Kim's Place OKC

Enroute Academy Experience 2020

Academy Study Guides

PlaneFlasher

Active Member
Messages
40
Haven't seen one of these posts in 2020 so I thought I would make one since these two helped me. I graduated Enroute this past month after nearly 9 months in the system due to the pandemic and have yet to start training in person at my new facility. If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer in the thread or DM me!

Pre-Employment Process
I applied for the first time to the 2018 bid. I scored "Best Qualified (BQ)" on the ATSA but was not selected. I applied to the 2019 bid, took the ATSA again (which I'd recommend), and scored BQ. Less than two months after taking the ATSA I signed my TOL and less than two months after signing my TOL was my class date to go to the Academy. It was a total of 6 months from application to OKC. I was fortunate the process moved quickly for me. Not sure if it helped but my goal was to complete everything on my end as quickly and as accurately as possible. I drove 3 hours to complete my medical and drug test instead of waiting a few days for an appointment at local facilities. Bother your HR as little as possible and try to make their lives easy. The most time consuming and worrisome portion of the pre-employment screening for me was the background check. My background is squeaky clean for most corporate jobs but not for this one. I have traveled extensively (including to some "sketchy" countries), am married to a foreigner, and have experimented with marijuana. Individually these things can be disqualifying. I was openly honest and provided as much info as possible and it worked out fine. It is tempting to lie but not worth it in my opinion as it is against the law and you can be fired if caught down the road.

Don't mean for this to be an advertisement but I used both the ATC Prep software and this website to help prepare for the ATSA. Not necessary and it is not guaranteed that you'll make it to the Academy but it's possible $110 of study tools set me up for this career. .65 seems to have a new comprehensive study tool so you might want to check it out instead of what I used.

Pre-OKC
Everyone feels the need to do something before coming to the Academy but I would not recommend it. You'll have plenty of time to learn everything you need to know once you get there. People typically recommend studying the map and I'd agree it is probably the most worthwhile thing to learn ahead of time. Be advised I have heard from instructors they are planning on changing the map to reflect the actual sector. Will it happen in the near future . . . probably not but Academy materials do change I experienced this myself in Radar. I ignored this advice and purchased the study guides on this website and skimmed them to settle my curiosity.

Housing
I stayed at Anatole for the first 2-3 months of my time in OKC in a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment. No major complaints. It is a 10 minute drive from the Academy and the apartments are nice enough. There could be more unassigned parking (my housing provider charged extra for assigned spaces) but at worst I had to walk an extra 30-40 yards. Anatole has a pool which is nice if you are in OKC in the summer. When I returned after getting sent home, I stayed at Kim's place in a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom duplex with a garage and backyard. No complaints. Kim and her staff are great. It is 15-20 min from the Academy but I didn't mind it. Kim's place has strip boards that you can borrow that make Nonradar practice easier and more like the real thing. Kim's place felt more "homey" and felt like a community since all the duplexes around me were full of other students. The most important thing I would consider when choosing a place to live is where most of your classmates are living. This makes carpooling, socializing, and studying easier. Another option is to stay in one of the local hotels and build up points and status.

Basics
I did in-person Basics. Basics is not hard and should be just a hurdle. Most of what you learn is not important for graduating the Academy (if it is it will be retaught). If you don't have any aviation experience it is a lot of material. You don't necessarily have to master everything, just be familiar. I mainly used this time to build my study habits and mentality necessary for the rest of the course. At most I studied 2-3 hours a day. You could probably get away with 1 hour a day or even less. My strategy was to create my own notes for each lesson and before the final review them, the study guide on this website, and reread each lesson. My final score was a 94%. Take it seriously. Don't worry. Don't burn yourself out.

Nonradar
This is where the "game" to maximize your points begins. The first few weeks of Nonradar are academics similar to basics but now the information is important. During this time you have to learn phraseology, strip marking, separation, memorize the map and prepare for CKT #1 (the knowledge test). I was overwhelmed for the first week or so but as you put in work you should realize there is nothing tricky about it as these things are mostly memory items. Work hard at home and participate as much as you can in class and you'll be fine. The first exam you'll take is the map test worth 2 points. My strategy was to memorize the navaids, then the airways, then the fixes, and so on. I probably drew the map 100 times and I got 100%. Don't study the map for the 2 points, KNOW the map. It is arguably the most important thing to know throughout both Nonradar and Radar . . . pretty much every word that comes out of your mouth references it. Next is CKT #1 worth 4 points. I studied for this exactly as I studied for the Basics final (same type of test) and got a 98%. Meanwhile, you should be going over the stirp marking guide, memorizing phraseology, and trying to understand separation. I believe it is important that before starting Nonradar problems you have a solid knowledge of these principles even if you don't understand exactly how to apply them. Understanding separation is the most important: vertical, lateral, longitudinal, visual and departure. If you truly understand these you won't hit anything and people who can't avoid hitting things fail.

Now you are ready to run Nonradar problems . . . or probably not. In my opinion nonradar is the hardest part of the program. I have never been so bad at something initially. I often felt like I was making so many mistakes and so many different types of mistakes that I'd never get decent scores on the evals. I think the best thing to do is to focus on solving one mistake at a time, prioritizing those that will cost you a lot of points. Master comm changes. Master departures. Master vertical separation. Master lateral separation. I think a good strategy is to make a list of every task that needs to be performed and practice completing each task individually. As you go through the problems review your old grade sheets and try not to make the same mistakes again. When you are confident about completing the individual tasks you are ready to run entire problems at home. Don't argue with instructors. They are there to help you and are good people even though some of them might be hard on you or have different styles than what you are used to. Evals are not nearly as hard as the problems in the 20s, probably more like high teens. Control your nerves. When in doubt over restrict. If you are not sure about a departure, leave them on the ground and take the 5 point delay. You shouldn't have to do this and it is a cop-out but there is no pride in getting a separation error. I averaged a 91% between my two Nonradar evals. Overall, just do the best you can to get as many points as possible. Bad scores in Nonradar won't kill you but good scores are a nice boost to your score and confidence. My goal was to score a 70% or above and I would have been happy (and still passed based on my final score). I was lucky because I got to run most of the Nonradar practice problems twice (due to being sent home) but for those of you who aren't so lucky . . . run and rerun as many problems as possible. The more problems you do the better you'll do.

