Often as examiners we encounter applicants who are worried about whether they might fail, and what might happen if they do. In this short post I would like to discuss that fear a little, and explain what happens in the case of failure.
First of all, yes some applicants fail. I have seen some very sharp, intelligent, and well-qualified applicants make some silly mistakes, resulting in failure. It does happen, but failure is not the end of the road. As I often say, failure is just temporary.
Any failure will require a retest if certification is desired. What the retest will look like depends on whether the applicant failed a Practical or Oral portion of the exam.
Failure of a Practical Task
Any failure of a Practical task results in the failure of the Practical portion of the applicable Section of the exam (General has one Section, Airframe and Powerplant have two Sections each). The retest therefore will cover the Section failed, not just the Subject Area failed.
For example, suppose an applicant fails Section I.A. Basic Electricity, on a task which required demonstrating the use of an ohmmeter. This will result in the failure of the General Practical, and a retest will first require that the applicant pass the task previously failed, which will then be followed by a new full General Practical test.
Failure of a Oral Subject
If an applicant misses too many Oral questions in a Subject Area, resulting in a score of less than 70%, that Subject Area and Oral Section are failed. The retest will therefore be on the whole Oral Section.
So, for example, if an applicant does fine on all Subject Areas except Mechanic Privileges and Limitations, the retest will still be a full General Oral test, covering even the subject areas previously passed.
So, if I fail, what next?
As stated above, it happens. Time to hit the books, review, and plan for a retest. Don’t let a temporary setback knock you down.
Your examiner will explain to you the process and the cost of the retest, but the short version is that if you want to do it within the 30 days following failure, it will require a signed statement from a certificated mechanic who attests that he or she has retrained you and finds you ready for retesting. Or, should you prefer, you can wait 30 days, after which you are free to retest without that certification.
Some examiners do free retests. I (Greg) once did, but those were different days, and retests were much simpler. Today, a retest is as much work as the original test, so I charge the same fee (currently $50 for an Oral, $100 for a Practical, subject to change).
In summary, yes, sometimes tests are failed, but there is a process for getting through that. Failure is only temporary!