I'm currently in mild panic mode. I have enrolled for the English Language Proficiency test, necessary to communicate over the radio with official operators (such as Brussels Flight Information Service).
The exam consists of a series of multiple choice questions and a verbal exam where a conversation and a simulated flight through controlled airspace should indicate how well one masters English and radio terminology. The English part I'm not that worried about, but the radio communication is a specific language.
The problem is that during the practical lessons, we don't talk to official Air Traffic Controllers, since part of the limitations of ULM is that you - normally - don't fly through controlled airspace (only class G).
So whatever I'll be doing saturday will be the first time I communicate with a (pretend) ATC.
Secondly, the theoretical exam, I have no idea if I'm ready. I studied the Radio Communications books, and should know quite some things about regulations. But the more exam preperation questions I do, the less confident I'm becoming.
I have a plan though.
I recorded myself, playing ATC, based on this manual by EASA:
I then replay that and try to come up with a correct response.
Additionally, I will make sure to have pen and paper to note the important things I will have to read-back, such as the QNH, Runways, Clearances, Routes, ...
I've also been listening to some ATC on Live ATC. But that is professionals talking to professionals, and usually the same things are being said. You won't learn how to call a MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY by listening to random live ATC.
I think it should be OK, but it won't come that fluently I'm afraid.
For the theory, I'm just going to read up in our manual as much as possible and hope it's enough. I don't think you can start the second part if you fail the multiple choice questions - but I think you'll have to pay full price anyway.
The good news is that not passing this exam isn't really blocking my progress yet. So if I fail I will probably hold off on retrying it - I may even try to get some experience "irl" first. In my case, I really mostly need it so I can listen in or use Brussels FIS.
The panic doesn't stop there though. Beginning of Feb I also enrolled for the theoretical exam in Brussels, which is absolutely mandatory in order to do the practical exam.
And the more I study the subject, the less confident I'm becoming. I really struggle with the details and I think if I fail that would be the reason.
It is weird, because I almost never had any fear for exams in school. I was usually quite confident that I either knew my stuff, or I didn't. But now, I really don't know anymore.
Luckily, the club offers a pre-exam I can do, which should simulate the real exam (up to a point). But I want to do that only once, and pass, before I go to Brussels.
All in all, I'm not that confident, and I also don't want this stuff be the thing I'm tripping over.
Lesson learned: do your theoretical exam as soon as you can! I waited because I thought I'd spend too long on the practical it would've expired by then. But that was a mistake.
ULM vs. PPL
And knowing this is "only" ULM. For PPL there are 9 other subjects in the exam. I'm happy I stuck with ULM for now. If I can pass that it would already be an achievement.
Hopefully in my next post I can provide some insight into the ELP test. If all goes well I will know how the practical part works as well ... If not, I may have to pick myself up again for the next exam.