Why do people typically fail out of the FAA academy?

GB30628511

Member
Messages
4
Just remember this:
There will be many people who could, for instance, do very well at a Lvl12 Center, who sadly fail at the academy. I say this because I know very skilled CPCs at my center who barely passed the academy, even some who had to file protests on their problems to get a couple extra points which put them over 70%.
There will also be many who pass the academy, some may even has scores in the 90s, who can't crack getting certified on even their first D-sides. Or some that fall through the cracks at their facilities, get certified, and now the FAA is stuck with an absolutely awful controller for the next 25 years, (Lets be honest, we're all thinking of a name right now, in our own facility).
Those who say "You either got it, or you don't" are probably a lot of people who fall under the second group of people, because they feel guilty for how lucky they were to make it out of OKC, and that's how they rationalize it. The truth is, you may 'have it' and still fail if you can't learn to play the game, which means follow the asinine rules in the lab problems, even if they don't make any sense, because they don't. Even if you are destined to be an amazing air traffic controller, the nerves in OKC can get to you, and make you forget to keep all the ridiculous rules as you run an eval problem.

Good Luck!
 
Messages
8
Supposedly that job shares much in common skill-set wise with ATC. I know of several former military controllers who couldn’t/didn’t go FAA for various reasons who become 911 dispatchers.
There is definitely transferrable skills from 911 to ATC. But I'm a firm believer that if you can sharpen your ability to keep cool and keep working then academy is passable. Not easy, but passable. Dispatching definitely helped me sharpen that skill. I consider myself living proof of that because I know the second guy that washed out was a better controller than me in practically every facet. If he ran that eval twenty more times he would have crushed all twenty; he just caught the bad break everyone wishes they don't catch.
 

RissaRoo

Lurker
Messages
6
I honestly believe my saving grace was my previous work experience being a 911 dispatcher for several years; it enabled me to shake off each mistake I made and keep working the problem in front of me.

Thanks for the post! Very helpful. I'm currently a 911 Dispatcher going on 5 years and am hopeful I'll be successful in this career change.
 
Messages
18
There is definitely transferrable skills from 911 to ATC. But I'm a firm believer that if you can sharpen your ability to keep cool and keep working then academy is passable. Not easy, but passable. Dispatching definitely helped me sharpen that skill. I consider myself living proof of that because I know the second guy that washed out was a better controller than me in practically every facet. If he ran that eval twenty more times he would have crushed all twenty; he just caught the bad break everyone wishes they don't catch.
I can relate to that. Definitely caught that bad break right when it mattered.
 

Rodsmash

Trusted Contributor
FAA
Messages
19
Facility
ZJX Jacksonville Center
I’d say most people fail En Route because they don’t have a good scan. While you’re there you have to get in the mind set of playing the “Aerocenter Game”. Part of that game is realizing that nearly every call you take is designed to distract you from either a point out or conflict you’re about to miss. The calls helped me on evals because every time the phone rang I would do a quick scan to see if I was missing something.
 

SCofATC

Trusted Contributor
FAA
Messages
31
Facility
STP St. Paul Tower
The calls helped me on evals because every time the phone rang I would do a quick scan to see if I was missing something.
Noice you recognized that had to be done. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
 
Messages
8
Thanks for the post! Very helpful. I'm currently a 911 Dispatcher going on 5 years and am hopeful I'll be successful in this career change.
If you work at a busy agency (which 911 center isn't busy, am I right? lol) and know how to regularly shake off a few dozen bad calls and a couple cranky officers in a shift then you should be able to keep your wits about you in academy. I still made mistakes left and right but was able to not lose focus or get hung up on each one. Being able to on-the-fly decide if an error was an isolated error or needed to be immediately fixed before something else happened was my dispatching brain kicking into gear and it was what saved my behind big time.
 

bigfooten28

Trusted Contributor
Messages
113
Any Air Force 1C5D’s or 13B’s go through the academy and can say how much different/harder it is than controlling a BMA down range?
 

Tom

Trusted Contributor
Messages
46
I'm going to just chime in my 2 cents. Schooling and knowledge will help you understand the academy *ie planes are good or bad, vortacs, phraseology etc* but that all gets covered again in basics. The people that failed in my class-
3 or 4 partied too often and didn't study enough, ie shot in the dark, nothing lost if this doesn't work out but I wanted to try it. We had one guy fail the first basics test? Literally flashcards online.
Some overlap, but the next couple people maybe knew enough to get through, but it was a weird mix of choking up, not being confident, or stuttering with phraseology (or can't make a decision) and that slowing you down.
I think a few other's had the wrong idea-one person was memorizing the strips in non-radar (do not do this) in between problems and a few key moves make you look like a genius. Your instructor cannot help or explain things to you if you are getting it right but not of your own accord.
My only advice to people that have been hired is start working on the map-even if you don't know what it is, just copy the picture over, and over, and over, and over, and over.
 

