Cognitive tests

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WorriedWannabe
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Cognitive tests

#1 Post by WorriedWannabe » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:50 pm

Let me preface this post by saying that I don't believe that I am unintelligent. I have a STEM B.Sc. and graduated with top marks. However, I seem to have a very poor working and short-term memory. For example, whenever I play "mind" games and puzzles, I have an extremely difficult time with the tasks and seem to score well below average for my age group (bottom 30-40%).

For example, one particular game involved being briefly given a sequence of numbers and having to report the sequence backwards. Others involved memorizing patterns in tiles and matching word colour with word meaning, and so on. I simply cannot do it. It's too hard for me. What worries me is that these games are similar to what people are reporting are on common cognitive tests (e.g. for Air Canada)

I am seriously wondering if my inability to perform on these cognitive tasks will hinder my career as a pilot. I know that in Europe cognitive testing is extremely widespread (e.g. PILAPT, DLR). It is also my understanding that Air Canada currently employs cognitive testing as part of the screening process.

Should I be worried that my inability to score well on these cognitive tests will preclude being employed with the airlines? Do most other airlines besides AC also use this sort of testing? I would really like to know the answer to this before spending $70k on a change of career!!

Any advice would be appreciated ...
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Jimmy2
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Re: Cognitive tests

#2 Post by Jimmy2 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:50 am

Having both a good short term, and long term memory is extremely important to be an airline pilot. There is a reason airlines do these kind of tests. I'm not saying you don't have a future in aviation as a pilot but specifically in a major airline environment you may struggle a lot.

Have you considered training your memory? The brain is kind of like a muscle. Working it out can improve it's performance. At the same time not using it can allow it to atrophy quickly. Also, a healthy diet and refraining from any substances like marijuana that can hurt your memory is important.
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WorriedWannabe
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Re: Cognitive tests

#3 Post by WorriedWannabe » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:28 am

Jimmy2 wrote:Having both a good short term, and long term memory is extremely important to be an airline pilot. There is a reason airlines do these kind of tests. I'm not saying you don't have a future in aviation as a pilot but specifically in a major airline environment you may struggle a lot.

Have you considered training your memory? The brain is kind of like a muscle. Working it out can improve it's performance. At the same time not using it can allow it to atrophy quickly. Also, a healthy diet and refraining from any substances like marijuana that can hurt your memory is important.
My long term memory is quite good. It takes time, effort, and concentration -- but I can do it, and retain that information for a long time. My main issue is with remembering things "on the spot". I don't smoke marijuana and rarely drink.

Can short-term memory really be dramatically improved? I feel like poor short-term memory may just be a genetic disadvantage. I am in my early 20s, which is when I believe memory should be at its best.
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CL-Skadoo!
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Re: Cognitive tests

#4 Post by CL-Skadoo! » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:31 am

WorriedWannabe wrote:Let me preface this post by saying that I don't believe that I am unintelligent. I have a STEM B.Sc. and graduated with top marks. However, I seem to have a very poor working and short-term memory. For example, whenever I play "mind" games and puzzles, I have an extremely difficult time with the tasks and seem to score well below average for my age group (bottom 30-40%).

For example, one particular game involved being briefly given a sequence of numbers and having to report the sequence backwards. Others involved memorizing patterns in tiles and matching word colour with word meaning, and so on. I simply cannot do it. It's too hard for me. What worries me is that these games are similar to what people are reporting are on common cognitive tests (e.g. for Air Canada)

I am seriously wondering if my inability to perform on these cognitive tasks will hinder my career as a pilot. I know that in Europe cognitive testing is extremely widespread (e.g. PILAPT, DLR). It is also my understanding that Air Canada currently employs cognitive testing as part of the screening process.

Should I be worried that my inability to score well on these cognitive tests will preclude being employed with the airlines? Do most other airlines besides AC also use this sort of testing? I would really like to know the answer to this before spending $70k on a change of career!!

Any advice would be appreciated ...
I've never had to take a cognitive test in my life and my aviation career has been very kind to me to this point. Look for the reasons to succeed, not the reasons why you won't.
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leftoftrack
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Re: Cognitive tests

#5 Post by leftoftrack » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:11 pm

What is this thread about?
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Zaibatsu
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Re: Cognitive tests

#6 Post by Zaibatsu » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:20 am

Short term memory for simple tasks is very important for flying. I've never had an actual cognitive test for hiring purposes, but training flights and simulator evaluations will definitely take care of that. Flying is a lot of really simple things you need to do in a time sensitive environment.

