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Air Traffic Controller (ATSA) Practice Tests For 2024

Jan 24, 2024

Why Take ATSA Practice Test?

The Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) is an entry-level assessment that you will have to pass if you want to become an Air Traffic Control Specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The ATSA is a challenging test, taken at a Pearson VUE test center. You will need to demonstrate that you have the right skills and aptitudes to be successful in the role – and these are assessed in seven subtests that you will need to complete within the two hour and 49-minute time limit.

The ATSA is a challenging assessment – not least because of the content of the questions – but you can give yourself the best chance if you make use of ATSA practice exam papers.

Practice tests help your performance in several ways.

First, using an ATSA practice test before you start preparing will both introduce you to the type of questions that you can expect on the real thing and give you an opportunity to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

By taking an ATSA practice exam before revising, you will have a good idea of what the test will be like, but also where there are any areas that you should be focusing on in your revision – the questions that you are getting wrong and the areas on the test that you are finding most difficult.

Another good reason to use paid-for and free ATSA practice test papers as part of your preparation is to get familiar with the structure and the layout of the assessment. When you are under pressure in a pre-employment assessment, it is challenging – so the more familiar you are with the test, and the more you know what to expect, the easier you will find it to concentrate on answering the questions correctly.

To get the most out of your practice tests, make sure that you are taking them under exam conditions and with a timer to make it as realistic as possible.

You should also use paid-for and free ATSA practice test papers to check your progress when you are preparing and revising. Seeing your progress through improving scores will not only make you feel more confident when you come to the real thing, but you will also be able to check that your revision is working.


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Practice ATSA Test With Samples


Memory Game

In the memory game, you will have a number appear for two seconds, then disappear. Another number will then appear for two seconds and disappear.

You are required to deduct the second number from the first number and input that into the answer box. A third number will appear – you need to deduct that from the second.


If you subtract the second number from the first, you will get 2 – so that is the answer you should input.

In this example, the first answer would be two – but the second answer would be three. This is a common issue with this subtest – candidates subtract the number they input before, rather than the number on the screen.



This subtest is similar to the previous in layout and structure, but the content is slightly different. Each screen will flash up with variables and their values, and you will have to take different actions depending on the section of this subtest.

There are three sections – in the first, you’ll need to match the variable to the number. In the second, you will need to find the answer to a simple equation that uses both variables shown. In the third, you will have to solve two variables.

What makes this hard is that you are relying on your memory to answer these questions – you do not have access to scrap paper and no way to make notes, so you’ll need quick math skills and memory for this.


In this example, you need to be able to recall the value of A, even after seeing other information. In this case, A = 2.


This is the slightly more difficult version of this subtest, where you will need to remember the value of the variables and then answer a simple math question using them. The answer is 6.


Spatial/Visual Relationship

Spatial reasoning and the understanding of visual relationships is assessed in a subtest that at first glance seems rather simple. You will see an image that contains a large plane, and a smaller plane.

To begin with, you have to decide where the small plane is in relation to the large plane and confirm whether the text box (which says either ‘left’ or ‘right’) is correct. To make this choice in the first round, you need to imagine that you are on the large plane.

However, in the second round, the point of view will change – an eye will appear on the screen, and you will need to decide where the small plane is in relation to the large plane from the point of view of the eye. These images change fast so you don’t have much time to think.


In this example, from the point of view of the large plane, the text box is correct – so you would answer 'Yes'.


From the point of view of the eye, the small plane is on the left, which means you would answer 'No'.


ATC Simulation

The simulation looks (and works) like a simple video game. On screen, numbered balls travel across from the edges in straight lines, and there are multiple balls on the screen at the same time.

You need to prevent a collision – to do this, you will have to type the number of a ball that you want to remove from the screen.

There are two rounds of this – as with other multi-level subtests, the second round adds another layer of difficulty by asking you to answer some challenging math questions while still preventing collisions. You will need to be able to multitask and split your focus to get through this part successfully.


Word Problems

This is a test of your logical reasoning ability, and most questions are based on the _seating arrangements_ style. This is one section of the test that you want to ensure that you answer every question as you will be penalized for any blank answers, and you cannot go back once you have moved on.

You will need to answer 15 questions in 20 minutes and will have to work it out in your head.

1. There are five people waiting in a queue. Margot is ahead of Jane who is directly behind Kathryn. James is before Jack but behind Margot.

What can you determine from this?

a) Kathryn is the first person in the queue
b) Kathryn is the fifth person in the queue
c) Margot is standing ahead of Jane
d) Jane is the first person in the queue
e) Kathryn is not a friend of Margot

The correct answer is: c).

The others are either not true, or they cannot be determined with the information we have.

2. A wedding reception is taking place, and there are eight guests: Alice, Bob, Carol, David, Emily, Frank, Grace and Henry. They are seated in a row of eight chairs. The chairs are numbered from 1 to 8.

