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 its 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.
You must pass each stage of the recruitment process in order to continue to the next one. Failure in any of the stages means you will have to wait two years 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.
The minimum entry criteria include having five GCSEs at Grade C or above, including English and mathematics. 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 licence.
After your NATS application form has been submitted, you will receive an email invitation to sit online tests. You have three months to complete these tests. If you don't take the tests during this period, it will be as if you have failed them, and you will have to wait two years before you can try again.
The NATS tests are provided by Saville Consulting and are divided into two parts:
The numerical test measures your ability to analyse numerical data. It provides tables and charts followed by questions requiring basic arithmetic operations. The verbal test consists of short text passages and different types of questions assessing your language and understanding of the main points in the text. On the error checking test, you must decide if two columns or rows of numbers and letters contain errors or not.
All tests are completed under time constraints, so you are required to work both quickly and accurately. If you answer enough questions correctly, you will be sent a link to the next two aptitude tests.
The diagrammatic reasoning test presents input-output diagrams. One component in the diagram—either input, operator, or output—will be missing, and your task is to figure out what it is. On the spatial reasoning test, you must find the odd shape out of several rotated shapes in each question. These tests have time constraints as well.
According to NATS, almost half of the candidates are cut during the first stage of online aptitude tests. Preparing for these tests in advance may ensure you move on to stage 2 and save you another two years of waiting to reapply. As with any other test, becoming familiar with the question types and being used to working under time limits increases your confidence and ability to answer more questions correctly.
For this reason, we highly recommend you practice with our tailored NATS ATCO style practice pack. It includes our numerical, verbal, error checking, and diagrammatic reasoning practice tests for Saville's assessment, which are accompanied by study guides, score reports, and more. Three months is plenty of time to practise. Start now and make sure you pass to Stage 2!
If you pass all the online tests successfully, you will continue to the assessment centre and interview stages.
Passing the NATS aptitude tests is followed by an invitation to attend an assessment centre at Fareham. The assessment centre is a long day consisting of three different tests. Passing each test is essential to move on to the next one. If you don't get a good enough score, you will be asked to leave and try again in two years' time.
You are sent papers to study in advance with all the relevant materials, which include technical details of different aeroplanes, airports, and other ATC related subjects. The test consists of about 30 multiple-choice questions referring to these papers.
The First European Air Traffic Controller Selection Test (FEAST) by Eurocontrol is a computerised test used by over 40 European civil and military organisations. It assesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities of applicants for training that are relevant and necessary for the ATCO job.
There are three different sections on the FEAST: a cognitive abilities and English test, an ATC work sample test, and the FEAST Personality Questionnaire (FPQ), which assesses personality characteristics relevant in the training of ATC students.
The score required to proceed to the next round of selection differs from one air traffic control organisation to another. Even if you have already passed the FEAST test for another ANSP, NATS may have a higher standard and require you to undertake it again.
The Dynamic ATC Radar Test (DART) simulates actual ATC work. You are presented with a radar screen where you can see several aircrafts. Your task is to guide some of those aircrafts both safely and efficiently to specific checkpoints. You have to make sure you avoid bringing aircrafts too close to one another and take into account different traffic and navigation constraints. The difficulty level increases as the test progresses, so you must control more aircrafts simultaneously and more check points to get them through. Eventually, you will even have to perform some mental arithmetic calculations as you are controlling the aircrafts.
In this last stage, you attend the assessment centre for an interview 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.
Facing a panel of people about to judge your behaviour is never a pleasant experience. Learn how our assessors can help 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.
The very last step of this process is the medical and security check-ups. Non-native English speakers also need to sit an additional English test.
Ensure your competitive advantage in qualifying to become a NATS trainee. Competition is stiff, and JobTestPrep's preparation packages can mean the difference between making the cut and missing it. Prepare today and ensure your success.
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