How do I prepare for a knowledge test retake?
Daniel is a student pilot with a good question that’s prompted by an unfortunate circumstance:
I took my Private Pilot Knowledge Test in September [and] failed it. I got a 55% and haven’t been able to talk to the CFI whom I studied with… what do I do? Do I go through another course with another CFI to study again to get re-endorsed, go back in to re-take the test asap, or what?
This is actually a little tricky, and it’s a slightly awkward question to answer. First off, call your CFI and tell him how you did. Regardless of how else you move forward from here, he is required by the FAA to keep a record of how his students do on knowledge and practical tests.
Now, I don’t know how you studied, or how many practice exams you took, so it’s hard to say for certain… but from where I’m standing your results rest primarily on the shoulders of your CFI. It’s obviously a two-way street—as somebody who doesn’t love digging into textbooks, I can readily admit that students don’t always study as hard as they ought to—but instructors can drop the ball too. That said, he really shouldn’t have endorsed you unless you were well and truly prepared. I require my students to bring me the results of several practice tests (I typically recommend webexams.com) before I will sign them off, and my standards are pretty high: 3 consecutive scores of 90% or better, or 4 of 85% or better. Once those standards are reached, they get the endorsement. I haven’t had a failure yet.
Again, I don’t know what you used as study materials, but Gleim‘s big red test prep books have served me and my students very well across dozens of written exams. I would suggest taking some time on your own to review the books and run a good half dozen or more practice exams before returning to a CFI, whether you stick with your existing instructor or find a new one. If you decide to go with a new instructor, and you’re at a flight school with several instructors, talk to other students or an administrator about who they would recommend; consider asking up front about their historical pass rate. Whatever you choose, good luck!