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-   -   Airservices Australia Psychometric Testing (https://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/311440-airservices-australia-psychometric-testing.html)

kazzy01 1st Feb 2008 22:01

Airservices Australia Psychometric Testing
I've recently been invited to attend a psychometric testing day in Sydney in a couple of weeks time.

Can anyone who has undergone this day give any insight to what the day involves? Also is there any recommended reading for the day - none is mentioned in the confirmation email.


Knackers 1st Feb 2008 22:11


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.

(Try a Google search.)

Awol57 1st Feb 2008 22:24

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.

LeviTate 2nd Feb 2008 00:47

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 Recognition Test. 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.

Ultralights 2nd Feb 2008 01:32

thanks for that post, as i have just completed the online test a few mins ago..

kookabat 2nd Feb 2008 01:40

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!).

SM4 Pirate 2nd Feb 2008 06:21

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.

LeviTate 2nd Feb 2008 07:03

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.

kazzy01 2nd Feb 2008 09:52

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?

LeviTate 2nd Feb 2008 11:29

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.

Driscoll 3rd Feb 2008 12:17


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.

adam_753 4th Feb 2008 08:24

numerical Reasoning
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>


Duff Man 4th Feb 2008 09:29

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.

ollie_a 4th Feb 2008 13:10

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!

bigsis 4th Feb 2008 23:02

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.

kazzy01 5th Feb 2008 01:01

Thanks for all the replies on this one.

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%?

adam_753 5th Feb 2008 07:38

let us know how you go will be interesting to see if it is the same as the above mentioned tests

gazs 5th Feb 2008 12:54

Dont panic
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.:ok:

adam_753 6th Feb 2008 06:06

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!

LeviTate 6th Feb 2008 10:36

I applied in April 07, but I'm in Melbourne. That probably makes a difference. Online tests were done in July and assessment day in December. Interviews in Melbourne are in 2 wks time. I had trouble being patient with that timeline, I'd have trouble if I'd waited all this time since doing the actual assessment day 9 months ago.

To answer your question, for every test you get to spend a fair while practicing and the instructor spends a fair while explaining each test, just so everyone is in no doubt what the tests are. If anyone's in any doubt after the practice tests, they shouldn't be an ATC :bored:

For the arithmetic test, you only get about 5 sample questions I think.

But for the simulated ATC test at the end you get about 5 practice turns, each about 15-20 minutes long.

Between each test, you get a 10 minute break while the instructors set up the computers for the next one.

And that's why it takes about 8 hrs. You do get results with half an hour of finishing though.

kookabat 6th Feb 2008 12:15

Timeline when I tried:

Applied June 06
OCAT Aug 06
Testing day Nov 06
Interview Jan 07
Rejection letter Feb 07 :{

Trying again in a year or so!

gazs 6th Feb 2008 22:22

delay in timeline
The delay in the timeline between assessment day in April '07 and interviews this month in Melbourne has to do with the "Global Search" that Airservices conducted for overseas rated controllers. Hiring current controllers from overseas and then putting them through a shorter course to licence them in Australia filled all places at the college late last year(so I am told?).
If anyone is currently working as a controller can you give a current feeling within the industry as alot of posts that I have read are very negative, low morale and fellings towards management and procedures. Also what is the current earnings, what is stated in advertising material is rarely the realsitic figure.:)

undervaluedATC 7th Feb 2008 05:29

the delay in recruitment is nothing new - 14 years ago, it took me nearly 18months to jump through all the hoops [during which time i finished my B. of App. Sc]

as for money:
based on the current EBA (which expires the end of this year, so things could change - and hopefully they will)

training salary at the college is $35,404. (about a year)
field training salary is $53,000 (hopefully only about 3-4 months, but unavailability of simulator, training positions, training officers can mean it takes longer)
if you successfully get your first rating, you jump to $72,071. but you are also now doing shiftwork - nights/ weekends etc.

the annual increments after that (if you satisfy the pre-reqs) are a lot less impressive, about $5-7K, which almost keeps up with inflation.

actual money in hand will depend on whether you have a HECS debt, but you should be able to work it out at the tax website (ato.gov.au, I think)

Overtime? LOTS and LOTS and LOTS. depending on the group you are sent to, could be as much as 1 or 2 a fortnight. Probably an extra $300 post tax for each 8 hr shift.

at the moment, condition of employment include a 5 year training bond, which means you can't voluntarily leave in that time without paying a penalty exit (exorbitant in 1st year, with slightly less amount each subsequent year, still quite large in 5th year)

also, you have to agree in advance to work wherever AsA send you - so don't count on getting your hometown, or tower, or approach, or enroute, etc.

hope that helps.

good luck with your application, we need every one of you.

adam_753 7th Feb 2008 06:36

I reckon the thirty minutes would have been terrible? How do you get the results? (verbal written etc) Does anyone know what score/percentage you need so pass each section?
And finially the maths section at the begininning are they all just aviation related speed distance questions or are there a mix of those and other quesitons?

P.S. looking forward to this test!!!!
P.P.S having been nine months already I want to get this over and done with but I dont want to be underprepared!

LeviTate 7th Feb 2008 10:44

The waiting time for results isn't so bad because you spend the whole time winding down from the effort of the day. It's a relief to know it's all over and there's nothing else you can do to influence the result.

