A pilot aptitude test, also known as psychometric testing is used to determine a person’s capabilities in terms of becoming a commercial airline pilot. The testing focuses on identifying a high competency when completing specific tests.
Aptitude relates to natural abilities, which cannot be learnt, but this does not mean there is no room for improvement through regular practice. As such, it is advised to practice online tests in the lead up to an exam or interview.
Most airlines only employ pilots who meet a certain level of aptitude in all areas to ensure they recruit the strongest candidates who are highly trainable.
This article focuses on what a pilot aptitude test entails, why they are used and provides links to useful resources.
Why are aptitude tests important?
A pilot aptitude test is just one of a number of steps a candidate is required to complete in order to become a qualified pilot. In short, these tests allow trainers to determine whether an aviation student has what it takes to become a pilot by assessing a range of skills.
As well as completing tests at an aviation school, airlines will also include this sort of examination in the interview process when employing new pilots. Every qualified pilot will need to pass more than one aptitude test before they can gain employment.
Although passing an aptitude test is a clear indication that a person has the abilities to become a pilot, it will not necessarily guarantee a job as there are a number of different stages of the interview process in order to become a commercial airline pilot.
What other elements are included in the job interview?
According to our friends over at Flight Deck Friends, pilot interviews are amongst the most challenging of any job and include many stages, testing a wide range of skills, knowledge and ability.
Tests generally consist of both written and computer based examinations, a verbal interview with human resources, or maybe even an aviation psychologist; group based activities involving other candidates or existing staff are also a possibility.
Stages of the interview can include:
A technical interview
A standard HR interview
A simulator assessment
What do these tests entail?
Pilot aptitude tests can differ depending on the airline or school but usually evaluate a set range of skills. A few of these skills can be improved upon by practice, whereas others are more dependent on natural ability.
Aptitude tests normally cover the following areas:
How can you prepare for a pilot aptitude test?
Candidates can prepare for aptitude testing by practicing a number of skills, such as:
Eye-hand coordination: The best way to prepare is by investing in a flight simulator game and a joystick, although there are a number of computer games that can also help in this regard. You can find a list of recommended flight simulation games in the next section.
Logical thinking: Following instructions and choosing the best solution to a problem will be tested. A simple way to practice this would be to read complex instruction manuals and consider numerous options to solve a single problem.
Memory: Pilots are required to follow instructions from air traffic control so a strong short term memory is required. Luckily, there are numerous ‘brain training’ apps you can download on your mobile phone in order to improve your memory.
Mental arithmetic: Lose the calculator! Pilots are required to quickly process unexpected changes and to make alterations accordingly. Regularly practising sums in your head can help significantly in this regard, instead of turning to a calculator to do everyday maths.
Multitasking: Computer games are another good way to practice multitasking. While playing, invite a friend or set up a video call so they can ask you basic maths questions or to list things in alphabetical order. Alternatively, virtual assistants such as Alexa or Siri can provide similar challenges.
Perceptual capacity: Again computer games and mobile apps can help you to improve skills such as perceptual capacity. Playing these games while your friends or family provide distractions can make these tasks much more challenging.
Stress tolerance: Taking part in a new activity that you find a little daunting is an excellent way to manage stress levels. Activities such as yoga or meditation can be of great help when a person needs to learn to control their stress levels.
Of course, aptitude testing is not set in stone and certain airlines could include a few curve-balls in their interview but practicing the core elements above is extremely advantageous and will improve confidence levels on the day of the test.