The various military flight aptitude tests are designed to measure your ability to successfully understand and complete a military flight training program. Because of the specific needs and priorities of the various military services, the test formats and priorities differ slightly among the branches.

Take a look at the various types of questions you can expect to encounter on each of the different flight aptitude tests. These include language skills and vocabulary, mathematic problems, reading comprehension, science problem solving, and of course aviation-specific test questions.

All the different types of test questions are really interrelated, so understanding each category can help you master the others. Here is a short list of all the types of questions you can expect on each branch’s test.

Verbal, word knowledge, and reading

The verbal, word knowledge, and reading comprehension sections on the flight aptitude tests evaluate your overall mastery of vocabulary and of the basics of the English language, plus your ability to read, analyze, and draw rational conclusions from given materials. The question types vary from test to test, but you can expect word definitions, analogies, and short essays to appear on whichever test you take.

Math and arithmetic reasoning

The mathematical portions of the flight aptitude tests evaluate your ability to analyze and solve problems involving quadratic formulas, geometry, trigonometry, ratios, and algebra. In addition, these questions require you to apply conversion formulas to known values to solve for any unknown values, as well as to calculate area and volume.

Some of the problems can seem daunting, but with practice, mastering the required skills to solve the problems is possible. You can’t use a calculator on the actual tests.

You may find some practice problems in that are difficult and are designed to strengthen your understanding of a mathematical or scientific concept; if you need a calculator to solve the practice problem, go ahead and use one. After you understand the problem, immediately go back and try to solve the same problem without a calculator.

General science

Each flight aptitude test expects you to have a basic grasp of biology, chemistry, and physics (covered under the mechanical function section). In addition, you encounter questions on earth sciences, geography, and a variety of other scientific subjects.

Mechanical function and comprehension

This section evaluates your ability to apply basic physics formulas and principles to a variety of problems involving mechanical, waveform, and electrical functions. In addition to forces and mechanical advantage devices, you find questions about the concepts of electrical power, wavelength, and acceleration/velocity.

Aviation and nautical information

What would a flight aptitude test be without a check of your aviation knowledge? This test section covers basic aerodynamics (with a fixed- or rotary-wing focus, depending on the branch) and aviation fundamentals, including any atmospheric properties or conditions that directly affect an aircraft and military aviation in high-speed/high-altitude profiles.

These questions test both your knowledge of the basic scientific principles of flight as well as the fundamentals of flying from an aviator’s perspective. In addition, the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) used by the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, contains a section on nautical information and seamanship.

To gain a better understanding of basic fixed-wing aerodynamics, read Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators by Hugh H. Hurt (Skyhorse Publishing), which is available at most pilot supply companies and For basic rotary-wing aerodynamics, read Army Field Manual FM 3-04.203, Fundamentals of Flight, which you can also order from most pilot supply companies.

Instrument comprehension

This portion of the test assesses your ability to infer the aircraft’s orientation superimposed on the horizon. This section provides you with graphical representations of two basic aeronautical instruments (a compass and an artificial horizon) that are designed to give you a perceptual view of an aircraft and asks you to identify the correct silhouette of the airframe.

Mental skills

This section of the test includes block counting, rotated blocks, hidden figures, and spatial apperception. All are designed to evaluate your ability to conceptualize complex mental problems and to problem-solve in a 3-D perspective.