The Power of the PTS

Reading the Practical Test Standards in detail will prepare you for your check ride.

PTS Big
PTS Big

Taking a check ride for a new rating is always stressful, whether it is the Private Pilot License or an advanced rating. While there is a little room for error, some components are absolutely essential to get right both in the oral portion of the exam and during the flight test. And you can maximize your chances of acing your check ride by carefully studying the Practical Test Standards (PTS), published for each FAA rating.

The PTS is the FAA examiner’s bible. He or she must comply with the rules within the book and cannot test anything that is not included in the publication. There are several sections of particular importance. The first is called “Special Emphasis Area” and it highlights several safety related components that you need to be aware of. For example, one component is collision avoidance. If the examiner notices that you are not scanning for traffic during your checkride, he or she could technically give you the dreaded pink slip.

Other sections to pay extra attention to are the ones titled “Satisfactory Performance” and “Unsatisfactory Performance.” They tell you very clearly what you should and shouldn’t do if you want to pass your test. The PTS also states that you are expected to use a checklist and that it is the examiner’s job to attempt to distract you during the exam to test your ability to divide your attention while maintaining control of the airplane.

If you are applying for an additional rating, there is a table in the PTS that shows which sections of the PTS will be tested. There is also a handy checklist of equipment and documents that you need to bring to the exam. And it doesn’t hurt to go over the examiner’s checklist, too.

By reading the PTS cover to cover, you can make sure that there won’t be any surprises during the checkride. You can download the Practical Test Standards for all ratings on the FAA website, but if you prefer to get the information in print there are several publishers, including ASA and Jeppesen, that sell the PTS books for around $5.