FAA Addresses Test Problems

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Flight instructors complained when unannounced changes to FAA knowledge tests led to a spike in student failures, and now the FAA has agreed to make changes in one test and revise the grades of students who got some questions wrong. Representatives of AOPA, the National Association of Flight Instructors, several university aviation programs, and others met with the FAA in Oklahoma City for two days earlier this month to discuss the problem. The FAA said it will withdraw six questions from the test bank for the Fundamentals of Instruction test, which is required for all applicants for flight and ground instructor certificates, and will change the grades of students who got the disputed questions wrong. The FAA will also review an additional 12 questions that were identified as ambiguous.

The FAA said in a follow-up email to participants in the meeting that in the future it will involve the flight-training industry and academics in the process of developing revisions to test banks and resource documents. The agency also said it will develop more detailed test guides to make it easier for instructors and students to prepare. Also, the FAA will notify all applicants who failed the FOI test if the changes now give them a passing grade. AOPA added that all applicants for the FOI test should study using the 2008 edition of the Aviation Instructor's Handbook (PDF), which as of February this year is the source of all questions on the exam.