If you want to get to UPT and become an Air Force pilot, you need to score well on the Air Force Officer’s Qualifying Test (AFOQT). You may be best friends with all the people in your hometown Guard or Reserve unit. You may have a fantastic visit when you rush that unit. However, the US Air Force relies heavily on data. If your AFOQT scores aren’t good enough, there isn’t much a unit can do to get you hired.
If you haven’t already read it, you need to go check out our 3-part series that explains the details of the AFOQT. We also have a 2-part series about how your AFOQT score ties into your Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM) score. In Part 2 of our AFOQT series, we list several resources you might use to prepare yourself to take the AFOQT. Today, I want to take a closer look at some of those options. We’ll consider what each test prep system actually provides, and what it costs. Then, I’ll recommend a couple of different overall strategies for maximizing your studying bang for the buck.
Table of Contents
- Individual Service Reviews
- Cheapest Option
- More Thorough Option
- Cadillac Option
The test preparation resources we’re looking at today fall into three general categories:
- Books that teach concepts
- Computer Based Training (CBT) that teaches concepts
- Actual practice AFOQT exams
The type of preparation you need depends on your background. If you’ve done a lot of standardized testing for college applications, the books on how to take a test may not be as useful for you. You’ll still need some help preparing for the pilot-specific portions of the AFOQT, and we’ll look at your best options for that. No matter what, I recommend taking at least a couple of practice tests. Not only will the subject matter of the questions be similar to the test you eventually take, its good preparation to see the structure of the test and the format of the questions. Here’s a list of the specific products we’ll consider today:
|Service Name||Format||Price||Practice AFOQTs|
|AFOQTGuide.com||Online + PDF||$49.99||4|
|USAF AFOQT Prep Slides||Online Slides||$0||0.5|
|TBAS Test Prep App||Software||$0||0|
|Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flying and Gliding||Book||$25.97||0|
|Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge||Book||$22.46||0|
|Private Pilot Test Prep 2020||Book||$19.95||0|
Although I’ll recommend some ways to save money with your test prep, I do recommend not skimping in this area. Getting to have a career as a military pilot is valuable in many ways. I wrote a whole book about the monetary value of a military pilot career. However, there’s also an intrinsic non-monetary value to this job. For every pilot in the military, there are thousands of aviation enthusiasts in the world who would give almost anything to be in your place. It’s difficult to explain the excitement and fulfillment that comes from doing the types of flying we do in the military
When I wrote last week about Winning UPT Financially, I presented the case of you being at a party where someone tries to prove he or she is better than you by asking what you drive. If your answer is: F-22, B-1, or C-5, you win that contest…every time…for the rest of your life. Thousands of people flock to airshows every year to see military jets in action. Nobody flocks to office buildings to check out the cubicles.
With that in mind, can you ever prepare enough for the AFOQT?
Individual Service Reviews
For the record, I haven’t personally used any of these services. We’ve selected these because of feedback from successful BogiDope customers and general research. BogiDope doesn’t own or favor any of these companies, per se. If we post a link to their service, especially if it’s a link on Amazon, it’s probably part of an affiliate program. We appreciate your support if you choose to buy that way.
Format: Online and PDF
Price: $49.99 (Options for cheaper tiers)
Coupon: Save $5 using coupon code “bogideal” at checkout
Practice AFOQT Tests: 4
Although I said I don’t favor any of these companies, I’ll admit that I do like AFOQTGuide.com. I actually got in touch with Tom, the owner, as part of my research. He was enlisted in the US Air Force and wanted to go to UPT. He built his service because he was studying for the AFOQT himself and he didn’t like any of the existing resources.
His service offers study guides and practice tests, and he breaks everything out into a detailed 6-weeks study plan. His top-level plan gives you access to four full practice AFOQTs. If you don’t want to pay a full $49.99, he has other tiers that give you access to three, two, or one AFOQT(s) for lower prices. This is the only resource we know of that offers so many practice tests and that is a huge advantage.
One of the reasons that I like Tom’s service is that it’s focused on the AFOQT itself. You’ll notice that most of the other companies we look at are very broad-based test prep services. For them, the AFOQT is just one of many tests to cover and to me, that means they can’t possibly have as much focus on it as Tom does.
