How old do I have to be to take the recreational pilot or private pilot written test?

At least 15 years old. If you want to pilot a balloon or glider, you must be at least 14 years old. Before taking the knowledge test, you may have to show proof of age, such as a birth certificate.

How should I prepare for the knowledge test?

You should study the materials identified by your flight instructor or included in a home-study course. For the recreational pilot test, the materials are based on section 61.97 of FAA's rules. For the private pilot test, the materials are based on section 61.105 of FAA's rules.

What document or documents must I present before taking a knowledge test?

You have to present identification that includes your photograph, signature, and home address. Any one of the following:

  • A certificate of graduation from a pilot training course conducted by an FAA-approved pilot school, or a statement of accomplishment from the school certifying the satisfactory completion of the ground-school portion of such a course
  • A written statement from an FAA-certified ground or flight instructor, certifying that you have satisfactorily completed the required ground instruction
  • Logbook entries by an FAA-certified ground or flight instructor, certifying satisfactory completion of the required ground instruction
  • A certificate of graduation or statement of accomplishment from a ground school course conducted by an agency such as a high school, college, adult education program, the Civil Air Patrol, or an ROTC Flight Training Program
  • A certificate of graduation from a home-study course developed by the aeronautical enterprise providing the study material

If you can't provide any of the above items, you can have the home-study course you have completed reviewed by an FAA inspector to assure you are competent to take the desired knowledge test. Contact the local FAA Flight Standards District Office to get an appointment with an FAA inspector. The inspector will review your study material and may question you on some of the material. If you are found qualified to take the test, the inspector will issue FAA Form 8060-7, Airman's Authorization for Written Test. You must present this form when you take your knowledge examination.

If you have to take the test over again, you must present either the unsatisfactory AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report, or an airman computer test report (if the test was taken at an FAA-designated computer testing center).

If I fail the knowledge test, is there any way to determine the areas in which I need additional work so I can study for a retest?

Yes. You will receive either AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report, or an airman computer test report (if the test was taken at an FAA-designated computer testing center). The test report will contain your test score and will also list the subject matter codes for the knowledge areas in which you were found deficient. An outline of the subject matter codes is located in the appendix of each written test book. You may refer to the appropriate written test book to determine the areas in which further study is needed.

If I pass the knowledge test, will I receive the same information concerning weak areas as I would if I failed the test?

Yes. (Refer to the previous answer.)

How long is a satisfactorily completed knowledge test valid?

A satisfactorily completed knowledge test expires two years from the day it was taken. If a practical test is not satisfactorily completed during that period, another knowledge test must be taken.

Will my instructor review the areas in which the test report showed I was deficient?

Yes. Your instructor must review the areas in which you were deficient and must endorse the written test report or provide a written endorsement indicating this review has been completed.