The following information is given about their seating arrangement:

  • Alice is sitting in an even-numbered chair.
  • Bob is sitting three chairs away from Alice, on her left.
  • Carol is sitting next to Henry.
  • David is sitting on Chair #4.
  • Emily is sitting on Chair #8.
  • Frank is sitting on Chair #1.
  • Grace is sitting on an odd-numbered chair.
  • Henry is not sitting at either end of the row.

Determine the seating arrangement for each guest. Who is sitting in Chair #5?

a) Frank
b) Bob
c) Alice
d) Grace

The correct answer is: b) Bob

Frank is sitting on chair #1, Alice is sitting on an even-numbered chair and although Grace is sitting on an odd-numbered chair, when all the other options are considered, she cannot be on #5.


Personality Test

The personality subtest is a quick-fire round, where you will have to answer 108 questions. There is no time limit, but most people complete this in about 20 minutes or so.

You will be given three statements, and asked to select the one that is most like you, and the one that is least like you.

1. Please choose one statement that best describes you and one that least describes you:

  • I feel relaxed most of the time.
  • I don’t enjoy planning things.
  • I feel alive in a competitive situation.

Remember that the best way to answer a personality test is to be honest and introspective – but remember the type of person that the FAA wants to have directing aircraft.

2. Please choose one statement that best describes you and one that least describes you:

  • I enjoy being the center of attention.
  • I thrive on routine.
  • I am better at working alone.


Reading Comprehension

In the reading comprehension section, you will be given six passages of text to read, and then you will have to answer three questions about the information you have read.

You might be asked to determine the point of the passage or determine whether a statement about it is true or false. This test is similar to verbal reasoning tests that you may have come across before.

1. In recent decades, advancements in technology have transformed the way we communicate and access information. The rise of social media platforms, for instance, has connected people globally, but it has also raised concerns about privacy and the impact of misinformation. As we navigate this digital age, it becomes crucial to strike a balance between the benefits and challenges posed by these technological shifts.

Is the statement below true or false based on the information given?

“The rise of social media platforms has raised concerns about privacy and the impact of misinformation in the realm of communication.”

a) True
b) False

The correct answer is: a) True.

ATSA Prep Test Tips


Focus On Understanding What Is Being Asked

In test situations, knowing you are under time pressure can lead to mistakes being made through rushing – so one of the most important things that you can do is to read each question properly so that you know what is being asked of you and how you need to answer.

The way that the ATSA test is structured, with several different skills and aptitudes being assessed in quick succession, means that you need to be able to shift your focus from one thing to another.

Practice really does make perfect, but make sure you are not making assumptions.


Familiarize With the Purpose of the Question Types

As a pre-employment assessment, the purpose of the test overall is to ensure that you as an applicant have the basic skills and aptitudes needed to be a successful air traffic controller – and that means that each subtest is looking for you to demonstrate specific skills.

A practice ATSA test will help you discover what each section is looking for and how you can best demonstrate your abilities.


Understand the Reason Behind Your Wrong/Right Answers

The results of each ATSA practice test should be analyzed and evaluated – you need to know and understand what worked and what didn’t in the test so that you can work on your weaknesses.

The more you know and understand about your skill level, your aptitudes and your abilities, the better you can prepare for the real thing.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I prepare for ATSA?

The best way to prepare for the ATSA is through practice tests and thorough revision plans. Focusing on the areas where you are weaker, create a study plan that will cover the whole test. You can use both paid-for and free ATSA test prep resources.


What is the pass rate for the ATSA test?

The pass rate for the ATSA test is determined by the grouping you’ll receive as results. Candidates who receive a “Not Referred” grouping have failed the assessment. All candidates should aim for “Best Qualified” as this is most likely to get you to the next stage of the assessment.


How difficult is the air traffic controller test?

The air traffic controller test (ATSA) is notoriously challenging, and without practice tests, revision and preparation, you might find that you do not score as highly as you need to so that you can move to the next stage in the process.


What is well qualified for the ATSA?

The ATSA test results aren’t delivered to candidates in score form, but as a grading. You’ll be grouped according to your results into one of four designations:

  • Best Qualified
  • Well Qualified
  • Qualified
  • Not Referred

“Not Referred” is a fail, and “Best Qualified” is the top score.


Can you use pen and paper on ATSA test?

You are not permitted to use a pen and paper on the ATSA test, which means that you need to find other ways of answering the questions and remembering the information that you need to use.


Final Thoughts

The ATSA is a challenging test that every candidate who wants to become an Air Traffic Controller with the FAA must pass. The competition for places is tough, and in almost all cases you will need to score in the highest category to be considered for a position, which means you need to answer every question on the assessment to the best of your ability.

To give yourself the best chance of success, you need to be prepared. The best way to prepare is to make use of Air Traffic Skills Assessment practice test papers at the very start of your revision, so that you can focus your study plans on the areas that you are weakest in – with the aim of improving every time you take an ATSA prep test.

With the right preparation, you can ace the ATSA test and get started on your career as an Air Traffic Control Specialist.

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