NATS Air Traffic Controller Aptitude Tests Preparation

About the NATS 

The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is the biggest UK employer for ATCOs, providing ATC services and consultancy solutions in and out of the UK. NATS trains its own ATCOs at Fareham College and the various ATC units it operates. Trainees are paid for training and guaranteed employment after successfully completing the course, although they do not get to choose their specialty, or the ATC unit they will work in.

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The NATS Hiring Process

You must pass 3 different stages during the NATS recruitment process. Failure in any of the stages means you will have to wait one year before you can reapply, and you cannot have more than three attempts in total. Note that there might be a waiting period of several months between each stage. 

There are 3 stages in the NATS hiring process:

note  Stage 1: Online Application

note Stage 2:  NATS Air Traffic Control Aptitude Tests

note Stage 3:  NATS Assessment Centre



note Stage 1: Online Application

The minimum entry criteria to the Air Traffic Controller hiring process includes having five GCSEs at Grade C or above, including English and maths. You must be over 18 years old at the time of submission.

Unlike in previous years, there is currently no maximum age restriction. Having a mathematical or technical degree may be of some advantage, although it is not a necessary requirement. You must also meet all the other CAA criteria for a student and full ATCO license.

note Stage 2: NATS Air Traffic Control Aptitude Tests

After your NATS application form has been submitted, you will receive an email invitation from NATS to sit cut-e online tests. Cut-e is a well-known test provider which offers employers with aptitude tests to measure candidates on a variety of different cognitive abilities.  

The NATS Tests include two steps:



cut-e scales lst ⋙ Deductive-logical thinking
cut-e scales cmo ⋙ Monitoring ability
cales clx ⋙ Inductive-logical reasoning
cales e3+ ⋙ Ability to concentrate
cales ndb  ⋙  Spatial orientation
More possible tests ⋙ stm, xw, English proficiency tests


cut-e SJQ ⋙ Situational Judgment Questionnaire
   Occupational Personality Questionnaire 


scales lst

About: Similar to the game Sudoku, on the scales lst test you will be shown a grid which contains objects that appear just once per column and per row. In the grid you will find one cell containing a single question mark. Your goal will be to figure out which object belongs in that cell in place of the question mark.

Topics covered: This test assesses your deductive-logical thinking skills, to determine how you draw logical conclusions from the given information.

Test time: You will have 6 minutes to complete the test.


scales cmo

About: On the scales cmo test, you will be presented with several moving objects which you will need to quickly count and write down the correct number of objects displayed.

Topics covered: This test assesses your monitoring abilities, to measure your capabilities when monitoring activity on your screen.

Test time: You will have 2 minutes to complete the test.


scales clx

About: For the scales clx test, you will be asked to discover a rule that two grids share within a table. Your goal will be to find the pattern and choose another two grids in different tables which follow the same rule.

Topics covered: This exam measures your inductive logical reasoning skills, to assess how well you can analyse information and sets of data.

Test time: You will have 6 minutes to complete the test.


scales e3+

About: During the scales e3+ exam, you will be shown an image with several types of elements inside. You will be asked questions regarding the content in the image. Your goal is to determine whether the statement given is correct or incorrect to answer the question as fast as possible.

Topics covered: This exam evaluates your ability to concentrate on a given task.

Test time: You will have 2 minutes to complete the test.


scales ndb

About: On the scales ndb test, you will be asked to elaborate on the position and course of an aircraft with an image of an aircraft on a non-directional beacon. You will be able to do so by relating to what is shown on a radio compass as well as a gyrocompass.

Topics covered:  This exam is used to measure your spatial sense of orientation and knowledge of how to handle an aircraft.

Test time: You will have 3 minutes to complete the test.


More Possible Tests

You may face other aptitude tests in addition to the ones mentioned above. Some of the tests you may encounter include:

1. scales stm: A short-term memory assessment that displays several images (3-5) which you will need to memorise. You will then be asked to point out which images are identical to the ones you saw earlier on in the test.

2. scales xw: This test measures for complex control to assess your hand-eye coordination. You will be shown different rotating objects which you will need to to avoid colliding with when moving across the screen.

3. English proficiency tests: Mostly used for non-native English speakers, these tests are conducted to assess one’s knowledge of the English language.



cut-e Situational Judgment Questionnaire (SJQ)  

About: On this test, you will be presented with real-life work scenarios which you will need to answer by deciding how you would react in a given situation. The types of situations presented may vary depending on the role you are applying for.

Topics covered: This assessment is performed to discover more about your behavioural tendencies and fit for the position.

Test time: This test is not timed and there are no strict right/wrong answers.


SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)

About: On this test, you will be presented with around 104 questions. You will be shown a block of three statements, two of which you will choose to be the statements that describe you the most and the least.

Topics covered: This SHL OPQ assessment evaluates your behavioural traits in the workplace, measuring up to 32 characteristics to assess how well-suited you are for the job. You will be measured based on your relationships with others, thinking style and feelings and emotions.

Test time: This test is not timed and there are no strict right/wrong answers.


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note Stage 3: NATS Assessment Centre

Passing the NATS aptitude tests is followed by an invitation to attend an assessment centre at Fareham. The assessment centre is an important part of the NATS recruitment process and usually takes place over the course of a full day. At this stage, you will be invited to partake in four activities. Passing each stage is essential if you wish to move on to the next one.


The 4 assessment centre activities are as follows:

1. Interview

2. Group exercise

3. Air Traffic Control (ACT) knowledge test

4. Retest of the NATS stage one tests


1. Interview

In this last stage, you will attend the assessment centre for an in-person interview, usually carried out by HR as well as ATC trained assessors. You are required to provide evidence of your achievements in different areas in life and present a genuine interest in becoming an air traffic control officer. You may also be given realistic scenarios and asked to provide your insight and suggest possible responses.

Learn how our assessors can help you pass your interview with our interview preparation services. If your performance in this interview is satisfactory, you will be asked to stay for a scenario-based group exercise.

2. Group exercises

During this assessment centre day, you may partake in group exercises, which are used to further assess your suitability for the specific job position. During these exercises you will be required to perform challenging tasks with a team of 8-16 other candidates. The purpose of group exercises is to evaluate if you possess the required communication and social skills, how well you work under pressure, how well you work in a team setting and whether you take initiative as a team leader.

3. ACT Knowledge Test

During this stage, you will be tested on your technical knowledge of material relevant to the air traffic control role you are applying for. Prior to taking this assessment, you will be sent papers to study from which include technical details about the different types of airplanes, airports and other ATC related subjects. The test consists of about 30 multiple-choice questions referring to these papers.

4. Retaking NATS Aptitude Tests

Once you have successfully completed the previous assessment centre activities, you will be invited to take the NAT aptitude tests one more time. This part of the process is carried out to ensure that your cognitive abilities are still up to par with NATS expectations. Passing this final stage of the recruitment process will ensure that you get the job of your dreams.


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Prepare for Success

Ensure your competitive advantage in qualifying to become a NATS trainee air traffic controller. Competition is stiff, and our tailored NATS prepPack™ can be the difference between making the cut and missing it. Practising for every stage in advance will give you the head start you need. Prepare today for the NATS hiring process to ensure your ultimate success.


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