Information> PASS THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICAL TESTS
To make sure you paid proper attention to your flight and ground school training, the FAA makes you pass two separate tests before they give you a license to fly.
The airman knowledge test examines you on the concepts and information you learned in your ground school training. The exam is given at designated computer testing sites for a fee of $70, and you will be asked to present proof that your instructor has approved your ground school training.
You will have two and a half hours to complete the 60 multiple-choice questions selected from the 711 airplane-related questions in the FAA's test questions. Topics that can be tested on the knowledge test range from the current FARs to air traffic control information to cross-country flight planning. A grade of 70% or better is required to pass. Your score from the knowledge test will be valid for two years, after which, if you have not completed your practical test, must be retaken.
Your final exam, much like a driver's license test, consists of a combined oral and flight test in which you demonstrate your knowledge and proficiency as a pilot to an FAA examiner. In the "check ride," as the practical exam is usually called, you will be tested according to the practical test standards (PTS) set by the FAA. These guidelines spell out in detail what will be tested and how you will be tested, so there should be no surprises.
After you have furnished the written recommendation from your flight instructor, the examiner will begin the test with an oral exam lasting one to two hours. The examiner is required to pay special attention to the areas where you were weakest on the knowledge test, so don't think that you can skip that tough "landing" section.
You will then begin the practical flight portion of your check ride. The examiner will test you on certain required procedures from the PTS, in addition to other areas of operation at his/her discretion, such as:
Don't be nervous - all those hours of flight training have prepared you for this point. If your performance meets PTS standards while in dual and solo flight training, you should pass the test with flying (hah!) colors. When you have successfully passed the practical test, the examiner will issue you a temporary pilot certificate, valid for 120 days. Your permanent pilot's license should arrive from the FAA's Oklahoma City office within the next two months.