Why I failed the FAA Part 107 Drone Exam and How I Passed 14 Days Later...
I learned some incredibly valuable lessons when I failed my FAA Part 107 exam on the first attempt; lessons that can be applied both to passing the exam on the subsequent try and to life in general so I decided to share it with the world…
I had a virtual tour videography gig lined up that required some aerial footage. So I went to the local Best Buy, got myself a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, watched 4 hours of tutorial videos and practiced for a day or two and then learned to my surprise that in order to partake in drone footage for commerce I need to obtain a remote pilot license for small unmanned aircraft systems. “Well that throws a wrench into my plans”, I thought at first, but then I decided to just sign up for the exam the next day and cram for the exam. I reminded myself that I finished at the top of my class wherever I went during my academic career and so “how hard can it actually be to pass this thing” I thought. Well, I learned the hard way 160 registration fee dollars later and a failed score of 67 that it in fact is a very challenging exam.
I felt rejected and stupid after spending the last two days fixated on passing the exam and falling short of my goal. I realized I only had two options here… I can wallow in my pity for a few hours and then forget about the whole damn thing or I can put in the necessary effort and attempt to pass again. I elected to do the latter. I spent the next 14 days dedicating an hour or two to each chapter of the official study guide. I did not cut corners – I read every word of it and would convince myself that I am enthusiastic and extremely interested in the subject matter. Some chapters were easier to get through than others, but I treated all of them with the same attention and persistence to understanding the underlying content.
For retakes, you are required to wait at least two weeks to retake the exam and so on exactly the 14th day after failing, I went ahead and passed it with flying colors (pun intended : ). I scored an 88 out of 100, an improvement of 21 points from the first try. More importantly, I reminded myself that it’s okay to fail as long as you respond correctly to that failure. I was also really grateful not passing on the first attempt, because I forced myself to become very familiar with all the rules, regulations, and science behind quadcopter flying which will likely save me headaches in the future. The way I see it, if I passed on the first attempt without really dedicating myself to learning the content, then I would likely make some stupid decisions with the drone in real life and get my certificate and drone yanked by doing something illegal or grossly irresponsible.
I’m a big fan of giving back after accomplishing something and I would not have been able to have such a smooth studying process if it wasn’t for some of the study guide videos I saw on YouTube. They did an excellent job clearing up some confusion on classifications of airspace, reading aviation weather forecast reports, the science of unmanned aircraft performance, airport operations, etc. Although they were excellent, I realized I had the unique experience of taking the exam twice and can compare and contrast the two exams and create an updated tutorial relevant for 2020, 2021, and beyond. I also wanted to give encouragement to those who did not pass on the first try that you should not be embarrassed by it, but rather use that frustration as motivation to study more diligently.
If you find the below video useful please do leave a comment in the YouTube video comments section. Wish you all a successful trip to the testing center and happy droning!