The importance of knowing the SIFT Test format in as much detail as possible cannot be overstated. The material on the SIFT Test can be learned through study – knowing the format, the types of questions you will encounter and your timing for each section is trickier. You may well know of plenty of people who got a lower score than they deserved due to forgetting some aspect of the SIFT Test format and screwing up their timings. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at the format for the Selection Instrument for Flight Training and see how many sections there are, how many questions each section has and what type of questions you are likely to encounter.
SIFT Test Format
The SIFT Test consists of seven separate sections. Some sections relate directly to aviation skill and knowledge while others are intended to be general tests of intelligence and cognitive ability. The common thread between all seven sections is a correlation with performance on the Selection Instrument for Flight training and eventual success at subsequent stages of the Army’s aviation training program. The SIFT Test format takes place entirely on computer, although test takers are provided with pencils and papers for use in calculations and so forth. Each section has a different time limit and number of questions. The first five sections have a fixed number of questions, whereas the final two sections have a variable number of questions.
The following table is a summary of the SIFT Test format, including the names of each test section, the number of questions in each and the time allocated per section –
|SIFT Test Section||Number Of Questions||Time|
|Section 1 – Simple Drawings (SD)||100||2 Minutes|
|Section 2 – Hidden Figures (HF)||50||5 Minutes|
|Section 3 – Army Aviation Information Test (AAIT)||40||30 Minutes|
|Section 4 – Spatial Apperception Test (SAT)||25||10 Minutes|
|Section 5 – Reading Comprehension Test (RCT)||20||30 Minutes|
|Section 6 – Math Skills Test (MST)||Varies||40 Minutes|
|Section 7 – Mechanical Comprehension Test (MCT)||Varies||15 Minutes|
The first five sections of the SIFT test have a fixed number of questions, but the number and type of questions you will encounter in the final two sections varies. This is due to the fact they are ‘adaptive’ – the computer uses your identified strengths and weaknesses and adjusts the SIFT test format to you personally. The official army SIFT FAQ states that, altogether, the SIFT test can take up to three hours, but many are able to finish the Selection Instrument for Flight Training in under two hours. This includes the entire SIFT test and also checking in, setting up etc.
SIFT Sections Explained
Section 1: SD (Simple Drawings):
Simple Drawings, known as SD, is the first section of the SIFT test. It involves identifying the odd one out in a series of images. The images tend to be very basic. The skill is not in identifying the images but in completing the questions rapidly. You are given 100 questions in 120 seconds. It’s important to use a SIFT Study Guide to time yourself in preparation for this first section of the SIFT Test. One common SIFT Test mistake is to assume this is too easy to practice for. Avoid this at all costs. Simple Drawings is one of the easier aspects on the Selection Instrument for Flight Training but still requires your respect and attention.
Section 2: HF (Hidden Figures): Hidden Figures, referred to as HF, is the second section of the SIFT Test. Like the majority of the SIFT test format, it has a fixed number of questions, and a fixed time limit in which to complete them. Test takers are given 300 seconds in which to complete 50 questions. This works out at 6 seconds per question and requires a mixture of speed and focus. Each question requires you to identify an image which is hidden in a complex mix of shapes and lines. Thorough practice is needed to ensure you are able to complete this section at an appropriate speed.
Section 3: AAIT (Army Aviation Information Test): AAIT is the first area of the SIFT Test requiring you to really study. It is a mixture of theoretical and practical aspects of flight. Some of the material you may encounter includes questions related to the types of helicopters used by the Army, the basic concepts of helicopter flight, the controls used to pilot a helicopter, and the different types of helicopter craft components and their roles. Every SIFT Test taker has a slightly different mix of questions so don’t assume you will cover the exact same material as someone else you have spoken to – although it is likely to be similar. The AAIT gives you half an hour in which to answer 40 questions.
Section 4: SAT (Spatial Apperception Test): The Spatial Apperception Test, or SAT, is one of the SIFT Test sections which is most closely related to actual aviation skills. This portion of the Selection Instrument for Flight training involves identifying a series of cockpit view images and matching them with an external view of a craft in flight. It is intended to assess your competency at picturing craft in three dimensional space and understanding how a cockpit view corresponds to an aircraft position. You will be given ten minutes in which to complete 25 questions. A SIFT study guide, use of a flight simulator or experience actually flying are all helpful ways to get comfortable with this test section before taking it.
Section 5: RCT (Reading Comprehension Test): The RCT is one of the longest sections of the Selection Instrument for Flight Training, lasting for 30 minutes and featuring 20 questions. It is the final area of the SIFT Test format which involves a fixed number of questions. RCT questions consist of a paragraph of text and then a series of possible answers relating to the text. Only one answer is exactly right although several will relate closely to the text. The RCT is intended to assess general intelligence and the ability of the candidate to use a logical process of elimination under pressured conditions.
Section 6: MST (Maths Skills Test): The MST is the first area using an adaptive question type to add variety to the SIFT test format. This basically means that all candidates will be given 40 minutes to answer a variable number of questions on various areas of mathematics. The Army do not disclose the logic behind the adaptive aspects of the SIFT test format but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that candidates are given more and more questions on areas they are weaker at. For example, if you make mistakes on an element of math, such as algebra, then you are likely to see more and more algebra questions. Some of the areas of math to focus on understanding include order of operations, basic algebra, geometry and logic puzzles.
Section 7: MCT (Mechanical Comprehension Test): The second and final aspect of the SIFT test format which makes use of an adaptive question type. Similarly to the MST, the MCT will vary the number and type of questions you are tested on depending on your performance on earlier questions. This test section analyzes a range of physics concepts and applications, including physics related to flight, simple machines, forces, and practical problems involving scientific formulas. Don’t be fooled by the fact this is a relatively short SIFT test section, at only fifteen minutes – it is almost universally reported to be one of the harder, if not the hardest, test sections for most people. A good SIFT study guide will help you brush up on the concepts and try them out under timed conditions.
SIFT Test Format Conclusion
You should now have a clear understanding of the SIFT Test format and what is required from you in each section. However, ‘knowing’ is only the first stage of preparation – you must practice and be able to ‘do’ as well. There are no substitutes for taking a SIFT Practice Test or spending time using a quality SIFT study guide. After all – your first passing SIFT score is your permanent score, and you can only take the SIFT test twice. Why leave things to chance?