Tom scored well on the AFOQT, but ended up pursuing a career in business instead of the military. This is a combination passion project and side-hustle for him, and he’s working on several ways to improve what he’s offering. I wouldn’t be surprised to see expanded offerings from AFOQTGuide.com in the future.
As a former Airman himself, Tom is a big supporter of the Air Force. He’s agreed to give BogiDope customers $5 off any AFOQT prep package he offers. Just use code “bogideal” when you check out!
Trivium is a big test prep company for whom military test prep only represents a small portion of their business. In a way, that’s disappointing because they’re probably not focused as much on the AFOQT as other tests. However, Trivium’s strength lies in the fact that they’ve been teaching people how to take standardized tests for a very long time. The strategies required for doing well on many sections of the AFOQT are the same as on most other standardized tests.
This book will be most useful for someone who needs work on test taking strategies overall and learning or reviewing the theoretical concepts upon which the test questions are based. The fact that the book includes two full practice tests is a big bonus.
Format: Online and Book
Price: $39-$49/month (Online) $23.82 (Book)
Practice AFOQT Tests: 1
BogiDope Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2OjeWtv
Peterson’s is unique among all the offerings here. They’re also a giant test prep company. They have a book called “Master the Officer Candidate Tests” which is not specifically for the AFOQT or even the USAF. However, it is a useful book for teaching test-taking strategies and preparing for the AFOQT. We include it here because some of our customers recommended it.
Peterson’s online offering is intriguing. At first, I was turned off by the price tag: $49 per month, unless you want to pay for six months in advance in which case they’ll only charge you $39 per month. The interesting thing is that price doesn’t only get you access to AFOQT prep. Your subscription to Peterson’s online test prep service gets you access to all 150 tests that they cover. This includes the following:
- The ACT and SAT which you probably need to take anyway because you need a college degree to become a USAF pilot.
- The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). You may need to take anyway if you’re pursuing a career in the military. It’s also formatted in such a way that studying for and taking this test would be good preparation for the AFOQT itself.
- A wide variety of Advanced Placement (AP) tests. If you want to graduate from college without a mountain of debt, you should be trying to take at least some AP classes in high school. I scored fairly well on my tests, but if I’d realized there was a test prep service like this I would have absolutely used it.
- An equally impressive variety of College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. These are another way to get loads of college credit for nearly free. You just study for one of the tests, take it, and if you pass many colleges will give you credit for an equivalent general education course requirement.
- Many, many more…
I wouldn’t be a big fan of paying $49 for one month of access to the web-based version of test prep that I can probably get in any of the books or other resources we’ve mentioned here. However, getting access to preparation for all these other tests changes the equation.
Mometrix is another big test prep company. At first glance, their website makes it seem like they care deeply about your AFOQT test taking experience. However, if you read the pages for their prep offerings for other exams, you’ll see that they use almost the exact same text for each page…down to the story they use to appeal to your emotions. I’m not a big fan of that approach, and it leaves me feeling like a lot of their material is exactly the same for every test.
However, I chose to include them because they have a unique philosophy that will appeal to some people. They are very clear that their prep materials “…address the test first, the material second.” If you’re strong academically and need more work on your test taking strategies for reducing anxiety overall, this book could be a good option for you.
Unfortunately, this book only offers a sampling of practice questions. In my opinion, that isn’t enough to prepare for the AFOQT experience, so I think you’d definitely need to combine this resource with one that gives you more practice tests to go through.
If you look around, you’ll see that Mometrix also offers prep intended to cover Military Flight Aptitude Tests for all branches of the military. I would not buy this book in addition to its AFOQT-specific book. I feel like they probably offer a lot of the same information.
Practice AFOQT Tests: 2
BogiDope Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/34jxi2X
Barron’s is yet another large test prep company for whom the AFOQT is just a tiny slice of their overall business. (So much so that I’m not even including a link to their corporate website. It’s basically just a portal for wholesale customers like bookstores and private schools.) Barron’s book covers test-taking strategies and some concepts. In my mind, one of the biggest reasons to get this book is access to two full AFOQT practice tests.
It’s worth noting that one of our customers who used almost every resource mentioned here said that this book was one of his top test prep resources.
