Practical Test Standards: Testing for Sport Pilot in Weight Shift Control, Introduction

In an earlier post it was noted that all the references used to create the Practical Test Standard (PTS) were online through the FAA and the post provided links so any weight shift student pilot could access them when preparing for the oral portion of the practical exam.

Continuing in the same vein, some might find a review of the PTS subject areas with some sample answers helpful. This will give the student pilot who is preparing for the exam not only additional relevant information but also suggests a format for preparing their answers.

First a few general comments about taking an oral practical exam. The PTS is the standard by which we are all measured, so there is no getting around the knowledge areas specified in the PTS. I heard, especially during the transition period, many pilots complain that they have been flying safely for years and didn’t need any testing, just a check ride. Well the number of pink slips issued during that period argues differently.

During the exam never respond to a DPE’s question with “I don’t know”. That is the fastest route to a pink slip since you just admitted to the examiner that you lack important aviation related information. If you are asked a question and you freeze up just remember to ask the examiner to repeat or rephrase the question. This gives you a little bit more time to unfreeze your brain and in rephrasing the question the examiner may include different wording that will jar something loose in your mind allowing you to start formulating an answer.

Secondly, the PTS frequently uses the statement “the applicant exhibits knowledge of the elements….”. It does not say “all the knowledge of all the elements” nor does it say “every last detail shall be vomited forth from a applicant prostrated at the feet of the DPE”. Many people freeze up during oral exams, perhaps because of the lack of practice or perhaps trying to recall technical information in a testing situation is stressful. Whatever the reason the FAA realizes that committing mountains of information to memory is difficult for many pilots who fly only for pleasure. To circumvent this problem, during the practical exam the applicant is allowed to use reference materials (termed "appropriate publications" in the Applicants Practical Test Checklist, Section 1, pg 1-V) . No single person can remember the specific wording in the whole FAR or memorize all the reference materials. The regulations and other references are a result of years of work and revision so remembering them all is almost impossible. But it is important to have a working understanding of the regulations, especially the applicable portions referenced in the PTS. But how to organize the information? Some students respond to this information overload by tabbing every single important section in the FARs. This doesn’t really solve the problem since the end result in many cases is a FAR/AIM that looks like a Webster’s dictionary, there are so many tabs. Instead I would suggest outlining the PTS. Since it is the source of any question the DPE might ask, if you have prepared complete responses to each element of the PTS you are well on the way to answering any question put to you. In combination, the reference materials and a PTS outlined with the references and sample answers will be a powerful tool in tackling the oral portion of the exam.

Next: 1. Area of Operation: Preflight Preparation. A. Task: Certificates and Documents (WSCL and WSCS)

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