For the most part, private pilot applicant do very well. I've seen a trend with a couple of items
Oral: Stalls and Spins. I'm being told that stall recovery is a function of airspeed. It's not, it's all about angle of attack. I'm also having problem with applicants not knowing how to recover from a spin. I was once told several years ago that the applicants airplane wasn't certified for spins so she didn't need to know how to recover from one.
Flight: Three problems areas. First the new one. It really hasn't been an issue until last year. And that is Flight with reference to the instruments or flying under the hood. I've been using the same scenario for 12 years and yet the word hasn't gotten out. The scenario is......You're flying home and you're down to 1000 feet and the ceiling and visibility keep getting lower and lower. What are you going to do? Some applicants have problems figuring out what to do. I've been told by some that they would continue lower until they where out of the clouds. The other problem with flying under the hood is aircraft control. The PTS requirements are very generous with altitude +/- 200 ft, heading +/- 20 etc. Unfortunately, I've seen several applicants in the past year who where unable to keep the aircraft under control and within the PTS requirements. This usually has to do with a poor instrument scan. If you're an instructor don't just put them under the hood without a way to systematically scan the instruments. You want to teach the scan so the pilot knows what instruments to look at and when.
The second problem area is stalls and spins. I've been spun a couple times last year. Both times I had to recover. The problem seems to be the lack of, or incorrect use of, the rudder.
Third problem area is take off, landings and go-arounds. I've written a lot about these in earlier blogs so I won't rehash them here but most of the problems have to do with poor cross wind correction and failure to establish a stabilized approach. Go-around problems: failure to add full power before retracting the flaps and gear, allowing the nose to pitch up uncontrollable after adding power, and failure to maintain coordination.