Check Ride Preparation

The FAA Practical Test, AKA, the Check Ride. Future and current pilots and their flight instructors work together for months with the goal of the applicant leaving the check ride with a temporary airman's certificate in hand. Far too often, however, the applicant leaves with a notice of disapproval. Many times this is because the applicant was not able to express or apply the aeronautical knowledge he or she learned during the course of their training.

In addition, the FAA is shifting the focus of the designated pilot examiners and safety inspectors from asking simple questions that can be handled by memorizing facts to challenging the applicant with real life scenarios. These scenarios are designed to help the examiner determine what the applicant knows and how the applicant will apply what they know once he or she has their new pilot certificate or rating in hand.

Between the stress of a check ride and a new, more thorough style of evaluating aeronautical knowlege it is no wonder some applicants fail to make it to the flight portion of the test. What can the CFI and applicant do to increase the likelihood of getting through the oral portion of the check ride successfully?

I've had the opportunity to help other CFI's and their students/applicants prepare for the oral portion of the check ride with great success and I can help you as well. I am a CFI, CFII, AGI and IGI. I can train on the knowledge required for Private, Instrument and Commercial check rides. If you and I cannot meet in person I have been successful providing this training remotely using Facetime.

Mock Oral

A traditional method of preparing for the oral portion of a check ride is the "mock oral". The mock oral is a simulation of the oral portion of a check ride. When I take a prospective applicant through a mock oral they will experience what it's like to be have to demonstrate their aeronautical knowledge and decision making skills to a stranger. I cover all knowledge related areas of operation and tasks included in the FAA Airman Certification Standards. They will have to complete an assigned cross country flight plan using real world weather and performance data. They will respond to realistic scenarios that will test their ability to apply their knowledge of FAA regulations, airworthiness, aircraft systems and operations, Chart Supplements, aviation charts for navigation, VFR weather minimums, aviation weather products, airspace rules, airport operations, aeromedical factors, night operations, basic aerodynamics, etc, etc. The questions and scenarios I use are similar to what the applicant will encounter in the actual test.

The mock oral typically takes up to four hours. This is longer than the oral portion of a check ride normally takes because I cover all areas and tasks the applicant may be tested on. The examiner will choose a subset of tasks within each area in their testing. At the end of the process I share with the applicant and his or her CFI which areas were strong and which areas require further review by the CFI. After this process and any required review the applicant will be better prepared and more confident in their ability to demonstrate their knowlege and decision making during the check ride.

A couple days before we meet you will need to send me the list of knowledge test codes for any questions you missed on the written test. The examiner will focus on evaluating those areas specifically and I will too. I charge $60 per hour for a mock oral. If you are well prepared it will usually take 3 hours. If you aren't prepared it can take 4-5 hours.

Aeronautical Knowledge Supplemental Training

Another way I've helped CFIs prepare their applicants for the oral portion of their check ride is by providing what I call supplemental training. The CFI provides the aeronautical knoweldge training during the course of study and flight training for a certificate or rating. In spite of this training a student may not recall what they were exposed to during their ground and flight training or they may not know how to apply that knowledge. This is where I help.

In this training I combine the scenarios of mock oral with immediate refreshers, reinforcement of key concepts and, if needed, retraining on any topic that causes the applicant difficulty during the mock oral. After we work through all of the areas of operation and tasks in the Airman Certification Standards I go back and verify the applicant has, indeed, learned what they need to know to pass their check ride and be a safe pilot. Depending on the applicant this process can take one or many sessions. I charge $70 per hour for this specialized training.