Find Out About the Air Traffic Controller Test and Selection Process

Are you applying for an air traffic controller course? About to take an air traffic control test? Below we review the various assessments that make up the air traffic controller training application process.
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Each of the three UK air traffic controller training providers (NATS, ATS and Resource Group) has a unique selection process comprising different steps and requirements, so there is in fact no one air traffic controller test. The tests and assessments you will have to take all depend on the training provider you are applying for. Similarly, there is no one air traffic control practice test, as preparing for one training school will not be the same as preparing for another.

Although air traffic controller training requirements are different, and the individual assessments are unique to each company, selection processes generally consist of the same three sections:

The NATS selection process is considered to be significantly more demanding and exhaustive than that of other training providers. JobTestPrep offer a professional practice pack for the first stage of aptitude tests by NATS. Click here for more information.

If you are looking to apply for the job of air traffic controller in Australia, please visit our Airservices Australia page.

ATC Aptitude Test

Much like with any other job, air traffic control aptitude tests assess more general abilities, such as abstract, spatial and numerical reasoning (usually including speed, distance and time problems). These air traffic controller tests are usually the first stage of selection and may be administered online or in a special assessment centre organised by the air traffic control school. Another group of tests may be administered in order to assess traits that are more specifically required for ATCOs, such as concentration and multitasking tests, a real air traffic control simulator and so on. These are often given at later stage of the process.

Basic ATC Background Knowledge

Learning how to become an air traffic controller is a complex, lengthy process. Training schools want to know the people they accept are up for it. One way to do that is to look for some basic knowledge and understanding of the field, assuming anyone who is really interested in this job will have looked it up beforehand. Basic background knowledge tests are therefore an important part of the selection process. Questions might address the differences between approach, area and aerodrome controllers, names of airports, control towers etc. In some cases you will be provided with relevant reading material to study before you sit the test.


The purpose of the air traffic controller interview is to determine how well you fit the role of ATCO providing your results in the other tests were satisfying. Interviewers may include both ATC professionals and HR personnel, who will be looking for genuine interest in the field and may present realistic scenarios, asking for your suggestions and possible solutions.

In Summary

The air traffic controller recruitment process includes many different assessments aiming to provide recruiters with all the information they need to choose the right people for the job. While there is no one air traffic controller exam, there are certain features that are common to all training colleges. Preparing in advance for this whole process will improve your performance and increase your chances of getting into training school.

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Applying for ATCO training with NATS, ATS or Resource Group? Share your experience and tips with others by leaving a comment below!

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