Accurate ATSA Test Prep for All ATC Test Topics


[Updated on December 19, 2021] The ATSA testing has ended on December 10th and you should already see your test results in your USAJobs account

Best Qualified (BQ) is the highest score you can get, and it should help you get a TOL (Tentative Offer Letter).

New ATC Simulation features were released (the option to press "0" whenever there are no collisions is one of them).

Here's a sneak peek at the ATSA Interactive ATC Simulation Practice, which contains a random and infinite amount of collision scenarios:

ATC Test Simulation

What's on This Page?

1. What Is the ATSA Test?
2. Air Traffic Skills Assessment Video
3. The ATC Test 7 Subtests + Sample Questions
4. Why Prepare for the ATSA Test?
5. Important Tips for the ATC Candidate
6. The Requirements for Being an ATC Specialist
7. ATSA Test FAQ


What Is the ATSA Test?

The ATSA Test (Air Traffic Skills Assessment) is the first major screening test in the ATC Specialist hiring process. Replacing the old Air Traffic Selection and Training (AT-SAT) Exam, the ATSA Test measures your ability to perform the role of an air traffic controller (ATC).

The ATSA lasts about 3 hours and is comprised of 7 subtests in different formats. These subtests include two memory games that involve basic math problems, verbal and logic reasoning questions, a personality test, a spatial reasoning test, and an actual air collision simulation.

The ATSA Test Preparation address all 7 subtests, helping you practice accurately so you will pass the ATSA test with a high score. Later on this page, you will see samples of all ATSA 7 subtests.


The Air Traffic Skills Assessment Fully Explained 

Watch the following 2022 ATSA Test video to get an in-depth look at the FAA Air Traffic Pre-Employment Test and Hiring Process:


Air Traffic Control Test Overview ATC Test Overview and Samples

The FAA Air Traffic Controller Test, or the Air Traffic Skills Assessment, consists of 7 subtests given over 2 hours and 50 minutes:

1. First Memory Game - Differences
2. Second Memory Game - Variables
3. Spatial/Visual Relationship
4. ATC Simulation Test
5. Logical Word Problems
6. Personality Test
7. Reading Comprehension Test

Here are sample questions of all 7 subtests, taken from the ATSA Test PrepPack™:

Memory Game 1 - Numbers and Differences

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 the last number shown on the screen and this new number that has popped up on the screen. 

Tip: The most difficult part of this "easy" subtest is confusing the last number shown with the last answer you gave. For example, if the game shows '5' then '7', the first answer will be '2'. Then, if the screen shows a '4', your answer should be '3' (the difference between '7' and '4'), and not '2' (the difference between '4' and '2'). 

See for yourself a sample from our infinite memory practice test, when a question mark shows you type a digit and get an immediate response:

ATSA Memory Test Prep

Memory Game 2 - 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). Next, you will see on the screen 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.

Try it for yourself, can you quickly answer what number each variable represents?

ATSA Test solutions

Tip: Find the best way to remember the numbers appearing and disappearing on the screen. Some candidates like to whisper to themselves the number and letter as they see them. Some use physical methods to remember the variables, like using your fingers or parts of your body.

Spatial/Visual Relationship

On this subtest, you need to quickly determine the location of two airplanes in relation to each other. You are shown an image with two airplanes, one large and one small, and a text box stating "right" or "left."

In the first section of this subtest, your point of view should be the point of view of the big plane (imagine you are sitting in it, looking at the small plane). In the second section, an eye may appear sometimes, changing your point of view to the eye's point of view.

In all questions, you will have to determine if the text box ("left" or "right") is correct or wrong, answering YES or NO.


For example:

If from the viewpoint of the big plane the small plane is on the left, and the text box says “left" you should answer YES. However, if the eye is present, your point of view is now the eye’s point of view and you should answer NO because changing the point of view has reversed the directions and now the statement in the text box is incorrect.


Tip: When the eye appears, it's usually looking at the big plane, and this point of view causes the reversal of directions from the big plane’s point of view. You can use this trick to answer quickly before you run out of time.

ATSA Test guide

ATC Test Simulation - Collision Avoidance and Math

This subtest contains two parts. During the first part, the screen displays a map, with numbered 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. In the second part, while avoiding collisions, you need to simultaneously answer basic math problems.

In the PrepPack™ you will find an accurate ATC radar simulation that mimics the actual ATSA simulation. The practice simulation is random, creating an infinite amount of collision scenarios. 

