This post originally appeared on ModalAI.com
Written By Daniel Sanfelice
Drones have been a part of my life for nearly a decade now. I spent the former half of my career as a UAS operator and instructor in the U.S. Navy, and the latter in the commercial drone space. Transitioning from flying sUAS on deployments from Navy ships to flying in the public airspace was definitely something to get used to. To fly as a civilian, I had to learn all of the FAA Part 107 regulations and earned my FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot in Command license in 2017.
Whether you are a novice or professional in the drone industry, you can pass the FAA Part 107 exam. I’ve compiled a list of resources that I, and the flight testers at ModalAI, have used for people looking to study for the test. There is a wide range of study guide options to help you pass, from the actual FAA study guide, to video courses with practice quizzes, to in-person classroom training. There are pros and cons to each option, and they range from completely free to several thousand dollars. Many of the study guides come with extra features like practice exams and robust visual aids. The choice of what type of guide to use depends on the skill level, cost, and the pros and cons of each option.
- Read a free study guide: FAA Remote-Pilot Study Guide
This is a completely free resource straight from the FAA’s website. While it offers links to helpful online resources, it lacks helpful features that its alternatives include such as practice tests or questions from the test question bank. If you are somewhat familiar with the concepts on the Part 107 exam and feel comfortable reading and digesting the concepts on your own, then this would be a good option for you. If you are more of a visual learner or may need extra help with grasping the concepts, then you might want to look at one of the other options on the list.
Skill Level: Some previous experience
Cons: No extra features. Can be dry and difficult for visual or hands-on learners.
- Read an even better free guide: 3DR Part 107 Study Guide
This is another fantastic free resource. This study guide is much more in-depth and has plenty of visual aids for those who learn more visually (like myself). It goes more in-depth into the topics than the official FAA guide and has sample questions sprinkled throughout to help solidify the information. They even offer a handy cheat sheet with the most common pieces of information you need to know for the exam. This is a great place to start to gauge how well you grasp the concepts on the exam.
Skill Level: Novice with good study skills
Pros: Lots of visual aids. Some sample questions. Cheatsheet.
Cons: No practice exams. Very few questions straight from the test bank.
- Purchase a test-prep book such as the ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep 2021
This is a great option for people who need more than what the free study guides have to offer. This particular book is the one I used for my recurring test prep and the one I recommend to most people. These test prep books are very low-cost and provide tremendous bang for your buck. The particular one I used was chock-full of visual aids and word for word questions from the official exam test bank. It also had online resources for practice tests, which was helpful to see how I performed in a real test scenario. Once I felt comfortable passing the practice tests, then I knew I could schedule the real one.
Skill Level: Beginner to advanced
Cost: Very inexpensive (Currently $19.95 on Amazon)
Pros: Low-cost, big bang for your buck. Lots of visual aids. Tons of questions from the test bank.
Cons: Not free. Very text heavy, no video portions
- Purchase A Video Course
Still having trouble getting the concepts from just reading from a book? Well then maybe a video course is right for you. These tend to be on the more expensive side, but also offer lots of features. These can offer short videos that are easy to watch, practice quizzes, practice tests and some even offer offline content so you can study anywhere and anytime. Typically, these are narrated by professional instructors who speak in a way that is easy to watch and understand. This is the option I used to study for my first test and I highly recommend it for very novice pilots. However, I feel this option might be overkill for the majority of pilots who would be just fine with a free study guide or the low-cost test prep books. Beware though, there are a plethora of video courses to choose from and they can vary in price and quality. Here at ModalAI, we like Drone Pilot Ground School ($299) and Remote Pilot 101 ($149).
Skill Level: Novice
Cost: $149 and up
Pros: Easy to watch and digest. Lots of extra features. Offline content.
Cons: Lots of choices means the price and quality can differ greatly. Might be overkill for the majority of pilots.
- Go to an in-person training course
The main advantage of this course is that you have an instructor with you to answer any questions you might have right there on the spot (some video courses offer email and message board support, but not live help). The biggest disadvantages are that they are typically the most expensive and maybe overkill for the vast majority of pilots. Additionally, the courses must be offered in your area and you don’t have the option of working at your own pace. If you have never flown a drone before or are apprehensive about flying for the first time, many of these schools have flight training to go along with your Part 107 study prep. To be clear, you don’t need to know how to fly or have even flown ever, to pass this test. This is just a nice feature to help offset the high price tag.
One last thing, due to Covid-19, many of these courses have moved virtual or are no longer offered. Be sure to check with the schools as to how they plan to address in-person instruction during the pandemic.
Skill Level: Zero Experience
Cost: Depends on the program, but typically the most expensive option
Pros: Instructor there to give immediate feedback and help clarify concepts. Practice tests. Group study.
Cons: Typically most expensive. May be overkill for the vast majority of pilots. Must be offered in your area.
When I began studying for the FAA Part 107 test, I had plenty of operational experience with drones, but almost none when it came to FAA concepts like airspace, runway markings, etc. For my first test prep, I used a video course to study and pass my test. This was a fantastic resource but I think it was a bit excessive for me because I already had a firm enough grasp of drone operations and I could have gotten by with just a test prep book. For my recurring test, I used the ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep book which is what I now recommend to 99/100 pilots I talk to. It has great value and a lot of the best features that help you understand the concepts and master the test bank questions. Luckily, those studying in 2021 do not have to worry about a recurring exam, as the FAA decided to replace that requirement with a recurring training to ensure that pilots are updated on proper protocols.
My ultimate recommendation that will definitely put you in a good position to pass the exam is to use a combination of resources, chiefly the ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep book, 3DR study guide and as many practice tests as possible.
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