How Hard is the FAA Written Exam?

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Passing a national exam is just one of the few requirements you should comply with before becoming a licensed pilot. Unquestionably, you might have thought of quitting your review plans whenever you worry about how hard is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exam, especially for first-time takers.

While your anxiety is valid, you cannot simply waste your hard-earned aviation degree. Before you get overwhelmed by the streaks of future possibilities and decide to quit, it is essential to note that most aviation professionals, if not all, think of it as easy as filling in a gas tank.

You can take your aviation career to greater heights through rigid preparations like enrolling yourself in a private pilot written exam practice test course. And, just like them, you will reach it with ease and prowess.

You must not miss these expert tips below to earn that federally certified pilot standing.

What is the FAA Written Exam For?What is the FAA Written Exam For?

A written portion of the pilot license test is called the FAA written exam, which assesses an aspiring pilot’s knowledge of the aviation laws, regulations, concepts, and theoretical underpinnings. Not only is it necessary to earn a professional license, but it also bestows several flight privileges.

If you are from the United States and aim to upgrade your credentials, you need an FAA certification to operate in the country as a private or commercial pilot officer. On the other hand, you are required by the law to have a US agency-certified license to practice this field of specialization if you are from a different country.

Pilot candidates are examined through a scale of knowledge-based written tests, as the name implies. A Designated Pilot Examiner from the Federal Aviation Administration facilitates this test alongside the practical evaluation, computer-based knowledge assessment, and oral exam to certify your competence.

Most pilots are confident to pass the practical inspection due to extensive empirical experiences at an academy. Nonetheless, you need not worry about it if you have already enrolled in various online review centers or studied through prep reviewers like Gleim’s Knowledge Exam Prep.

The overall purpose of the FAA written exam is to measure your commitment to becoming a safe pilot and legally practicing aviation in the United States. You might be wondering: what are the inclusions and exam format? Continue reading to learn more.

What is the Test Format of the FAA Written Exam?

What is the Test Format of the FAA Written Exam?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration data, the passing rate of the examination ranges from 80 to 90% every year. Of course, you would not want to be a part of the 10 to 20% who needs to retake the test.

As proven by previous passers, the first step you should take is to be acquainted with the specifications and exam format. Then, start drafting your learning plan for which area you should focus more.

Generally, the FAA written exam is designed in a multiple-choice format divided into 12 key knowledge areas with 60 items. The exam’s challenging part is finishing it within 2 hours and 30 minutes—this means you have enough time 2.5 minutes for every item.

Here’s the catch: some questions are formatted to confuse the examiners. Accordingly, some questions have more than one possible answer. Therefore, you need to skim through them thoroughly.

Look at the following knowledge areas below to glimpse the examination.

  • Accident Reporting (3 to 6 Questions)
  • Aerodynamics, Powerplants, and Aircraft Systems (3-6)
  • Aeronautical Decision-Making or ADM (3-6)
  • Density Altitude Performance (3-6)
  • Performance Charts (3-6)
  • Preflight Actions (3-6)
  • Radio Communications (3-6)
  • Regulations (3-9)
  • Safe and Efficient Operations (3-9)
  • Stalls and Spins (3-6)
  • Weather (3-6)
  • Weight and Balance (3-6)

You should also include the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), advisory circulars of FAA, and VFR navigation aeronautical charts in your study blueprint since there are instances when you get random questions about them.

What is the Hardest Part of the Private Pilot Written Exam?

What is the Hardest Part of the Private Pilot Written Exam?

Although most passers consider the FAA knowledge test straightforward and manageable, you should remember that there are tricky subjects that you should invest time in as early as now.

You have an advantage to ace it with flying colors if you are someone who has sharp memory since most questions from practice tests are worded similarly to the actual test—which is a matter of memorization.

As per previous exam takers, questions regarding radio communications and safe and efficient operations are some of the most complicated fields of the exam. Nonetheless, nothing comes close to the difficulty of aerodynamics and weather subjects, which are filled with questions that stir your mind.

What makes aerodynamics difficult?

If you are asking for a shortcut on how to pass FAA written exam, take technical courses like aerodynamics seriously. Aerospace is not rocket science, for you need a stalwart foundation in physics and mathematics.

Besides laying down the essential concept of landing, this part of the FAA written test mainly comprises equations. It will take you a considerable amount of time to get precise answers. You would need to cement your advanced science and mathematics knowledge to survive in this field. Physics and calculus will be your pal when studying aerodynamics.

One should focus on this area of knowledge as it explains the concept of lift, drag, flights, and weight which are incorporated into other parts. You might as well find yourself getting stuck in this question since you need to recall the formula and related theory. Relatively, it is the game-changer of the exam. It will expectedly slow down your momentum.

Spending adequate time in it during your preparations is a win-win situation since you will hit many birds with one stone.

What makes the weather subject difficult?

Most takers overlook this subject to the extent of spending the least time reviewing its foundation and get taken aback during the exam.