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS . . . AT LEAST NEGATIVELY
You are competing against everyone else in your class for placement, but at the end of the day your priority is to pass. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. You may ace every paper test but put up average Radar scores and finish at the bottom of your class (like me). You may have blank sheets after every Radar practice problem and get nervous during evals and fail. Be humble and do your best because the only comparison that matters happens on the last day between those that pass. Appreciate your classmates that are better than you. Use them as a benchmark and work with them if possible. Most of my class were great CTI students and I definitely benefited from having them around (I even learned a lot from others who were not experienced).

RADAR
You have no time to dwell on your Nonradar scores as next day you hop right into Radar academics. I got little from Radar academics and I found the lectures boring and hard to follow especially since rules (practice and eval problems as well) have just changed and instructors were still adjusting. I didn't pay much attention and I regret it. Do your best to pick up as much of the basics as possible because it may make your life easier later but you'll learn and have a chance to master everything in the lab running practice problems. Before you get to the practice problems you have your last 3 opportunities to earn "easy" points . . . Aircraft Characteristics, CKT #2 and the Checklist. Aircraft Characteristics is pure memorization, if you can write the chart you'll get 100%. I didn't study hard and dropped the ball on CKT #2 with a high 80. It includes materials from CKT #1 and I'd highly recommend spending a good amount of time on that material. The Checklist is straight forward and you should get 100% if you take your time and know all the keyboard commands (practice 30 min a day before or after class in the practice lab).

Now all that is left is practice problems. You run around 50 in total. You should pretty much have the same strategy towards these as I mentioned above for Nonradar. The main difference is that Radar is not really something you can practice at home. The problems are structured such that you run 3 a day. The first 2 problems drill what you have already learned and the last problem of the day introduces new tasks. Again, I would recommend making note of all the tasks and the steps required to complete the tasks. When you are at home, commit all the tasks and necessary steps to memory. Also, it is important to understand why we do things because if you don't you may not know what to do when you are presented with dynamic situations. Once you know how to handle every task, create scenarios and execute the steps necessary to handle the scenarios. Even better if you do this with your classmates. Read the SOP and LOAs every day if you have time (in reality I probably read them 3-4 times a week). Go over the airport identifiers every day. The devil is in the details when it comes to Radar. Little mistakes can cost you 20 points. I averaged 3-4 mistakes on my evals and averaged a high 60. Most of them were details. When you are not running problems, you'll be in the classroom with your instructors . . . ask questions if you are uncertain about anything and then ask again. There is no reason you should be going into evals not knowing how to handle certain situations or with a lack of understanding. Focus on developing a good working speed. Do not rush. Do not multitask. Just get tasks done as they come, you'll learn to prioritize as you get more experience. Phone calls are distractions. Scan the radar before you pick up the phone. The early problems should be all about getting your scan down. Your scan should not only involve the radar . . . start with the radar, then the strip bay, then the EDST, and check the printer. If you do this every 4 minutes you won't miss anything. Being behind is better than half-assing tasks or completely missing things. Most tasks in Radar have triggers . . . if you are able to recognize triggers then all you have to do is perform the steps required to complete tasks. Radar problems are a rollercoaster. Some of them you feel terrible after, others you feel great. Try to get as much out of every problem as you can. If you learn best by getting burnt and then getting grilled at the end of the problem communicate this nicely to your instructors. Instructors are there for you and want you to succeed, so don't be afraid to get what you want out of them. Just don't be an asshole. Get 2% better every day and you'll have reason to be confident going into Radar evals.

RADAR EVALS
These are the 2 most important days of the Academy and maybe your life. No matter how you were doing before Radar Evals, you need to come in confident. The more confident you are the less nervous you'll be. Even if you were getting your ass kicked on the harder 12s, you have to put it behind you. Some people say don't care about what you need to score to pass but knowing I had to average a high 50 made me calm and focused on the tasks at hand. I knew that even if I put up a bad score or two I could still walk out with the job. I think the hardest thing about Radar Evals is sitting in the sequester room all day, having an evaluator instead of an instructor behind you, and waiting to receive your score after your run. Between problems I was extremely anxious to run, which was good because when it was my turn the anxiety turned into excitement. If you have trouble getting out of your head, I'd recommend bringing something to watch and not tuning in to what your classmates are saying about their scores and problems. I was lucky to run 2 problems on the first day. The first problem I scored a high 60. I was honestly shocked and disappointed because I believed I would be one of the people who finish after 2 evals and the 3rd is just for bragging rights. The instructor said I ran a great problem overall but made a few big mistakes related to details. I recalibrated my thoughts after spending enough time being pissed off and focused on killing the next problem. Sadly, the next problem I scored a low 50. I lost 20+ points for one really stupid mistake. I was devasted and literally wanted to cry out of frustration. It sucked that I had to wait 24 hours to run my final problem because I spent the entire rest of the evening upset and thinking of the negative possibilities. I was counting the hours until I could fall asleep and be only hours away from my final run. I wish I handled it better because the reality was that I only needed to score a high 50 on my last run which was more than doable. My last run I put all the negativity behind me and walked in confident and calm. More so than my previous problems, I could not get the evaluator out of my head meaning I second guessed everything I did and wasted thought thinking about whether or not I had made errors. I even used my peripherals to check if the evaluator was writing things down from time to time. My evaluator took forever to tally my final score. This was the longest 10 minutes of my life. Fortunately, I scored a 70 and passed. I wanted to cry out of joy and didn't really pay attention to the explanation of errors the evaluator gave. The only error I remember form that problem is I said "FOX" instead of "FOXTROT." 😂 I didn't care where I placed or about anything at all for the next week or so, I was just happy my classmates and I were successful. Here are the things I believe you need to do to be successful at Radar Evals. Control your nerves. Be confident. Spend most of your time scanning (not just the radar). Don't be afraid to fall behind. Don't rush. DON'T HIT ANYTHING (airspace, departures, red alerts, FL180, etc.). Complete tasks efficiently and instinctively (you really shouldn't have to think a lot about what to do if an aircraft declares an emergency). Understand why we have to do tasks so you are able to react to situations you haven't seen. Forget there is an evaluator behind you and be present. If you make a mistake, forget about it and don't dwell. Same principle for entire problems, don't let a problem get you down. I know someone who scored in the 40s on their first problem and nailed the second with a high 80. Keep in mind some evaluators are stricter than others. My class agreed my first two evaluators were the strictest of them all, while my last was one of the most lenient. If you are wondering what exactly Radar Evals are like, I am not going to go into details but I will say that they are equivalent to the harder 12s with some surprises. It will be the same tasks you have practiced over and over again but in situations, you may not have seen before. For example, you may see an aircraft declare an emergency that needs a point out because they are turning around near another sector's boundary. You should know how to do a point out and you should know how to handle an emergency but the key is to be able to recognize that the aircraft will need a point out.

