How Many Fail The PPL Test?

The PPL (or Private Pilot License) is an internationally recognized certification you’ll need to get if you’re considering becoming an airline pilot.

How Many Fail The PPL Test

The test consists of two parts: a written exam and a flight simulator test.

Holding the PPL certification proves that you have a foundational knowledge and skills necessary to become a fully fledged airline pilot.

It also means that you can fly in most countries, which will open up many more career opportunities for you.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the PPL test, including the requirements for taking the PPL test, some general FAQ questions regarding the test, and taking a look at the pass/fail rate for the PPL test.

So if you’re considering a career as an airline pilot, or are just simply curious about the PPL test, read one and see what it’s all about!

What Are The Requirements For The PPL Test?

Like with nearly all qualifications, there are certain prerequisites for being eligible to take the PPL test.

Thankfully, as the PPL is a foundational certification, the requirements for the course are relatively uncomplicated.

In terms of age, you must be at least 16 years old to fly solo, but over the age of 17 in order to receive your private pilot certificate.

As with most internationally recognized qualifications, you’ll need to be able to read, write, speak and understand English. There is also a requirement for any potential applicants to be able to perform basic arithmetic, including adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

You’ll also need to be physically fit enough to complete the required maneuvers during the test itself. As such, you’ll need to have a third class medical certificate at minimum.

There are no specific weight limits set by the FAA for the PPL test, however, there are minimum height and eye-sight requirements.

You should also note that the FAA requires that both eyesight and hearing be within normal range.

If you do not meet these requirements, then you may still be allowed to apply for the test, provided that you’ve been medically cleared and passed the appropriate vision and hearing tests.

However, you’ll need to make sure that you meet the other requirements before applying.

What Documentation Do I Need To Take With Me To The Test?

When you arrive at the test center, you’ll need to present some form of identification. This identification will need to include your photography, a signature, and your home address.

Along with your ID, you’ll also need to produce any one of the following:

  • Logbook entries which certify completed requirements of ground instruction (this will need to be from a FAA certified ground/flight instructor.
  • Certificate of graduation from a FAA-approved pilot school, which demonstrates completion of a pilot training course. This can also be a statement of accomplishment from the school.
  • A statement written and signed by a FAA-certified ground/flight instructor which proves you have completed the required groundwork.
  • A high school, college, adult education program, Civil Air Patrol, or ROTC Flight Training Program certificate proving completion of a ground school course.

If this is your second attempt at the test, you’ll also be required to present either an Airman Written Test Report, unsatisfactory AC Form 8080-2, or an airman computer test report.

The FAA recommends taking the test on a day when you feel comfortable flying. If you don’t feel confident, then you may want to consider waiting until you’re more experienced.

Do You Get Any Feedback If You Fail The PPL Exam?

As we mentioned, you should receive an unsatisfactory AC Form 8080-2, an airman computer test report, or an Airman Written Test Report if you fail the PPL exam.

Whilst you’ll need to take this report to your next PPL exam attempt as proof of the first attempt, it also includes your test score along with subject matter codes which highlight areas of knowledge gaps.

This means that you won’t need to repeat the entire test again, but rather just focus on the areas where you didn’t pass.

Can I Still Pass The PPL Exam After Failing It Once?

Yes! In fact, many people who failed their initial PPL exam once did so because they were too nervous to perform well.

Once you’ve had time to calm down, you’ll find that you can actually pass the test without having to retake the whole thing.

You’ll only need to retest in those areas where you weren’t able to demonstrate proficiency during the previous attempt.

So, instead of having to start over, you can simply retest on the areas that led to you failing the exam. So, once you have calmed your nerves, you can go back and try again!

What Happens If I Don’t Pass My First Attempt At The PPL Exam?

There are two options available after failing your first attempt at the PPL exam. The first option is to wait until you’ve had enough time to relax and prepare for your next attempt.

The second option is to take a refresher course. These courses are offered by private flight schools and cover topics such as weather, aircraft systems, instrument approaches, and emergency procedures.

These courses are not mandatory, though they do provide a good opportunity to refresh your memory before attempting the test again.

How Difficult Is The PPL Exam?

This can be a difficult question to answer, as everyone is different, so the metric for measuring the difficulty of the PPL exam changes from person to person.

In general, takers of the PPL exam report that the test isn’t difficult. That being said, there’s no way to tell which training course they underwent. The quality of the training course is fundamental in equipping you with all the knowledge needed to pass the exam.

So How Many People Fail The PPL Test?

Well, it’s not easy to find out exactly because there are no official statistics on this.

But we do know that the average pass rate for the first attempt at the test was around 87% in 2019 and 100% by the third attempt.

This first figure jumped to 91% in 2020, with the second figure remaining the same at 100% for third attempts.

These figures imply that the fail rate of the PPL exam was 13% on the first attempt in 2019, this dropped to 9% in 2020.

In terms of an exact number, there are no figures which tell us how many people took the PPL exam, so it’s difficult to say for sure the number of people who failed the test.


It’s important to remember that the PPL exam is designed to ensure that pilots have the skills necessary to fly safely in controlled airspace.

However, it’s also essential to note that the test doesn’t measure whether someone has the ability to become a pilot or not.

If you’re struggling to pass the test, then you should consider taking a refresher course. This will help you prepare for your next attempt and give you the chance to learn more about aviation safety.

Jacob Stern
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