We are beginning to book tests again, in anticipation of increased “opening up” of the COVID-19 related directives we have been operating under. I (Greg) am pretty busy through June 18, but I am accepting test requests after that. We will test in compliance with whatever restrictions which might be in effect at the time of your test.
So, if you are in need of testing, please contact us!
On January 13, 2020 the FAA implemented changes to how the written tests are scheduled and accomplished. This change caused some confusion for those who were trying to schedule tests around that date, but hopefully the system will become more clear over time.
The instructions provided on the PSI Website are generally the most complete and understandable I have found. Go there for more details. You can also find testing center locations, and do practice tests on that site. It is a great resource.
The basic changes are:
First you need to create an account in IACRA, and obtain a FAA Tracking Number (FTN). The FTN will be required for scheduling the test. Your FTN will remain the same for all future FAA tests, so you will only have to do this once.
Create an account on the PSI website, and schedule your written test.
Additional FAA reference material regarding IACRA and written testing is found here and here.
As with anything aviation-related, testing requires a certain amount of paperwork. Here is a list of the minimum paperwork required to be presented to the examiner before testing begins.
A Government-issued photo ID must be presented to the examiner. For International applicants, this document must be a valid passport.
Two original completed copies of FAA form 8610-2. If applying based on civilian or military experience, these must be signed by an FAA Inspector.
Graduation certificates for applicants testing on the basis of Part 147 training.
Current (less than 24 months old) written test results for applicable ratings.
A completed “Pilot’s Bill of Rights” (may be provided by the examiner).
If previously failed, the previous 8610-2 form(s) must be presented. If the failure was within the last 30 days, a retraining certification signed by a certified mechanic must be included as well.
Current mechanic certificate (if the applicant already holds a certificate with one rating).
Payment, as agreed-upon by the examiner.
Failure to provide these documents will likely result in delay or cancellation of the test. Other documents may be additionally required, depending on the applicant’s exact circumstances. When in doubt, contact your examiner.
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!
Oral and Practical Testing of those seeking a mechanic certificate is required to fulfill the regulatory requirement provided in 14 CFR 65.79, which states:
Each applicant for a mechanic certificate or rating must pass an oral and a practical test on the rating he seeks. The tests cover the applicant’s basic skill in performing practical projects on the subjects covered by the written test for that rating. An applicant for a powerplant rating must show his ability to make satisfactory minor repairs to, and minor alterations of, propellers.
There are just a couple of points that I wish to mention in this short post.
First, note that the mechanic applicant is expected to demonstrate “basic skill” on the test. The standard is high, but it does not require perfection. The question we are trying to answer is, “Is the applicant capable of doing work to a basic (return to service) level?”
Second, every Powerplant test requires that applicants demonstrate their “ability to make satisfactory minor repairs to, and minor alterations of, propellers.” So, every Powerplant test will have a propeller repair task, as well as the requirement to determine whether an alteration is major or minor. It is the one thing an applicant can count on having on a test.
As you study for written tests, there are many resources available – books, apps, websites, etc. We will discuss some of those in future posts.
One resource that is available, and yet hardly known (by students, at least), is the School Norms Report. This report is compiled quarterly by the FAA, and gives written test result statistics for every approved AMT school.
How can this be useful to you? Well, it could help you be better informed when you choose your school, but if you are reading this, it is likely you are pretty much committed to a school already.
But, the other thing the report offers is a glimpse into the subject areas where your school might be a little weak. For example, if your school is below the national average in Fire Protection Systems, perhaps you can put a little more self-study into that area.
The reports look intimidating at first, but it is not that complicated. Download it (it is a pdf), search for your school name, and you will find tables like the one at the top of this post.
The numbers in the columns indicate the average percentage of questions school graduates got correct on the written exams. If the number is red, that means the school average is below the national average in that subject area.
So, for example, if I were a Central Georgia Technical College student (just choosing at random), I would feel a little more confident in Aircraft Covering (100%) than in Communication and Navigation systems (66.7%).
There you go, another tool in your test preparation toolbox!
A common problem we see here at AMT-Testing, is applicants who have gone through school, and then delay several years before testing. This is a big mistake!
The reality is that a person’s knowledge will not improve over time without concerted effort. And, frankly, life just gets busy … too busy to spend the time necessary.
So, graduates who think they will take a couple of months to get “better prepared” usually take a lot longer than they think, and generally end up less prepared, rather than more.
Some, realizing that they are never going to pull it together by themselves after too much time has passed, choose to go to a “Test Prep” course. Sure, that may help, but is paying someone to teach you what you already once learned the best use of your money?
The solution to this is twofold:
First, learn as much as you can in school, don’t waste your time and money! Show up, on time, every day. Give it your best on all projects and tests. Use the school’s resources (instructors, equipment, tools, etc.) as much as you can.
After graduation (or even before), hit the books for a maximum of a week or two. Then do the writtens, and go for the O&P as soon as you practically can.
Your chances for success will be greatly improved if you do these things!