Many of the top airlines have pilot trainee programmes. These programmes are designed for candidates with no flying experience to be trained and potentially hired by the major airlines. In order to join the training, you must be accepted by both the airline and FTO (flight training organisation) after a process which uses both psychometric tests and assessments to make sure you are the right fit for the airline and for this career. In this article, we outline how best to prepare for both tests and assessments. 

Pilot Skills

The following are a set of skills required as part of the day to day job of a pilot. These skills are tested throughout the recruitment process to any pilot training scheme, be it through the PILAPT, other aptitude tests, interviews, assessment centre activities and more.

Knowledge of maths and physics Understanding of technical information Spatial awareness and coordination
Good communication skills Ability to work in a team Able to think quickly and under pressure
Discipline Self-confidence in your abilities Commitment to your training
Leadership skills Ability to multi-task, deal with more than one thing at once Stay calm under pressure

Online Application

Whether you are applying through an airline or to an FTO directly, the process always begins with an online application. Some airlines, like BA, recruit at specific times throughout the year, while others, like Qatar Airways, recruit on a rolling basis. If you choose to apply to an airline, you have the option of the FTO keeping your application even if you are not accepted to the airline, and the FTO will contact you separately if you meet their standards.

Assessment Day

Successful applicants are invited to assessment days held by the airlines in conjunction with the FTOs. These assessment days are made up of the same basic steps and include numerical tests, the PILAPT test, a group exercise and an interview.

Numeracy Tests

These tests specifically focus on your mental arithmetic skills so you are not allowed to use calculators or any other sort of aid. The tests includes 15 questions and lasts for 15 minutes. During the test you need to use basic mathematical functions to solve short equations quickly. The only way to prepare for this stage is with practice and you can find a range of practice tests suitable for mental maths with JobTestPrep.


The PILAPT test, or pilot aptitude test, assesses a range of skills and capabilities associated with pilots. The test is a one hour test comprised of six modules. These include: 

Hand/eye coordination

Psychomotor tracking

Mechanical reasoning 

Spatial orientation/awareness 

Numeracy skills 


The PILAPT is the major component of the assessment day and will largely determine whether or not you proceed in the process. For this reason, we have outlined each module below and strongly recommend getting as much practice under your belt as possible.

Mechanical Reasoning

Mechanical reasoning tests assess your knowledge of general mechanical subjects such as force, motion, and basic electricity. In some of the questions, it is necessary to make some basic calculations. You may not have encountered these concepts since your school days so make sure to review with our practice mechanical reasoning tests.

Spatial Orientation/Awareness

Spatial orientation or awareness tests are used to examine your visualisation and orientation skills. There are a few different questions common to these tests and they include organising two dimensional shapes, using spatial reasoning cubes, mirror images and perspectives. Practice these specific skills with our spatial reasoning practice tests.

Numeracy Skills

Similar to the first numerical test you took, the numeracy skills tests look at your mental arithmetic abilities. Without the aid of a calculator, you need to be able to quickly calculate and answer maths question using the four basic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Again, the only way to prepare for this is through practice and you can find useful materials with JobTestPrep.

Hand/Eye Coordination, Psychomotor Tracking and Capacity Tests

These three tests focus on your psychomotor and work capabilities rather than your aptitude. The tests come in a few forms, including crosshairs tests, memory games and multi-tasking assessments.

Group Exercise

In addition to testing, airlines and FTOs have cadet candidates take part in a group exercise to help learn more about them. These exercises are meant to showcase your teamwork and leadership abilities, both necessary for pilot training and careers. These exercises commonly include a short task that needs to be completed as a team. The key to success here is to make yourself seen and heard during the exercise without being overbearing. Learn how to perfect your strategy on our group exercise page.


If you come through the tests successfully, your final stage of the assessment day is an interview with a member of the airline recruitment team and an FTO assessor. During the interview, you need to review your work and school history as well as include any other relevant information you included in your application. Remember that this process is an opportunity for both the employer and you to see if a pilot career is your best fit. Expect some technical questions about visas, financing, and so forth as well as some general competency questions. Find out how to put your best foot forward by practicing your interview techniques with a trained assessor.

Prepare for Success

With the right materials, you can fully prepare yourself for what’s to come on the PILAPT and numerical tests. And once you have passed the tests and interview, you are well on your way to being accepted into a pilot training course, either with a major airline or FTO. Good luck.

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