MISC
Enjoy your free time while in OKC. Most of my class found time to visit home once or twice and have fun on the weekends. BE SMART! It goes without saying but people still fuck up and get fired for getting a DUI or faking hotel travel receipts. Start saving money now for the low salary you'll be making at the Academy and to help ease the pain of moving across the country (or failing). It is pretty easy to save most of your per diem so I'd recommend that as well. A lot of people were screwed over financially when we got sent home since we stopped receiving per diem so be prepared for such situations. I'd recommend leaving your family at home. Any distractions that may tempt you to miss a study group or slack off are not worth it. If you can, bring a car so you can do things and get out without depending on others. Study more than you feel like you need to and be very critical of how good or bad you are doing. You don't want to leave OKC (pass or fail) thinking you could have done better if you just did this or that. Help others . . . if you see someone struggling spend a little time working with them. You may help someone in Nonradar and may need their help with Radar. Even if you don't, you develop better understanding and improve your own skills when you teach others.
 
Last edited:

brsana

Active Member
Messages
99
Haven't seen one of these posts in 2020 so I thought I would make one since these two helped me. I graduated Enroute this past month after nearly 9 months in the system due to the pandemic and have yet to start training in person at my new facility. If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer in the thread or DM me!

Pre-Employment Process
I applied for the first time to the 2018 bid. I scored "Best Qualified (BQ)" on the ATSA but was not selected. I applied to the 2019 bid, took the ATSA again (which I'd recommend), and scored BQ. Less than two months after taking the ATSA I signed my TOL and less than two months after signing my TOL was my class date to go to the Academy. It was a total of 6 months from application to OKC. I was fortunate the process moved quickly for me. Not sure if it helped but my goal was to complete everything on my end as quickly and as accurately as possible. I drove 3 hours to complete my medical and drug test instead of waiting a few days for an appointment at local facilities. Bother your HR as little as possible and try to make their lives easy. The most time consuming and worrisome portion of the pre-employment screening for me was the background check. My background is squeaky clean for most corporate jobs but not for this one. I have traveled extensively (including to some "sketchy" countries), am married to a foreigner, and have experimented with marijuana. Individually these things can be disqualifying. I was openly honest and provided as much info as possible and it worked out fine. It is tempting to lie but not worth it in my opinion as it is against the law and you can be fired if caught down the road.

Don't mean for this to be an advertisement but I used both the ATC Prep software and this website to help prepare for the ATSA. Not necessary and it is not guaranteed that you'll make it to the Academy but it's possible $110 of study tools set me up for this career. .65 seems to have a new comprehensive study tool so you might want to check it out instead of what I used.

Pre-OKC
Everyone feels the need to do something before coming to the Academy but I would not recommend it. You'll have plenty of time to learn everything you need to know once you get there. People typically recommend studying the map and I'd agree it is probably the most worthwhile thing to learn ahead of time. Be advised I have heard from instructors they are planning on changing the map to reflect the actual sector. Will it happen in the near future . . . probably not but Academy materials do change I experienced this myself in Radar. I ignored this advice and purchased the study guides on this website and skimmed them to settle my curiosity.

Housing
I stayed at Anatole for the first 2-3 months of my time in OKC in a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment. No major complaints. It is a 10 minute drive from the Academy and the apartments are nice enough. There could be more unassigned parking (my housing provider charged extra for assigned spaces) but at worst I had to walk an extra 30-40 yards. Anatole has a pool which is nice if you are in OKC in the summer. When I returned after getting sent home, I stayed at Kim's place in a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom duplex with a garage and backyard. No complaints. Kim and her staff are great. It is 15-20 min from the Academy but I didn't mind it. Kim's place has strip boards that you can borrow that make Nonradar practice easier and more like the real thing. Kim's place felt more "homey" and felt like a community since all the duplexes around me were full of other students. The most important thing I would consider when choosing a place to live is where most of your classmates are living. This makes carpooling, socializing, and studying easier. Another option is to stay in one of the local hotels and build up points and status.

Basics
I did in-person Basics. Basics is not hard and should be just a hurdle. Most of what you learn is not important for graduating the Academy (if it is it will be retaught). If you don't have any aviation experience it is a lot of material. You don't necessarily have to master everything, just be familiar. I mainly used this time to build my study habits and mentality necessary for the rest of the course. At most I studied 2-3 hours a day. You could probably get away with 1 hour a day or even less. My strategy was to create my own notes for each lesson and before the final review them, the study guide on this website, and reread each lesson. My final score was a 94%. Take it seriously. Don't worry. Don't burn yourself out.