As disclosed by the professional, you need mastery of the Meteorological Terminal Air Report (METAR) and Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF), so make sure to adapt this skill before they mess you up.

Takers usually skip the topics about weather conditions as it seems easy peasy without having to realize the bearing of International Civil Aviation Organization codes and weather conditions like visibility, pressure, speed and direction, cloud, and temperature. You will most likely be caught off-guard about how hard is the FAA written exam, especially the weather section.

What Score Do You Need to Pass the FAA Written Exam?

What Score Do You Need to Pass the FAA Written Exam?

The low FAA passing score standard contributes to how easy the exam is. Based on the information stipulated on the FAA website, you are expected to achieve 70% correct answers to the 60 multiple-choice questions. In other words, you must get 42 points correctly.

While the 42 score appears to be an impasse, it should not topple down your defenses because every pilot underwent the same procedure. More than 90% of the passers pass the exam yearly. See? If they can do it, perhaps you can do it too!

Even those above 40 years of age have successfully acclaimed the priced certification. It’s just either a hit or miss!

You can certainly achieve the FAA written test passing score without being particular about how long to study for the private pilot written exam. All you need to do is to design your study outline according to your review techniques.

Now the question is: what if I fail the exam? Am I eligible for a second chance? Well, continue reading to shed light on your queries.

How Many Times Can You Take the FAA Written Test?

How Many Times Can You Take the FAA Written Test?

Sometimes, you fail for a reason, which is inevitable since no one holds the future. Before you get to that point, you should constantly question yourself about how to pass the FAA written exam in just one try.

It would be best not to give up or lose hope when you fail to make it to the cut because you have a lifetime of unlimited chances. No one will judge you when you create multiple attempts to earn that certification as long as you follow the 30-day rule of reapplication.

How about those who are dissatisfied with their first attempt? Are they eligible for a reexamination?

Yes, as long as you are endorsed with a retest authorization from an accredited industry professional. What does it mean? You must present a paper vouching for your necessity to achieve higher scores.

These are the following documents to dismiss the result of your first trial legally:

  • A written statement with a signature.
  • A notation of logbook.
  • A completed Authorized Instructor’s Statement of the AKTR.

5 Study Tips for Passing the Private Pilot Written Exam

5 Study Tips for Passing the Private Pilot Written Exam

Exam preparation is not a linear process—sometimes, you are at the highest and lowest of the highs. Your feelings are valid since it is intrinsic for us to feel worried about our future.

Whether you feel lost or stagnant in your study progress, understand that preparing for the FAA written exam is like eating an elephant. It is a lot to consume, but slow, steady, and persistent, you will eventually finish.

You may have your study approach; take note of these expert tips to achieve your dream effortlessly.

Strategize your study plan

It is the same step to get yourself moving. Studies have shown that those with a detailed and organized study plan maximize their time efficiently.

When you strategize your prep duration, you will not realize how much you have improved because you do not have to waste time procrastinating about whether you would pursue a specific subject or the other one.

You may also use time scheduler applications to remind yourself, especially when you spend much time on social media.

Scale down your bigger plans

Never take shortcuts to realize your life goals, no matter how ignited you are. Giant leaps take bigger courage. Planning out your daily schedule will save you a lot of time by narrowing down the bigger picture.

For example, you can purely take the Aerodynamics, Powerplants, and Aircraft Systems today and have Safe and Efficient Operations the next day. In this case, you will not feel burned out from the iceberg of plans.

Attend Virtual Ground School

Never settle for a self-studying approach, for it will never be enough. It would be best if you had expert guidance and learned from a different focal understanding. You can find many online review schools like the Kings Ground School.

If you repeatedly practice even though you think you are fully prepped, it will surprise you that the virtual ground subject course matches the accurate exam word by word.

Get test prep courses

Nothing beats consistent practice. Most passers admitted to having completed multiple practice courses, particularly Sporty’s Pilot Training Online. It might be expensive, but it is worth every dime.

The PPL written exam encompasses a lot of variety that it is easier to get acquainted with practice questions and weed out what you know from what you don’t. Once you realize you don’t do not need a specific concept, you can eliminate this from your study list.

When you sit down for your final written test, you are already familiar with everything: the material content, the exam format, and the exam duration. You feel like taking another practice exam.

Be a memory geek

Since some questions from practice courses are included in the finals, memorize the concepts and even the answers. Although more than 50% of the test are word questions, not equations, they are structured differently and meant to confuse you.

As early as today, study the 12 knowledge areas profoundly. Necessarily, it would help if you centered your review on the area you are struggling with. In this case, you will have a holistic understanding on the exam day.

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is the FAA Written Exam?

All passers will agree on this: although the exam is 105 percent harder than the practice test, you will expectedly pass it on your first try. You will certainly do well if you consistently get more than 80% during practice.

There are easier ways to turn the winds to your advantage. Focused on understanding the material first, then moving to “pass the test” mode reasonably systematically. Practice makes perfect!

Now get yourself moving and plan your review journey. Follow the tips from the experts above and achieve new career heights. Keep flying to the top!

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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