This week I am super excited because I now have my remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. I wanted to tell you a little bit about my experience, how I studied, and what to expect.
I took the test in Oakland, Calfornia at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance. There are nearly 700 FAA-approved testing centers around the U.S.!
While most testing centers do take walk-ins, it’s best if you call ahead. The FAA has designated two private companies to administer the test— either Computer Assisted Testing Service (also known as cats) or PSI / LaserGrade Computer Testing. I chose LaserGrade just because it’s the closest to where I live.
Call the testing center, where you should be prepared to select your test date, tell them which location you want, and have your credit card on hand to take the test. It does cost $150, which goes to the testing facility.
Then, bring ID. You need to bring proof of residency, so if you still haven’t updated your driver’s license address from your parent’s house (like me), then make sure you bring a water or electricity bill to prove your current address.
They’ll provide you with a pen, scratch paper and calculator, but if you would rather bring your own approved calculator, you’re allowed to do that. You’re even allowed to bring in your own magnifying class!
I showed up on test day, and everyone was super nice! I had to wait a bit for them to set up, and then was walked into the testing room. They had a computer where I took the test. They gave me an overview of how to use the very basic testing software, and then they left the room. There was a camera for the test proctor to observe me from outside. They give you 2 hours to take the test, but I took up about one hour.
There are 60 official questions on the test, but here’s something I didn’t know: they actually throw in a few test questions that the FAA themselves are testing out. You don’t know which ones they are and they aren’t counted toward your score, But I ended up having 63 test questions (with only 60 counted in my score).
My test was a lot of sectional charts. I had two questions on METARs. I also had random physiology questions like:
- 14 CFR Part 91 requires that your blood alcohol level be less than
- .04 percent
- .06 percent
- .08 percent
Once I waived my hand for the camera to indicate I was finished, the test proctor came in and we looked at my final score. I passed!!
So let me tell you how I studied:
However, if you, like me, are better at listening than reading, you may want to consider an online course. There are tons of great study courses that I will link to below this video including UAV Ground School (save $25 with coupon code DRONEGIRL) and Drone Pilot Ground School. I used Drone Pilot Ground School —a choice I made simply because they were the first company to approach me and let me know that online study courses even existed! The teacher Alan has hours and hours of videos, multiple practice tests for each section and multiple final exams too. But I passed using Drone Pilot Ground School, so I definitely recommend it!
The FAA test is a lot like taking that drivers ed test — you definitely have to study. Cramming 2 hours before the test is really not enough to pass. Depending on your prior knowledge and study habits, you’ll definitely want to devote at least a weekend to really studying for this test. There is a lot of information in here like airport operations and weather that could be completely new information to even the best drone pilots.
While it was definitely tough, it’s worth taking. Passing this test is your first entry into the safest airspace in the world. And it feels awesome to have that certificate proving you have substantial knowledge of our airspace.
So what are you waiting for? Happy studying, and happy flying!
FTC Disclaimer: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.