FAA Reduces Time Allotted for Knowledge Tests

The changes in testing procedures affect private and commercial applicants.

Applicants taking the 60-question Private Pilot Airplane (PAR) exam will have 120 minutes, down from 150. [Credit: Shutterstock]

Applicants slated to take the FAA's private pilot-airplane rating (PAR) or commercial pilot-airplane rating (CAX) knowledge exams will soon have less time to take the tests. 

According to the Airman Testing Community Advisory committee, the publication of the FAA's Airman Testing Standards Branch, the decision to reduce the test time was made by the FAA and PSI Services LLC, the FAA's sole provider for FAA knowledge exams, after they performed what has been described as "a scientific assessment of the knowledge tests."

Applicants taking the 60-question Private Pilot Airplane (PAR) exam will have 120 minutes, down from 150, and applicants for the 100-question Commercial Pilot Airplane (CAX) exam will have 150 minutes, down from 180.

The change goes into effect on April 24, 2023.

"The PAR and CAX test topics and subject matter did not change as a result of the assessment process," the ATAC noted, "However, there have been changes made to existing test questions on the PAR and CAX tests to assure they are aligned with the ACSs [airman certification standards] and reference an existing FAA handbook."

It was noted that the testing supplements for both tests have not changed, nor has the price of the exams, which remains $175. 

The third-party vendors which operate the testing centers have no say in the cost of the test or the amount of time the applicants have to perform the test. 

According to a spokesperson from the FAA, “The FAA and the industry analyzed the tests as part of the FAA’s efforts to enhance their quality. The changes assure they are aligned with the airman certification standards and FAA handbook.”

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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