I wanted to write about an Assessment Day I had for an Air Traffic Controller trainee scheme in the UK. It was an interesting experience and perhaps some of you might be interested in this career path.

So a bit of background information: 
3000 people apply
1700 make it to the assessment day
120 make it to interviews
20 make it onto the traineeship
So it's a tough experience, and we were warned that it would be brutal.

So 13 of us attended the Assessment Day, which was scary- there were people of all different backgrounds- lots were much older and seemed more experienced than me. I was aware of the success rate so knew that as a 1/14 chance of passing the assessment day, only 1 or maybe even 0 of us would make it through the day.

So in advance, we had been sent a 27 page booklet on information about UK air traffic control, which we had to learn in depth. We had an 18 minute multiple choice questionnaire which 2 girls failed, so 11 went onto the FEAST (First European Air Traffic Controller Selection Test). 

This is a 2 hour online assessment under exam conditions, which has 6 parts - an English test, A 3D visualisation test, A planning test, a sorting under timed conditions test, a multitasking test and a personality profile. Unfortunately, 8 people failed this section (apparently sometimes they have groups of people where no one passes this section!), including one guy from Dubai who had flown over specifically for this position.

3 of us were invited to stay and take another 2 hour test called DART (Dynamic ATC Radar Test) which simulates a very basic form of air traffic control, where you have to guide planes through a course on a radar screen, with 6 levels of difficulty- from one plane, to 4 planes, to 4 planes with other air traffic to avoid. The final level was crazy-hard! We had to direct the planes through the course, whilst avoiding other traffic, whilst a woman on our headphones said a combination of letters and numbers. We had to add each number to the number we heard before, whilst making sure nothing crashed- it was very overwhelming!

I was lucky enough to make it through the day and have an interview coming up in June. It was quite an intense experience and the 'eliminations' were very public and brutal. From working on the DART test, despite the stress, it was actually good fun- like any multi-tasking game is. It seems like a really interesting job, but has big demands in terms of skills required. The tests were supposed to test aptitude, rather than knowledge, so I felt quite comfortable knowing that if I failed, it would probably mean I would have made a terrible controller.  The traineeship is fully paid for by NATS and the career is well-paid once you have validated after 3 years. It's definitely worth having a shot at if you think you'd enjoy it!