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What To Expect On A Medical Aviation Exam

Any exam, whether it’s academic or medical, is daunting and nerve-wracking. We’re here to ease your concerns by explaining what exactly you can expect to see on your medical aviation exam.

Don’t Worry

Completing an aviation medical exam is a prerequisite for many pilots before they can take off. These medical exams can be the cause of massive amounts of anxiety and stress. Can I pass the sight exam? What exactly does the examiner want? Even the healthiest people worry that some obscure health problem may disqualify them from piloting. You can rest easy knowing that most applicants pass the exam!


Many people have minor health problems, but knowing which ones that will disqualify you or require a special medical certificate can go a long way in calming your nerves. First, you’ll want to research any medical conditions you may have before you go to your appointment. The FAA has a comprehensive medical exam guide available on their website. Many other resources exist online that outline what medical issues will require extra documentation. By doing your research, you can start gathering those documents ahead of the exam so you can send them to the FAA right after.

The Medical Aviation Exam

Your examiner will have you register on the FAA’s MedXPress system before the exam. They will then review your information and send it to the FAA after you complete your exam. Before the exam begins, your examiner will have you show two forms of identification, go over health history in your paperwork, and go over issues that may delay the processing of your medical certificate. The aviation medical certificate (first class, second class, third class) you apply for will determine how intensive the examination will be. We’ll go over the third class exam because it’s the least intensive and most common.

Basic Third Class Exams will include:

  • An Eyesight Test (peripheral vision, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and color vision)
  • Hearing Test
  • Urinalysis (to check for signs of disease)
  • Blood Pressure
  • Physical Exam
  • Discussion of surgeries/medications
  • Mental Health Questions

Upon completing the exam, your examiner will either approve the application, deny it, or defer it for processing.

Denied or Deferred

Being denied or deferred is no cause for panic! Straight up denials are very uncommon as most examiners are required to send your information to the FAA for review. Most denials are for extreme cases such as a history of substance abuse or multiple arrests.

In the end, you are most likely going to get the okay to fly. Don’t worry if your certification process is a little drawn out; we’re sure you did great.

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