As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. All product links on this page are advertisements.
How to Prepare For and Pass the FAA Part 107 Test
The question of what's the best way study for the Part 107 test comes up frequently on Reddit and other online forums for aspiring commercial drone pilots. There's a good reason for that.
United States law requires people who fly drones for pay, compensation, or any other reason besides recreation, to pass a knowledge test to obtain a Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Among drone pilots this is referred to as being "107 certified" or "having my 107." The "107" refers to the part of the Federal Aviation Regulations, 14 CFR Part 107, dealing with Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).
Once you "have your 107," you are legally authorized to operate drones for commercial, non-recreational purposes. The certificate, therefore, is commonly referred to as a "Commercial Drone Pilot License." The correct term, however, is Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aircraft System rating.
By the way, the FAA's view of "compensation" is quite broad. It includes direct payments, advertising revenue, endorsements, sponsorships, barter, merchandise, or anything else of value. So if you upload drone videos to YouTube or any other monetized platform with the intention of making money, you need to be certificated as a remote pilot. The same is true if you publish reviews of drones that manufacturers send you. The drone itself and your being able to use it for free are considered compensation.
In a nutshell, if money or anything of value changes hands, then chances are that the FAA will consider it compensation.
What Exactly is Part 107, Anyway?
Part 107 refers to the U.S. law that regulates Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), 14 CFR Part 107, which can be found here. It regulates the operation of all unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds (24.94kg).
You can do a lot of damage with a drone of just under 55 pounds, and the difficulty of the test reflects that. Even though the drone you fly recreationally may be tiny, the Part 107 license allows you to fly much bigger aircraft than a Mavic Air 2s or an Autel EVO II Pro 6K, just as examples.
Because the certificate will allow you to operate flying machines that can do damage or cause injury, the test is no joke. If you don't prepare for it, you almost certainly will fail: and you will not get a refund on your testing fee. You'll have to pay to take the test all over again.
This page is intended to help people who have little or no prior aviation experience decide how to prepare for the FAA Part 107 examination so they'll pass it the first time around.
Eligibility Requirements for FAA Part 107 Certification
If you already are certificated as a Part 61 pilot and have had a flight review in the past 24 months, you can get your Part 107 certificate by taking an online course provided by the FAA. You don't need to take any additional courses or examinations.
If you're not already certificated as a Part 61 pilot (or if you haven't had a flight review in the past 24 months), then the requirements to obtain a Part 107 certificate are:
- Be at least 16 years of age. You can take the test as early as age 14, but you can't be issued a Part 107 pilot certificate until you are 16.
- Be able to speak, read, write, and understand the English language.
- Self-certify that you are in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a UAS. (There is no medical exam required at this time.)
- Pass a sit-down aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center. There is no practical test at the time of this revision.
- Successfully complete a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background screening. TSA will check whether you're on any terrorism watch lists or have any disqualifying criminal convictions. This will be done automatically once you pass the FAA test and apply for the certificate.
Candidates who already hold Part 61 pilot certificates (or certain other FAA certificates) have already been screened by TSA, whether they realize it or not, which will speed up the process a bit.
At the time of this revision, you do not have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for a Part 107 pilot certificate. You do have to be able to prove your identity and address, however; so if your identity documents are from your home country, check with the testing center to make sure they will be acceptable.
What's on the FAA Part 107 Test?
The Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge test is very similar to the Private Pilot Aeronautical Knowledge test, except without the navigation questions and with different rules and regulations questions. Specifically, according to the FAA, you will be tested on:
- Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
- Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
- Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
- Emergency procedures
- Crew resource management
- Radio communication procedures
- Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
- Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
- Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
- Airport operations
- Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
- Operation at night
What Are the Hardest Parts of the Part 107 Test?
The areas that trip up most applicants who fail the Part 107 aeronautical knowledge test are:
- Weather, and
- Weather Services
Collectively, those topics constitute the bulk of the test; so you have to really understand them if you want to pass.
On the other hand, if you do understand airspace, charts, weather, and weather services, then all those questions are basically freebies because you literally will have the answers right in front of you. The answer to any chart question is right there on the chart, the answer to any METAR question question is right there in the METAR, and so forth.
The other good news for candidates who do understand those topics is that such a high percentage of the test questions are about airspace, charts, weather, and weather services that if you're well-prepared in those areas, it will be very difficult to fail the test.
Unfortunately, those areas are also the most difficult for most new drone pilots to learn and understand. A bit further down on this page we'll look at some strategies for aspiring remote pilots to learn the information needed to pass the FAA Part 107 test.
Be Prepared for the Fixed-Wing Questions
At the time of this revision, the Part 107 certificate includes privileges to fly fixed-wing (airplane-style) sUAS in addition to quads and other copter drones. Accordingly, there will be several questions about fixed-wing aircraft characteristics and operation on the exam. These questions may be based on any of the following topics, all of which are covered in the Airplane Flying Handbook:
- Basic aerodynamics
- Controls and control surfaces
- Stalls, spins, and recovery
- Weight and balance
- Airport traffic patterns
- Ground operations
What Recent Test-Takers Say About the Part 107 Test
Anecdotal reports from candidates who have recently taken the Part 107 exam suggest the following:
- There probably will be three to six fixed-wing questions on the test.
