ATC IssuesA place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.
I have endured this psychometric testing nemerous times in Airservices. Their is nothing you can do to prepare for it other than lay off the turps and get a good night's sleep.
It seems to be an endless stream of questions along the lines of "On your day off, would you prefer to go to the zoo or to the museum", and by the time you've done a hundred of them that seem so similar, you'll be feeling loopy.
However, imbedded in the questions is a test for consistency, etc, that can detect if you start answering randomly.
If they offer you a debrief afterwards, take it. I was amazed at what they could determine about my personality! They say that it's not used so much for selection but rather to see the correlations of those who do become successful ATCers.
If you mean the full day of testing, its not the multi choice questions alluded to in the previous post. Its a full day of testing. Maths, time awareness, information processing etc. There is no real way to prepare for it (except maybe to practice mental maths with time/distance=speed type questions).
Again lay off the turps and get a good nights sleep. Its pretty challenging.
I did the full day of testing in Melbourne in December. Here's a run down of what we did. All tests are done at a computer screen. I can't say this will be exactly how it will run for you in Sydney, but I can't see a reason why it wouldn't be, either. As someone said, you can't prepare for most - except for brushing up on time = distance * speed formulae. Get sleep before hand, relax when you get a chance between tests.
Apart from the first test, we got 5-6 chances at practicing the tasks so it was perfectly clear what the test was. The results of each of the tests was made available within an hour of finishing. You had to get over the pass mark in every one of the tests to be successful. The tests took a lot of focus.
They are trying to determine whether you can process information from numerous souces simultaneously, speed and accuracy of your work, how well you can determine whether information is useful or not, amongst other things.
The Numerical Reasoning Test was 60 multiple choice questions to be completed in 40 minutes. They were all questions about speed, distance and time and they got harder towards the end of the test. Using aircraft speed, so the km/h numbers were quite large.
While were doing this test, there was another test running simultaneously. This was the Interrupt Test. A cassette tape was playing in the background the entire time and every now and then a voice would say "Pens Down - Listen". Then it would say a set of instructions for us to complete on a separate answer sheet in front of us. There were 25 questions and the question sheet included various sets of patterns, numbers, letters, shapes, etc. The instructions got more complicated as time went on. They were not repeated so you had to get them right first time.
An easy example - "Put a circle in the 2nd box from the left and a cross in the last box"
A hard exampe - "Circle all the vowels in the list that follow a consonant, but if that consonant is W or J then underline the consonant following the vowel."
Obviously designed to see how well we coped when interrupted.
Next - the SORT Test. Two shapes would appear side-by-side on the screen for about 2-3 seconds. If they were identical we pressed the F2 key on the keyboard. If they weren't, then we had to sort the left pattern depending on certain categories. There were about 9 phases of this test. And they rotated between having to sort by colour (Red / Green / Blue), by shape (Square / Circle / Triangle / Diamond) or by number (0-250 / 251-500, etc)
Apart from the speed of the test, it was complicated by presenting over-riding rules that were presented at the top of the screen. These rules varied from "Sort all green triangles as blue shapes" to "If the digits add up to more than 10, then pretend the number is 555". Sorting by colour and shape wasn't terribly difficult, but everyone had a lot of trouble with the number sorting. Given the short space of time they flashed on the screen, it was incredibly had to read the number (which was in smallish print), add up the digits, remember where the cutoff points for the sorting categories were, etc.
The rules sometimes would be vaild for a number of turns, sometimes for 1 turn, and sometimes none at all.
It was testing for reaction speed as well as accuracy.
The 3rd test was another 2-in-1 test.
There was a line on the right-side of the screen and a small square on the left. The square would move towards the line at various speeds each time. About halfway along the screen, the square would disappear and we had to press a button when we thought it had reached the line. That was the Time Estimation part. Scores were based on how far before or after the line we got the square.
