Hold on to your Socks!
You've probably been disappointed by on-line courses before. You know .. where you flip through boring slides and answer questions until you get to the end? Sounds familiar?
Well, the first time you see a Sensei on-line course it will blow your mind (and your socks off - good thing you're holding on to them). Sensei on-line courses use Artificial Intelligence that literally customizes the course and presentation for you as you go.
The Sensei Guide (see the pic below) will talk you through the material, ask you questions, and constantly customize review material based on your personal progress. The Sensei Guide will also give you up-to-the-minute feedback on your progress, a personalized course overview, and relevant study advice (again, based on your personal performance).
Courses include computer graphics, narration, multi-media presentations, printable reference cards, downloadable tools and games, web references, and much more.
It's like having your own personal tutor - one that carries around a multi-media library for your personal use.

The Sensei 'Control Panel' - The course shown is PSTAR

One of the big advantages of learning the PSTAR material well, besides the safety advantage of knowing your stuff, is that it will help you (big time) when it comes time to write the Private Pilot Written Exam. In fact, going back to the on-line PSTAR course can be one step in your Private Pilot exam preparation.
What will I need?
Sensei can be used with just about any modern web browser (including Internet Explorer, Opera, and Fire Fox) from any computer with a high-speed internet connection and multi-media support (sound and video). It doesn't matter what operating system you're running (Windows, Mac, AIX, Linux, Solaris ..).
How to Register for the On-Line PSTAR Course
You can register for the PSTAR Course through Sensei's web-site.
It costs $19.95 CDN (plus taxes).
Simply click HERE and follow the simple 3-step registration process. You'll need to provide your name and email address (so they can send your login credentials) and pay using any credit card (through PayPal). You don't need a paypal account. All information, of course, is kept strictly confidential.
If you have Questions?
Please feel free to contact Paul Harris with questions or school enquiries.
His email address is: