I tried to google this and could not find the answer.

For the FAA written exams (private pilot exam, more specifically), how are the 60 questions selected?

I have heard it said that they are dynamically selected as you go, and if you get something wrong, you will be given more questions related to the ones you get wrong.

Does anyone know if this is true? Or are all the questions selected before you begin, and those are the ones you'll answer no matter what you get wrong?


  • $\begingroup$ Where did your hear this? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 21:36

2 Answers 2


No, the questions are not dynamically selected. All of the questions are available at the start of the exam and you can skip around in the testing software to each question at any time.

If you use test prep software like Gleim and others, they have a "test emulation mode" which is very similar to the actual test environment, and you can see how it works. In the screenshot below, you can see that there is a drop-down menu where you can select any question you want to skip to.

Test Environment Simulation

Source: I've taken knowledge tests for Private, Instrument, Commercial, Fundamentals of Instruction, Advanced Ground Instructor, and Flight Instructor exams. They all worked the same way. They present you with number of questions relevant for the exam, accessible through a drop-down menu. I've taken the tests from CATS, LaserGrade, and PSI. The test environment was similar in all of them, although PSI is the only test provider left, I believe.


It's my understanding that when taking the written test (all taken by computer) you can skip questions and return to them later, as well as changing test answers before submitting the test for grading. I think this would make the type of "dynamic" test question selection you mention in your question impossible.

This is how the FAA selects the questions for a particular Airman Knowledge Test:

Source: Airman Testing Questions & Answers - see page 8 (FAA Airman Testing Standards Branch)

Does everyone take the same knowledge test for a particular airman certificate?

No. All knowledge tests for a given airman certificate include questions covering the required knowledge areas, but the sequence and the wording of the specific questions used will vary.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for responding, that's an informative document. But it still doesn't answer my question. I know that the questions are different for everyone, 60 are chosen out of a library of about 1000, but I am wondering exactly how they "vary" $\endgroup$
    – caleb1
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 20:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @caleb1 If the test taker can skip questions and return later to answer, as well as change answers before submitting the test for grading, wouldn't this make the "dynamic" test question selection you are asking about impossible? $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ @caleb1 they "vary" in that there is a pool of around 1000 questions, each question belongs to a subject code, and the computer at the beginning of the test, selects a distributed amount of questions from each category. I'm not sure if there is a formal document of what the ratio of questions are in each category comprise the 60 questions you find in a Private test, but you can be assured you'll get some regarding regulations, some regarding aerodynamics, navigation, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ If you want to see the categories of questions, here is a website that has them: fly8ma.com/… You can see there are more than 60 different codes, so you won't see a question from each one, but you'll see a number questions that fit into the broad categories (like weather, for example.) $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ My initial comment to this answer was made before the answer was edited. (Before it mentioned that you could skip questions). Now that I see the edited version of this answer, it does indeed answer my question, so you can disregard my initial comment. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – caleb1
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 15:53

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