- There may be questions about airport signage (for example, taxiway, runway, and hold-short signs).
- There will be questions about Remote ID.
- There will be questions about flying over people, including specifics of the different categories of drones.
- There probably will be questions or answer choices referencing ADS-B.
- There may be questions about icing.
- One recent test-taker reports that there were five questions about radio frequencies at towered and non-towered airports (AWOS, CTAF, etc.).
- There may be questions about Victor airways.
- Don't confuse terrain with obstructions. Terrain is land. Obstructions are man-made things like towers.
- Carefully analyze questions involving overlapping airspace or very tall structures. Make sure you consider all of the airspace layers.
- "Less than" means exactly that. For example, "less than 55 pounds" does not include 55 pounds.
- Any conveyance is a vehicle, including human-powered ones like bicycles. Rules about flying over vehicles apply when flying over any conveyance.
- Runways have two numbers depending on the direction in which they are being used at the moment. This is important when a question references the location of something with respect to a runway.
How to Pass the Part 107 Test on Your First Try
Take a Part 107 Training Course
If you have no prior aviation experience at all, then the best way to study for and pass the FAA Part 107 test on the first try is to take an online training course. Students who prepare using formal training courses from good schools have pass percentages in the high 90's on the FAA test.
My personal recommendation is that you consider the Pilot Institute Part 107 Made Easy course. Here's why:
- I personally completed this course and can vouch for its quality and thoroughness.
- Students who complete the course have an incredible 99.6 percent pass rate.
- The instructor, Greg Reverdiau, is a professional aviator with Part 61, Part 107, and Flight Instructor certificates, as well as Bachelor's and Master's degrees in aviation. He's also not boring, which is always a plus.
- The school will refund your money and pay for your re-testing if you fail after completing the course (including getting good grades on the practice tests).
- The course gets great reviews here and here.
- They don't try to sell you books that literally anyone can legally download from the FAA for free. (More about that farther down.)
- Just in case all those reasons aren't enough, Pilot Institute's course is also one of the least-expensive Part 107 training courses.
I had an aviation background dating back to 1976, but I took this course anyway. I'm glad I did.
Guided Self-Study for the Part 107 Test
At present, there is no requirement that you take an approved training course.
In fact, there's no such thing as an approved course. The FAA doesn't approve Part 107 courses. If anyone tells you that their course is approved by the FAA, they're lying.
I do highly recommend that you take a course like the Pilot Institute Part 107 Made Easy course if you're new to aviation, but it's not legally required.
If you like, you can save money preparing for the Part 107 test by using Part 107 training materials from Amazon or other vendors. This may be a good option if you already have some experience, but it was in the past and you're rusty.
One nice thing about this method is that you can save a lot of money by downloading the training materials in digital form to read on your Kindle or other digital device, especially if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership. Paper books are expensive, and aviation-related books tend to change frequently. Had I decided to train this way I would have used digital rather than paper training materials.
The one exception to the digital downloads would have been the test supplement. The testing centers use paper test supplements for the actual test, so I'd want to use one for practice to simulate the exam.
There also are YouTube channels that provide some free instruction that you can use to supplement your book learning. Just try to find channels whose owners are up-to-date (check the dates on the videos) and who know what they're talking about.
Prepare for the Part 107 Test for Free Using FAA Materials
You actually can prepare for your Part 107 Remote Pilot test for free without taking a course or paying for any training materials. All the books and study materials you'll need to pass the exam can be downloaded for free. Here's why.
The U.S. Federal Government, including the FAA, is prohibited by law from copyrighting anything it produces. That's a good thing, but it gets ever better because the the FAA has a long history of writing truly excellent books about all things aviation-related. What that means for you is that you legally can download, for free, everything you need to know to study for and pass your Part 107 exam.
If you want to try preparing for your test this way, I suggest you start with the following materials.
- Remote Pilot - Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide
- Part 107 Airman Certification Standards
- AC 107-2A - Small Unmanned Aircraft System (Small UAS)
- Aeronautical Chart User's Guide
- Aeronautical Information Manual
- Airplane Flying Handbook. Remember, there will be some questions on the test about fixed-wing aircraft.
- Aviation Weather
- Aviation Weather Services
- Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
- Risk Management Handbook
- Weight and Balance Handbook
- AC 70/7460-1L: Obstruction Marking and Lighting. Several test-takers have reported that there were questions about tower lighting on their Part 107 exams.
I also suggest that you buy a paper copy of the FAA Knowledge Test Supplement because you'll be using a paper copy when you take the actual test. But you can download it for free here if you like.
If you decide to prepare for your Part 107 test completely on your own, then I suggest that you start with the Remote Pilot - Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Guide. It contains links and references to information in the rest of the manuals that you'll need to know.
I must warn you that although it has the advantage of being free, independent self-study is also the most difficult way to prepare yourself for the Part 107 test. Unless you have some prior aviation experience, you're likely to become confused at some point along the line. I suggest that you take a course instead. But I wanted to provide information about all the available options.
Once you're ready to take your exam, please visit this page for some Part 107 test-day tips.
Revised March 8, 2023.
Suggestions for New Pilots
Get Part 107 Training at Pilot Institute
Shop for Drone Bundles on Amazon
Find Pre-Owned Drones on eBay