Private Pilot PTS – Explained!

Congratulations!  You are in the homestretch of a very demanding journey.  It’s time now to focus on the preparation for the practical exam.


The practical exam consists of an oral discussion followed by a demonstration of skill and judgement in the air.  All practical tests are conducted using a practical test standards document that defines the knowledge and skill that is to be  assessed during the exam.  The current Private Pilot Practical Test Standards are available online and as a printed guide from aviation publishers.  To prepare for the practical exam, you need to thoroughly understand this document.

But…its a confusing document for the uninitiated. The purpose of this web guide is to help you navigate this document, to provide meaning and context to each section, and to help you prepare efficiently for the practical exam. Take note that this guide is focused on preparation for the Airplane Single Engine Land rating, and any sections that pertain to seaplanes will be omitted.

Before we dig in, why don’t you view the oral portion of the practical exam to gain perspective on the style of the oral discussion.

Finished?  Alright, let’s dig into the PTS.