Nonradar
This is where the "game" to maximize your points begins. The first few weeks of Nonradar are academics similar to basics but now the information is important. During this time you have to learn phraseology, strip marking, separation, memorize the map and prepare for CKT #1 (the knowledge test). I was overwhelmed for the first week or so but as you put in work you should realize there is nothing tricky about it as these things are mostly memory items. Work hard at home and participate as much as you can in class and you'll be fine. The first exam you'll take is the map test worth 2 points. My strategy was to memorize the navaids, then the airways, then the fixes, and so on. I probably drew the map 100 times and I got 100%. Don't study the map for the 2 points, KNOW the map. It is arguably the most important thing to know throughout both Nonradar and Radar . . . pretty much every word that comes out of your mouth references it. Next is CKT #1 worth 4 points. I studied for this exactly as I studied for the Basics final (same type of test) and got a 98%. Meanwhile, you should be going over the stirp marking guide, memorizing phraseology, and trying to understand separation. I believe it is important that before starting Nonradar problems you have a solid knowledge of these principles even if you don't understand exactly how to apply them. Understanding separation is the most important: vertical, lateral, longitudinal, visual and departure. If you truly understand these you won't hit anything and people who can't avoid hitting things fail.

Now you are ready to run Nonradar problems . . . or probably not. In my opinion nonradar is the hardest part of the program. I have never been so bad at something initially. I often felt like I was making so many mistakes and so many different types of mistakes that I'd never get decent scores on the evals. I think the best thing to do is to focus on solving one mistake at a time, prioritizing those that will cost you a lot of points. Master comm changes. Master departures. Master vertical separation. Master lateral separation. I think a good strategy is to make a list of every task that needs to be performed and practice completing each task individually. As you go through the problems review your old grade sheets and try not to make the same mistakes again. When you are confident about completing the individual tasks you are ready to run entire problems at home. Don't argue with instructors. They are there to help you and are good people even though some of them might be hard on you or have different styles than what you are used to. Evals are not nearly as hard as the problems in the 20s, probably more like high teens. Control your nerves. When in doubt over restrict. If you are not sure about a departure, leave them on the ground and take the 5 point delay. You shouldn't have to do this and it is a cop-out but there is no pride in getting a separation error. I averaged a 91% between my two Nonradar evals. Overall, just do the best you can to get as many points as possible. Bad scores in Nonradar won't kill you but good scores are a nice boost to your score and confidence. My goal was to score a 70% or above and I would have been happy (and still passed based on my final score). I was lucky because I got to run most of the Nonradar practice problems twice (due to being sent home) but for those of you who aren't so lucky . . . run and rerun as many problems as possible. The more problems you do the better you'll do.

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS . . . AT LEAST NEGATIVELY
You are competing against everyone else in your class for placement, but at the end of the day your priority is to pass. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. You may ace every paper test but put up average Radar scores and finish at the bottom of your class (like me). You may have blank sheets after every Radar practice problem and get nervous during evals and fail. Be humble and do your best because the only comparison that matters happens on the last day between those that pass. Appreciate your classmates that are better than you. Use them as a benchmark and work with them if possible. Most of my class were great CTI students and I definitely benefited from having them around (I even learned a lot from others who were not experienced).

RADAR
You have no time to dwell on your Nonradar scores as next day you hop right into Radar academics. I got little from Radar academics and I found the lectures boring and hard to follow especially since rules (practice and eval problems as well) have just changed and instructors were still adjusting. I didn't pay much attention and I regret it. Do your best to pick up as much of the basics as possible because it may make your life easier later but you'll learn and have a chance to master everything in the lab running practice problems. Before you get to the practice problems you have your last 3 opportunities to earn "easy" points . . . Aircraft Characteristics, CKT #2 and the Checklist. Aircraft Characteristics is pure memorization, if you can write the chart you'll get 100%. I didn't study hard and dropped the ball on CKT #2 with a high 80. It includes materials from CKT #1 and I'd highly recommend spending a good amount of time on that material. The Checklist is straight forward and you should get 100% if you take your time and know all the keyboard commands (practice 30 min a day before or after class in the practice lab).

Now all that is left is practice problems. You run around 50 in total. You should pretty much have the same strategy towards these as I mentioned above for Nonradar. The main difference is that Radar is not really something you can practice at home. The problems are structured such that you run 3 a day. The first 2 problems drill what you have already learned and the last problem of the day introduces new tasks. Again, I would recommend making note of all the tasks and the steps required to complete the tasks. When you are at home, commit all the tasks and necessary steps to memory. Also, it is important to understand why we do things because if you don't you may not know what to do when you are presented with dynamic situations. Once you know how to handle every task, create scenarios and execute the steps necessary to handle the scenarios. Even better if you do this with your classmates. Read the SOP and LOAs every day if you have time (in reality I probably read them 3-4 times a week). Go over the airport identifiers every day. The devil is in the details when it comes to Radar. Little mistakes can cost you 20 points. I averaged 3-4 mistakes on my evals and averaged a high 60. Most of them were details. When you are not running problems, you'll be in the classroom with your instructors . . . ask questions if you are uncertain about anything and then ask again. There is no reason you should be going into evals not knowing how to handle certain situations or with a lack of understanding. Focus on developing a good working speed. Do not rush. Do not multitask. Just get tasks done as they come, you'll learn to prioritize as you get more experience. Phone calls are distractions. Scan the radar before you pick up the phone. The early problems should be all about getting your scan down. Your scan should not only involve the radar . . . start with the radar, then the strip bay, then the EDST, and check the printer. If you do this every 4 minutes you won't miss anything. Being behind is better than half-assing tasks or completely missing things. Most tasks in Radar have triggers . . . if you are able to recognize triggers then all you have to do is perform the steps required to complete tasks. Radar problems are a rollercoaster. Some of them you feel terrible after, others you feel great. Try to get as much out of every problem as you can. If you learn best by getting burnt and then getting grilled at the end of the problem communicate this nicely to your instructors. Instructors are there for you and want you to succeed, so don't be afraid to get what you want out of them. Just don't be an asshole. Get 2% better every day and you'll have reason to be confident going into Radar evals.