Take a simple clearance in a radar environment. Things said to you, you have to read them back and do them. Kindergarten stuff. Yet if there are three or more things said, the average pilot will struggle doing it all. Speed 180, turn right heading 210 to intercept the localizer, cleared ILS runway 24, maintain 2000 until established. If you write it down, you're adding another thread of activity to your brain. It's even worse if you don't have a shorthand system you can easily write and translate or if your writing looks like a prescription.

Of course there are tools available. Setting attitude alerter for altitude assignments, heading bug for headings, speed bug for speeds, standby in com2 for additional frequencies, FMS scratchpad for random things (especially if you can use it to populate relevant fields in the FMS like crossing restrictions or frequencies/codes).

Then there are other things like interrupted checklists or briefings where you have to remember where you were or what's 'to come' or a special consideration you briefed or an environmental consideration not normally present you need to compensate for. Memory minders like setting an odd altitude in the window awaiting a clearance, using landing lights for takeoff and landing clearance, stuffing a checklist in an odd place to remind you to complete something.

Bottom line is, if you struggle with these types of tests, you could be Albert Einstein and unable to perform the outwardly simple task of driving a plane.
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Re: Cognitive tests

#7 Post by WorriedWannabe » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:09 pm

Zaibatsu wrote:Short term memory for simple tasks is very important for flying. I've never had an actual cognitive test for hiring purposes, but training flights and simulator evaluations will definitely take care of that. Flying is a lot of really simple things you need to do in a time sensitive environment.

Take a simple clearance in a radar environment. Things said to you, you have to read them back and do them. Kindergarten stuff. Yet if there are three or more things said, the average pilot will struggle doing it all. Speed 180, turn right heading 210 to intercept the localizer, cleared ILS runway 24, maintain 2000 until established. If you write it down, you're adding another thread of activity to your brain. It's even worse if you don't have a shorthand system you can easily write and translate or if your writing looks like a prescription.

Of course there are tools available. Setting attitude alerter for altitude assignments, heading bug for headings, speed bug for speeds, standby in com2 for additional frequencies, FMS scratchpad for random things (especially if you can use it to populate relevant fields in the FMS like crossing restrictions or frequencies/codes).

Then there are other things like interrupted checklists or briefings where you have to remember where you were or what's 'to come' or a special consideration you briefed or an environmental consideration not normally present you need to compensate for. Memory minders like setting an odd altitude in the window awaiting a clearance, using landing lights for takeoff and landing clearance, stuffing a checklist in an odd place to remind you to complete something.

Bottom line is, if you struggle with these types of tests, you could be Albert Einstein and unable to perform the outwardly simple task of driving a plane.
If this is the case, then how early on in my training would I found out that it's not for me?
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Re: Cognitive tests

#8 Post by fish4life » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:13 pm

Get a friend to tell you 3 different numbers quickly and if you can't instantly remember it and respond with the same numbers then you can't do it
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GATRKGA
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Re: Cognitive tests

#9 Post by GATRKGA » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:14 pm

ATC instructs you to descend 3000, turn left heading 150, speed 170 knots.

Would you forget what to do by the time you read back the instruction?
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trey kule
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Re: Cognitive tests

#10 Post by trey kule » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:55 pm

I know I exercise my old brain all the time and it seems to work. Set a new personal best last week by remembering where my car was in the parking lot in less than 10 mins

Not sure that I would trust my brain to a heading ,speed , and altitude change. We typically write them down if they make more than two changes. Making a mistake can be more than embarrassing.,
BTW. When I did the COMPASS test years ago, there was a pencil and paper sitting on the desk.And afterwards I was surprised to hear how many did not bother to use them...Dont remember seeing some of them in groundschool.

How many pilots can remember the ATIS identifier?

"And, ah, We have the ATIS"

There is no doubt that the posters on this thread are emminently qualified, but perhaps, just maybe if you are worried, get a real medical opinion.
The human body is amazing in its ability to compensate.



".
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WorriedWannabe
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Re: Cognitive tests

#11 Post by WorriedWannabe » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:15 pm

fish4life wrote:Get a friend to tell you 3 different numbers quickly and if you can't instantly remember it and respond with the same numbers then you can't do it
GATRKGA wrote:ATC instructs you to descend 3000, turn left heading 150, speed 170 knots.

Would you forget what to do by the time you read back the instruction?
Yes, I can remember those. I just have a hard time with the games since they have weird patterns and mechanisms (like reversing 8 digits in your head without forgetting, after being shown only one digit at a time).
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