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Air Traffic Control Career Prep: A Comprehensive Guide to One of the Best-Paying Federal Government Careers, Including Test Preparation for Exams PAP/CDR Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
So...as the 25 year old son of an Air Traffic Controller, I applied in July 2007 via the open applications (as a non-CTI applicant) on the FAA's website (which I was notified of by my father). It took until December to find out that I was selected to take the AT-SAT test...my test date was Jan. 24th. I freaked and this was the only book that I could locate that seemed to have the updated tests and everything. Bought the book via Amazon and started reading.
I found the first part interesting (regarding the history of the FAA, a lot of general info) but not important as to taking the AT-SAT test. I found the "journal/diary" of a trainee that had gone to the class in Oklahoma City to be extremely interesting and informative...I will definately re-read that if I get selected for the class. The test prep for the AT-SAT is the part I was most interested in. I was never one to study for a test but I like knowing what to expect. This book did that wonderfully in explaining the format and sections of the test. I was not so much concerned with the Angles, Dials, Analogies, or Applied Math portions of the test...it showed what the problems would be like but those problems really rely on abilities you should already have (reading angles, reading dials, figuring out analogies, and doing math in your head). I was most concerned with the sections of the test that were computer programs and I wanted to know what to expect. When using the software that comes with the book, keep these things in mind....
ANGLES, DIALS, & APPLIED MATH - FAA software is much easier to use (point and click with the mouse). With the book the problems require the keyboard and the real test does not. Plus it puts a time limit on the problems and just randomly seemed to switch to the next question (too soon sometimes). **NOTE - As stated in the book, on the AT-SAT test you will not be allowed pen/pencil & scratch paper**
ANALOGIES - I gave this part it's own section because the software with the book seemed to be the worst for this section. It would switch questions way too quickly, I didn't like it and as stated before, the AT-SAT test is much easier (point and click with the mouse)
SCAN TEST - The book software works for this one...I found it extremely hard in the beginning but as I practiced it became easier. It seemed that the data blocks appeared and disappeared too quickly....AND I WAS RIGHT! On the AT-SAT the block are much easier to read, much slower, and each data block will be on the screen for 7 seconds (I believe that's the time stated). So keep in mind, book is harder than the real test....but is good practice and preparation
AT SCENARIOS TEST - At the AT-SAT test I found this to be the most fun part of the test. Differences....in the book software you tell a plane to turn and it turns more realistically (aka it doesn't just point that way, it will take a curve to go from heading North to heading East) and the planes are constantly moving. On the AT-SAT test the screen updates every 7 seconds and you have to accept new planes and you can change the direction immediately (that was a run-on...sorry). Again, the book gave me the general idea of how the test would be...and the instructions at the AT-SAT test are well done so I was very comfortable with this section as well. In my mind again, the book is harder than the real test but is good for practice and preparation.
LETTER FACTORY - Ahhh, the damn letter factory. I can only say this....the book software does not compare to the AT-SAT test in terms of quality. So again, use the book to get an idea of how it works but don't go crazy practicing and expect it to be just like that on the real test. The instructions on the AT-SAT test are exceptional for this section and they should be....it has 18 different "scenarios". Each scenario has you start placing letters into the boxes and at some time (the time was always different) it would stop and cut to the four "awareness" questions. On the AT-SAT test, sometimes it took 30 seconds to cut to the questions and sometimes it took 8 minutes. Each time you start placing letters then answer the questions is a "scenario"....and there are 18. As in the last 2 section explanations....the book is harder and different than the real test, so use it for some practice and preparation but don't become an expert because it will be different.
PERSONALITY QUESTIONS - These don't count toward your score, but there are a bunch of them.
****CONCLUSION**** Does the software have issues? YES. Does the book have at least one type in the answers section? YES. Did I feel that the book prepared me in general in what to expect on the test? YES. Do I feel it was worth the price? EHH (Seemed expensive but it's an important test so I'll go more toward yes). Did I pass the AT-SAT test? SEE BELOW
So...if you actually read down to here, I know you want to know how I did on the test. Per the FAA...scoring above 70 is a passing score, above 85 is considered well-qualified. Not to be cocky, but my friends & girlfriend always tell me I am really smart (and I know I test well...I got a 30 on the ACT in High School on my 1st try with NO studying)....so I was really shooting for an 85 or above. I actually studied for this test, I actually went to bed early, and I was actually nervous going into the the test. But it all worked out....I ended up getting a 95.7% (and I'm hoping I get invited to Oklahoma City...I will update if I get an invite). Hopefully this helps you and best of luck if you are taking the test!!
This book serves well as a informational resource. It will answer many questions for those early on in the application process, especially for those that did not complete a CTI program. Of particular interest to anyone that picks up the book would be the daily account of a former trainee as he went through his paces at the FAA Training Academy in Oklahoma City. Also provided is an account of the facility training process at a station in the Atlanta, GA area. While this provides some useful information on what facility training can be like, it wont be applicable to all who get up to facility training as each facility trains their new controllers differently.
The exam information provided in the book is decent at best. The in-book practice examples for the angles, dials, and math problems are very useful, but keep an eye out as there are a few typos, including an incorrect answer on one of the last dial problems in the book (says the VSI is set for climb when clearly its set for descend). As for the rest of the sections on the exam, only a brief explanation of the test is provided. In most cases, you wont see how long you have for each test or how many questions are on each test (the help guide on the cd has some, but not all that information.
As for the software, you'll find on the multiple choice questions that while the questions on the exam will probably be harder, the parameters on each test on the software is actually harder. The software usually asks more questions for each section than the test does, and usually offers less time per question than the test and doesnt allow you to go back to problems you didnt get the first time through (to my understanding, you can go back to previous questions on the exam provided that you are not out of time on the part you are working on). Some glaring problems with the software: the timer on the Analogy test is totally messed up. You're supposed to get 45 seconds a question, but on some questions you'll find yourself getting only 2. The math questions seem to focus more on unit conversions rather than the actual speed = distance / time questions that the test focuses on. The Letter Factory test prep is a total waste. The point of the Letter Factory portion of the AT-SAT is to test ones ability to think ahead and be aware of one's environment. It is really hard to practice this on the prep because you'll spend more time wondering why the program won't let you grab a letter you clearly clicked on. You might also notice that when it does let you grab a letter that it might give you the wrong color (I clicked on a yellow letter and got a purple one instead). Clearly nobody tested this software before it was included with the book.
All and all, this book is an okay buy. While its very informational, and is the only resource available to drill yourself on EVERY part of this test, it leaves so much to be desired. I cant see CTI graduates needing this book at all, but for those that are applying for ATC positions that have been opened to the public this will be useful.
While studying for the AT-SAT, I purchased other study books to prepare myself for the test. This book, was the eye-opener and is training me well for the test.
The book includes a thorough glossary, appendix, and explanation to the ATC career field.
Regardless of the CD-ROM's minute quirks, this study guide will equip you with the tools you need for this test! You just need a little tolerance to the stupidity of small software problems. (Which, to be realistic--occurs far less frequently than other regular computer software programs frequently used by the public.)