The Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Skills Assessment (AT-SA) is one of the biggest hurdles in the Air Traffic Controller recruitment process. Even though the test is pass/fail you will be given a grade and ranked into bands based on your score. Those with a higher score will have a higher likelihood to land a position. Let's take a deeper look into the AT-SA and learn all about the exam and how to excel.
What Is the AT-SA?
The Air Traffic Skills Assessment (AT-SA) Exam is the latest version of the aptitude test required to become an Air Traffic controller. The test was formerly known as the Air Traffic Selection and Training (AT-SAT) Exam, which was a lengthier exam. The point of the exam is test your aptitude for being a successful Air Traffic controller. The FAA wants to ensure that you have what it takes to complete the job.
How Long Is the AT-SA Exam?
You have 2 hours and 50 minutes to complete the exam. You can take up to a 30 minute break. You can choose to divide that time into six 5 minute breaks or one longer 30 minute break.
How Many Sections Are in the Test?
The test is broken down into 7 sections. It is important to be aware that you will complete the fist four sub-tests then you will need to notify the proctor to administer and set up the last three sections.
What Are the Sections on the AT-SA?
This subtest involves a number ranging from 1-9 showing up on the screen for two seconds, followed by another number. You will need to use a number pad to identify the difference between the two numbers. Another number will subsequently appear and you will need to identify the difference between this number and the previous one. It is important to note that all answers will be positive numbers. This subtest will have about 8 questions that run about two minutes each. You will not be able to change your answers.
Memory Game Sample Question: The screen displays 1 and then 6. The difference is 5. Then a 8 would pop up. The difference between 8 and 6 is 2.
This section includes three 10 question sub-parts which get progressively harder. The first part will display values for the letters A,B, and C. Then it will ask you the values of the letters in randomized order.
Memory/ Variables Sample Part 1: C=3, A=1, B= 4. So what does B=? C=? A=?
In the second part one of the letters will equal an equation e.g. B = A - 1. The equations will involve multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and the numbers will stay between 1-4.
Memory/ Variables Sample Part 2: B=C +3, A=1, C= 2. So what does A=? B=? C=?
In the third part two of the letters will now be equations.
Memory/ Variables Sample Part 3: A=B - 1, C=3, B =C/ 2. So what does A=? C=? B=?
This subtest measures your spatial recognition skills. It is broken down into two parts each about 5-10 minutes long. In the first part, you will need to identify the orientation of a small and large plane. You will be given the viewpoint of the large plane and an instruction with either RIGHT or LEFT will appear. You must identify if this statement is true of false by indicating YES or NO using the keypad. In the second part an EYE might appear which will change your viewpoint.
Spatial Relationship Sample Question: SMALL plane is to the right of LARGE plane. Text box says Right. The answer is YES.
Spatial Relationship Sample Question Two: SMALL plane is to the right of LARGE plane. EYE is present. Text box says Left. The answer is Yes.
This section gets progressively harder as it goes along. You will start with two small planes (balls) flying onto the screen and you will need to remove any of the planes you suspect will be heading for a collision (you will do this by pressing the number assigned to the plane). They start simple with two planes going slowly and end with about seven planes on the screen at once. Then there will be a transition to a second part, where in addition to avoiding collisions you will have to answer math problems which will appear for about 2-3 seconds. There are about 2-3 math questions per simulation. When it comes time to answering the math questions there will be some large numbers so you should be estimating. Remember the point of this activity is not to answer the math question perfectly but show how you prioritize and multitask. The point of the activity is to eliminate the fewest amount of planes necessary without a collision.
ATC Simulation Sample Question: 41 * 16 = A:34 B: 373 C: 656 D: 897
After the fourth section you will ask the proctor so set up the second part of the test. You will register with a testing company and finish the last three sections.
This section includes about 15 word problems and there is about 20 minutes to answer them. You will be penalized for not answering a question, so it is best if you guess. These questions can include graphs and charts.
Word Problem Sample Question: 5 people are in line at the store, Harry is ahead of Paul who is directly behind Margie. Bob is before Dave but behind Harry.
What can you determine from the question:
- Margie is first in line
- Margie is 5th in line
- Harry is ahead of Paul
- Paul is 1st in line
- Margie doesn't like Bob
C is the correct answer.
The personality test has about 108 questions with two appearing on each screen. You will be given three choices and you need to identify one which is most like you and one which is least like you.
I like to follow instructions.
I don't like to go to parties.
I like to receive compliments.
You will mark MOST and LEAST next to the ones that apply.
You will have about 15 minutes to answer 18 questions. There will be six passages with three questions each. The questions will focus on comprehension, main idea, inferencing and deductions.
How Long Do You Need to Wait to Find out the Results?
You will be notified within 90 days to see if you will move on. Your USAJobs account will say referred on it. Unfortunately, you will not find out your score on the exam but you will find out your band. There are two passing categories, or as they call them bands. Those who fall into Band 1 receive a score between 80-100 and those in Band 2 receive a score between 70-79. Those in a higher band will be more likely to get placed in a job.
AT-SA Test Taking Tips
- Depending on the section you might be penalized for wrong answers so pay attention to the directions.
- Some of the questions will have a specific time frame associated with them. So, make sure you pace yourself correctly.
- For the ATC Simulation Math portion, it is best to estimate the numbers. The important part of the exam is how you prioritize the questions, not if you get the exact answers.
- There will be a sample question before each sub-test. Use this as a helpful guide! You can answer the same question multiple times.
How Can You Prepare?
With a projection of over 10,000 new hires in the next decade Air Traffic Control is a hot career! The average salary is $122,530 with amazing benefits including; 23-36 vacation days, health,vision and dental insurance, life insurance, and a great retirement plan. We recommend using a variety of practice resources. We are partnered up with JobTestPrep and they have a prep pack which focuses on the Memory test, Spatial Reasoning Test, Personality and Biographical Assessment, Reading comprehension, and Word Problems. Where as, we recommend ATC Prep for air traffic collision scenarios and visual scenarios.
Make sure you are at the top of your game and prepare for your AT-SA today!