The FAA will immediately reverse some of the changes made to the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) knowledge test, review others, and regrade tests taken since February when pass rates plummeted.
The reversal comes after FAA officials met in early May in Oklahoma City with officials from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), and experts in test writing and validation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Liberty University, the Professional Aviation Board of Certification, University of North Dakota, University of Oklahoma, and Western Michigan University. The meeting was in response to unannounced changes to the tests, which made it difficult for applicants to prepare for the exams, according to AOPA officials.
The FAA officials said that the agency would immediately remove six questions from the FOI test. Pilots who missed the six now-withdrawn questions will receive retroactive credit for their answers. If answering any of those six questions incorrectly resulted in failing the test, the grade will be changed to a passing score, FAA officials added.
The FAA will notify each pilot whose test score will change from failing to passing. If a pilot retook the test after failing because of a withdrawn question, and subsequently passed, the pilot’s record will be adjusted to show passage on the first try.
FAA officials also noted that they will review 12 other exam questions identified as “ambiguous” by the flight training officials attending the meeting.
In addition to the test-question review, experts from the various universities also addressed test question development and validation, providing feedback on some methods of test development that are generally accepted in the educational community.
“The FAA intends to involve the flight training industry and academia in the process of developing future revisions to testing and guidance documents,” said the FAA’s Stanley Roberts in an email sent to participants. “The FAA is also developing more detailed knowledge test guides to assist airmen and aviation instructors in preparing for knowledge exams.”
“NAFI strongly supports the continued effort of the FAA to ensure a testing process that accurately evaluates applicants’ understanding of relevant material,” said Jason Blair, the organization’s executive director. “Both the FAA staff and industry representatives strongly support an approach where students study for airman knowledge tests by developing their knowledge of the material, not by studying specific test questions. We’re working together to create an understanding of how to best prepare applicants for tests while improving overall knowledge and safety in our aviation system.”