In past years, some Designated Mechanic Examiners (DMEs) have been called into question about how they perform the Airframe and Powerplant oral and practical tests. Recently there have been cases of DMEs who are not properly applying the grading standard for the Oral portion of the test. Here is example that has just come to light and may affect some mechanics that have been issued their A&P certificates.
The minimum passing grade is 70% determined as follows: A DME must ask 4 questions in each subject area. If the applicant answers a minimum of 3 questions correctly, the applicant passes the subject area (3 out of 4, 75%). If the applicant misses 2 of the 4 questions, the DME can choose to ask an additional 3 questions. If the applicant answers all 3 additional questions correctly, the applicant passes that subject area (5 out of 7, 71.4%). If the applicant misses 1 of the additional questions, the DME can choose to ask another 3 questions for a maximum of 10 total questions asked in the subject area. If the applicant correctly answers these 3 questions, the applicant passes the subject area (7 out of 10, 70%). If at any time the applicant misses a total of 4 questions, the subject area is failed and no further questions should be asked in that subject area.
The examiner will ask the airman at least four questions in each subject area. The applicant must successfully answer 70 percent of the oral questions asked in each subject area. The airman must pass each subject area to pass a section. The Examiner will use no more than 10 questions to evaluate a subject area.
(1) An airman will pass a subject area if he or she correctly answers:
At least 3 of 4 questions, = 75 %.
At least 4 of 5 questions, = 80%
At least 5 of 6 questions, = 83 %
At least 5 of 7 questions, = 71 %
At least 6 of 8 questions, = 75%
At least 7 of 9 questions, = 77%
At least 7 of 10 questions, = 70%
If the examiner initially asks 4 questions and 3 are correct (75%) the applicant passed the subject area.
If the applicant answered only 2 questions of the initial 4 correctly the applicant could be asked and correctly answer enough additional questions to achieve the minimum 70 % correct. In this case 3 additional questions are needed and all answered correctly (5 of 7 correct) to achieve or surpass the required minimum of 70%.
If the applicant only answered 2 questions correctly of the additional 3 questions asked they could be asked to and correctly answer 3 more additional questions to achieve the 70% goal. 7 of 10 answered correctly.
With this scenario above they have reached their maximum of 10 questions.
Additionally, if this scenario happens in each area the examiner would have to question the applicants overall qualifications.
As a DME myself I am very careful when it comes to the oral test and explain up front to all my applicants what the standards are before starting the oral tests and what is required to pass. I have has some applicants tell me I am too strict and they want to test with the “easy DME”. All DMEs are required to test to the basic level and the oral test questions are down loaded from the Designee web site for each applicant I test. The oral test is straight forward I read the question and the applicant tells me in his their own words the answer. Sometimes the answers are not exactly as provided on the oral test document I download, but if the applicant can explain it where I can make an objective determination that they have answered the question correctly then I will accept their own word answer. As an example, I may ask; How is Ohms law expressed as an equation? There are several ways to answer this question and I have had applicants write out all three correct answers when only one would be okay.
Answer: I = ER; or R = EI; or E = I x R
The oral test is the applicant knowledge test and how they come with the correct answer is up to them. Some applicants will draw a picture and explain an answer to me. An example is if I ask what kind of information is contained in the title block of a blueprint. Some applicants find it helps to draw a blue print title block and fill it in then tell me what is in the block and this is acceptable as well.
The whole point of the oral test to insure the applicant has the proper knowledge or at least 70% retained knowledge and they will meet the FAA standard anything less than 70% and the applicant fails that section of the oral test and will have to retest.
Since I am an A&P mechanic myself and have gone through the oral and practical tests with a DME I know how stressful the testing can be and why applicants are hesitant to test. As a DME, I try to make my oral and practical tests as less stressful as possible. If I see the applicant struggling I will take a break and let the applicant calm down then restart. After the first 10 to 15 minutes, I usually have the applicant calmed down and the oral test proceeds smoothly.
Be prepared, the tests are not easy, they should not be, holding an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate is a big responsibility. If an applicant is not prepared then they will certainly fail the test.