My journey to become an airline pilot

2nd attempt at the flight school assessment – this time successful (part 1 of 3).

In this blog I will tell you about my flight school assessment (the successful one). My assessment was back in 2013, although this is a while ago, I do believe this blog can give you a good insight about what to expect. My assessment consisted of three phases. I’ll be making a blog per phase, including tips and tricks how to prepare yourself.

Phase 1: computer testing. This for me consisted of a test called the COMPASS test, which was basically a set of a lot of different tests (explained below). This is a common test and although some schools might use tests with different names, the tests will probably be very similar.

Physics: a few multiple choice questions. The questions were really quite basic, but if it’s been a long time since you’ve done physics, it might be a good idea to practice a bit. You’ll definitely need to know the basic laws by heart (V = I × R and stuff, starting to get nightmares of high school yet 😉?)

Multitasking: a test to check your ability to multitask. In our version we had a primary flight display on one side and numbers showing up on the other side. So for example you’d have heading 010, altitude 5000 and speed 270 show up on the left side of the screen and then you have to add those numbers on the primary flight display. While you’re doing that, you’ll have flashing numbers showing up somewhere in the corner of your screen, which you’ll have the cancel by hitting the same number on your keyboard.

Non verbal reasoning: stuff like the pictures below. Most tests of this phase will test stuff that are basically “talents you’re born with”. People are either good at it or not. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice! Practice might not always make perfect, it definitely makes better. Especially with tests like this one. The more you practice, the more you get to know their “tricks”.

Short term memory. We would get to see a few numbers for a few seconds and then we would have to try and remember as many as possible. We would get things like altitudes, speed, heading, frequencies etc. At the end bit of the test they’d show so many different numbers that it was impossible to remember all. And that is part of the test as well, can you cope with the stress?

Although some pilots might like to make you think otherwise, pilots are not supermen or women. We have a limited amount of numbers that we can remember as well. In real life, when we’ve been told too many numers to remember, we’d just ask the controller to “say again”. At the assessment, just try to remember as many as you can. That’s all you can do.

Tracking test: a test to check how good your hand-eye coordination is. Basically you’ll get a joystick and you’ll have to keep an aircraft in the middle of a path without hitting the sides.

Spatial awareness: see picture below. You’ll get two instruments from which you have to decide which aircraft is doing what the instruments are showing you. I’m pretty sure you’ll get an explanation during the assessment about what an artificial horizon is and how it works. However, you’re probably experiencing quite some stress during that day already. So to make life a little bit easier for you, just study how it works beforehand.

Personality test: here you’ll get a lot of questions. You’ll be given two statements and you have to choose which statement fits you better. Even if you feel both statements don’t fit you at all, you will have to choose one. Not many tips to give you here, just try and be honest. These tests are made to catch the liars.

English test: our English test was really quite basic. To prepare for this part I choose to just read English books and watch movies with English subtitles instead of Dutch subtitles. There won’t be any complicated grammar questions (otherwise I probably would not have made it either 😉), so no need to worry about that much.

I believe that was about it for phase 1. Tip: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and practice some more. As I said before, the tests are mainly made to tests skills you either have or don’t have, so with practicing you won’t go from someone with really bad spatial awareness to the person with the best spatial awareness in the world. However, you’ll really get better with practice and being a little bit better than before can just make the difference between passing and failing.

When you’ve chosen your flight school, do the online research. Can you find out which test they are using? For most tests there are many practice tests online available (either paid or if you’re lucky also free).  Maybe you know someone that just did the test? Ask for tips!

If you have an assessment coming up, either for flight school, a pilot job, or a different job or studies – I wish you all the best & hope you’ll pass with flying colors! 😊

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