July 25, 2013
By AOPA Communications staff
Several air carriers now require job candidates to take a cognitive test to gauge abilities like short- and long-term memory, response time, and coordination. The test, known as CogScreen, is also given to aviators seeking FAA medicals who are recovering from substance abuse or dependence or are HIV+, and pilots seeking special issuance authorizations following neurologic or psychiatric conditions or antidepressant medication.
Now the doctor who developed CogScreen for the FAA is offering attendees at EAA’s AirVenture 2013 the chance to take the CogScreen test for free—and anonymously.
While Dr. Gary Kay’s aim is to broaden the sample base for the test, the free-testing opportunity gives potential airline candidates at Oshkosh, Wis., a chance to take a dry-run through CogScreen before a job interview. For general aviation pilots, the free CogScreen test is a chance to compare mental agility with other pilots of the same age, older or younger, and to find strengths and weaknesses.
Delta Air Lines, ExpressJet, and Federal Express use CogScreen for hiring. Air Canada obtains baseline CogScreen data on all new hires.
Kay served as a U.S. Navy doctor who was tasked with evaluating pilots who had suffered head injuries before they could return to flight. He will have a team of aviation neuropsychologists with him at AirVenture to help collect normative data for general aviation pilots on the CogScreen test.
“We’re hoping for 120 pilots of all ages,” Kay said, “though we’re particularly interested in non-commercial older aviators.”
Kay’s CogScreen test was developed at the request of the FAA, and it has gained a certain notoriety with pilots on aviation-career online forums. “It made my brain hurt,” wrote one Delta candidate. Another, however, offered, “It wasn’t that bad,” and yet another wrote, “it was actually kinda fun.”
Those who are accustomed to online brain exercise sites like Lumosity.com and Happyneuron.com will instantly recognize CogScreen’s logic. Others will just find it as challenging as a word or number scramble.
The test takes about an hour. Several exercises require rapid matching of numbers and letters and sequencing. Another displays a lineman holding a flag from front and back and upside down and requires the testee to choose which hand—right or left—the flag is held in. There are several time-distance math problems as well. Speed and accuracy are vital to a good score.
CogScreen booth will be available during AirVenture at the FAA exhibits. For more information on the test visit www.CogScreen.com.
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