RADAR EVALS
These are the 2 most important days of the Academy and maybe your life. No matter how you were doing before Radar Evals, you need to come in confident. The more confident you are the less nervous you'll be. Even if you were getting your ass kicked on the harder 12s, you have to put it behind you. Some people say don't care about what you need to score to pass but knowing I had to average a high 50 made me calm and focused on the tasks at hand. I knew that even if I put up a bad score or two I could still walk out with the job. I think the hardest thing about Radar Evals is sitting in the sequester room all day, having an evaluator instead of an instructor behind you, and waiting to receive your score after your run. Between problems I was extremely anxious to run, which was good because when it was my turn the anxiety turned into excitement. If you have trouble getting out of your head, I'd recommend bringing something to watch and not tuning in to what your classmates are saying about their scores and problems. I was lucky to run 2 problems on the first day. The first problem I scored a high 60. I was honestly shocked and disappointed because I believed I would be one of the people who finish after 2 evals and the 3rd is just for bragging rights. The instructor said I ran a great problem overall but made a few big mistakes related to details. I recalibrated my thoughts after spending enough time being pissed off and focused on killing the next problem. Sadly, the next problem I scored a low 50. I lost 20+ points for one really stupid mistake. I was devasted and literally wanted to cry out of frustration. It sucked that I had to wait 24 hours to run my final problem because I spent the entire rest of the evening upset and thinking of the negative possibilities. I was counting the hours until I could fall asleep and be only hours away from my final run. I wish I handled it better because the reality was that I only needed to score a high 50 on my last run which was more than doable. My last run I put all the negativity behind me and walked in confident and calm. More so than my previous problems, I could not get the evaluator out of my head meaning I second guessed everything I did and wasted thought thinking about whether or not I had made errors. I even used my peripherals to check if the evaluator was writing things down from time to time. My evaluator took forever to tally my final score. This was the longest 10 minutes of my life. Fortunately, I scored a 70 and passed. I wanted to cry out of joy and didn't really pay attention to the explanation of errors the evaluator gave. The only error I remember form that problem is I said "FOX" instead of "FOXTROT." 😂 I didn't care where I placed or about anything at all for the next week or so, I was just happy my classmates and I were successful. Here are the things I believe you need to do to be successful at Radar Evals. Control your nerves. Be confident. Spend most of your time scanning (not just the radar). Don't be afraid to fall behind. Don't rush. DON'T HIT ANYTHING (airspace, departures, red alerts, FL180, etc.). Complete tasks efficiently and instinctively (you really shouldn't have to think a lot about what to do if an aircraft declares an emergency). Understand why we have to do tasks so you are able to react to situations you haven't seen. Forget there is an evaluator behind you and be present. If you make a mistake, forget about it and don't dwell. Same principle for entire problems, don't let a problem get you down. I know someone who scored in the 40s on their first problem and nailed the second with a high 80. Keep in mind some evaluators are stricter than others. My class agreed my first two evaluators were the strictest of them all, while my last was one of the most lenient. If you are wondering what exactly Radar Evals are like, I am not going to go into details but I will say that they are equivalent to the harder 12s with some surprises. It will be the same tasks you have practiced over and over again but in situations, you may not have seen before. For example, you may see an aircraft declare an emergency that needs a point out because they are turning around near another sector's boundary. You should know how to do a point out and you should know how to handle an emergency but the key is to be able to recognize that the aircraft will need a point out.

MISC
Enjoy your free time while in OKC. Most of my class found time to visit home once or twice and have fun on the weekends. BE SMART! It goes without saying but people still fuck up and get fired for getting a DUI or faking hotel travel receipts. Start saving money now for the low salary you'll be making at the Academy and to help ease the pain of moving across the country (or failing). It is pretty easy to save most of your per diem so I'd recommend that as well. A lot of people were screwed over financially when we got sent home since we stopped receiving per diem so be prepared for such situations. I'd recommend leaving your family at home. Any distractions that may tempt you to miss a study group or slack off are not worth it. If you can, bring a car so you can do things and get out without depending on others. Study more than you feel like you need to and be very critical of how good or bad you are doing. You don't want to leave OKC (pass or fail) thinking you could have done better if you just did this or that. Help others . . . if you see someone struggling spend a little time working with them. You may help someone in Nonradar and may need their help with Radar. Even if you don't, you develop better understanding and improve your own skills when you teach others.
awesome! thank you for this.
 

grackfields420

Trusted Contributor
Messages
177
cool write up man thanks

so i'm thinking about staying at a Marriott or hilton property cause they're close by to the academy and I can get to platinum or diamond tier and hella reward points. did you find that you had to do a lot of group study? i wouldn't mind driving over to kims or anatole and hanging out, I just think having maid service, free food, and all the other perks would be worth the drive
 

PlaneFlasher

Active Member
Messages
40
cool write up man thanks

so i'm thinking about staying at a Marriott or hilton property cause they're close by to the academy and I can get to platinum or diamond tier and hella reward points. did you find that you had to do a lot of group study? i wouldn't mind driving over to kims or anatole and hanging out, I just think having maid service, free food, and all the other perks would be worth the drive
Everyone is different but if you are not experienced or God’s gift to controlling you’ll probably need study groups. It’s not only about whether or not you are willing to drive, people tend to get close with and choose study groups of people who live near them (2-3 people make a good study group). Maybe if you convince other classmates to live at the same place I’d recommend it but know you are taking a risk (maybe a small one) that you’ll miss out on the social and/or study group experiences of the Academy. What a lot of people don’t talk about is that the Academy can be extremely fun if you have good classmates and you get pretty close to the people you suffer through it with. No offense but I personally can’t understand the mindset that would risk what I mention above for some points and some free nights in a hotel. This being said you could always start off at one of the housing providers, get close to your classmates and build your study groups, and then move to a hotel. 2 people started at hotels in my class and only 1 lasted. The person who lasted was God’s gift to controlling and put up one of the highest scores ever with very minimal effort.
 

