Checkrides can be extremely daunting in the sense that they are often unfamiliar. I remember my first check-ride was not as nerve-wracking as my second check-ride. I actually really like taking these only because they can often "prove" who I am to myself. The fact of the matter is that check rides are not easy, and they are never meant to be easy. I have often wondered how pilots get away without failing at least one check-ride. To me, the thought of that is just merely impossible for me. These are the tips that I have been lucky to put together for you based on my experience. Best of luck
First and foremost, check-rides are a lot of mental work that the student needs to prepare himself or herself for. The primary tip that I offer to all pilots going through these tests is to get plenty of rest. I remember reading the Instructor's Handbook published by the Federal Aviation Administration, in which it emphasized the importance of sleep and rest. Pilots must be able to reach peak function no matter what the situation is. Whether or not that meets your set personal minima is the next point of interest. Every person is different when it comes to the required rest that their body needs. I have personally found myself to need at least 8 hours of sleep -6 hours of good, deep sleep. Flying is an activity that has a lot of risk involved. The main job of a pilot is to fly the plane, but his or her second job is to mitigate as much risk as possible. I love the saying "driving fatigued is driving impaired." The same exact thing goes for flying. In all actuality if a pilot flies fatigued they are also flying impaired, which is comparable to flying drunk. I do not think anyone wants to struggle with fatigue period, but let alone on a checkride. The majority of the time the lack of sleep is the reason why checkrides can be pretty stressful, at least based on my experience.
Avoiding cram study time can really build upon the success of a checkride. My personal habits and limitations are based on the "no study" rule. I set this rule up 15-24 hours before my checkride of just no studying. This period of time allows me to decompress and relax. The key focus to mitigating stress is to understand limitations with that stress. There is not scientific study on this -this is only coming from me- but a break is key to increasing that peak performance discussed above. The physical demand of a checkride is almost equal to the mental demand of it. There is nothing more tough than feeling overwhelmed. Good time management is the key to success. By implementing a clock based study schedule the day before, it will certainly allow for a more doable schedule.
Dieting seems to always be that new years resolution when it comes to human beings, which is funny. I personally have fallen ill to this as well when it comes to creating new diet plans for the new year. So I challenge you to remember those new diet plans whenever a checkride is right around the corner. By remembering those tips and tricks you are able to maintain a good brain function. No way on this planet Earth should a flight student be eating sugary foods or sodas prior to taking the practical test. Those coffee jitters are also something to avoid as well. Eat something that is filling and energizing all at the same time. My checkride meal is a lot of fruits and vegetables with maybe some chicken. Think about how well you want to be able to focus during these moments in time. Being able to survive the full time with optimum brain function is key to success. The moment that the body 'checks out' is the moment the ride is a failure. Bringing snacks is also a great idea. Ask for a restroom break and a snack break prior to doing the flight portion. This will relieve stress and such while rejuvenating the body all at once.
Food brings me to my next point, which is water consumption. Every pilot needs a bottle of water before, during, and after the checkride. Hydration will prevent headaches and fatigue. There should be no excuse for calling off a checkride due to nutrition or hydration issues. It is the sole response of the pilot in command to make sure their needs are taken care of both before and during their test. You are using a lot of bodily function while taking this test, so you must be aware of all factors regarding health.
All of these have one thing in common, and that is the checklist IMSAFE. Every single pilot must adhere to this checklist in order to succeed and maintain a safe and efficient flight. The key to success is optimum performance. Both the brain and the body need to be functioning at their best. Peak performance is achieved when all of the boxes are checked in relation to being fit to fly. Remember that a medical may have been issued to you, but it may not always be "valid" if the IMSAFE checklist is not fulfilled properly.
My personal favorite way to go about a checkride is to create a tier list. The bottom is the foundation -or the simplest knowledge. This may include acronyms, small definitions, and even bulleted points describing the fundamentals of a topic. As the list moves up it gets more and more complex while adding details both big and small. One must understand that he or she needs to build upon their current knowledge. I have found that building up a tier list both on paper and in the mind will help create a constructive way of thinking. I have build study references based on given situations, what ifs, and thought based actions.
Remembering the simple things can sometimes be a challenge, so create Quizlets, Kahoots, and flash cards to help study with. One question that they may ask you is "what causes all weather on earth?" The simple answer is just heat exchange. By understanding the basics it will help you build in and hone your skills as a pilot. Then you can broaden and break off with "why does heat exchange cause weather?" The DPE often loves to start simple and then elaborate further on the 'why' aspect of it. For example, I still remember on my private checkride being asked "what is the never exceed speed of your aircraft?" So I proceeded to answer with 201 knots indicated. So then he asked me "why is your VNE 201? What is the purpose of VNE?" Then I discussed how exceeding this speed might cause structural damage or failure.
The last tip that I have is do not ever be afraid of failure. The first go around might not be the smoothest. You might have to re test, and there is no shame in that at all. I had to retest for my instrument rating, and in the end it was perfectly fine! Sometimes it is just nerves that set you back. However, what truly matters is how you handle that failure. You cannot be a pilot without failing something. Imperfection is the new perfection. You must understand that you are a human being, and that is what is cool! Just simply get back up and try again. There is no need to feel ashamed, dumb, or worthless because of a failure. If fact, you will become a better pilot in the end. With a little faith, determination, and effort you will be soaring the skies in no time.