Here's a glimpse from our pack: 

ATC Test Simulation

Important Tip: On the ATC Simulation, you must prioritize your tasks, like a real ATC Specialist. For example, it is obviously more important to avoid collisions than to answer a math question. Many candidates state that they got a high score on the ATSA, even when they answered a very small percentage of the math questions.

Word Problems - Logical Reasoning

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

Tip: In "seating arrangement" questions, where you need to sort or arrange a group of people/objects, these are the two most effective solving techniques:

  1. Drawing a chart/table/seating arrangement and filling it according to the rules
  2. Eliminating answer choices according to the rules

Sometimes, using both techniques together is helpful or even necessary. Try it for yourself:

The Question:

For a two-day career event at a local high-school class, exactly six out of eight parents with different occupations - florist, gardener, historian, inventor, jeweler, locksmith, mailman, and optician - are chosen to introduce their occupations to the class. On each day exactly three different parents will speak to the class in three different time slots - morning, mid-day and afternoon, subject to the following conditions:

- The florist can only speak on day 2.

- The gardener and the locksmith cannot speak in mid-day.

- If the gardener speaks on day 1, then the optician and the jeweler speak on day 2.

- The inventor and the mailman will not speak on the same day.

- If both the inventor and the locksmith are speaking, then the inventor speaks sometime before the locksmith.

Which one of the following could be a complete and accurate schedule of the two-day careers event (in order of appearance)?

A. Day 1: inventor, gardener, historian Day 2: jeweler, locksmith, optician

B. Day 1: mailman, florist, gardener Day 2: optician, jeweler, inventor

C. Day 1: jeweler, optician, gardener Day 2: inventor, florist, historian

D. Day 1: inventor, historian, jeweler Day 2: optician, mailman, locksmith

E. Day 1: historian, optician, locksmith Day 2: mailman, jeweler, inventor

Answer & Explanation

In a question asking for a possible complete arrangement according to the rules, every response that violates any of the rules should be eliminated.
The correct answer is the one that does not violate any of the rules.

(A) According to the rules, the gardener and the locksmith cannot speak in mid-day. Therefore, this response is eliminated.

(B) According to the rules, the florist can only speak on day 2. Therefore, this response is eliminated.

(C) According to the rules, if the gardener speaks on day 1, then the optician and the jeweler speak on day 2. Therefore, this response is eliminated.

(D) This setting does not violate any of the rules, and therefore this is the correct answer.

(E) According to the rules, the inventor and the mailman are not speaking on the same day. Therefore, this response is eliminated.

The correct answer is (D).

Personality Test

This subtest has 108 questions. You are given a list of three statements, and you must determine which of the three is most like you and which is least like you. Here is a sample from our complete personality study guide:

A Taste of the ATC Personality Study Guide

ATSA Personality Test Sample

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. Try it for yourself (the explanation will show when you choose the correct answer):

The Passage:

Experts agree that arts and culture are an important part of the economy, but the precise relationship is complicated. The main question is does investment in the arts stimulate growth, or are the arts the product of economic development? It would seem that the case for continued arts funding is clear-cut—enjoying the arts (visiting art galleries and theatres) boosts the economy. Yet some argue that the link between arts investment and economic output is tenuous. Researchers today are exploring a different angle of this relationship. They are trying to understand how the subjective value of the arts—the 'happiness factor'—may translate into economic benefits. According to the “happiness factor” hypothesis, when a place develops a critical mass of arts and vibrancy it tends to attract talented people which, in turn, tends to raise income.

Which of the following assumptions can definitely be made based on the above paragraph?

A) Subsidizing cultural activities leads to economic growth.
B) The "happiness factor" effect on the economy is still unclear.
C) Economic development contributes to the establishment of the arts.
D) The "happiness factor" focuses on the influence of talented artistic people on the economy.

Answer & Explanation

The correct answer is (B).

Option (B) is the correct answer because according to the passage, the "happiness factor" is a hypothesis that researchers are exploring in relation to economic growth: "They are trying to understand how the subjective value of the arts—the 'happiness factor'—may translate into economic benefits".

Option (A) is incorrect because the passage states that "some argue that the link between art investment and economic output is tenuous". The passage emphasizes that the relationship between the arts and culture and the economy is "complicated" and presents several points of view on the issue, without stressing that one factor clearly affects the other.

Option (C) is incorrect because the passage presents the question of whether "the arts are the product of economic development", but it does not answer it clearly. Therefore, this assumption cannot be based on the paragraph.

