Retest for that FAA Practical Test on the Same Day? Why Perhaps You Shouldn’t.

You just botched that short field landing on your private pilot test. Ugg. The examiner issued you a notice of disapproval. What do you do now?

Ask the examiner to let you try it again?

Well, they can’t let you do that, but you will get another chance at it when you retest.

How about retesting in the same day?

Technically, it is an option. But is it a good option? Now that’s where the discussion begins.

An applicant who has been issued a notice of disapproval for failing to meet the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) / Practical Test Standards (PTS) is required to get training in the area of the failure and be signed back off by an authorized instructor before they can retest. But technically, that can be done in the same day.

So, should you as an applicant or as an instructor set that process moving forward and try again the same day?

I know I have asked that question a couple times now, so let’s get to the point.

If you legitimately failed to meet the standards, are you really going to be proficient if you just get signed off again or are you just hoping to get lucky and get it right the next time?

An examiner isn’t looking for an applicant to “get lucky” and get it right. They are looking for an applicant to be able to consistently perform in a manner that exceeds the minimum FAA standards that are set.

Whether or not you even consider trying to “retest” on the same day, or even the next day, should be something you think about critically.

Are you really ready and just had a momentary botch, or is there something you legitimately need to brush up on to meet all the required standards.

A minor flub on a flight portion such as landing a little short on a short field landing, or straying outside the altitude requirements for a steep turn is very different than not knowing an entire maneuver or failing on ground knowledge portions of a test.

I have had applicants who were significantly deficient in knowledge areas attempt to retest the same day or a day or two later after failing on the ground portion. These typically don’t go well. In fact, as an examiner, I have declined to retest some of these and stepped into the “counseling” role and recommended a better plan to properly prepare for the retest.

Examiners aren’t looking to fail people, but sometimes people can’t help but fail themselves if we are honest.

We all want to get our practical tests done, but if something does happen that you end up with a disapproval, take the time to think about how best to prepare for the retest.

Just giving it a try again and hoping to get lucky probably isn’t the best plan.

As an examiner, when someone asks us to retest in the same day, we also have to think carefully. We have some paperwork and documentation efforts to make happen before we can even do it, but even if we do, many of us will be cautious to say yes. Before you ask us to do that, think about if you really should ask us to.

In those times that I have done a retest in the same day, when it has been a legitimate “brain hiccup” moment, it has typically gone well. An example of this might include a case or two where I have had applicants miss something like a failed gear light simulation prior to landing.

In the cases where it was a legitimate skill demonstration or knowledge concern, a rapid retest has in some cases resulted in a pass, but in some it has just generated a second notice of disapproval.

Failing twice is certainly less fun.

So, before you try to “retest” on the same day or the next day, be sure what you are asking to do is not just hoping to get lucky the second time.

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About Jason Blair

Jason Blair is an active single and multiengine instructor and an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner with over 6,000 hours total time, over 3,000 hours of instruction given, and more than 3000 hours in aircraft as a DPE. In his role as Examiner, over 2,000 pilot certificates have been issued. He has worked for and continues to work with multiple aviation associations with the work focusing on pilot training and testing. His experience as a pilot and instructor spans nearly 20 years and includes over 100 makes and models of aircraft flown. Jason Blair has published works in many aviation publications with a focus on training and safety.

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