How to prepare and pass the private pilot checkride?

how to pass private pilot checkride

Follow the techniques and study materials in this post to pass your PPL checkride with confidence.

Many student pilots struggle during their checkride! Knowing what and how to study for the oral and practical exam, you can easily pass the checkride.

In this post, I shared the valuable private pilot checkride preparation materials and methods to utilize all these.

Utilize these following materials to pass your Private Pilot checkride:

  1. ACS (Airman Certification Standards);
  2. PPL oral exam guide;
  3. FAR/AIM;
  4. Pilots Operating Handbook for your aircraft type;
  5. Chcekride Prep by Part-Time Pilot. (Optional).

As a bonus, I also included some tips for your practical exam day at the end of this article.

How to pass private pilot checkride?

Let’s begin by understanding what to expect on your ppl checkride day. Private pilot checkride consists of two parts:

  1. The oral exam that last for around an hour;
  2. A practical exam is a cross-country flight where the check-pilot will test your flyings skills.

To pass your private pilot checkride, you must equip yourself for both oral and practical exams. You can use books to understand beforehand what type of questions to expect from DPE. The examiner is there to approve your private pilot license. Thus you have to prove that you are a safe pilot and aware of any complicated situation.

Satisfy your check pilot with your performance on the ground and in the flight.

To convince your examiner that you are ready to get a private pilot license, you must be prepared for any uncertain situation.

Study the materials I shared in this post and refer to the airman certification standards frequently to learn not more than what you need during your private pilot licensing stage.

How can student pilots utilize everything to prepare for the PPL checkride?

First, I want to mention that your Flight Instructor endorsed you for a checkride because he is confident that you are ready to pass your private pilot checkride.

However, on rare occasions, student pilots fail their checkride and delay obtaining a private pilot license. The reasoning you are here means you don’t want to be one of them.

To pass your checkride with excellence, you can’t rely on memorizing questions and answers.

You have to be ready beyond your DPE’s expectations and imagination. If you are reluctant to buy many books, I recommend you to purchase at least these two books:

Studying these two books will keep you ahead of your DPE’s imagination. Because the examiner is will not ask you anything outside the ACS. Unless you prove yourself highly knowledgeable, the DPE might ask something extra to see how well you know.

But remember, failure to answer anything outside the ACS will not compromise passing your checkride. The checkride is all about your decision-making and how organized you are to conduct safe flights.

Thus it is also crucial the day before checkride, visit the hangar and collect some items.

Studying these items will allow you to be more confident in your checkride:

  • Collect engine, airframe, and propeller maintenance logs. Recognize what each information indicates about the airplane’s airworthiness;
  • Speak to your flight instructor and verify whether you have required logbook signoffs and endorsements or not;
  • Complete the integrated airman certification and rating application;
  • Prepare the flight plan for a cross country flight where your DPE often goes and including the alternatives;
  • Find out the METAR and forecast weather reports for your cross country flight the next day;

You don’t need to go to the hangar for the last two points, but doing it with your Flight instructor will eliminate any chance of failing the checkride. But at this stage, you are supposed to do forecast weather and plan cross-country flight all by yourself correctly.

Now let’s discuss how to utilize ACS, PPL oral exam guide, and other materials I mentioned in the beginning to pass the private pilot checkride.

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)

Airman certification standards have everything a check pilot will possibly ask you to do on your practical exam on checkride. This book helps with oral exams, too but not entirely.

You can get ACS PDF online. But I recommend getting a hard copy.

Thoroughly studying ACS will give you an idea of what tasks to expect from your examiner on your checkride. If you have come this far in your private pilot training, you probably know most things.

However, use this book to reference what you know and which things you need to revise. Revising a subject will boost your confidence and help you to be a proficient pilot.

The DPE does not expect a private pilot to learn more than what is necessary.

The ACS refers to standard private pilot risk management, safety, and maneuver skills. Things you learn from your ACS will help you in both oral and practical exams.

Use ACS to verify what you missed during the flight training. If you see something unfamiliar, discuss it with your flight instructor and request him to explain that to you.

If your DPE asks you anything out of the ordinary and is not in the ACS, don’t hesitate but try to complete that task if you can. This would mean that your DPE is satisfied with your performance and dig into seeing how good you are, or you can tell your examiner that you didn’t perform this during your private pilot training.

The examiner will understand what you mean.

It’s unlikely that the DPE will ask you to do something that will hinder your flight performance and steer you away from your actual purpose.

If you feel your DPE is asking you more than what you learned from your ACS, you can tell him that you did not see such maneuvers or tasks in the ACS.

