Anxious about the FAA practical test, or just curious? When you are near the end of your training, it's time to consult with your instructors and plan for your test, commonly called a "checkride."
In the United States, almost all tests are done by Designated Pilot Examiners who are appointed and supervised by the FAA. Most do testing as a part-time job, and all are experienced instructors. They are not government employees, and they charge for their services.
An important point is that the applicant can go anywhere to take the test. All training records, endorsements, and logbooks are portable. If you move, or simply go where the weather is better, you just take your materials along with you. Trainees in congested or very busy areas often go to more remote airports for a test; those training in isolated airports with limited facilities sometimes go to larger airports.
All certifications are now done using IACRA, the FAA on-line system. This allows the applicant to fill out personal information and flight times in advance, so information and qualifications can be checked by an Examiner on the internet. On test day, the application is signed and completed, and the pilot certificate is printed out and recorded electronically.
Exact test procedures and costs may vary locally. Normally the recommending instructor makes the initial contact with the Examiner. After the application is checked, Examiners typically provide detailed test information. Methods differ, but the Examiner is required to use a written plan of action and conduct each test according to published FAA guidelines.