After almost 3 years of training (on and off) and just over 101 hours of flight time, I passed the Private Pilot ASEL checkride last week under the ACS! I read dozens of checkride stories on PoA and they helped prepare me prepare, so I am paying it forward by sharing my checkride experience. This will one of several posts about my experience. In this threat, I will share some thoughts on the difference between the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) and Practical Test Standards (PTS). I will skip to the bottom line here if you don’t want to read the details below – I don’t think there is a huge difference between the ACS and PTS and it shouldn’t really change your approach to studying. Let me start off by saying I was very concerned about the move from PTS and ACS, particularly from an oral exam perspective. Given that most of the checkride stories out there on the web are about the PTS and many videos readily available on youtube show PTS exams, there was some uncertainty going into the exam. In hindsight, I was overly concerned about the potential differences. In reality, my experience under the ACS was very similar to the PTS checkride videos/stories. I think the difference between PTS and ACS, if any, is how questions are worded to test your ability to USE the knowledge with a risk management mindset rather than simply regurgitating acronyms and mnemonics (i.e. TOMATO FLAMES). Actually TOMATO FLAMES is a good example of the POTENTIAL difference between how a PTS exam is conducted versus an ACS exam. Rather than the DPE asking “what equipment is required for VFR flight?” he gave me a scenario where one of my fuel gauges was showing empty but I could see I had a full tank for a short flight – “how would you handle this situation?” He was basically testing whether I knew working fuel gauges is required equipment and that a Special Permit would be required to fly it somewhere for maintenance. I think this would have been a perfectly fair (and common) question under the PTS. So, is there a difference? I think there are simply a higher percentage of "scenario based questions" than we’ve seen in the past. Having said that, many DPEs have incorporated scenarios into their questioning for years. In my case, I believe the oral exam would have been basically the same under PTS.