PPL Written Test

I’m going to be graduating High School this spring and will be attending a university that has a highly regarded aviation program. I was told by some private pilots I’ve met that it would help if I had my PPL prior to entering school. I found a flight school and completed my flight hours (59) and was told to take the written. Over the past couple of months, I found it hard to find the time to study for the test while continuing with my High School commitments and keeping my honor roll status. Despite scoring in the 80’s and even low 90’s on practice tests, I ended up getting a 69 on the written and didn’t even understand some of the question topics. I know realize I should’ve never done this with my schedule being what it is and I’d be better off in a classroom environment. I plan to enter college in the fall and get my degree and a minor in a non related field. I’ll now finish my PPL through the university. Because I’ll likely have a little over 100 hours of flight time and repeated a lot of that material, I’ve been told I’ll likely have a red flag raised when I try to apply for jobs in four years. Is this true and how much will this failed test follow me in the future? As crazy as it sounds, I’ve even thought about starting all over with a new log book but I’m sure the FAA has a record of my time. I’m afraid I screwed up my future career. Thank you for your advise.


What you’re explaining are perfect examples of why we believe there are better routes than your local flight school and also flight training should be done independently of school etc. Regardless, you’re here.

The good news is you really have nothing to worry about and whoever told you there’s a “red flag” doesn’t know what their talking about. There are many pilots who take a while and many hours to earn their writtens (my self included). While I didn’t struggle with anything, for me it was a matter of finding the time to fly while I was working. In the end I had close to 100hrs spread over 2-3yrs. While this was incredibly inefficient, it never impacted my career and today I’m a Capt at a Major airline.

What I’d be more concerned about is why you got a 69 on your written? When you take your practical it’ll show you took the exam twice and that will prompt a conversation with the examiner (you can expect a very thorough oral exam). You said you didn’t understand some of the questions which is surprising because the practice exams all use actual questions. The written tests are hard, they simply require you to put in the time studying. Consistent practice scores in the 80s means there are areas of weakness you need to remedy before you take the actual test.



This will have zero impact on your career moving forward. That being said, you need to figure out why you are scoring so poorly on the written exam. Practice scores in the 80s and low 90s are not sufficient, you should have scores in the high 90s. Whatever method you are using to study needs to change.

I am curious, why are you getting an aviation degree? The vast majority of airline pilots have degrees, but not aviation degrees. Aviation colleges tend to be very expensive and can take a long time to get all of your ratings. Please check out the FAQ section on this website as there is a detailed post there on the various paths to the airlines.