hpwjuicebox

Member
Messages
8
In my recent class 2 people were at hotels pre covid and after the shutdown both went with more traditional housing options which give you a lot more room to spread out and are closer to other classmates bother for studying and just generally hanging out. Study groups can definitely be helpful for some phases of the academy. They are probably most helpful for Non Radar practice problems, I can't say they were super helpful for me outside of that though I know some parts of my class got together 4+ times a week with mixed results. I think a big part of succeeding at the academy is not getting overconfident when you are doing well and don't get too bummed when you aren't doing well. After almost every test or eval the class ranking changed a little bit, don't worry about it as the last 2 days are worth so much its almost like the rest of the grades weren't worth anything.
 

Mitchellp1

Lurker
FAA
Messages
2
Facility
ZAU Chicago Center
I just received my TOL. Still have a long way to go in the hiring process. Was wondering if I have any say whether I go the Enroute or Terminal option. Do I get to pick? If so when does that happen?
 

WavesAndClouds

Trusted Contributor
Messages
96
I just received my TOL. Still have a long way to go in the hiring process. Was wondering if I have any say whether I go the Enroute or Terminal option. Do I get to pick? If so when does that happen?
I would just email your HR when you get close to done with all your clearances saying “I’m not sure if you can do this, but I was really hoping for (enroute/terminal) because yada yada reason.” It might work. I did something like that and I got my option I wanted, but I am not sure its because of that. Worth the try.
 

grackfields420

Trusted Contributor
Messages
177
I would just email your HR when you get close to done with all your clearances saying “I’m not sure if you can do this, but I was really hoping for (enroute/terminal) because yada yada reason.” It might work. I did something like that and I got my option I wanted, but I am not sure its because of that. Worth the try.
whats an appropriate reason for wanting enroute besides the money and being near big cities lol
 

grackfields420

Trusted Contributor
Messages
177
Idk just say you think it’s more appealing to you. But I doubt they’ll work too hard to change you. I’ve seen people with really specific requests in the past like. I wanna work in Guam.
lol ive been brown nosing my hr person when responding to their emails with smiley faces and have a nice weekends every now and then ima try my best to slip my request in there towards the end

yeah I've seen the instruction that says they just alternate between enroute/term down the applicant list but worst they can say is no
 

hpwjuicebox

Member
Messages
8
lol ive been brown nosing my hr person when responding to their emails with smiley faces and have a nice weekends every now and then ima try my best to slip my request in there towards the end

yeah I've seen the instruction that says they just alternate between enroute/term down the applicant list but worst they can say is no
I wouldn't expect much to come from that. HR is pretty useless IMO.

BTW surprised anyone old enough to have watched Broodwar is still eligible for the academy. Seems like forever ago.
 

SHI

Member
Messages
9
Haven't seen one of these posts in 2020 so I thought I would make one since these two helped me. I graduated Enroute this past month after nearly 9 months in the system due to the pandemic and have yet to start training in person at my new facility. If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer in the thread or DM me!

Pre-Employment Process
I applied for the first time to the 2018 bid. I scored "Best Qualified (BQ)" on the ATSA but was not selected. I applied to the 2019 bid, took the ATSA again (which I'd recommend), and scored BQ. Less than two months after taking the ATSA I signed my TOL and less than two months after signing my TOL was my class date to go to the Academy. It was a total of 6 months from application to OKC. I was fortunate the process moved quickly for me. Not sure if it helped but my goal was to complete everything on my end as quickly and as accurately as possible. I drove 3 hours to complete my medical and drug test instead of waiting a few days for an appointment at local facilities. Bother your HR as little as possible and try to make their lives easy. The most time consuming and worrisome portion of the pre-employment screening for me was the background check. My background is squeaky clean for most corporate jobs but not for this one. I have traveled extensively (including to some "sketchy" countries), am married to a foreigner, and have experimented with marijuana. Individually these things can be disqualifying. I was openly honest and provided as much info as possible and it worked out fine. It is tempting to lie but not worth it in my opinion as it is against the law and you can be fired if caught down the road.

Don't mean for this to be an advertisement but I used both the ATC Prep software and this website to help prepare for the ATSA. Not necessary and it is not guaranteed that you'll make it to the Academy but it's possible $110 of study tools set me up for this career. .65 seems to have a new comprehensive study tool so you might want to check it out instead of what I used.

Pre-OKC
Everyone feels the need to do something before coming to the Academy but I would not recommend it. You'll have plenty of time to learn everything you need to know once you get there. People typically recommend studying the map and I'd agree it is probably the most worthwhile thing to learn ahead of time. Be advised I have heard from instructors they are planning on changing the map to reflect the actual sector. Will it happen in the near future . . . probably not but Academy materials do change I experienced this myself in Radar. I ignored this advice and purchased the study guides on this website and skimmed them to settle my curiosity.

Housing
I stayed at Anatole for the first 2-3 months of my time in OKC in a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment. No major complaints. It is a 10 minute drive from the Academy and the apartments are nice enough. There could be more unassigned parking (my housing provider charged extra for assigned spaces) but at worst I had to walk an extra 30-40 yards. Anatole has a pool which is nice if you are in OKC in the summer. When I returned after getting sent home, I stayed at Kim's place in a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom duplex with a garage and backyard. No complaints. Kim and her staff are great. It is 15-20 min from the Academy but I didn't mind it. Kim's place has strip boards that you can borrow that make Nonradar practice easier and more like the real thing. Kim's place felt more "homey" and felt like a community since all the duplexes around me were full of other students. The most important thing I would consider when choosing a place to live is where most of your classmates are living. This makes carpooling, socializing, and studying easier. Another option is to stay in one of the local hotels and build up points and status.

