We've all been there before....sitting down thinking about an upcoming check ride and feeling the "checkriditis" (as we call it) set in. It's a mix of stress, anxiety and excitement all at once and you can't decide whether you just wanna cancel it forever or get it over with and get your license.
Have no fear though, you're not the first person to go through this and you definitely won't be the last.
The worse that can happen is you get disapproved. What you don't want to do is get disapproved and take it and never fly again. Get up and get back at it to go get your approval the second time.
Aside from knowing how to fly to meet ACS standards, here's some tips to help out in case your CFI forgets to tell you:
1) Know your examiner
It's always best to test with an examiner that you have an idea of who they are and how they test. Not that you're setting yourself up for failure by testing with someone you don't know, but it definitely helps to do your research. Talk to other pilots who have used that DPE before and find out which maneuvers, procedures etc. they're really big on and typical questions they tend to ask.
An example of this would be a DPE who is famous for blocking the navigation screen when shooting an approach so you have to strictly fly it "by the needles" so to speak and not be able to see the magenta line plotted on the screen. That's a good thing to know beforehand so if it happens during the flight it doesn't catch you off guard.
2) Vocalize everything you're doing
This is seriously some of the best advice I can give. I was given this advice and have taken check rides barely saying anything and taken some talking myself through everything I did. The ones where I stay vocal have always ended with a pass and with positive comments from the DPE.
The reason I say to vocalize everything is if you talk yourself through everything you're doing, the examiner knows what you're thinking and can see that you're a confident pilot who knows what they're doing.
An example would be a soft field takeoff:
"Okay I'm holding the nosewheel up until rotation, now I'll reduce the pitch and hold my ground effect and bring the nose up at Vy."
This also reminds you of what you're doing and keeps your flying at its best. It helps you catch yourself if you start to make a mistake and fix it before they notice it.
3) Memorize the ACS
Know your standards! Don't get out there ready to do a maneuver and just hope that it's within standard. Know the altitude, heading allowance, speed etc. everything about what the examiner will be expecting!
4) Have an airport diagram in your lap-even if you fly out of that airport every day
As a CFI this is such a struggle is creating the habit to make students taxi with an airport diagram even if they have everything about that airport memorized. If you create this habit at your home airport, flying into or out of an unfamiliar airport will be easier because you'll already know to keep a diagram on hand and plan out your taxi clearance before you start taxiing. This stops the trend of taxiing with barely any idea of where you're going and then possible creating a runway incursion.
5) Don't test unless you're ready
It doesn't matter if you instructor says you're ready, your dad who is an airline pilot, your grandma just because she believes in you.....the list goes on. YOU know when you're ready. Maybe someone will sign you off and start getting your ride scheduled, but until you feel 100% confident that you're ready to go test then push that test date back.
6) Get a good rest and meal beforehand
Make sure the night before that you get a good nights rest and eat breakfast or a good meal before you meet with your examiner. It's the oldest trick in the book. You can't think on an empty stomach or with a tired brain, and you're already nervous enough as it is. Don't add to that stress for yourself. Make sure you're hydrated and fully ready to go that day of your ride!
7) Take your time
In case no one else tells you this, you don't have to rush through everything to impress your examiner. As you're going from one task to another, especially maneuvers, take your time. Set the plane up for it, make sure your altitude and heading and everything is how you want it. The more you rush yourself, the more likely you are to forget something and fly outside of the standard.
This doesn't necessarily mean to take 10 minutes to set up the plane, but take an extra 5 seconds to breathe and double check yourself.
8) Don't suck!
Best advice an instructor ever gave me before a check ride: don't suck. This is all in good humor! You've prepared for this day so much, you know how to fly, now just....don't suck today ;)