How to use the PPL oral exam guide?

The Private Pilot oral exam guide is an excellent book to prepare for all the questions you may face during your oral test on checkride day.

This book won’t show you the exact questions your DPE will ask, but it’s a good reference for understanding what to expect.

Read the private pilot oral exam guidebook and try to answer the questions yourself. Once you are done answering, then check the correct answer. This way, you will clarify more aeronautical topics and understand an unfamiliar subject.

If a question seems brand new to you and you can’t answer then, you can refer to your favorite aeronautical book to study further.

Studying in this manner will boost your confidence and answer all the challenging questions your examiner asks you.

Remember this: You DPE will ask you scenario-based questions and what you must do in that situation.

Reading the PPL oral exam guide, you will exactly learn how to use your existing knowledge to come out from a difficult situation in flight.

The flight instructor will also ask for everyday calculations, acronyms, policies, and procedures to conduct safe flights. The purpose of the oral exam is to verify how safe and competent you are to have a private pilot license.


Get yourself the latest copy of FAR/AIM. Keep it with you on your checkride day. You DPE would not prefer you to have an outdated FAR/AIM.

You can use this book to learn about the latest airport regulations and air traffic control procedures in your area.

On checkride day, the FAR/AIM can help you in many ways.

Before your exam day, go through the book and have an idea of the information on the book. Especially keep note of things your DPE would want to know on your check ride.

If your DPE asks you something that you can’t remember, you will have the chance to check through FAR/AIM and find the exact information.

Pointing out the most relevant information from FAR/AIM will gain the trust of your Check pilot. Your check pilot will know that you are up to date about the Federal Aviation Regulations.

If you forget anything about your destination airport procedure, refer to FAR/AIM and find the correct answer. By doing so, your check pilot will know that you are an intelligent pilot and don’t want any confusion during flight.

However, if you take too long to find any information from the FAR/AIM, your examiner might think you are not good at flight planning. Therefore, prepare everything you need to know about your destination airport and the alternative airports before your flight.

Fold the pages of your destination airport information for easier access during checkride.

Checkride Prep by Part-Time Pilot.

This checkride prep is an online course available by Part-Time Pilot. Taking these courses is optional. But if you want to go that extra mile to pass your checkride, then you can take this course.

The course emphasizes the necessary materials for the checkride.

Most materials in this course are familiar for any pilot who is ready to take their checkride.

Nevertheless, as a pilot, it is always good to learn more. If you take the course, you will learn new ways to accomplish tasks that will wow your designated pilot examiner.

This course emphasizes subjects referring to the Airman certification standards.

Often in the course, you will see questions by the instructor. The course creator is a certified flight instructor and added possible questions and answers for student pilots to practice their checkride.

The checkride prep will train you with exact techniques to satisfy your DPE’s expectations. This Checkride Prep course is a combination of ACS and the PPL Oral exam guide.

Failing your checkride means you have to retake the check ride and spend some more money.

If you have the chance and money, spend a little more purchasing this course to ace your checkride.

What are the PPL checkride pass rate and a bonus tip?

Lastly, I was hoping you could talk to your flight instructor about your DPE.

Each area or flight school has one DPE. So your flight instructor has a perfect idea of what kind of questions a DPE may ask. Your flight instructor is familiar with the airport a DPE prefers to fly to, the questions he asks, and the maneuvers he wants to examine during a checkride.

Typically, each DPE has its way of examining a checkride. They ask the student pilots to do the same tasks and then similar schemes, if not the same.

  • What does the check pilot prefer, electronic charts or paper charts?
  • There must be an emergency procedure that a particular DPE often wants student pilots to demonstrate.
  • Does the DPE wish to know about the aircraft logs?

Knowing what you may get on your check ride is a pretty good idea to lower your chances of failing the checkride.

The private pilot checkride passing rate has dropped by 5% in the last decade. Before 10 years, the passing rate used to be 80%, and today it’s just over 75%.

It means the days of memorizing are long gone. Before ten years, a student pilot could remember all the questions answers from the book to prepare for the checkride. Today the pilots need to understand the subject to become proficient pilots and expect any question from the DPE.

A bright, skilled pilot can answer any question about any situation. If your DPE notices that you memorized the questions, there is a chance he will dig in further to check your knowledge on the topic.

If this happens, there is a likelihood that you will fail the checkride.

Therefore, prepare well and go for your checkride with confidence.

Don’t just memorize but understand every detail of the subjects. Have confidence in yourself to perform better on your checkride.

There is nothing to fear if you have already studied adequately and prepared using the books I mentioned.

RELATED: How difficult is the private pilot checkride?

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