Is The FAA Private Pilot Written Exam Hard?

Are you looking to become a private pilot? If yes, then you should prepare well for the FAA Private Pilot Written Exam (FPWE).

This test is designed to ensure that pilots meet minimum requirements to navigate an aircraft safely.

Is The FAA Private Pilot Written Exam Hard

If you are planning on taking the FPWE, here are some of our top tips on how to study for the test.

The FAA Private Pilot Written Test

The written exam to obtain your PPL contains 60 multiple choice questions, so you can choose out of 3 answers.

You have a maximum of 2.5 hours to answer all questions, and your pass score needs to be a minimum of 70%.

If you fail this test, you will need to take it again within 90 days.

Requirements For Taking The PPL Written Exam

To get started with preparing for the FPWE, first check whether you qualify to take the test.


Minimum age to apply for an FAA Private Pilot License is 15 years old.

Language Requirements

You must speak English in order to take the FPWE. You need to be able to write, read and speak the English language, as this is essential for the testing process.

Instructor Endorsement

In addition to the age and language requirements, you will also need an endorsement from an authorized flight instructor who can certify that you have fulfilled ground training or a study course.

He will also need to certify that you are prepared for the upcoming test.

This can be in form of a written statement, or a statement of accomplishment. You can also provide a certificate of graduation to support your case.


You will need to provide proof of identity when applying for the FPWE. This can be an ID card or passport which clearly states your name, signature, date  of birth and address.

The identification proof should also show your photograph.

Non-US citizens need to provide their passport and a US driver license.

For everyone without an acceptable form of identification and below the age of 18, a legal guardian or parent will need to accompany them to provide proof of identity.

How To Register For Your FAA Private Pilot Written Test

Once you’ve met the above requirements, you can register for the FPWE by visiting the FAA website.

But first, you will need to get an FAA Tracking Number, also called FTN. You can get this number from the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application website.

Once you have your FTN, you then need to create an account on the PSI Exam website. You will be asked to fill in a basic form, with your email, FTN and date of birth.

You can then schedule your exam easily on the PSI Exam website, or you can contact their customer service team.

How Much Does The Written PPL Exam Cost?

The cost of the FPWE varies depending on the flight schools where the test takes place. Most fees for the written knowledge test vary between $175 and $150. 

However, these costs will likely go up in the future, so check the PSI Exam website or contact their customer service to find out about the exact fees.

Where Can You Take Your PPL Written Exam?

There are a number of FAA approved centers around the country. They are usually either fixed-base operators or flight schools.

Take a look at the PSI Exam website to find a test center near you. You can also see practice exams on there.

When Is The Best Time To Take Your PPL Written Knowledge Test?

Since it is a written test, you don’t really have any restrictions regarding time or day. However, most instructors advise that you take your written exam before you start your flight training.

This makes sense as you will need to have a good knowledge already before flying, and you also don’t want to study as well as going through your flight training.

How To Prepare For The FAA Private Pilot Written Exam

How To Prepare For The FAA Private Pilot Written Exam

Now that you know how much it costs and what you need to do to prepare for the test, let’s talk about some ways to prepare.

Double-Check The Requirements

First off, make sure you meet all the requirements needed to take the test. It’s one that you can forget about, but it’s essential that you have all the correct documents in place before you take your test.

Ideally, you should gather all documents before you schedule your test date.

Decide On Your Learning Style

If you want to pass the test, you need to figure out what type of learning style works best for you. Some people learn better through reading, while others prefer something more visual.

If you are a visual learner, then it’s best to try a video course. On the other hand, if you learn better through listening to something, then an audiobook is perfect.

Although the majority are visual learners, it’s important to understand your learning style. Try to experiment and see what works for you.

There are many resources available online, but the best resource is the prep exams and tests provided directly by the FAA.

These tests are free and give you an idea of what the actual test is like.

You should also get the FAA Study Guide which contains information about the different types of questions, as well as tips on how to answer them. It also has sample answers and explanations.

Invest In Good Private Pilot Ground Training

Ground training is extremely essential when preparing for the private pilot license exam. If you don’t have any ground time, then you won’t be prepared for the test.

Make sure you spend enough time practicing the skills required for the exam with your instructor. 

This is not just the basis for your flight knowledge but also your safety, so it is essential that you invest in the best quality ground training course.

Most flight schools offer class-room courses, which are more expensive. However, you will also be able to find good online ground courses from online ground schools, like Pilotinstitute.

The ground training should teach you the basics of weather, navigation, aeronautical knowledge and other essential aspects of aviation (see also “How To Get Into Aviation“).

Create A Study Schedule And Stick To It

Once you’ve decided on your study plan, create a schedule and stick to it. Don’t leave it until the last minute because this could mean you miss out on valuable studying time.

Make sure you set aside time each day to focus on your studies. This may mean even studying after work or taking a break during the day.

It’s also important to keep yourself motivated throughout the process. Set goals and reward yourself once they’re achieved.

On The Day Of Your Written PPL Exam

Don’t underestimate the importance of having everything ready on the day of your written exam.

You’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes early to ensure you have plenty of time to mentally prepare and sit down calmly.

Make sure that you read each question carefully, and answer each question. If you are not sure, it’s better to make a good guess than leaving it blank.

Remember that you have only 2 minutes for each question, so don’t spend too much time on one question.

At the end of the exam, make sure that you still have time to double-check all your answers.

And lastly, this should go without saying, you should not even try to cheat.

If you are caught cheating, you will not be able to resit your exam for another year, and the FAA may even revoke any of the ratings you already hold at this point in time.


Ultimately, the private pilot written exam is not hard, if you  prepare yourself well enough.

And it is important that you remember that this exam is not just another knowledge test. It is the foundation for safe flying in the future.

Jacob Stern
Latest posts by Jacob Stern (see all)