KevH

Member
Messages
32
Any Air Force 1C5D’s or 13B’s go through the academy and can say how much different/harder it is than controlling a BMA down range?
What up Kingpin? Never did the job directly but worked with you all in several facets such as air traffic control, airspace management, restricted operations zone control, etc. so have a little familiarity with your job. Tactical controlling is a good deal different than air traffic control. One big difference is separation standards are much more defined/strict in air traffic control. Generally speaking, tactical controlling is more similar to an advisory service or flight following in the air traffic control world. Possibly a good way to look at the FAA Academy is the intensity of Advanced Weapons Director School. And a possible way to compare your controlling to air traffic control is to assume all your aircraft are under close control (I think that's the right term in your career field). I say all this as a someone who has worked pretty closely with you all but never done your job so analogy could be a little off. However, the multi-tasking, coordination, and control of aircraft (even if not using the same separation standards as air traffic control) should be useful in transitioning to air traffic control. Advantages seem to be pretty similar to the advantages mentioned by dispatchers in this thread. Good luck in OKC!
 

bigfooten28

Trusted Contributor
Messages
113
What up Kingpin? Never did the job directly but worked with you all in several facets such as air traffic control, airspace management, restricted operations zone control, etc. so have a little familiarity with your job. Tactical controlling is a good deal different than air traffic control. One big difference is separation standards are much more defined/strict in air traffic control. Generally speaking, tactical controlling is more similar to an advisory service or flight following in the air traffic control world. Possibly a good way to look at the FAA Academy is the intensity of Advanced Weapons Director School. And a possible way to compare your controlling to air traffic control is to assume all your aircraft are under close control (I think that's the right term in your career field). I say all this as a someone who has worked pretty closely with you all but never done your job so analogy could be a little off. However, the multi-tasking, coordination, and control of aircraft (even if not using the same separation standards as air traffic control) should be useful in transitioning to air traffic control. Advantages seem to be pretty similar to the advantages mentioned by dispatchers in this thread. Good luck in OKC!
Thanks for the info! what exactly was your AFSC if you dont mind me asking?
 

32andBelow

Forum Sage
Messages
360
I'm going to just chime in my 2 cents. Schooling and knowledge will help you understand the academy *ie planes are good or bad, vortacs, phraseology etc* but that all gets covered again in basics. The people that failed in my class-
3 or 4 partied too often and didn't study enough, ie shot in the dark, nothing lost if this doesn't work out but I wanted to try it. We had one guy fail the first basics test? Literally flashcards online.
Some overlap, but the next couple people maybe knew enough to get through, but it was a weird mix of choking up, not being confident, or stuttering with phraseology (or can't make a decision) and that slowing you down.
I think a few other's had the wrong idea-one person was memorizing the strips in non-radar (do not do this) in between problems and a few key moves make you look like a genius. Your instructor cannot help or explain things to you if you are getting it right but not of your own accord.
My only advice to people that have been hired is start working on the map-even if you don't know what it is, just copy the picture over, and over, and over, and over, and over.
I wouldn’t study the map before you get there. You get more than enough time to learn the map in class
 

170tovocus

Trusted Contributor
Messages
36
My only advice to people that have been hired is start working on the map-even if you don't know what it is, just copy the picture over, and over, and over, and over, and over.
Don't do this. The map is absurdly easy, you can learn it in a weekend no problem. If you really want to get a jump start, go through the Basics Study Guide on this website - it tracks almost perfectly with the basics course, and you'll have a leg up not hearing all the material for the first time in class.
 

32andBelow

Forum Sage
Messages
360
Don't do this. The map is absurdly easy, you can learn it in a weekend no problem. If you really want to get a jump start, go through the Basics Study Guide on this website - it tracks almost perfectly with the basics course, and you'll have a leg up not hearing all the material for the first time in class.
Don’t do this either. Basics will be even more boring if you do.
 
Messages
32
I wouldn’t study the map before you get there. You get more than enough time to learn the map in class
I agree 100%. The map is very easy to learn, you get plenty of time in and out of class. You use it so much that it becomes almost second nature. Everyone in my class made like a 95% or higher on the map test, much bigger things to worry about than that.

Don't do this. The map is absurdly easy, you can learn it in a weekend no problem. If you really want to get a jump start, go through the Basics Study Guide on this website - it tracks almost perfectly with the basics course, and you'll have a leg up not hearing all the material for the first time in class.
Why are you telling people to look at a basics study guide lol that’s so pointless. You get 8 hours a day of textbooks being drilled into your head, that’s more than enough. There’s a reason like 98% of people pass basics, most without a study guide.
 

KEEPER4560

Member
FAA
Messages
20
Facility
ZKC Kansas City Center
Make sure you have your priorities straight. Both in and out of the classroom.

Out of Classroom - everybody is different so know how much you need to study so just make sure you keep up with your work. That’s not to say lock yourself in your room and study 18 hours a day. I did a lot of cool things out in OKC and did a lot of exploring but I had to study more than the average person in my class. PACE YOURSELF WITH THE STUDYING. It is easy to burn out and once that happens it’s real difficult to bring yourself back.

In Classroom - Put yourself out there. Try new things in the labs or during lectures. Volunteer to go up to the board and make a fool out of yourself. Take every instructors advice with a thoughtful ear and just pick and choose techniques that fit your liking.

Try and keep your nerves in check. As others have said a lot of it is either you can do it or you cant but there are instances where I knew quite a few folks who could do it but couldn’t control their nerves.
 
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