Practice AFOQT Tests: 1
BogiDope Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/37wthKG
This book covers a variety of Military Flight Aptitude Tests, not just the AFOQT, and was also specifically recommended by multiple customers. I couldn’t find a decent corporate website, though the author’s page on Amazon shows that he has been writing for quite a while.
This book covers concepts and offers three practice tests. I give it credit for one practice AFOQT here, though I can’t tell if has any tests in full AFOQT format.
USAF AFOQT Prep Slides
Format: Online Powerpoint Slides
Practice AFOQT Tests: 0
BogiDope Affiliate Link: N/A
It turns out the USAF has its own prep course for the AFOQT. It’s available for free if you have access to a computer on a military computer network, or you can get the slides for free on SlideServe with the link above.
It’s tough to argue with a free prep course published by the people who write the test. That said, it doesn’t do a great job of teaching you concepts, and it only has a few practice questions for each section. While this should be part of anyone’s AFOQT prep, I recommend combining it with some of the other resources here.
Format: Book and Flashcards
Price: $19.89 (Book), $18.10 each (Flashcards)
Practice AFOQT Tests: 0
BogiDope Affiliate Links:
- https://amzn.to/2OEXjTP (Book)
- https://amzn.to/35AxMSN (Essential Words Flashcards)
- https://amzn.to/37zRgss (Advanced Words Flashcards)
These are not AFOQT-specific resources. They’re actually a giant (5-pound) GRE prep book and two sets of vocabulary flashcards. The AFOQT includes some sections on verbal reasoning, reading, and vocabulary, and it’s a good strategy to use GRE-level test prep to get ready for those sections.
Manhattan Prep is a big name in test prep. This book and these two decks of flashcards are a resource for the person who needs extra focus on the verbal side of things.
This is another deck of flashcards from another big name in test prep. They’re also for the person who needs extra work on vocabulary. I’m including them here because they were recommended by a customer who absolutely rocked the AFOQT and his interviews.
TBAS Test Prep App
Practice AFOQT Tests: N/A
BogiDope Affiliate Link: N/A
This resource is a bit of an odd-ball, but I want to make sure you have access to it, so I’m including it here. As part of your UPT application process, you have to take what’s called the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS). This is a hands-on exam that grades your hand-eye coordination and ability to multitask.
Honestly, this exam is one of the few excuses you have in life for telling your parents to stop yelling at you for playing video games. It turns out that someone has put together a free app that will help you with the specific types of scenarios they’ll test on the TBAS. You have to download and install it on a real computer, but it’s worth putting a couple of hours into before you take the TBAS.
Note: the TBAS is not part of the AFOQT. It happens elsewhere in the UPT application process.
General Pilot Knowledge Prep
Although many of the big-name test prep books we mention here should be good enough to prepare you for most sections of the AFOQT, they may not go as in-depth on pilot-level knowledge as you need to score well on the pilot-specific sections of the AFOQT. The best way to gain that knowledge is to earn your Private Pilot License. However, if you don’t have the resources for that, you can at least read some of the pilot ground school books. Here are a few options:
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flying and Gliding
BogiDope Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/33ebgNJ
Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
BogiDope Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2QQNd51
Private Pilot Test Prep 2020
BogiDope Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2Dey8Cg
The content in these books is all based on the FAA’s Airman Certification Standards (ACS) for earning a pilot’s license. Any of them should help get you up-to-speed on the pilot-specific knowledge you need for the AFOQT.
So there you have it, a wide variety of options for AFOQT study. Clear as mud, right?
Let’s make this as simple as possible. If you only have the time or money for one test prep resource I recommend using the USAF AFOQT Prep Slides and buying one of the big-name books that includes two full practice AFOQT tests. That means either Trivium or Barron’s.
These books will cover the basic concepts for each section on the AFOQT, as well as some overall test-taking strategies. You’ll then get to run through sample AFOQTs twice to see how you do. You may feel confident enough to stop studying at that point and just go take the test. If not, you can choose from one of the other resources we’ve mentioned here.
