If you needed a 70% to graduate in a whole new subject, you’d never dream of taking a final exam without cracking a single book on the subject or taking a course. The same should go for your FAA Knowledge Tests; especially the new Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating.

Believe it or not, some do. We’ve been an FAA-approved Test Site for 18 years here at Group 3 Aviation. We’ve witnessed many students come in ready to take their tests. These are the folks that pass the first time, and often in record time. The tests really aren’t that difficult for those who know the material and are prepared.

However, we also see an alarmingly high number of folks arrive with no test preparation at all. Having taken a few flights, or even having flown a UAS for years, is still not enough to pass these comprehensive tests that are designed to prove your knowledge of the rules, regulations and penalties of breaking the rules, as well as the flight characteristics of the aircraft. Even for the Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating, which some may think is an easy test, we continue to see people arrive unprepared and fail, costing them time (you must wait two weeks after failing the test to take it again) and the full price of a retest.

Proper FAA Test Prep

Often folks believe purchasing a test prep book, such as those offered by ASA, is enough to prepare for the test. If you are also receiving flight instruction and ground school in addition to studying books designed to fully immerse you in the topic while preparing with your test prep book, this can often provide the preparation you need.

However, if you’ve not been receiving instruction or taking ground school, the test prep is only a piece of the puzzle and should never be used in lieu of proper flight and ground school or self study. The test preps are designed to touch on important details as a refresher for information that could be asked on the test, and the practice questions may not be the ones on your test. They do not go into the depth needed to fully understand a subject and are certainly not designed to teach you everything you need to know to be a safe and responsible pilot, regardless of the aircraft you fly.

We encourage our own flight students to receive their ground and flight training prior to testing, not only so they gain a full working understanding of the material, but also to see how the rules and principles they’re learning are applied. This depth of understanding makes recalling the correct answer in a practical test very easy.

Test Prep for the Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating

An instructor’s sign off isn’t required for this rating, leaving it open for anyone to test without proof of preparation. Sadly, we see a high percentage of first time test failures as a result.

In preparation for this test, we highly recommend students take the time to read the actual FAA documents and applicable parts of a private pilot book in addition to the test prep. By reading through these items, you gain an understanding of how the aviation environment works and why the rules are in place, making test taking easier and increasing the chances you’ll be a safer and more professional pilot. We’ve also provided a few hours of ground school on aviation charts, weather, aeronautical decision making, and the like to those who have requested it in order to properly prepare.

Here are the items we recommend testers review before arriving for the Remote Pilot Certificate with Small UAS Rating test:

The test covers the following topics, for which reading the above will prepare you:

  • Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
  • Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
  • Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
  • Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
  • Emergency procedures
  • Crew resource management
  • Radio communication procedures
  • Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
  • Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
  • Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
  • Airport operations
  • Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures

Remember, every time you take the test, you pay again, and must wait 14 days. It’s well worth the time, and your future in aviation, to properly prepare yourself before taking any FAA Knowledge Test.