How to Prepare for Your Private Pilot Checkride

private pilot checkride

Embarking on the journey to becoming a private pilot can be both thrilling and challenging. The culmination of this journey, the private pilot checkride, serves as the ultimate test of your knowledge, skills, and preparedness. Meticulous preparation is essential to ensure your success and to alleviate any anxieties you may have. Here, we’ll answer some common questions, including the most important one:

How Do I Prepare for my Private Pilot Checkride?

Preparation is the key to success on your checkride. Use resources such as FAA publications, training manuals, online courses, and your flight instructor’s expertise. Practice your flight maneuvers diligently, and prioritize self-care leading up to the checkride day. Stay focused, confident, and committed to your goal.

Understanding the Checkride

A checkride, formally known as the Practical Test, is the final assessment administered by a designated pilot examiner (DPE) or FAA inspector, which determines if a candidate is qualified to obtain a private pilot certificate. It consists of two main components: the oral exam and the practical flight test. Familiarizing yourself with the expectations and requirements outlined in the FAA’s Airman Certification Standards (ACS) will provide a solid foundation for your preparation.

How Long Does a PPL Checkride Last?

The duration of a private pilot checkride can vary depending on factors such as the examiner, the complexity of the oral exam questions, and the efficiency of the practical flight test. On average, they can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

The checkride is typically divided into two main components: the oral exam and the practical flight test. The oral exam usually lasts between 1.5 to 2.5 hours, though it can be shorter or longer based on the candidate’s knowledge and the examiner’s questioning style. The practical flight test generally takes 1.5 to 2 hours, but factors such as weather, air traffic control, and aircraft performance can influence the duration.

It’s essential to allocate ample time for your checkride and be prepared for the possibility of it lasting longer than anticipated. Arrive well-rested and mentally prepared for a comprehensive assessment of your knowledge and skills.

How Often Does a Private Pilot Need a Checkride?

A private pilot does not need to take a checkride periodically after obtaining their initial private pilot certificate. However, to maintain currency and ensure flight safety, private pilots must meet certain flight experience requirements and complete a flight review.

According to the FAA regulations (FAR 61.56), a private pilot must undergo a flight review every 24 calendar months. The flight review consists of a minimum of 1 hour of ground instruction and 1 hour of flight instruction with an authorized flight instructor. During the flight review, the instructor assesses the pilot’s knowledge of general aviation topics and their ability to perform various flight maneuvers.

In addition to the flight review, pilots must also meet recent flight experience requirements to carry passengers. As per FAR 61.57, a private pilot must have performed at least three takeoffs and landings within the preceding 90 days to carry passengers during the day, and at least three takeoffs and landings to a full stop within the preceding 90 days for night flights.

While private pilots do not need regular checkrides, staying current and completing the required flight reviews and experience helps ensure their proficiency and safety as aviators.

Is the Private Pilot Checkride Difficult?

The private pilot checkride can be perceived as difficult due to the extensive preparation and knowledge required to pass. However, the difficulty varies depending on an individual’s prior experience, study habits, flight training, and overall comfort level with the material and flight maneuvers.

If you approach the checkride well-prepared, having devoted ample time to studying the required topics, practicing flight maneuvers, and seeking guidance from your instructor, you are more likely to find it manageable. A thorough understanding of the FAA regulations, aircraft systems, navigation, and weather, among other subjects, is essential.

Additionally, maintaining a positive attitude and remaining calm during the checkride can help alleviate anxiety and improve performance. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skills and knowledge as a pilot. With the right preparation and mindset, you can successfully navigate the challenges and earn your private pilot certificate.

What Is the Pass Rate for Private Pilot Checkride?

The pass rate for the private pilot checkride varies from year to year and depends on various factors. These include the overall preparedness of the candidates, the quality of flight instruction, and the rigor of the examiners. Generally, the pass rate in the United States ranges from 70% to 80%. This means that approximately 7 to 8 out of every 10 candidates successfully pass their checkride on the first attempt.

It’s important to note that these statistics can fluctuate, and individual experiences may vary. Focusing on thorough preparation, regular practice, and a strong understanding of the required material will significantly improve your chances of passing the checkride. Utilize the resources available to you, such as FAA publications, textbooks, online courses, and guidance from your flight instructor, to ensure you are well-prepared.

