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Flight Test Prep FAQ

The steps required to earn a pilot certificate can sometimes seem endless, but the practical test — more commonly known as the flight test — is the last obstacle. The practical test, generally administered by a designated pilot examiner, consists of two parts: an oral examination and the flight test itself. Here are answers to some common questions about this evaluation.

What endorsements will I need?

There are several endorsements you will need, so be sure you have them all. You will need an endorsement for your solo flights, both on your student pilot certificate (one-time) and in your logbook (every 90 days), for your solo cross-countries, for your knowledge test (the written), and for your practical test.

Related articles:
Checkride endorsements
FAA Advisory Circular 61-65D, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors

There may be some weather moving in during my checkride. Should I start my checkride or wait until another day?

That's the never-ending decision in aviation, particularly when it comes to interpreting weather reports, forecasts, and their nuances. If this sounds familiar, you're certainly in good company. If you are ever in this situation, it may be advisable to at least complete the oral part of the exam. The flight can occur on another day as long as you ensure that your knowledge tests and your endorsements don't expire between the oral and the flight.
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What should I do if I disagree with my examiner during the checkride?

If a disagreement between an applicant and an examiner becomes serious, the applicant may contact the FAA's governing Flight Standards District Office. This is a no-win situation that can usually be prevented with professionalism on the part of all concerned. Disagreements over actual test procedures are infrequent, but can occur. Become familiar with the rules, which are described in FAR 61.43. Remember to maintain your composure and be professional.
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Is there a source for the rules and regulations that examiners have to follow?

The General Aviation Operations Inspector's Handbook, Order 8700.1 is the source, which will give you the guidelines for FAA inspectors. Additionally, the Pilot Examiners Handbook is the basic equivalent for the FAA designated examiner.
Examiner's Handbook> (PDF version)
General Aviation Operations Inspector's Handbook (FAA Web site)>

Once my instructor signs me off, how long do I have to take the checkride?

You have 60 days. If the 60-day time frame has lapsed, you will need to fly with your instructor again and receive another endorsement. See FAR 61.39, Prerequisites for practical tests, Paragraph 6.
PART 61 -- Certification: Pilots, flight instructors and ground instructors>