Passing the Academy (Enroute) 2019 Edition

Academy Study Guides

njeezy08

Trusted Contributor
Messages
152
Clean grading sheets are the biggest lie at the acadamy. I legit only had one the entire time. The last couple radar problems I ran were full sheets. Best advice I can think of is to read those and do your best not to make the same mistakes again.

This x100

Never understood why anyone would want to lie about something like that. Either that or they weren't being truthful with how much the instructor was prompting them on things during their problem
 

vectorwagon

Trusted Contributor
Messages
177
This x100

Never understood why anyone would want to lie about something like that. Either that or they weren't being truthful with how much the instructor was prompting them on things during their problem
Or the person argued so much and was such a dbag know it all that the instructor basically quit caring. Not sure if they do that at the academy but they def do in real life, and I mean they are human/controllers still(albeit retired) so I can’t imagine they’d change all that much in retirement. I believe they genuinely want to help you but if somebody constantly argues and can’t be told anything then I would imagine they would just let you run your problem and not waste their breath trying to tell you anything since you already apparently know how to do it. “Clean grading sheet”. Of course in real life they’ll bring all those back up at the TRB and say no problems were documented so they get those hours back but that’s real life, not the Academy…
 

OKbusyB

Trusted Contributor
Messages
403
Clean grading sheets are the biggest lie at the acadamy. I legit only had one the entire time. The last couple radar problems I ran were full sheets. Best advice I can think of is to read those and do your best not to make the same mistakes again.
I keep every sheet I had in a folder. I would just reread them every day. That and asking the instructors to let me run as much of the problem as possible helped me out the most.
 

GolfKilo

Member
Messages
14
Hey all. There have been a few threads like this one of the years, and reading them was helpful to me during my stay in OKC so thought I’d do my best to share the knowledge. Just graduated Initial Enroute last week and will be starting at Center next week. Hope this is helpful and doesn’t just come across and rambling nonsense, feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Pre-Employment/Clearances: Just to touch on this quickly, after you apply for an OTS bid, the best advice I can give is that you forget you ever applied. The process is extremely lengthy, to say the least. After you apply, you can expect at least a couple months before you’re contacted to schedule your ATSA, probably a few more weeks to actually take the test, several more months to get your results, several more months to get your TOL, etc etc. For context, I applied in July 2018. I didn’t receive my TOL until March, 2019 and was in OKC by the end of May. Just take each step as it comes, complete tasks/appointments as quickly as you can, and DO NOT harass the FAA asking for updates.

Pre-OKC: A lot of people will be excited and want to try and ‘study ahead’ of arriving in OKC. Don’t waste your time. They’ll teach you everything you need to know, plus, they periodically change the curriculums so there’s no use in studying anything that may not be up to date anyways. Instead, use the weeks/months before your report date to research housing in OKC and just relax as much as possible. It’s going to be looooong time before you get a good break again.

Housing/OKC Life: There are plenty of housing options available, all with their pros and cons. Check our the FAA Academy website for a list of providers. Personally, I stayed at Anatole Apartments and would highly recommend it to anyone. 5 mins from the academy, modern/clean units, and a nice community feel. If you’d prefer to have roommates, Kim’s is the way to go. Either way, you can’t go wrong with either of those locations. There’s plenty of stuff to do around OKC, and it’s not the horrible/boring place many make it out to be, IMO. There’s plenty of good restaurants, Bricktown in particular is good area to go out every now and then. There’s a small Six Flags in town, museums, a large zoo, casinos, etc. Obviously you don’t want to be going out every night while in the Academy, but definitely take at least 1 day on the weekend to just chill and not focus on work. This process is going to be draining and everybody is going to need a break.

Air Traffic Basics: You finally made it! You’ve been sworn in, sat through hours of FAA videos on work environment and whatnot, and are officially starting your training! You’ll hear that basics is ‘easy’ and you don’t really need to study. This isn’t entirely accurate. Basics is easy in the sense that it’s essentially just a hyper-accelerated college class. You’ll sit all day as the instructors read to you from the book and answers questions. It’s all just memorizing bullet points and definitions and being able to regurgitate them on the tests. That being said, it’s a LOT of information. You will go through a large textbook every week for the 5 weeks you’re in basics. You’ll also take 5 block tests that can help you gauge where you’re at. There is one final exam at the end of the class. You need a 70% to pass. A 69.99% gets you escorted out by security and your FAA career is over. Be warned, the final is definitely more challenging than the block tests. People DO fail basics every now and then, most likely because they believed the ‘it’s easy, you don’t need to study’ notion and they didn’t take it seriously. Don’t study 12 hours a day, but don’t ignore it either. Review a little bit every day, ask questions about things that you may not fully understand, and focus on questions you miss on the block tests. Yes Basics is ‘easy’ compared to the rest of the academy, but don’t neglect it. You don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that doesn’t make it across the street.

Initial Enroute (Academics): You made it through Basics and now get to start the real stuff! #1 piece of advice once you make it across the street: DO NOT QUIT!! I say again DO NOT QUIT! The program is designed to make you feel overwhelmed and test your mental and emotional limits. They will throw everything at you the first couple of days: the map, phraseology, book work, etc. Just take it one piece at a time and be aware that nobody else has any clue what’s going on either. It’s totally normal. Just don’t give up! It will all come together at the end.

Non-Radar: Now you get your first taste at “controlling.” After academics which will seem to drag on forever, you’ll start running practice problems. Each person will have 3 runs per day (and remote for 3 others) for a several weeks. When you run, you get 15 mins to preplan, and then 30 mins to execute. A retired controller will be sitting behind you, and a classmate will be sitting next to you as the remote (pretending to be the pilots/other controllers you call). The runs can be frustrating at times, and you’ll oftentimes feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. Just keep moving and learn from mistakes. Try to not make the same mistake twice. Instructors can also be a bit abrasive, but realize they’re there to help you and try and soak in as much as you can from them. To avoid having them chew you out, by the time you start running scenarios, you’re going to need to have the map down, especially your diamond mileages and frequency changes. You’re also going to want to be automatic with your phraseology. The instructors don’t want to be spending time teaching you stuff you should have learned during classroom time 2 weeks ago.

Non-radar Evals: Your first taste at graded scenarios! After you’ve run 26 practice problems, you’ll have 2 graded eval runs worth 7% of your final grade each. Eval day can be intense, even though you’ll only be running two 45 min problems, you’ll be sitting in a ‘sequester room’ for the rest of day while others in your class run. You’re only able to leave to use the restroom one at a time and there is absolutely no discussion of scenarios allowed. When you run your problem, it will be similar to all the practice runs, except you’ll have a professional remote and it will be an evaluator sitting behind you instead of an instructor. The difficultly in the problems varies greatly. Some are easier, some are harder, a lot just depends on luck or the draw. The best approach is to just try and control your nerves as much as possible, and think before each move you make. Ultimately, bombing one (or even two) non radar problems will not kill you, but doing well can be very helpful. Just don’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t go well. I ended with a 59% average on my two NR evals.

Radar: Ahh, now the real fun begins lol! After you finally get to burn/throw away your piles of strips, you jump right into the deep end with new concepts. You’ll have another 2 weeks of academics right off the bat, with most of the information being pertinent to the CKT 2. After that, you’ll start with message practice, which is essentially time to let you get used to the gear. Hopefully you’re instructors will start going over the gear a bit earlier as there is a reasonable learning curve. By this time, you’re going to want to be hitting the SOP and your LOAs hard. I can’t stress this enough. These documents tell you how to handle every scenario and situation you’re going to see. If you know the documents, it will make things way easier. If you don’t, you’re going to struggle. After a few days of message practice, you get thrown right into running problems in the simulation lab. The lab is based on an actual ARTCC control room area. You will be assigned to a ‘sector’ where you will work with a retired controller on the R Side, a row instructor will be sitting behind you grading, 2 remotes will be in another room to serve as the pilot/other controllers, and you will be the D Side controller. Each problem is 45 mins long, and you will run 3 a day. For your first couple weeks, the last problem you run each day will introduce a new concept, and then your first two problems the next day will reinforce the new concept along with what you’ve learned previously. After problem 10, there are no new concepts. The problems will just become increasingly more busy and much faster paced. By the time you’ve run all 40+ problems, you will know how to handle every situation and you will have been working problems in the 12s that are much faster than the evals will be. As you progress through the problems, just remember the theme of DONT QUIT. Like everything else, radar problem month is a roller coaster ride and you will go from feeling great one run, to feeling like a total idiot the next. Just keep moving forward and trust that you are absorbing what you need to. Ask your row instructors and leads questions on ANYTHING you may not be 100% sure on. Don’t forget, they are all there to help you succeed. Don’t try and figure everything out on your own.

Radar Evals: I wont sugar coat Eval days. They suck. They really suck. This will probably be the most stressful day of your life, but you need to remember that you’re ready and you can do it. Not letting nerves/emotions overwhelm you is the #1 key to making it through these 2 days of hell. You will know how to do everything you see in the Evals, just leave your nerves outside the door to the lab, sit down at the sector, and do your job. It is very doable. The evaluators are fair, you can’t blame them if you have a bad run. Also, if you have a bad run, do not let it get you down. Stay focused, and make it happen in the next one. I needed a 65 average on my 3 Evals. I bombed the first one with a 40, then got a 65 on my second, and then crushed the last one with a 96. Another classmate of mine really bombed their first run with a 5. Then in the very next problem, got a 100. Seeing that helped inspire me to stay positive. It’s all a mine game. Control your emotions and nerves and you can do it. I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s really what it boils down to.

Misc.: Don’t be intimidated by the pass rates you hear, overall the Academy is very doable for most people. We had 14/17 people walk out with new jobs after Evals. Just have your priorities in order, and give it everything you’ve got. Don’t party every night or slack off. The FAA will push studying in groups as basically being the most beneficial thing you can do. Some instructors will even go as far as imply that if you’re not in study groups every night, you won’t make it.But it’s really to each their own, IMO. I don’t learn very well from group study, and met up with 2-3 other guys maybe 4-5 times total in OKC. Just do what works for you. That being said, get along with all of your classmates, don’t let there be any drama. Don’t get into trouble while in OKC, especially drinking and driving. The FAA will fire you for anything they deem even slightly out of line. You’re a probationary employee, act like one. And finally, try and enjoy the experience. Thousands and thousands of people apply to this job every year and only a select few end up making it to the Academy. This will likely be one of the most challenging, but also one of the most rewarding 4 month periods in your life. Just take it one step at a time. You can do this.
This is super accurate...well said. Just keep in mind that after you make it through the academy, enjoy it for a week or two until you go to your facility and then get back to work.

After making it through the academy, I took my training very seriously at my facility and got checked out on all of my D-sides in 4 months at a level 12 Center . Then, after over 200 hours of Radar OJT (on 2 of the busiest/most complex sectors in the NAS), I washed on my first 2 radar certs. I was really close to getting checked out and I worked really hard, and had great relationships with my trainers too. I just panicked making radar decisions and wasn't a safe controller. I had many controllers in the area tell me that I was a great D-side, which was awesome to hear, but means nothing in the ATC world.

Best advice I could give out of the academy is don't focus so much on where you end up. Transferring is super easy. It takes time, but it's easy and you'll eventually end up where you want. I finished 8th out of 16 in my class ended up at my dream facility out of the academy, 10 minutes from my hometown, friends, family etc....looking back, I wish I would have moved and went to a level 10 Center, got CPC and then transferred to my dream facility. It would have been a confidence boost for me and it gives you many more options with the FAA once you get CPC.

In a nut shell, keep working hard - don't assume you've made it just because you made it through the academy, and don't be afraid to go to a lower level facility...might be the best decision of your life.
 

FightingIrish2012

Forum Sage
Messages
1,040
This is super accurate...well said. Just keep in mind that after you make it through the academy, enjoy it for a week or two until you go to your facility and then get back to work.

After making it through the academy, I took my training very seriously at my facility and got checked out on all of my D-sides in 4 months at a level 12 Center . Then, after over 200 hours of Radar OJT (on 2 of the busiest/most complex sectors in the NAS), I washed on my first 2 radar certs. I was really close to getting checked out and I worked really hard, and had great relationships with my trainers too. I just panicked making radar decisions and wasn't a safe controller. I had many controllers in the area tell me that I was a great D-side, which was awesome to hear, but means nothing in the ATC world.

Best advice I could give out of the academy is don't focus so much on where you end up. Transferring is super easy. It takes time, but it's easy and you'll eventually end up where you want. I finished 8th out of 16 in my class ended up at my dream facility out of the academy, 10 minutes from my hometown, friends, family etc....looking back, I wish I would have moved and went to a level 10 Center, got CPC and then transferred to my dream facility. It would have been a confidence boost for me and it gives you many more options with the FAA once you get CPC.

In a nut shell, keep working hard - don't assume you've made it just because you made it through the academy, and don't be afraid to go to a lower level facility...might be the best decision of your life.
Did they screw you too and say you could only go to non-radar towers only since you only had the D sides?
 

FightingIrish2012

Forum Sage
Messages
1,040
I cannot stress enough how wrong this statement is. Lots of facilities that are so sought after you'll never get there in your career unless you have some major hookups
This is true, I missed that line as I skimmed over the post the first time. It is too bad, I feel bad for the guy, but if he has such a rose colored glasses look on transfers it casts serious validity doubts on the rest of the post.
 

GolfCharlie

Member
FAA
Messages
2
Facility
ZSE Seattle Center
Anyone have a copy of the LOA's and SOP's for the OKC En Route training? =D
If you’re collecting them for sentimental purposes I’m sure someone can photo copy them for you. If you want them to get ahead and start studying before the academy, just don’t. Get your affairs in order and go in with a clean state and an open mind. You’ll have plenty of time and instruction to understand these documents.
 

tunwno

Trusted Contributor
FAA
Messages
472
Facility
ZLA Los Angeles Center
Anyone have a copy of the LOA's and SOP's for the OKC En Route training? =D
Don’t worry about what’s going to happen in the near future now. You have to understand what they want you to understand in their way not your way. So enjoy the time you have before you get there.
 

Olympus

Trusted Contributor
Messages
232
I'm curious, how come there's 2-3 of these threads for Enroute but none for Terminal? Is there no real need for a Terminal one or has there just not been anyone who took the time to make one?
 
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