faa-uas

I have just finished taking my part 107 sUAS drone test. I want to share a little about the experience so people know what to expect. 

I began by purchasing the ASA Remote Pilot test prep book off amazon. This came highly recommended from friends with private pilots licenses. They said “ASA is as legit as it gets”. I spent roughly 15 hours of study, going through the book cover to cover. I took 4 of the practice tests using the included online link behind the front cover. I scored 90% or above on every one of those tests. After feeling I had the knowledge needed to pass I went online to Lasergrade.com to sign up for my test and choose a testing location.

I chose to take my test at American Flyers at the Santa Monica airport in California. I arrived 15 minutes early and brought a pencil, and small notebook with me. Turns out I didn’t need any of that as I was not allowed to take anything into the testing room, not even my wallet. The girl at the front desk made a photocopy of my drivers license and wrote down my phone number. I provided her with the my locator # that was given to me when signing up for my test on Lazergrade. She told me to have a seat while she went into the testing room and setup the computer with my info.lasergrade-computer-testing

After a bit she returned and brought me into the testing room. The room was very small, about the size of a walk in closet. It had two testing stations separated by a little cubical wall. The computer program seemed quite dated, its very basic blue screen with white text for the most part. She went over the rules of the test with me. I had 2 hours to complete it, I was going to be video taped by a security camera, if anyone came into the room to take their own test I was not to talk to them, no cheating. While she went over this she had me go through the first few pages of the testing program. These first pages teach you how to take the test, how to go back, how to mark questions to come back to later, etc. Next to the computer there were a few pencils, a few pieces of paper, and some tracing paper. There was also a pilots reference book that had all the figures that would be referenced by the test. The test displayed these figures on screen next to the question, but zooming around to get a good look at the sectionals is difficult on screen. I found it much easier to simply use the reference book.

After her introduction to the test she left and I was on my own. At the end of the introduction to the testing program it asks you two times, “are you sure you are ready to begin your test”. As soon as you click the second yes your testing time begins.

The first questions immediately brought on nerves. While I felt completely prepared before the test and after taking my practice tests, the actual test questions were completely different than any of the practice questions. I would say that there may have been less than 5 questions total with the same or similar wording to my practice tests. I wont go into details of exactly what questions were on the test. But in total there were 63, 3 of the questions are questions the FAA is “considering” adding to the tests. They do not count towards your final score. However you are not told which questions don’t count, and they are scattered throughout the test. To my understanding there is a bank of 200 or so questions that get pulled from to make up the 63 for your test. So each test will vary. The first 20 or so questions of my test were all in regards to CRM (Crew Resource Management) and deciphering which parts or issues with the crew fit into various aspects of management acronyms. The rest of the test dealt primarily with reading sectionals and airspace questions. I will go as far as to say that they try to trick you with the questions. It is my advice to read slowly and carefully. You have 2 hours to complete the test which is more than enough time. There is no reason to speed through it.

After the last question of the test a screen popped up that said there were no more questions left and did I want to end the test. I knew I had marked a few and skipped a few. So i clicked the view button instead of stop and went back to address questions i’d skipped. Once I was satisfied with my answers I clicked stop. A new box popped up that asked for my proctors password. I went and got the girl from the front desk and she came back in and punched in her password. A list of questions that I had answered incorrectly popped up. It was a longer list than I had hoped for. It only listed the questions that I missed, not the answers I had given nor the available answers. She asked if I wanted to look over the list and I did. There was one question that I was surprised I missed. I went back and looked at the sectional and I had made a stupid mistake. The questions roughly said “you want to inspect the towers 4nm sw of XX airport”. How high AGL are you legally able to fly over the towers. You are allowed to fly 400 ft over towers when within 400 ft of them. So I incorrectly answered 400ft. This is why I say go slowly and read the questions carefully, I did a “oh I got that”‘ and clicked quickly and moved on. I forgot to account for the height of the tower and add that to my 400ft limit. A silly mistake.

After reviewing my missed questions. I got the proctor again and she entered her password once more. I was then given a score. 85%. Not the score I was hoping for but a solidly passing score. We then went to the front desk where I was given back the items I wasn’t allowed to take into the testing room. She printed out my test report that contains my exam id, exam site, applicant id, etc. I was also given another sheet with instructions on how to complete my license application. I needed to wait 24-48hrs for my test to appear in the FAA IACRA database. Then go online and enter my info to finish applying for my license.

So that was my experience taking the FAA part 107 sUAS drone exam. I highly highly recommend the ASA remote pilot test prep as well as generic online studying. I would recommend knowing absolutely everything about sectionals. There were more than 2 questions about sectionals that were not covered in my ASA book. If you see something on a sectional that you don’t fully understand, use the information available online to find the answers. If you do that you should have no trouble passing the test!

Happy flying!

Blue Yonder