Most people didn't even stay around and just got the email a few days later. They just handed out the bit of paper with the cutoff score for each test and your mark for each test and if you passed each of the 6 tests you will get to to the psych. profile questionnaire and interview.

Cutoff points for each test are meaningless because the calculation of your score is all done by the computer behind the scenes. You get progress scores as you do each practice test so you have some idea of how well you're doing.

The maths questions at the start are all a variation of time = distance * speed - all using aircraft speeds. And as someone mentioned, in the last minute of the test, just randomly select answers for all the questions you haven't answered because you don't lose poitns for wrong answers.

roomer 8th Feb 2008 09:54

Is AsA currently hiring foreign ATCO's??

Blockla 8th Feb 2008 21:24

Is AsA currently hiring foreign ATCO's??
Well they keep saying they are to the press and to staff; yet no evidence of this "recruitment campaign" is evident.

There is a link on this page:
But it states "Applications for the Global Search for experienced Air Traffic Controllers have now closed. Submit your application here to be considered for other future positions."

My sources say they want a total of 85 licenced staff from the 'global recruitment campaign'; we've taken about 32 or so, so far. Then some of those have already returned to place of origin; essentially because of lack of support and the current (dare I say poisonous) work environment.

SM4 Pirate 11th Feb 2008 06:10

The Bond applies to trainees from when they "get rated". Some recruits I've spoken too had to sign and agree to the bind prior to being offered a position; others have yet to sign the document agreeing to the bond clause.

The issues in my mind:
1)It's not an OS specific bond, relating to the cost of getting an OS recruit on the job; but the Abinitio bond applied to individuals to try and stop them leaving after the impost of ASA paying for their training.

2)The Abinitio bond expires after 5 years of rating, just when if you are going to go, that's when you are 'sellable' on the global stage; i.e. it make no sense at all.

3)Some OS recruits had to sign, others got a 3 year bond, other the full Abinitio 5 year bond.

4)How are you going to attract the right sort of people if you only keep them by making them pay if they leave, given the current global shortage, it's one reason why I'd be black marking ASA when weighing up my options.

5)As it applies after you get rated, some OS recruits are currently thinking of leaving before rating checks or getting assurance it won't be applied if they do rate; otherwise thanks for the last 6 months paid holiday; I'm going home.

kazzy01 12th Feb 2008 09:47

Hi All - well had the testing today and boy is it tough. All I can say is never give up as you never know how you've done. I was sure that I'd stuffed up part of the first test, but did actually pass.

Out of 16 of us sitting today, about 5 passed.

Apparently the rumour is that interviews might be as early as next week.
Has anyone been interviewed recently? If so, how was it? How long did it last and was there any techinical ATC questions in it at all?

With this in mind, can anyone help me arrange a visit to an ATC facility in Sydney ? Please PM me if you can help with this as I know it can be an advantage to do this before an interview.


Area QNH is... 13th Feb 2008 09:32


I knew nothing about the bond until the "training agreement" turned up with the rest of the employment documents in the mail.
It applies from when you achieve your initial rating.

$70,000 reducing $14,000 per year over 5 years. (I think it may have changed recently)

The interview is the usual behavioural questions etc.

Good luck.

Chenky 11th Mar 2008 13:32

I'm looking at applying late next year when I finally have my degree so I'm eligible. Reading this topic has maybe sweat a little (or maybe thats just the 38 degree heat down here).. still I am determined in my resolve.

Having said all that, this topic has been quite helpful in that now I know at least what I'm running into.. :ugh:


adam_753 11th Mar 2008 14:19

Having just completed the whole process, it's a long slog and it moves slowly at times but I feel pretty confident. I have just completed the interview phase, waiting on offers in the next month so good luck to everyone else who is waiting?

Give it a go

LeviTate 12th Mar 2008 05:55

I'm waiting too and expecting an answer next week. I had my current boss as a reference and they haven't been contacted yet. Don't know if they will. I'm hoping the response doesn't drag out beyond Easter.

Dixondik 12th Mar 2008 10:02

For those who have applied over the last month (or few) should hear something soon to begin the long long process. However I am told by AsA HR that the next course is in August, so if you want in for this course, be :mad: quick

dsham 12th Mar 2008 11:35

there is an abinitio enroute starting April

adam_753 12th Mar 2008 14:04

My interview was only last week and HR said I would find out in 3 to 4 weeks time, I assume I was one of the last interviewed. Were interviews only conducted in sydney melbourne and Brisbane? How many people were interviewed and how many course positions are they looking to fill?

adam_753 14th Mar 2008 02:08

What were your referees asked? just the standard? Did they contact all of them?

Dixondik 14th Mar 2008 06:09

Did the OCAT yesterday. Here's me thinking it would be comparable ot the RAAF Aptitude testing (hmmm, bad assumption:sad:).....Answered about 35/51 we'll see how I go....

gazs 14th Mar 2008 13:49

Having also sat interview in Feb, Melbourne, references have been contacted today. Not sure what it means but you would hope that when references are contacted that you have been placed on the really short list. Like everyone I would like to know as this process for me has been dragging on for about 18 months now. Referee thought they were being interviewed for a position as the call took about 20 minutes, so to all make sure that you list a referee that has patience

adam_753 14th Mar 2008 14:32

a seven page questionaire? Was it an email based thing? I will let my referee's know in that case.
Good luck everyone I want to know now!

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