Advice on CFI-A practical prep

Delta Fox

Well-Known Member
I recently restored a C-172B and plan to use it to finally finish my CFI and start instructing. I passed my written (almost 2 years ago) and have the AGI. Does anyone have any advice on practical test preps or local programs/schools in the Austin area? I want a thorough recap of all the subjects, but also want to be efficient with time and money.

Sky Dog

New Member
That's a beautiful plane. That alone should attract some students.

As for prepping for the checkride, I'm partial to ASA checkride apps (they have iOS and Android versions). I haven't used the Flight Instructor Checkride app, but I recommend the Private Pilot Checkride and Instrument Pilot Checkride apps to my students. I used the Instrument Pilot Checkride app to prep for my CFII ride and the Multi-Engine Pilot Checkride app for my AMEL and MEI rides. The apps provide questions that you're likely to be asked during your oral along with fully explained answers. You can mark questions you want to review again later, then go though just the marked questions.

For the CFI oral, the one thing they can't do is help you teach. The best thing to do there is to have a non-pilot friend help you out. Use a whiteboard and a small model plane to teach basic aerodynamics so that a non-pilot can understand it. Keep your explanations simple and to the point, but make sure you have the knowledge to delve deeper should you be asked. For example, teaching how an airplane turns, use your airplane model with a finger showing where the lift is going. Bank the plane and show how your finger (the lift) is now pointing both up and in the direction of the turn. Explain that lift is what moves the plane around the turn. You need to understand how to split the lift vector into vertical and horizontal components, but for the average non-pilot, that gets a little confusing. Much easier to explain with the airplane model and your finger representing the lift vector. Figure out how to do that kind of explanation for all the basics and you'll have the oral licked. Remember that the CFI checkride isn't testing you on your knowledge, but rather on your ability to convey that knowledge to a student pilot.

The flight portion should be pretty straight forward. Just be able to fly all the maneuvers from the private and commercial ACS's to commercial standards while explaining what you're doing. Personally, I would recommend giving a brief explanation of the maneuver, then execute the maneuver as you explain it again. For example, for a steep turn: "As we talked about on the ground, after our clearing turns, we're going to roll into a 45-degree bank and, as we pass about 30 degrees, we'll add two turns of nose-up trim. As we make our way through the turn, we'll see where the horizon crosses the cowling and try to hold it there, making small adjustments as we go." Then execute the steep turn, repeating the same items as you do them. Practice that with every maneuver until it's second nature, and you'll breeze through the flight portion. And don't forget your clearing turns!

Most important on the flight portion: if you screw up a maneuver, explain what you did wrong ("This is what happens when you don't have enough back pressure (nose-up trim) during your steep turn. To correct it, we'll shallow the bank, raise the nose, then reestablish our bank angle.") For this checkride, it's not enough to recognize the error and correct it: you need to explain to the student how to recognize and correct the problem.

And remember that the examiner wants you to pass. Don't give him (or her) a reason to fail you, and you should do fine. If you can talk to other instructors who used the same examiner for their CFI ride you can learn what his or her hot topics are, which may help you. Be conversational during the oral. If it degrades into a question and answer session, it will probably go on for a long time. A good examiner will know very quickly whether or not you can teach the material, so he'll be able to focus on how you handle the difficult questions. Know where to find the answer to anything you might not know. Don't ever try to BS your way through an answer. ("That's a great question. I'm not sure off the top of my head, but here's where we can find that answer." Then find the answer and discuss it.) A good instructor doesn't know everything but does know how to get the answer.

Hope that helps. Good luck on your checkride!

Delta Fox

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Sky Dog. All great info. I was thinking of getting one of those model teaching airplanes, that's a good idea to practice explanations. I'll look into ASA. I've used their hardcopy oral preps before.