More Thorough Option
Although it’s possible to prepare for the AFOQT with just one test prep resource (or even without buying anything!) I feel like this exam deserves a little more. The AFOQT is one of the keys to you getting into UPT and becoming a military pilot. Personally, I would set myself a deadline by scheduling the test and then use a variety of resources to get ready. If I were in your shoes and I could come up with the time and money, I’d consider using the following set of resources:
- Start with any one of the generalized test prep companies: Trivium, Barron’s, Mometrix, Peterson’s, or Weiner. Most of those include at least one practice AFOQT.
- Review the free USAF AFOQT Prep Slides.
- Get the Colonel Practice Test Bundle from AFOQTGuide.com. This includes four full practice AFOQT Exams.
I’d go through the practice AFOQT(s) in the big-name resource and one of Tom’ practice AFOQTGuide practice tests. If at that point I was showing weakness in a particular area, I’d go back and study those sections of the book and Tom’s study guides and take another practice test. If I still wasn’t doing well, I’d look at one of the other resources mentioned here, specific to that area.
After studying that, I’d work through the rest of the AFOQTGuide practice tests. I imagine that this would be enough prep for most UPT applicants. However, if I still needed work at that point, I’d look at buying some of the other big-name books to get a fresh perspective on the concepts for my weak areas and get access to more practice AFOQTs.
If time and money were not limiting, I wouldn’t hesitate to be like Deadpool and put “Maximum Effort!” into my AFOQT prep. Here’s what that would look like for me:
- I’d start with the USAF AFOQT Prep Slides.
- I’d get the test prep books from both Trivium and Barron’s for access to four full practice AFOQT exams.
- I’d get the Colonel Practice Test Bundle from AFOQTGuide.com. This would give me another four full AFOQT exams.
- I’d get the Manhattan Prep GRE book and flashcards (Essentials and Advanced), and the Princeton Review flashcards.
- I’d get one of the pilot ground school books we discussed here: Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flying and Gliding, Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Private Pilot Test Prep 2020.
I’d go through all the books and flashcards, then start taking the practice AFOQTs. After 2-3 practice exams, I’d look at my weak areas and go back to focus on those. If I wasn’t doing well overall I’d get at least one of the resources from Mometrix, Peterson’s, or Weiner to see if their system could help me lock down the basic concepts.
I feel that by the time I’d used all of these prep tools and taken eight practice exams, I’d be about as prepared as anyone could possibly be.
If I decided to combine my studies with preparation for the ACT, SAT, ASVAB, AP, and/or CLEP tests, I’d definitely include a subscription for Peterson’s online service in my study plan. This would require a bigger-picture approach to scheduling and studying. It’s not something I’d even attempt during a semester filled with tough classes and lots of extracurricular activities. However, if I could manage to find and schedule a lot of time to focus on studying, I think this would provide a lot of bang for my buck.
The AFOQT is an important step on your path to UPT and a career as a military pilot. You can only take the exam a maximum of twice in your life (a third attempt is available but requires a waiver), and I recommend being prepared for your first attempt.
That preparation doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. As you can see, there are a variety of great resources available to you. As long as you address your test prep as part of your overall professional development as a future military pilot, and schedule yourself enough time to study, there are more than enough resources here to get you ready. I’ll include the summary of the options we looked at here, with links to buy them.
After you crush the AFOQT we hope you’ll consider using BogiDope’s consulting services to help perfect your application and resume, and prepare for your Guard or Reserve interview. Good luck with your studying!
|Service Name||Format||Price||Practice AFOQTs||Affiliate Link or Website|
|AFOQTGuide.com||Online + PDF||$49.99||4||https://afoqtguide.com/|
|USAF AFOQT Prep Slides||Online Slides||$0||0.5||SlideServe|
|TBAS Test Prep App||Software||$0||0||(Long link)|
|Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flying and Gliding||Book||$25.97||0||https://amzn.to/33ebgNJ|
|Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronatical Knowledge||Book||$22.46||0||https://amzn.to/2QQNd51|
|Private Pilot Test Prep 2020||Book||$19.95||0||https://amzn.to/2Dey8Cg|
The feature image for this post is “just” a gorgeous shot of an F-16D at Edwards AFB, CA, taken by Giancarlo Casem from: https://www.dvidshub.net/image/5844237/416th-flts-conducts-nighttime-flight-training.
All other images are part of affiliate links or used with permission by the owners.