The PILAPT at L3 Airline Academy has been replaced!I have created this post as a way to retain information about the former technical assessment employed by L3 Airline Academy. If you are attending a test in the UK, it is likely you will now experience the cut-e tests. Other parts of L3 Airline Academy may still employ PILAPT during a transitionary period. You might find this posts information useful if you have been told that it is in fact PILAPT you are to sit, otherwise I'd recommend checking out the cut-e technical assessment day blog post.
Mental Maths Test
Personal Difficulty: Medium / Hard
Result: Fail (2014) | Pass (2015)
At both selections my group went first in the Maths test. You are led to the assessment room which resembles a driving theory test room. A computer will be displaying your name on the screen. You are given a briefing, pen and paper and then allowed to crack on with the test. The Maths test is electronic, consists of 15 multiple choice G.C.S.E. level questions with workings out to be completed on the paper provided. No calculators are permitted.
Despite being G.C.S.E. level this was the area of the assessment I was dreading as I'd never been amazing at Maths in school. Being 20 at the time of my first Dibden visit in 2014 it had been a couple of years since I'd really focussed on mental methods and quick written calculations as let's be honest, we're so dependent on the calculator now. It was safe to say I had forgotten quite a bit and this later led to me failing Dibden at my first attempt.
In not wanting to fail again I ensured I revised Maths techniques as frequently as I could. In searching YouTube I came across a chap called Arthur Benjamin. His mental math was ridiculously fast and was something I wanted to aspire to be like. Thankfully he plugged his book in the video and I would highly recommend it as a way to improve your mental maths skills (See Tip Two). I also made use of PilotAptitudeTest.com which provided a bank of practice questions for a small fee - certainly worthy of investment. Having now passed the assessment I would say that the Medium and Hard level questions of PilotAptitudeTest.com were representative of those you will face. If you can pass 15/15 on Hard over and over again then you should be fine.
Sample questions may look like these:
If 1GBP is 1.20EUR and 1EUR is 1.50AUD, how many GBP can you get for 35AUD?
An aircraft requires a fuel uplift of 8700kg. How many US gallons is that at 3.2kg/gal?
Tip: Feel confident in your mental maths speed
Having passed the Maths test on my second attempt I wouldn't say the questions are overly difficult. What I would say though is they often require multiple calculations in order to work out the answer, i.e. currency conversion over 3 currencies. You may therefore require knowledge of quick methodology in order to answer within the timescale provided. The book 'Secrets of Mental Math' by Arthur Benjamin is a great read and truly makes you question why you ever calculated things in the way you did prior to reading. You won't need to read all of this book as some of it is beyond G.C.S.E. mental maths. You can buy find this book on Amazon UK by clicking the button below.
Tip: You don't need to workout the entire answer
When I spent more time practicing multiple choice examples it became clear that you could simply workout only the first and/or second digit of the answer in order to eliminate all incorrect answers. Doing this will shave valuable seconds from your test time and see you improve.
Pilot Aptitude Test (PILAPT)
Result: Pass (2014) | Pass (2015)
Once the Maths test had finished it was then time to commence the Pilot Aptitude Test, or PILAPT test. I have to say I was feeling very nervous about this one as the first time around I had no idea what to expect and went in blind but I was pleasantly surprised to hear I passed the PILAPT component both years. The tests seemed to go on forever and it's safe to say I felt mentally exhausted afterwards. Nevertheless, prior to each test detailed instructions were given and on some tests you even had the opportunity to practice.
Tip: Take your time reading the instructions
As passing selection means so much to you it is likely you will put pressure on yourself and therefore feel quite stressed. The instructions before each PILAPT test weren't timed and I felt this provided a vital opportunity to take a few deep breaths, wipe the sweat from my palms and ensure I totally understood what was being asked of me in each test component.
What is PILAPT?
PILAPT® is a scientifically validated series of tests for assessing people’s aptitude for flying. Each test assesses a specific aptitude shown to predict performance in flight training. When tracking cadets through their first 134 hours of training, those scoring in the top 30% on the PILAPT® tests were shown to be more than twice as likely to succeed in training first-time when compared to the lowest 30% of scores. It is therefore possible to identify those with the highest success profiles.
What tests are there?
PILAPT Base - 50 Minutes
- Deviation Indicator
A nice and easy one to start off with. In this test you use joystick and must keep the crosshair centred.
You will be shown a grid with colours along one axis and shapes along another. When the shape and colours match up you must acknowledge it. This test is made more challenging over time by the speed of change increasing and the axis switching around. It's quite easy to miss one of these if you don't pay your full attention to it - hence the name, concentration. To stress you out even more this test displays your hit and miss count so try to completely block this distraction out of your vision.
You will be shown three people holding shapes. You will hear a statement, "Positive Left Square" and you must respond with how many of the people are matching that. So if 2 people are holding the square in their left hand you would respond with 2. To make this test more complex the amount of time you have to respond decreases and the orientation of the people are altered, i.e. facing you, away from you, rotated 90 degrees etc.
You are shown two separate boxes with a series of crossing lines within them. Beneath these boxes you are shown a shape, such as an upwards pointing arrow, or a star. You must identify which of the two boxes have the shape in them. i.e. Left, Right, Both or Neither. Unlike Hands, you are given plenty of time to select an answer so be sure to maximise your use of it. Do not rush!
Using the joystick you must fly an aircraft through a series of approaching boxes. This sounds easy enough but the system responds to your inputs a second or so late so you need to think ahead!!
Capacity - 15 Minutes
This test is the mother of all tests as you have to focus on three separate tasks all at the same time!
- Deviation Indicator
Practically identical to the Base test.
- Change of Countdown Pattern
You will hear a number spoken out to you, i.e. 5, and then a counting down pattern such as "555, 550, 545". You must press a key to acknowledge a change in this pattern. The countdown will continue using the new number, i.e. "543, 541, 539".
- Shapes & Numbers
This test sees you hear an audio message, i.e. "Red Triangle". You will then see a series of coloured shapes appear, i.e. "Green Triangle, Red Square, Blue Square, Red Triangle". You have to acknowledge when the correct shape appears by pressing the corresponding key on the keypad and entering the number inside the shape.
Tip: Ignore those Hit & Miss BoxesThe same advice I gave for the concentration test also applies to the capacity test. Try to ignore the Hit and Miss score boxes you are shown. I am convinced to this day they serve no purpose other than to throw you off the primary goal - which is to ultimately keep the plane flying level and interpret commands. Don't feel downhearted if you get many misses. I believe I finished with one miss more than hits, but no one really knows how L3 Airline Academy / CTC Aviation score you so don't worry! If it helps, I guarantee everyone will come out complaining about the final test.
Get Ahead, Use Preparation Tools!
PILAPT claim you are unable to prepare for their actual tests and that may be true but in my case I found that a variety of online resources and paid-for software at least helped prepare me for what to expect. One such tool was pretty much identical to those used at Dibden Manor. Here's two you would benefit from:
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- Includes a PILAPT practice coach to assist you in weaker areas.
- Tests practically identical to those you'll encounter at L3 Airline Academy / CTC Aviation.
- PILAPT keypad included.
- One-time purchase, owned for life.
- Pilot George readers save 12.5% on purchase price
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- Tests look a little different but are pretty similar
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- Includes Interview Questions etc.
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