Is It OK to Fail a Checkride?

While no one aims to fail a checkride, it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world. Failing is a setback, but it can also be an opportunity for growth and improvement. Many experienced pilots have failed a checkride at some point in their careers.

If you fail a checkride, the examiner will provide you with a Notice of Disapproval. This details the specific areas where you did not meet the required standards. You should take this feedback as a valuable learning opportunity to understand your weaknesses and work on improving those areas.

You will be required to undergo additional training and practice with your flight instructor to address the deficiencies before you can make another attempt. Typically, there is no minimum waiting period before you can retake a failed checkride. However, you must obtain a new endorsement from your flight instructor confirming that you have received the necessary additional training.

What Is the Most Commonly Failed Checkride?

While specific data may not be readily available, the private pilot and the instrument rating checkrides are often cited as having higher failure rates than others.

For the private pilot checkride, candidates must demonstrate a solid understanding of a wide range of topics. They must also perform various flight maneuvers proficiently, and must do so with the least amount of experience.

For the instrument rating checkride, pilots must show their ability to fly solely by reference to instruments. This can be demanding and requires a strong grasp of instrument flight rules (IFR) procedures, navigation, and aircraft systems.

To improve the chances of passing, it’s crucial to be well-prepared, both in terms of knowledge and practical skills.

How Do I Study for a Private Pilot Checkride?

Studying for the private pilot checkride involves a combination of understanding the required knowledge, mastering practical skills, and staying organized in your preparation.

Preparing for the Oral Exam

To excel during the oral exam, you must have a thorough understanding of a wide range of topics. These include, but are not limited to, regulations and airspace, aircraft systems and performance, navigation and flight planning, and weather and aeromedical factors. The following resources can aid in your preparation:

  1. FAA publications: The FAA’s website provides a wealth of resources, such as the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK), and the Airplane Flying Handbook (AFH).
  2. Training manuals and textbooks: Various publishers offer comprehensive textbooks covering essential subject matter for private pilots.
  3. Online courses and videos: Many reputable flight schools and aviation experts provide online courses and instructional videos to supplement your studies.
  4. Mock oral exam sessions: Participating in mock oral exams with your flight instructor or a fellow pilot can help identify areas that may require further study.

Effective study habits are essential for success. Organize your study materials, create a consistent study schedule, and seek guidance from experienced pilots or instructors when needed.

Preparing for the Practical Flight Test

In addition to the oral exam, you must demonstrate your proficiency in various flight maneuvers during the practical flight test. To ensure your readiness, adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Engage in regular flight training with a certified instructor and practice solo flights to build your skills and confidence.
  2. Master the required flight maneuvers, such as takeoffs, landings, navigation, cross-country flying, and emergency procedures.
  3. Complete the necessary flight experience as mandated by the FAA, including solo cross-country flights, night flying, and instrument flight time.
  4. Schedule a flight evaluation with your instructor, during which you can perform a mock checkride and address any deficiencies.

Schedule Your Checkride With a DPE or FAA Inspector.

Review and complete all required documentation, including logbook endorsements and paperwork.

Ensure your aircraft meets maintenance, inspection, and equipment requirements. Prioritize self-care by getting sufficient rest, eating a balanced diet, and managing stress and anxiety. A healthy mind and body contribute to better focus and performance during your exam.

Checkride Day

On the day of your checkride, arrive early and well-prepared. Bring all necessary documentation and materials, and maintain a positive, professional demeanor throughout the process. Embrace the learning opportunities and constructive feedback provided by your examiner.


Remember, thorough preparation is the key to success on your checkride. Use the resources available to you, such as FAA publications, training manuals, online courses, and your flight instructor’s expertise. This will help to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the required material. Practice your flight maneuvers diligently, and prioritize self-care leading up to the checkride day. Stay focused, confident, and committed to your goal. The rewards of becoming a private pilot will be well worth the effort.

Mock Checkride May – Preparing For Your Private Pilot Checkride


As a lifelong lover of aircraft, I decided to share my journey of educating myself about aviation. Here you will find answers to many common questions asked by those new to flying.

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