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10 Tips to Ace Your Private Pilot Checkride

The Private Pilot Checkride can be a very stressful exam for new pilots. Especially for Private Pilots as they have (likely) never been through the FAA Checkride Process before. Below are some tips that we have observed over our thousands of hours and 15 years experience in signing students off for their Private Pilot Checkride Exams. These tips will help relieve some of the stress of the exam and help you to show up prepared and organized.

To see a full Private Pilot Checkride Write-Up and study free articles, podcasts, and flashcards for each of the ACS Subject Areas, click the link below:


We have seen that students who show up prepared and organized to their Checkride Exam typically do much better than those who are scrambling last minute to get their items together. This is because the student will feel less stress and the Examiner will see your preparation and organization. The smoother a Checkride begins, the smoother it flows throughout (typically).

So, the natural question is to ask yourself, "what do I need to bring to be prepared?" You can see the list of items and documents you will need to come prepared with using the free Checkride Checklist at the link below (in the opening section).


When put in scenarios, asked questions, or asked to perform piloting tasks, do them with confidence. A student who does not show confidence in their answers and actions does not instill trust in the Checkride Examiner.

As long as you have done your due-diligence in studying, then you'll know the answers! Answer them with confidence but not with cockiness (it's a subtle difference). If you do not know the answer to a question do not panic. Remain calm and find the correct answer in an FAA Approved Publication such as the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK), the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), or the Airplane Flying Handbook (AFH).

So, what topics do you need to study? Click the link below for a full breakdown of the Private Pilot ACS with free study lessons that cover each section/task.


If you do not know an answer to a particular question, don't guess! Do not make up an answer and hope that it is correct. Examiners know that Private Pilot Applicants do not know everything about aviation. You should know most of it. But if there are questions you do not know how to answer, simply inform the Examiner that you do not know but that you will find the correct answer in an FAA Approved Publication for him/her. Then, go find the right answer!

Remember, each of the wifiCFI Lessons has references to where all of the information presented can be found in FAA Approved Publications.


If you go out of the ACS Standards prescribed for a particular flight maneuver, vocalize your mistake, then tell the Examiner how you will correct the mistake and correct it accordingly. If you do not vocalize your mistake (you try to fix it sneakily) the Examiner may not know that YOU know you made the mistake. We have seen that Examiners are typically more flexible when a student acknowledges their mistake and then fixes it accordingly.


Answer the questions that are asked by the Examiner but do not go off on tangents or dig holes that you will not be able to climb out of. This is a common mistake. Students want to "show off their knowledge" to the Checkride Examiner and oftentimes end up going down a rabbit hole that ends with incorrect answers and guessing.


If you do not understand what the Examiner is asking of you, clarify with them! Again, don't just assume you understand what the Examiner is asking of you and hope for a positive outcome.


Remember, a discontinuance is not a failure! There are many reasons why a student may discontinue. Perhaps the weather has turned bad prior to the Flight Portion of the Checkride. In this case, do not force the flight. It is better and more professional to Discontinue the Flight and reschedule for another day. This will show the Examiner that you will make safe, competent decisions when necessary.


Checkride Examiners want to make sure that you will make safe, sound decisions in your flying operations. There name is on the line if they recommend you for a Pilot Certificate and then you get in an accident. So, for this reason, when asked a question or asked to perform a particular task, always answer or perform in the safest manner possible.


No one likes a "know-it-all." Even if you do know-it-all, be humble. Confident but not cocky. It's a subtle difference that can make all the difference.


Know your stuff. Don't just "wing it" (no pun intended). It's easy to tell when a student is prepared and when they are just hoping for a win. You can study everything you'll need to know for free at the link below:


Again, we hope that these quick tips are helpful for you in passing your Private Pilot Checkride. If you have any additional tips you would like us to add to this list, email us at: Aviation is a small industry and it is important that we all help each other succeed!


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