Many of you have done at least one checkride during your time here at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and we are quickly approaching the end of the academic semester in which most students are preparing for a check ride. I’m sure if you compare notes with each other there’d be one thing everyone would agree on. Checkrides are stressful! It requires a pilot to put everything he or she has learned on the line with only one chance to get it right. Here in Flight Standards, we know that checkrides cause stress, which in turn can cause mistakes; therefore we’d like to offer up some hints and tips about passing checkrides in the hope that next time we see you it’s a less stressful and a more positive experience.
Preparation: You hear about it from your instructors, other pilots, and your parents. In Flight Standards we’re no different; preparation is the key to passing a checkride. More specifically, preparation in the following areas:
- Course Standards: Take some time during your course, and before your checkride, to read what is required of you by the course standards. Read the introduction as well, it lists additional knowledge requirements you are responsible for, and those responsibilities you can expect from your check instructor. All of the required knowledge is outlined in these standards so it’s a good idea to be familiar with them prior to the checkride. The course standards can be found in the Flight Course Text Packages, under ERAU Publications, on the flight website at [http://flight.pr.erau.edu/].
- Flight Planning (if required): A flight plan that is completed long before the start of the checkride is usually the one that passes. Upon submitting your stage check request card (SCRC), complete your flight plan as soon as possible. Plan for several hours and take your time to complete a thorough flight plan. Use a copy of the SCRC as a checklist to verify all the appropriate weather products and NOTAMs have been printed and take an additional copy of that weather home with you to study. Verify that your charts are current and present before starting your flight plan. Charts must be current on the day the flight plan was completed, though not required to be current during the oral portion of the checkride. However, a flight plan with updated weather and current charts is required for the flight portion of the checkride.
Stress Management: While stress is an ever present factor during checkrides, taking steps to manage stress will likely increase the chance of positive results. Some ways to manage stress before and during a checkride are:
- Rest: The most often heard comment during checkrides is that the student didn’t sleep well the night prior. The day before a checkride, try and get some exercise to maximize sleep. There are a myriad of factors, including pre-checkride anxiety and duty day start times that influence rest prior to a checkride. The latest you will see your checkride post on the schedule is 3 PM the day prior, however, the activity may pre-post several days in advance. Use the knowledge of the checkride to plan out your days to minimize stress. Beware that during periods of low checkride wait times, you may be scheduled for your checkride on the very first day of your availability.
- Time Management: When submitting your checkride availability, include time on either side of classes to travel to the flight line, get some lunch, etc. Rushing and worrying if you’ll make it to a checkride on time is not a good way to start an already stressful situation. If you have any concerns regarding your checkride availability, call or visit the Flight Line Scheduling Department (ext. 4302) at least two business days in advance to submit changes.
The tips listed above are general suggestions to improve your performance on a checkride. The best overall way to be successful on checkrides is to be well prepared, well in advance. This also includes planning to submit for your checkride well ahead of your planned ‘last day’ here before any upcoming summer plans. Keep in mind, as we approach the end of the semester more and more students will also be submitted for a check ride, which can require several days for Flight Standards to process. Do not rely on the urgency of an airline ticket or a commissioning date to guarantee a check ride to be successfully completed. Plan your training out carefully and with realistic completion dates. Such planning and preparation reduces stress and adds a level of confidence to what is a significant event in your flight training experience, and one you will repeat many times in your flying career. At any time you may have questions about a checkride, feel free to ask a member of the Flight Standards Team or myself at [firstname.lastname@example.org] or ext. 4334.