For many of us studying to become pilots, the FAA knowledge test is the only test we’ve taken in years. Test taking can be very stressful, so at Gleim we do our best to eliminate as much stress as possible by making sure you truly know the material and by helping you become comfortable with the format of the test and the testing system. Studying our knowledge transfer outlines and using our test prep software to practice under exam conditions will ensure that you will pass the FAA knowledge test and be well on your way to becoming a safe and competent pilot.
How long is the FAA Knowledge Test?
Start your training by acquainting yourself with the applicable FAA knowledge test. For private pilots flying airplanes, the test has 60-questions with a 2 hour, 30 minute time limit. The questions are multiple choice with three answer choices. In order to pass, you’ll need to score a 70% or higher. For every other certificate or rating, the FAA Airman Knowledge Testing matrix shows the requirements of each test.
The FAA no longer releases the question bank for any test; however, sample exam questions and changes to topics are released. The questions included in the Gleim Knowledge Test Prep books are based on previously released FAA questions and questions written by our expert instructors. The materials are constantly updated based on published changes, new procedures, or revised FAA guidance. Questions are organized into study units and subunits, making it easier to find the topics you want to review.
Now that you have a general idea of what the test is like and the sorts of questions that will be on it, you’ll want to set up a study schedule. Set a target date for your exam that is far out enough to give you adequate time to prepare but not so far ahead that you become less motivated to study. A quicker study timeline will help keep you on track. Additionally, consider taking a ground school course, either online or at your local FBO, flight school, or community college. Ground schools have the benefit of being structured courses that ensure you are covering all the materials you need to learn before your test. Online training, such as the Gleim Online Ground School, is extremely popular due to the ability to learn at your own pace. Gleim even guarantees you’ll pass the test, so if you do not, the ground school costs are refunded.
During your studies, you should evaluate yourself on each topic. Note whether you have good, fair, or shaky understanding of a topic and move on. When you return after studying other sections, you’ll be able to easily gauge how proficient you are in a subject area and how much time you need to spend reviewing a unit before you are ready to take the test. For questions that totally stump you, ask your flight instructor or revisit the corresponding section in the Gleim Pilot Handbook.
You can even ask the Gleim instructors for help. If you are using the Gleim Online Ground School or FAA Test Prep Online, there are links under each question that allow you to submit questions or feedback. The Gleim team of instructors responds to thousands of inquiries every year, and we all agree that the only bad questions are the ones that are not asked. We take the time to understand your issue to address your inquiry personally.
Learning the material is just one part of the journey and unless you practice under exam conditions, you still run the risk of not being able to perform fast enough to answer all the questions and leave yourself time to review before submitting. If you use the entire time limit for the test, you can spend about 2 to 2.5 minutes on each question (depending on the test); however, Gleim endeavors to prepare you well enough that you’ll have plenty of time left over for the more complex or challenging questions. The Gleim FAA Test Prep Online creates time investment reports to help track your progress and adherence to the time limit.
Test Taking Tips
Once you’re taking the test, there are a few tactics you can use to make sure you’re getting the maximum amount of points possible. We recommend saving the complex computational or cross-country problems for last so that you can make sure you’ve at least answered all the easier questions. You’ll be able to mark those questions during the test, which makes it easier to find them at the end. When answering questions, don’t look at the answer choices until you’ve come up with your own answer. The answer choices are often written to look correct at first glance and distract you from the correct answer. In the case of computational or planning questions, these distractors are usually the result of common mistakes. If you’ve read all the answer explanations in the Gleim materials, you’ll know exactly what those mistakes are.
At the test center you will receive a test-supplement containing all the figures. Sometimes you can refer to these figures to help answer other questions. For example, in the supplement used for sport, recreational, private, and remote pilot, Legend 1 is the Sectional Aeronautical Chart Legend. This legend shows how each class of airspace is depicted and what the common chart symbols are. The next 18 pages describe each element of the Chart Supplement. When it comes to performance charts, each figure has an example showing how to use the charts.
While we always hope for the best, you may find yourself stumped by one of the questions during your exam. If this happens, you can make an educated guess that has a good chance of being correct. Start by eliminating any answer you know to be wrong. For most multiple-choice questions, there’s usually one answer that can be eliminated right away. Then you can speculate on what the FAA might be looking for or the rationale behind the question. At this point, you can probably select the best answer or at least pick between two equally appealing answers. If you’re still confused, at least pick something so that you have a chance to earn those points. The most important thing is to remember your time limit. Don’t let a question you can’t answer keep you away from a question that you can answer correctly. If you finish early, take your time to review the questions again.
Use these tips when you prepare for your FAA knowledge test! So long as you don’t resort to simply memorizing FAA questions, you’ll be able to learn and retain the knowledge necessary to become a certificated private pilot. If you want that extra edge over the FAA knowledge test, be sure to check out our pilot certification products to help expedite your training.
About Gleim Aviation
Since 1980, Gleim Aviation’s team of pilots, instructors, writers, designers, and programmers has helped aviators pass millions of FAA knowledge and practical tests using the unique Gleim Knowledge Transfer System. Gleim is an environmentally friendly company headquartered in Gainesville, FL.