When I was getting ready for a check ride the other day, I mentioned to my primary instructor, Bill Ball, that I’d been nervous about it for the past day and a half. He nodded. After all, he’s a pilot too. It’s too easy to forget that that the person with the clipboard has to go through the same thing him or herself on a regular basis.
Bill is a senior instructor at SimCom and an FAA designated examiner. He has a couple of handfuls of type ratings and teaches in a few different airplanes. After it occurred to me that my instructor is the student sometimes too, I asked him how many check rides he’d taken.
All he could tell me was that it was a big number and getting bigger. Four a year.
Being human, Bill doesn’t like them any more than the rest of us. “Nobody likes being evaluated,” he said, “but when we choose to take on the responsibility of being a pilot, we accept that we are going to be held to certain standards. It’s part of the deal.”
Just keeping that in mind helps put things in perspective. Do we want pilots to be up to snuff? Of course we do. Do we want to be pilots? Rhetorical question. A check ride is our way of putting ourselves out there to prove that we can do it.
Even so, we’re bound to be nervous. So how to deal with checkride anxiety?
One way is by trying to be a little philosophical about it. Did you get signed off by an instructor to take the ride? Did you successfully perform all of the maneuvers that will be on the practical test you’re facing? Unless something is amiss, the answer to all of those questions will always be “yes.”
So leave it at that. You prepared, you studied, you flew and an FAA authorized instructor said you’re ready. Study a little the night before the ride if it makes you feel better, but don’t overdo it. When you’re down to the night before, there’s generally a lot more to be gained by getting into the right frame of mind and getting a good night’s rest than by staying up and hitting the books.
It might also help to remind yourself that with very few exceptions, examiners don’t want to fail you. If you know your stuff, if you’ve put in your time and if you fly a solid test, you’ll be fine.
And tell yourself this: You don’t have to be perfect. You only have to be within standards. And by checkride time, you’ve already proven you can do that.
So think of it as just another flight. Because, when all is said and done, that’s all it is.
And you’re ready for it.