Basics
I did in-person Basics. Basics is not hard and should be just a hurdle. Most of what you learn is not important for graduating the Academy (if it is it will be retaught). If you don't have any aviation experience it is a lot of material. You don't necessarily have to master everything, just be familiar. I mainly used this time to build my study habits and mentality necessary for the rest of the course. At most I studied 2-3 hours a day. You could probably get away with 1 hour a day or even less. My strategy was to create my own notes for each lesson and before the final review them, the study guide on this website, and reread each lesson. My final score was a 94%. Take it seriously. Don't worry. Don't burn yourself out.

Nonradar
This is where the "game" to maximize your points begins. The first few weeks of Nonradar are academics similar to basics but now the information is important. During this time you have to learn phraseology, strip marking, separation, memorize the map and prepare for CKT #1 (the knowledge test). I was overwhelmed for the first week or so but as you put in work you should realize there is nothing tricky about it as these things are mostly memory items. Work hard at home and participate as much as you can in class and you'll be fine. The first exam you'll take is the map test worth 2 points. My strategy was to memorize the navaids, then the airways, then the fixes, and so on. I probably drew the map 100 times and I got 100%. Don't study the map for the 2 points, KNOW the map. It is arguably the most important thing to know throughout both Nonradar and Radar . . . pretty much every word that comes out of your mouth references it. Next is CKT #1 worth 4 points. I studied for this exactly as I studied for the Basics final (same type of test) and got a 98%. Meanwhile, you should be going over the stirp marking guide, memorizing phraseology, and trying to understand separation. I believe it is important that before starting Nonradar problems you have a solid knowledge of these principles even if you don't understand exactly how to apply them. Understanding separation is the most important: vertical, lateral, longitudinal, visual and departure. If you truly understand these you won't hit anything and people who can't avoid hitting things fail.

Now you are ready to run Nonradar problems . . . or probably not. In my opinion nonradar is the hardest part of the program. I have never been so bad at something initially. I often felt like I was making so many mistakes and so many different types of mistakes that I'd never get decent scores on the evals. I think the best thing to do is to focus on solving one mistake at a time, prioritizing those that will cost you a lot of points. Master comm changes. Master departures. Master vertical separation. Master lateral separation. I think a good strategy is to make a list of every task that needs to be performed and practice completing each task individually. As you go through the problems review your old grade sheets and try not to make the same mistakes again. When you are confident about completing the individual tasks you are ready to run entire problems at home. Don't argue with instructors. They are there to help you and are good people even though some of them might be hard on you or have different styles than what you are used to. Evals are not nearly as hard as the problems in the 20s, probably more like high teens. Control your nerves. When in doubt over restrict. If you are not sure about a departure, leave them on the ground and take the 5 point delay. You shouldn't have to do this and it is a cop-out but there is no pride in getting a separation error. I averaged a 91% between my two Nonradar evals. Overall, just do the best you can to get as many points as possible. Bad scores in Nonradar won't kill you but good scores are a nice boost to your score and confidence. My goal was to score a 70% or above and I would have been happy (and still passed based on my final score). I was lucky because I got to run most of the Nonradar practice problems twice (due to being sent home) but for those of you who aren't so lucky . . . run and rerun as many problems as possible. The more problems you do the better you'll do.

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS . . . AT LEAST NEGATIVELY
You are competing against everyone else in your class for placement, but at the end of the day your priority is to pass. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. You may ace every paper test but put up average Radar scores and finish at the bottom of your class (like me). You may have blank sheets after every Radar practice problem and get nervous during evals and fail. Be humble and do your best because the only comparison that matters happens on the last day between those that pass. Appreciate your classmates that are better than you. Use them as a benchmark and work with them if possible. Most of my class were great CTI students and I definitely benefited from having them around (I even learned a lot from others who were not experienced).

RADAR
You have no time to dwell on your Nonradar scores as next day you hop right into Radar academics. I got little from Radar academics and I found the lectures boring and hard to follow especially since rules (practice and eval problems as well) have just changed and instructors were still adjusting. I didn't pay much attention and I regret it. Do your best to pick up as much of the basics as possible because it may make your life easier later but you'll learn and have a chance to master everything in the lab running practice problems. Before you get to the practice problems you have your last 3 opportunities to earn "easy" points . . . Aircraft Characteristics, CKT #2 and the Checklist. Aircraft Characteristics is pure memorization, if you can write the chart you'll get 100%. I didn't study hard and dropped the ball on CKT #2 with a high 80. It includes materials from CKT #1 and I'd highly recommend spending a good amount of time on that material. The Checklist is straight forward and you should get 100% if you take your time and know all the keyboard commands (practice 30 min a day before or after class in the practice lab).

Now all that is left is practice problems. You run around 50 in total. You should pretty much have the same strategy towards these as I mentioned above for Nonradar. The main difference is that Radar is not really something you can practice at home. The problems are structured such that you run 3 a day. The first 2 problems drill what you have already learned and the last problem of the day introduces new tasks. Again, I would recommend making note of all the tasks and the steps required to complete the tasks. When you are at home, commit all the tasks and necessary steps to memory. Also, it is important to understand why we do things because if you don't you may not know what to do when you are presented with dynamic situations. Once you know how to handle every task, create scenarios and execute the steps necessary to handle the scenarios. Even better if you do this with your classmates. Read the SOP and LOAs every day if you have time (in reality I probably read them 3-4 times a week). Go over the airport identifiers every day. The devil is in the details when it comes to Radar. Little mistakes can cost you 20 points. I averaged 3-4 mistakes on my evals and averaged a high 60. Most of them were details. When you are not running problems, you'll be in the classroom with your instructors . . . ask questions if you are uncertain about anything and then ask again. There is no reason you should be going into evals not knowing how to handle certain situations or with a lack of understanding. Focus on developing a good working speed. Do not rush. Do not multitask. Just get tasks done as they come, you'll learn to prioritize as you get more experience. Phone calls are distractions. Scan the radar before you pick up the phone. The early problems should be all about getting your scan down. Your scan should not only involve the radar . . . start with the radar, then the strip bay, then the EDST, and check the printer. If you do this every 4 minutes you won't miss anything. Being behind is better than half-assing tasks or completely missing things. Most tasks in Radar have triggers . . . if you are able to recognize triggers then all you have to do is perform the steps required to complete tasks. Radar problems are a rollercoaster. Some of them you feel terrible after, others you feel great. Try to get as much out of every problem as you can. If you learn best by getting burnt and then getting grilled at the end of the problem communicate this nicely to your instructors. Instructors are there for you and want you to succeed, so don't be afraid to get what you want out of them. Just don't be an asshole. Get 2% better every day and you'll have reason to be confident going into Radar evals.

RADAR EVALS
These are the 2 most important days of the Academy and maybe your life. No matter how you were doing before Radar Evals, you need to come in confident. The more confident you are the less nervous you'll be. Even if you were getting your ass kicked on the harder 12s, you have to put it behind you. Some people say don't care about what you need to score to pass but knowing I had to average a high 50 made me calm and focused on the tasks at hand. I knew that even if I put up a bad score or two I could still walk out with the job. I think the hardest thing about Radar Evals is sitting in the sequester room all day, having an evaluator instead of an instructor behind you, and waiting to receive your score after your run. Between problems I was extremely anxious to run, which was good because when it was my turn the anxiety turned into excitement. If you have trouble getting out of your head, I'd recommend bringing something to watch and not tuning in to what your classmates are saying about their scores and problems. I was lucky to run 2 problems on the first day. The first problem I scored a high 60. I was honestly shocked and disappointed because I believed I would be one of the people who finish after 2 evals and the 3rd is just for bragging rights. The instructor said I ran a great problem overall but made a few big mistakes related to details. I recalibrated my thoughts after spending enough time being pissed off and focused on killing the next problem. Sadly, the next problem I scored a low 50. I lost 20+ points for one really stupid mistake. I was devasted and literally wanted to cry out of frustration. It sucked that I had to wait 24 hours to run my final problem because I spent the entire rest of the evening upset and thinking of the negative possibilities. I was counting the hours until I could fall asleep and be only hours away from my final run. I wish I handled it better because the reality was that I only needed to score a high 50 on my last run which was more than doable. My last run I put all the negativity behind me and walked in confident and calm. More so than my previous problems, I could not get the evaluator out of my head meaning I second guessed everything I did and wasted thought thinking about whether or not I had made errors. I even used my peripherals to check if the evaluator was writing things down from time to time. My evaluator took forever to tally my final score. This was the longest 10 minutes of my life. Fortunately, I scored a 70 and passed. I wanted to cry out of joy and didn't really pay attention to the explanation of errors the evaluator gave. The only error I remember form that problem is I said "FOX" instead of "FOXTROT." 😂 I didn't care where I placed or about anything at all for the next week or so, I was just happy my classmates and I were successful. Here are the things I believe you need to do to be successful at Radar Evals. Control your nerves. Be confident. Spend most of your time scanning (not just the radar). Don't be afraid to fall behind. Don't rush. DON'T HIT ANYTHING (airspace, departures, red alerts, FL180, etc.). Complete tasks efficiently and instinctively (you really shouldn't have to think a lot about what to do if an aircraft declares an emergency). Understand why we have to do tasks so you are able to react to situations you haven't seen. Forget there is an evaluator behind you and be present. If you make a mistake, forget about it and don't dwell. Same principle for entire problems, don't let a problem get you down. I know someone who scored in the 40s on their first problem and nailed the second with a high 80. Keep in mind some evaluators are stricter than others. My class agreed my first two evaluators were the strictest of them all, while my last was one of the most lenient. If you are wondering what exactly Radar Evals are like, I am not going to go into details but I will say that they are equivalent to the harder 12s with some surprises. It will be the same tasks you have practiced over and over again but in situations, you may not have seen before. For example, you may see an aircraft declare an emergency that needs a point out because they are turning around near another sector's boundary. You should know how to do a point out and you should know how to handle an emergency but the key is to be able to recognize that the aircraft will need a point out.

MISC
Enjoy your free time while in OKC. Most of my class found time to visit home once or twice and have fun on the weekends. BE SMART! It goes without saying but people still fuck up and get fired for getting a DUI or faking hotel travel receipts. Start saving money now for the low salary you'll be making at the Academy and to help ease the pain of moving across the country (or failing). It is pretty easy to save most of your per diem so I'd recommend that as well. A lot of people were screwed over financially when we got sent home since we stopped receiving per diem so be prepared for such situations. I'd recommend leaving your family at home. Any distractions that may tempt you to miss a study group or slack off are not worth it. If you can, bring a car so you can do things and get out without depending on others. Study more than you feel like you need to and be very critical of how good or bad you are doing. You don't want to leave OKC (pass or fail) thinking you could have done better if you just did this or that. Help others . . . if you see someone struggling spend a little time working with them. You may help someone in Nonradar and may need their help with Radar. Even if you don't, you develop better understanding and improve your own skills when you teach others.
What level of ERAMs are closest to the evals?
 

PlaneFlasher

Active Member
Messages
40
What level of ERAMs are closest to the evals?
I mentioned this in my post but I don't blame you it's rather long.

"If you are wondering what exactly Radar Evals are like, I am not going to go into details but I will say that they are equivalent to the harder 12s with some surprises"
 

32andBelow

Legendary Member
Messages
3,999
En route I was our non radar class in college (my professors were ex academy instructors) and boy is that class a complete blur to me 😅 I passed every single atc class and evaluate with high 90’s every time with little to no studying and I plan on studying my ass off at the academy. So hopefully I’ll be fine! 🤞🏼
Yah don’t tell this story ever again as an FAA employee
 
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