The FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam: FAQs and What to Expect

by | Mar 16, 2023

The FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam is a test that potential pilots must take on their journey to achieving their private pilot’s license. As with any other major exam, however, students can feel apprehensive about taking the test, especially if they don’t know what to expect.


Today, we’ll walk you through some of the basics of the exam along with frequently asked questions about the test. Then, you can work with a qualified flight instructor to prepare for the exam and take it with confidence.


What is the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam?

In a previous blog, we gave details about one of the items necessary for would-be pilots to get and keep their private pilot’s license – the FAA Medical Exam. This test measures whether or not an individual meets the minimum health standards for flying, as defined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


Being medically fit to pilot a plane isn’t the only requirement for safe flying, however. As you might expect, an individual must also demonstrate a certain degree of knowledge about and familiarity with things a pilot will encounter before, during, or after flight. This is the basis for the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam.


What Topics are Included in the Pilot Knowledge Test?

Pilots must have a good understanding of a wide variety of topics including (but not limited to) airplane mechanics, navigation principles, aviation regulations, and weather. With this in mind, the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam asks a series of 60 multiple choice questions that relate to these topics, among others:


  • Navigation charts, publications, and systems
  • Aviation related weather topics and services
  • Federal aviation regulations
  • Airplane aerodynamics, instruments, and systems
  • Flight planning


While the FAA does publish a list of sample questions, the goal is NOT for individuals to memorize answers to specific questions. Instead, they should focus on mastering fundamental aviation concepts that will help them become and stay a safe, competent pilot.


When and Where Can the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam be Taken?

According to the FAA, student pilots should take their written exam after completing a solo cross-country flight. This is because the knowledge gained from such an undertaking will be invaluable during the exam itself. Applicants must also have logged ground training from an authorized flight instructor. For specific test preparation requirements, individuals are encouraged to work closely with their certified flight instructor (CFI) and refer to the Code of Federal Regulations, 14 CFR part 61, section 61.105.


The FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam is given at FAA-approved and designated computer testing centers. All prerequisite requirements must be completed prior to registering for the exam at a local testing site.


How Can Aviation Students Prepare for the Written Exam?

As with any major exam, students are strongly encouraged to utilize online or printed resources to prepare for the test itself. The Federal Aviation Administration has a variety of online resources regarding airman testing requirements and standards as well as sample questions to give students an idea of what to expect. There are also a variety of software programs and printed resources available from private companies that can aid in test preparation.


What Does Passing the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam Mean?

Passing the exam is indicated by receiving a score of 70% or greater. Regardless of whether students pass or fail, test takers are provided an airman knowledge test report from the testing center. This report will indicate the overall score as well as topic areas where the student needs additional work. Retesting at a later date is allowed for people who fail the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Exam.


Passing the written exam indicates that the student has demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the test topics given and they can proceed with additional flight training. Passing or scoring highly on the exam can also open up additional opportunities for students to earn flight training scholarships from local aviation schools.


When a student’s CFI deems it appropriate and the student has met the requirements for logged flight time, they can then take the practical exam which will be administered by a local Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE).


Flight Training for Teens in the Addison-Dallas, TX Area

Rising Aviation High School, a premier Dallas STEM school located at the Addison Airport in Addison, TX. Through aviation summer camps, drone pilot programs, and a STEM-based high school curriculum with an aviation focus, we are proud to prepare DFW area students for earning their private pilot’s license at a young age. We have expert flight instructors on staff and students are able to participate in a variety of hands-on aviation experiences. Upon graduation, our students earn an accredited high school diploma with a STEM endorsement and are uniquely equipped to further pursue a career in aviation if they so choose.


To register your teen or learn more about our private aviation high school and the programs we offer, contact us today!

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