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What Is the AT-SA Exam?

The Air Traffic Skills Assessment (AT-SA) Exam, formerly known as the Air Traffic Selection and Training (AT-SAT) Exam, measures your ability to perform the role of an air traffic controller (ATC). By 2024, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to hire over 10,000 new air traffic controllers. The field of applicants is competitive, so it is vital that you separate yourself from the pack by scoring high on the exam.


Air Traffic Controller Aptitude Test Overview

The AT-SA Exam consists of seven subtests given over 2 hours and 50 minutes:

Memory Game

This subtest begins with a number (1-9) appearing onscreen for two seconds. Another number quickly follows. Using the number pad, type in the difference between these two numbers. After you type in your answer, a third number will appear. Now, determine the difference between your original answer and this new number that has popped up on the screen.

Memory/Variables

This subtest consists of three progressively harder sections, each containing 10 questions. The first section flashes multiple letters that each equal a different number (i.e. A=1). The next thing you will see on the screen are the same letters, albeit this time randomized. Your task is to fill in the number to match the letter. The second section consists of equations, such as A=B+2, B=1, and therefore A=3. This section uses only addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the third section, you are presented with two variable equations.

Spatial Relationship

This subtest measures your ability to recognize spatial relationships. It contains two sections. In the first section, a map containing both a large and a small airplane appears. At the bottom of the screen, you will see instructions RIGHT or LEFT. With the viewpoint of the large airplane, you must determine if the small airplane is to the right or left by answering YES or NO. An EYE, which changes your viewpoint, is added to the screen in the second section. However, it is not necessarily present in all questions.

ATC Simulation

This subtest contains two parts. During the first part, the screen displays a map, with balls flying in from off the screen. You must eliminate balls before they are about to collide by typing in the number of one of them. Unfortunately, at this time, JobTestPrep does not offer preparation for this section.

Word Problems

This subtest contains approximately 15 questions that must be answered in around 20 minutes. You will be penalized for not answering all the questions.

Personality Test

This subtest has 108 questions. You are given a list of three statements, and you must determine of the three which is most like you and which is least like you.

Reading Comprehension

This subtest contains 18 questions that must be answered in 15 minutes. You are presented with six paragraphs, each followed by three questions. Questions may ask you to determine the main point of the paragraph or which statement is true.


Why Prepare for the AT-SA Air Traffic Skills Assessment?

There are several reasons why preparation for the AT-SA is imperative:

  • The median annual wage for air traffic controllers in the US is $122,530.
  • Air traffic controllers get a minimum of 23 vacation days per year. As they build seniority, that number jumps to 36. You also receive full health, vision, and dental coverage, along with life insurance and a comprehensive retirement plan.
  • There are thousands of qualified controller candidates applying each year. Only a small percentage of them make it through the selection process. The best way to distinguish yourself as a prime candidate for employment is to achieve one of the highest scores among all applicants.
  • Over the next decade, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to hire and train more than 10,000 air traffic control specialists. The opportunities for those who pass the test are greater now than ever.

What Our AT-SA Preparation Pack Includes

Our AT-SA PrepPack™ includes the following:

  • Memory tests – There are two types of memory tests. One involves the presentation of numbers, where the correct answer is the difference between two numbers. The second type consists of variables, where the correct answer is the value of each variable. This pack includes one full exercise of each type.
  • Spatial reasoning tests – The AT-SA consists of one test of airplane tracking and another of preventing collisions. This pack includes one full airplane tracking test. It does not yet include a collision prevention test.
  • Personality test & biographical assessment – This pack includes a complete personality practice test, a study guide to help you prepare for the personality section of your test, and a PDF with a breakdown of the biographical assessment.
  • Reading comprehension test – The AT-SA includes a section assessing reading skills. This pack includes two full reading comprehension practice tests.
  • Word problems, graphs, and charts – This test is comprised of logical reasoning questions, word problems, and questions that require you to locate information in charts. Our pack includes four complete practice tests of this type.

The preparation pack also includes additional customized practice materials for the following sections: memory game, memory/variables, spatial relationship, word problems (logical reasoning), personality test, and reading comprehension.


Who Can Become an Air Traffic Controller?

When applying for an air traffic control position, there are two applicant pools.

Pool 1 consists of all U.S. citizens who meet 1, 2, or 3 of the following eligibility criteria:

  1. A graduate from an institution participating in the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) program who has received appropriate recommendation.
  2. A veteran eligible for a Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) and who can provide a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty within 120 days of the announcement closing.
  3. An eligible veteran maintaining aviation experience obtained in the course of his/her military experience and/or a veteran entitled to veterans' preference.

Pool 2 consists of all other U.S. citizens who do not meet the requirements for Pool 1. Such applicants will be required to complete and pass the biographical assessment at the time of application to receive further consideration.

If you are considered Pool 1, you may voluntarily elect to be considered in Pool 2.


Biographical Assessment Personality Test

The biographical assessment is taken during the first phase of the application process.

The biographical assessment may seem like an innocent background questionnaire, but it is, in fact, the most significant screening phase in the process to become an air traffic controller. It consists of experience-related questions that measure the direct fit of a candidate's education and prior experience to the job of air traffic control specialist. However, some of its questions are actually a personality test that aims to assess whether the candidate's profile fits with that of an air traffic controller. JobTestPrep can help you reveal the secrets behind the test and improve your chances of passing the biographical assessment.

Below are samples of the types of questions that can be found on the biographical assessment. Within our practice pack, you will find many more questions like these, along with a breakdown of the answers and how they might affect the evaluated fit of your profile.

What do you like LEAST about technology?

  • It changes all the time.
  • Some technology is not useful.
  • It is difficult to learn.
  • People can become too dependent on technology.

My previous supervisor (or teacher, if not previously employed) would most likely describe the amount of time I needed to complete assignments as:

  • a great deal
  • more than average
  • average
  • less than average
  • do not know

In your current or previous job(s) (or school, if not previously employed) how did you feel about making difficult decisions?

  • It made me cautious about making the right decision.
  • It upset me, and I usually worried about the decision.
  • It made me feel depressed.
  • It was challenging.
  • I did not care one way or the other.

Choose the statement that BEST describes you.

  • When deciding what to do, I take into consideration what others will think of me.
  • My decisions are based primarily on what people will think of me.
  • Other people's opinions have no impact on my decisions.


What's Included

  • Customized practice materials
  • 13 practice tests
  • Professional personality practice test (220 questions) 
  • Memory tests
  • Spatial reasoning tests
  • Reading comprehension test
  • Logical reasoning, including word problems, graphs, and charts tests
  • Detailed answers explanations
  • Bonus: Logical reasoning study guide
  • On demand access
  • Secure payment
Related PrepPacks™ that come with membership: