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How to Prepare for Your Upcoming Private Pilot Checkride

You’ve learned how to operate a plane, read all the material, studied and re-studied the coursework – now, it’s time for your checkride! As the pinnacle of your flight training, the checkride will determine whether or not you actually become a certified private pilot.  Your heart may be racing, sweat soaking through your shirt, hands clenched. But, if you take the proper steps to prepare for the occasion, you can relax knowing that you’ve set yourself up for success. So, let’s get started – here’s how to prepare for your upcoming private pilot checkride.


What to Expect on Your Checkride

The day is finally here – checkride day! A checkride is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) examination that you will undergo to receive an aircraft pilot’s certification, or an endorsement for additional flight privileges. In terms of a private pilot’s certificate, the checkride will be split into two separate parts, an oral exam and a practical flying test.


You can expect the oral exam to last about two hours. You’ll sit with an FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE) who will quiz you on a variety of topics, from air regulations to flight planning to decision-making in the air and everything in between. You will be given scenarios and will be expected to talk your examiner through them.


Once you finish the oral exam portion of the checkride, you’ll move on to the practical flying test. You’ll assume the position of pilot-in-command, while the DPE acts as a ”passenger” and exams your skills on the ground and in the air. Your airworthiness will be graded on your performance of take-offs and landings, several different flight maneuvers, emergency procedures, and more. The FAA has set out these maneuvers in the Airplane Airman Certification Standards (ACS), which details the pass/fail requirements for each one. If you are unable to complete any of the maneuvers, you will fail the checkride and will need to retest. Similarly, if the examiner ever needs to take control of the airplane for safety reasons, you will fail and need to retest.

How to Prepare for Your Private Pilot Checkride

The first thing you need to do to prepare for your private pilot checkride is to cross off a few administrative duties and gather some items, including:


  • Collect engine, airframe and propeller maintenance logs
  • Gather the proper logbook sign offs and endorsements from your instructor
  • Complete the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application
  • Collect current and up-to-date publications and documents such as the FAR/AIM, Airport/Facility Directory and sectional charts

These are crucial for getting your pilot’s license. The examiner will send you home if you present out-of-date publications, incomplete forms or logbook endorsements.


Tips on Preparing for Your Checkride

The checkride is a crucial component of your pilot training and ultimately, what will determine whether or not you obtain your private pilot’s license. Follow the tips below to get ready for one of the most important events in your young flying career!


  • Since the oral exam is “open-note” highlight important information, or use sticky page flags to keep track of specific sections that are likely to be discussed. Staying neat and organized will make the information easier to find and inspires confidence.


  • Take a practice checkride with your certified flight instructor (CFI). Find a different instructor from your DPE to give you a practice checkride. Treat it just as you would the actual checkride. This will provide you with a chance to get used to the experience of being evaluated, gain feedback from a different instructor, which could further sharpen your skills, and might help you gain experience flying with an unfamiliar pilot in the right seat.



  • Ready your flight plan, METAR weather reports and latest weather information from the weather briefer. You will probably be asked about the winds and temperatures aloft forecast, so be prepared.


  • Practice your maneuvers through “chair flying”. Chair flying is simply acting as though you’re flying from the comfort of your favorite chair. This helps develop muscle memory and motor skills in a safe, controlled environment.


  • Fly at the examiner’s airport as much as possible before your checkride, even if it’s just a few takeoffs and landings. This will help you gain a grasp on the airport’s specific taxiways, runway, elevation and more.  


  • Do not rush through either the oral exam or practical test. “Reset” the aircraft and your mind before each maneuver. Count to 10 and breathe. The examiner will appreciate you carefully considering your next moves far more than you rushing into a task.

Oral Exam Practice Questions

Below are practice questions that you can review to help prepare yourself for the oral exam.


  • Maintenance logs: What is the difference between an annual and a 100hr – how long are they valid? When can you fly over these times?
  • What are the minimum safe altitudes for our checkride maneuvers today?
  • What if your annual inspection expires?
  • How do you find density altitude?
  • How do you find pressure altitude?
  • Which way to turn if approaching another aircraft head on?
  • Can a student fly into Bravo airspace?
  • What would you do if you got lost?
  • What type of medical certificate do you have and how long is it valid?
  • How would you recover from a spin?
  • What are the maximum baggage weight for this airplane?
  • Which way to enter S-turns?
  • What are the following values for your aircraft? Va, Vfe, Vne, Vso, Vs1
  • What is an isogonic line? How do we use it?
  • How much of a takeoff roll do we need today?
  • How much horsepower is this aircraft?
  • What instruments would be affected by loss of suction?
  • What does the ELT antennae do?
  • How do you activate runway lighting at night?
  • What instruments do the pitot-static system drive?
  • How would you find the frequency for Flight Service when departing the airport today?
  • Could you ever fly with a passenger who was drunk or injured?
  • What do you look for in the air filter and inside engine cowl?
  • What color is hydraulic fluid?


Ready for Your Checkride?

Now that you have these tips and insights on how to prepare for your upcoming private pilot checkride, you can go through the examination with confidence. Best of luck – we’ll see you in the sky!


Do you want to get your private pilot’s license?  Get in touch with our team of professional flight instructors at Inflight Pilot Training today! Here is another article about the 10 Amazing Things You Can Do With a Private Pilot’s License.


Inflight is a leading pilot training company serving the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and extensive roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, it’s our goal to help you achieve the certification you want. From private pilot certificates to airline transport pilot certificates and everything in between, we can help you prepare for and pass your checkride  – get in touch with our team of flight instructors to find out more.

For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.