FAA Written Exam and FAA Flight Test
Before you earn your real private pilot wings, you’ll have to take a multiple-choice written exam and an in-flight practical test.
Once your ground – school instructor feels you’re prepared for the written exam—typically after you have passed a sample test to his satisfaction—he will give you a form that allows you to take the FAA test. He will also give you a list of approved test proctors or computerized testing sites that administer the test.
If you’re taking the test in person, you’ll have to bring along a fee of $60 or so. A proctor will give you a test book containing nearly 1,000 questions, and a list of 100 numbers. Those numbers tell you which of the 1,000 questions in the test book you’ll be required to answer. In a room where several people are taking their private pilot
written exam at the same time, no two of them might have the same list of questions, reducing the chance for cheating among the test-takers. Here are a few sample test questions:
You’ll bo given four hoon to take the test, which ii more than enough time to finish it; use the extra time to double-check some of the answers you might not have been sure about
What is the one common factor that affects most preventable accidents?
A. Structural failure
B. Mechanical malfunction
C. Human error
How many feet will a glider sink in 10 nautical miles if its lift/drag ratio is 23:1?
When flying HAWK N666CB, the proper phraseology for initial contact with McAlester AFSS is…
A. “MC ALESTER FLIGHT SERVICE STATION, HAWK NOVEMBER SIX CHARLIE BRAVO, RECEIVING ARDMORE VORTAC, OVER.”
B. “MC ALESTER RADIO, HAWK SIX SIX SIX CHARLIE BRAVO, RECEIVING ARDMORE VORTAC, OVER.”
C. “MC ALESTER STATION, HAWK SIX SIX SIX CEE BEE, RECEIVING ARDMORE VORTAC, OVER.”
The test will be graded later and your test results will be mailed to you.
If you’re taking the test at a computerized testing site, call ahead for the fee. When you arrive at the location, either at a flight-training center or at an approved commercial site, you’ll be instructed on how to use the computer screen, which is sometimes the touch-screen type. The computer program will allow you to change your answers or skip hard questions and come back to them later.
You’ll have the same four-hour time limit, and when you’re sure you’ve answered every question to the best of your ability, you formally end the test. You’ll get an instant official score, something that gives computerized testing a definite advantage. Many a sleepless night has been spent by student pilots sweating out their written test score.
The flight test begins with an oral Q&A session with an approved FAA practical examiner, who will also charge a fee of well over $100. It’s possible to fail the exam during this oral quizzing, though it’s a rarity.
Once past the Q&A, you and the examiner will begin the flight portion of the test, usually beginning with a cross-country flight that he has asked you to plan in advance. You’ll conduct the flight without any help from the examiner, and perform any one of a number of maneuvers.
The practical test is difficult to predict. A great deal depends on the habits of the individual examiner; an elaborate grapevine develops among students at each airport about the quirks of the local examiners, who are in a small group approved by the FAA to administer practical tests within a particular geographic area.
If you’re like me, you come away from each practical exam having learned a good deal from the examiner. Although they are not formally permitted to teach you anything, only to observe your skills, most of the better examiners pass along a few words of wisdom or a handy tip that they’ve learned during their many thousands of hours of flying experience.