How to conquer your Check Ride

It’s football time in Oklahoma! This week is a huge week here at the University of Oklahoma, because we play our instate rival the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Bedlam series. This is a huge game since it’s not only a rivalry game, but also since the winner wins the Big 12 Championship. Unfortunately, the weather for the game looks to be in the forties along with some freezing rain, but that still isn’t stopping me from going to the big game.

So just like most of you, I’m sure we’ve all reached that point where we are dreading the worst week of the school year, FINALS WEEK! Yes, that time of the school year where you start cramming as much material in a short time span, while trying to stay up all night because you absolutely must pass your classes even though you also have a countdown clock to when you can finally leave for winter break. This time of the year I’ve also noticed that a lot of aviation students are taking that dreaded final flight that I’m sure every aviation student and pilot hates; check rides. Believe me every time I here that word I shudder, but it’s something that we as pilots must live with no matter if we are thinking about flying for the airlines, corporate companies, or the military. That’s why for this week’s blog I’m going to talk about my personal experience with my private pilot check ride as well as give you all some advice of how you can succeed on yours.

Like I said before I’ve only been on my private pilot check ride, and every check ride is completely different from the previous one you took; but whether you are going on your private pilot, instrument, commercial, or multi engine check ride, they all follow the same format so there’s nothing new to expect.

The written portion

I find it weird that the first portion of a check ride is called “the written portion” when all it’s just multiple choice question, most of which you’ve probably seen during your training. The only big advice that I would give to you all is to get the Gleim textbook for the course that you are in. For example, if you are in your learning to become a private pilot, get the Gleim Private Pilot FAA knowledge test. The great thing about these books is that Gleim includes questions that are on current and past FAA test or ask questions that are in the exact same format. The only major thing you must do is review the questions and various test throughout the book.

The Oral Portion

I’m not going to lie to you all when I say this, but I absolutely hate the oral portion of a check ride. The reason I hate it so much is because the examiner can ask you anything, and a lot of times I tend to over think the situation or give too much information. Also, one of my biggest problems is that I tend to leave out one or two key words which are typically the words that the examiner is needing for me to say. So, if you’re like me where you tend to over think things or forget those key words here is my advice to passing the oral portion. The first major tip is to get the FAA oral exam book and test standards that is needed for the check ride you are doing. These books provide a variety of subjects such as basic information, weather, cross country, instrument procedures, and much more as well as providing answers to these subjects. I would also suggest getting a highlighter and marking key words so that you don’t forget them. Also, whenever I did my private pilot check ride, I noticed the examiner had the booklet in his hand and was asking me the exact same questions from the book. Next, if you have fellow peers or friends in the same flight course as you, form study groups because both you and your fellow peers benefit by studying the material together. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your flight instructor for help in areas you don’t feel confident in. I always felt embarrassed whenever I asked my instructor for help on oral topics, but he always reminded me that it’s his job to help me prepare for the exam, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from your instructor.

The flight portion

When it comes to the flight portion, I find the flying to be the easiest part of any check ride because all you are doing in the flight portion is showing the examiner what you’ve done with your instructor; the examiner is just there to see if you can perform the required material and maneuvers up to standards. Even though I think that the flying portion is the easiest, there are still simple things that the examiner can fail you on during the flight. First, never forget to do a checklist, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a person failed because they forgot to do a checklist. Remember as a pilot you are required to perform all checklist that you have. Don’t forget since you are pilot in command, if you screw up a maneuver or know that something isn’t right, let the examiner know and try to reset it up. Whenever I did my private pilot check ride, I noticed that during my short field landing I was too high and called a go around. Most of the time if you let the examiner know that you can do a maneuver better they will let you do it because you’ve demonstrated to the them how the maneuver should be properly done. I also believe it’s in your best interest to continuously talk with the examiner. Believe me they know you are nervous and that you want to pass, if you establish a good relationship with them the flight is not as scary or as intimidating as you had expected; it helps you feel more relaxed.

What if I don’t pass

If you do happen to fail, it’s not the end of the world and don’t beat yourself up. I failed the oral portion on my first try when I did my private pilot check ride and started second guessing myself. Believe me every pilot has failed a check ride in some point in their career, and failing a check ride is part of the learning process. If you fail it doesn’t dictate your future as a pilot; in fact it should motivate you more to do better on future checkrides.

Well guys that’s it for this week, and If you are taking a check ride or any finals within the next few weeks I wish you all the best of luck and hope everyone does well. Also, check out  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot check rides and advice. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”


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