Option (D) is incorrect because the "happiness factor" focuses on the influence of talented people in general on the economy, and not necessarily talented artistic people.

Why Prepare for the FAA Air Traffic Pre-Employment Test?

The ATSA test is a crucial step towards becoming an ATC Specialist for the FAA and the competition is very high. Here are the facts:

  • The median annual wage for air traffic controllers in the US was $127,805 in 2016 (official FAA information).
  • Air traffic controllers get a minimum of 23 vacation days per year. As they build seniority, that number jumps to 36. They 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.


To start preparing for the Air Traffic Controller test right away, tap the button below:

ATSA Test Prep (2022 Edition)


See What You'll Get

Complete Preparation for All ATSA 7 Subtests:

  • Accurate ATC Simulation Radar Game
  • Reading Comprehension practice tests
  • Word Problem (Logical Reasoning) practice tests
  • Memory Game 1 - Differences (Gamified)
  • Memory Game 2 - Variables
  • Spatial/Visual Relationship
  • Full Personality test

Extra Practice and Study Guides:

  • Logical Reasoning Extra Practice
  • Logical reasoning Study Guides
  • Personality Profiling Study Guides
Brandon W.
Verified Reviewer, Trustpilot, May 13, 2021
"Best study guide online for the new ATSA test, not only does it tell you what the correct answers are, but tells you WHY they are correct 10/10 would recommend"

Air Traffic Controller Test Tips Tips and General Info for ATC Candidates:

  1. The FAA ATC hiring process can take a long time, so you have to be patient. There are many steps between the first application and the first day of work, and some steps can take several months. 
  2. You might want to read the US Department of Labor's Official Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) description for the role of ATC Specialist.
  3. Oral comprehension and oral expression are very important for being a qualified Air Traffic Control Specialist. Take that into consideration and try to prove your oral skills throughout the hiring process.
  4. You are allowed a total of 30 minutes of break time throughout the test. We recommend planning your breaks before the test while making adjustments at the time of the test, considering mental fatigue.
  5. Reading the instructions before any subtest is highly important! Even if you think you know exactly how the questions are answered, read the instructions thoroughly, as you might find out important information. For example, some subtests penalize you for wrong answers and/or for unanswered questions.
  6. You cannot use a pen and paper in the ATSA test. Keep that in mind when using the ATC Test Prep.
  7. Many questions on the ATSA are unique and will not be found in any other test. Preparation can be crucial, at least to get familiar with the format. We highly recommend practicing as much as you can, starting a long time before the exam date. If you finished all the practice tests on a specific subject, it can be very beneficial to practice them again after a day or two of practicing other question types. Even if you know the answers, you can still gain familiarity with the timing, the format, and the anxiety and pressure that come with a timed test.

ATC Test Requirements What Are the Minimum Requirements for taking the ATSA Test?

From the official FAA Aviation Careers page, the eligibility requirements for being an Air Traffic Control Specialist are:

  • Being a USA citizen
  • Being 30 years old or younger (at the end of the application period)
  • Passing a medical examination
  • Passing a security investigation
  • Passing the FAA Air Traffic Controller Test (the ATSA)
  • Speaking English clearly
  • Having three years of adequate work experience or a BA degree (or a combined total of at least three years of college education and work experience)
  • Being willing to relocate

More information on the ATC Hiring Process can be found on the ATSA Test FAQ:


What Is the ATSA Test?

The Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) or Air Traffic Controller Test is a 3.5 hours screening exam during the FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist hiring process. The ATSA consists of 7 different subtests: Two memory tests that include basic math, a spatial orientation test, a reading comprehension subtest, word problems (logical reasoning seating arrangements), a personality test, and an ATC simulation where you must prevent collisions while doing basic math problems.

How Long Is the ATSA Test?

The ATSA test is exactly 2 hours and 49 minutes long, plus 30 minutes of break time, which can also be divided into smaller breaks.

What Is the ATC Radar Simulation Test?

The ATC simulation is one subtest of the ATSA test. It is a game of collision avoidance and basic math questions. You are shown a screen with numbered dots coming in from all angles and your job is to prevent the dots from colliding. When you identify which dots are going to collide, you can press the number of one of the dots, making it disappear, thus preventing the collision.

The ATC simulation test involves different difficulty levels, while in the end the speed of the dots is very high, and you must answer math questions while trying to avoid the collisions.

What Skills Are Needed for an Air Traffic Controller?