To complicate matters was the Pattern RecognitionTest. While the square was invisible and moving towards the line, up would appear 2 patterns we had to identify as either "Same" or "Different". Again, the score was based on speed and accuracy. It was like comparing the dots on two dice, except that instead of a square they were in a blue circle and instead of 6 dots, there were 13 positions the dots could be in. Not easy to do quickly when you're trying to remember how quickly the square was moving in the background, but I managed OK there.
The last test was some Practice ATC. We were given a simple square are of airspace and we had to guide planes around to their correct destinations safely and with minimal delay. The were 2 air strips we had to land planes on and 4 small gates we had to fly planes out of (N, S, E, W). As each plane appeared on the radar, we had to click on it to recognise it was there, and then guide it through one of the gates or to an airstrip depending on it's destination. We had to make sure they were at the right speeds, direction and altitude. This was over a period of about 20 minutes. At most there were about 12 planes on the screen at once. It's really just a computer game.
LeviTate's pretty much on the money - that correlates with what I did a year and a half or so ago. Most people fall over on the interrupt test (I just scraped through... only to fall over at interview. Now THAT is something you really need to prepare for!).
If you make it through to the interview stage, make a real effort to visit an ATC facility or 2. if you've made the effort to go and speak to qualified controllers about the job it is a real advantage. in Sydney there's Bankstown and Sydney Tower, and Sydney TMA that you could visit. Read as much as you possibly can about aviation in general, even go and hang out at a flying school or get a couple of flying lessons to start to get an idea about the whole industry if you don't already.
As for the interview itself, they will ask you questions that require specific and logical answers, answer as best you can from your own experience. Take your time, they want to see people to think about what they say before they say it, and say it well the first time. The interview panel usually consists of 2 senior instructors and a recruiting specialist, and they will deliberately try to put you under pressure. Also, work out if you want to be a Tower or Enroute controller, and why. A visit to ATC facilities is helpful for that.
I was lucky enough to be selected for one of the current courses, and it's great. But there's a lot of information to learn in a very short time, so the more you can learn about aviation for yourself before the testing, interview, and (hopefully) the course the better.
If you don't get through the first time, don't despair, there are trainees in the college and controllers in the field who took more than one shot to get through, and now they're thriving, there are even people who didn't make it through the ATC selection and then went on to become 747 captains.
I hope this isn't too much info, but levitate covered the psychometric testing well so i thought this might help for the interview. Good luck with the whole process, from what I know so far it's worth it.
The interviews use STAR type questioning (link below). Multiple permutations and connotations within each question. IMHO, most "real" ATCs are crap with these types of interviews. IMHO, It is not a good 'test' for who will be a good ATC.
Effectively if you feel you did crap at interview, you did, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be an ATC.
Good luck, never a better time to apply, more trainees than ever this year, which means most of the course will fail (the entry bar will be set low, 'ey). Traditionally the pass rate is close to 50% get rated +/- 10%.
Good luck; for the "always apply" folks (I'll get in next time attitude), if you don't get through this time, you seriously need to consider your choice of career; cause it won't be more likely than right now.
Thanks for the link. Appreciate it a lot. I'm going to be over prepared by the time the interview comes around. It's a far batter option than being under prepared. I don't want to give them any excuse not to hire me.
Levitate - thanks for the detailed breakdown of what to expect, it sounds like a fun day ;-)
For the distance speed things, did you use a source of information to find questions ? I was looking in a physics text book the other day and it was getting very complicated, like assume no gravity etc etc which I am assuming it too complex for these needs. Could you post an example of a question?
Also - did you get through? If so, have you had your interview yet?
All the questions are multiple choice, so that helps if your good at estimation. From memory a sample question would be:
If a plane is flying at 320km/h, how long would it take to travel 100km?
If Plane A is 250km ahead of Plane B and is travelling 40km/h slower, how long would it take Plane B to catch up to Plane A?
Yes, I passed quite well in the end - a huge relief. And the last test - the simulated ATC "game" - was the one I only scraped through by 1 point and was the one I thought I did best at. Go figure.
Haven't heard about doing the online personality test yet, and the interview will be after that. I've learnt to live with HR working v e r y slowly in these matters, but I'm sure it's a combination of HR staff issues, the training college being ready for new learners, Christmas/New Year period, etc.
there's not a lot of study that can be done. I was quite intimidated when I walked in by the number of people fronting with far more qualifications than myself. After the first couple of tests I was thinking that I'd wasted $90 and a day off work. I ended up being one of the minority that passed and got the gig. The key to most of the tests is to stay calm and as relaxed as possible. Rushing will only lead to mistakes. As for the interview process mine was rather tame and I don't think I interview too well. Other people on my course apparently got put through the ringer so who knows? I will say if you get an interview try and take a time early in the day. The panel may have a human or two on it and they will be well and truly over it by the time they speak to the 12th person that day. Good luck.
Do they at least provide you with a pen and paper for working out the maths? or is it all about mental estimations? How long does the testing take? and also I take it that if you find out your score at the end that you know if you will continue through>
from (distant) memory, pen and paper provided, none of the arithmetic needed a calculator. For the interrupt test, it really helps to write down all your workings for the arithmetic questions so you can get back to them. And accuracy scored better than number of questions answered - don't rush and make mistakes. If you forget the interrupt question, just ignore it and continue with the arithmetic. Good luck - come back and let us know how you go, either way, and any advice for future applicants.
One thing to bear in mind with the numerical reasoning test is you don't get marked down for wrong answers. So if you're running out of time and you haven't answered many questions, if there are four multiple choice answers then by guessing randomly you have a 25% chance of answering correctly. I'm convinced that helped me pass since I took the questions so slowly!
Driscoll said he/she was intimidated by people who seemed more qualified than him/her. Qualifications don't mean anything. Controllers backgrounds are varied from ex pilots to housewives, electricians, bank tellers, vets, engineers, brickies labourers, teachers, financial advisors, ex defence and straight from school/uni. Please don't let people with paper put you off as in this job it's not important.
I am worried about it - having previously applied in the UK when I was a lot younger, the testing sounds very different to the ones undertaken there. In UK I passed the testing with no problems, but bombed the interview which over there involves learning lots of technical stuff and having two controllers ask you technical questions around different scenarios they outline (amongst other things).
My mental arithmetic is not the best it could be, so will just try and brush up on that and I guess estimation would be the best way to go. Thanks also for the tips on writing the instructions down from the interrupt test.
For all of these things, I know there is a lot to be said for accuracy over answering all the questions and that they are testing your aptitude for the job, you either have it or you don't.
It's also good to know it's all multiple choice. Does anyone know what the pass marks are on these tests? Is it like 80% or more like 50%?
If the tests are still the same as the one that I sat back in April of '07, (which I guess is the case as Levitate has described them), the only piece of information that I can offer is this. The questions are not hard, they are not asking for scientific equations, just straight forward arithmetic reasoning. Relax and allow your mind to think clearly, I was very nervous too but once the test started and I relaxed it flowed nicely. In the last test of the day you are given a simulator in which to guide aircraft to land, again you have a couple of practice runs before the test begins. Remember this; land into wind, at the lowest level and lowest speed, use speed 2 on final to allow yourself time to control other aircraft before slowing to speed 1 just before threshold. It may sound confusing to you now but just remember the last things that I have told you to do in the simulator as you lose points for landing aircraft too fast. As I said I completed tests in April '07 and I have just this week received an invite to interview and another test to sit online, apparently this one should only take me about 50 minutes to complete. Good luck and relax, it will allow you to perform better.
So the test listed above are all there is? how does that take up the whole day i think it goes for like 8 hours? I cant believe you passed the test ten months ago and only now are you getting an invite! I started my application back in april 07. I'm probably going to be waiting a while for my interview if I pass this testing!