According to the FAA website air traffic controllers should have Active Listening and Speaking skills, Critical Thinking, Judgment and Decision Making, and Complex Problem-Solving abilities. Moreover, ATC specialists should have the following skills: Monitoring, Coordination, Reading Comprehension, Time Management, Social Perceptiveness, Service Orientation, Active Learning, Systems Analysis, and Writing skills.

Where Do I Apply to Take the ATC Test?

Every year the FAA publishes new opening for the air traffic control trainee position that are open to all US citizens under 30. The announcement can be found on

How Long Does It Take to Get ATSA Results?

It can take about a month after the ATSA test to get a referral status (either “Referred” or “Not Referred”). After that, if you scored high enough you can get a TOL (Tentative Offer Letter) about 3 months after taking the test. If your score is not quite good, you are put on a waiting list.

What Is a “Best Qualified” Score?

The ATSA test scores are divided into 4 groups – Best Qualified, Well Qualified, Qualified, or Not Referred. Your goal is to get a Best Qualified score, optimizing your chances of getting a TOL.

What Are Pool 1 and Pool 2 Candidates?

Pool 1 consists of all U.S. citizens who meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria

1. A graduate from an institution participating in the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) program who has received an 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.

Does It Matter What Pool I Am In?

In short, yes. Pool 1 candidates are looked at first, meaning they may get referred and eventually hired, even though they scored lower on the ATC test. That means that if you’re an OTS candidate (Off the Streets), it’s better you score very high on the ATSA.

What Is the Biographical Questionnaire (BQ or BioQ)?

In the past, pool 2 candidates were required to complete and pass the BioQ biographical assessment. Since July 2018 and following a lawsuit about the validity of the assessment, the biographical assessment is no longer relevant for any pool candidates.

How Long Is the ATC Specialist Hiring Process?

The FAA Air Traffic Controller hiring process varies significantly from candidate to candidate and can last up to two years. After passing the application process and the ATSA test, there are other steps and procedures you must pass, such as the MMPI personality and psychopathology test, a drug screening, a security clearance, and a medical check. If you manage to pass these stages successfully, you will eventually get an FOL (Final Offer Letter) and start the FAA Academy.

How Many Times Can You Retake the ATSA Test?

You can take the ATSA test as many times as you want, but only once per application period.

It's important to remember that your ATSA test results are valid for three years after taking the test. However, if you feel you can do better on it, you can reapply when the next announcement publishes and take the test again. It is even recommended, especially if you did not get a "Best Qualified" score.

How Much Does the ATSA Test Cost?

The Air Traffic Controller test does not cost anything for the applicant. However, you should consider travel costs, as sometimes you will need to drive a long way to get to the closest assessment center. The FAA does not reimburse travel costs.

How Competitive Is the ATSA Test?

The position of an FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist is very sought-after. The field of applicants is very competitive, so it is vital that you score high on the exam.

Is There an Age Limit for becoming Air Traffic Controller?

Unexperienced candidates must be under the age of 31 at the closing date of the application window. However, if you have at least one full year of ATC work experience (FAA, civilian, or military), you can apply even if you're older than 31.

Can I Cancel or Reschedule the ATSA Test?

If you cannot make it to your ATSA test appointment, you're required to reschedule or cancel it at least 48 hours before the scheduled test date.

Is the ATSA Test Taken at Testing Centers?

Yes*, the ATSA test is usually done at Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs)** around the country. To find the closest Pearson testing center, write your address here

Sometimes testing centers get full, so you want to schedule the test soon after getting the exam invitation email. And make sure you choose a date that fits best. In some cases, you will need to drive a few hours or even fly to the nearest testing center, so take that into consideration.

*In 2020, the ATSA test was conducted in the candidates' homes, because of Covid-19 restrictions.
**In the past, the aptitude test was taken in PSI centers.

How Hard Is the Air Traffic Controller Test?

With no preparation at all, the ATSA test can be very difficult. You may think that because the ATSA is an aptitude assessment, you don't need to practice for it, but this can't be farther from the truth.

Before your upcoming test, get as much information as you can about the test and try to practice with accurate prep tools that mimic the actual test. You don't want to be surprised by the real test.

What Is Pearson VUE?

Pearson VUE is the official vendor of the FAA for the ATSA test and operates its testing system. If your application on USAJobs goes through, you will get an email from Pearson VUE inviting you to schedule a test date to take the ATSA test.

For more official information about Pearson VUE and Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs), visit this link.

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