What to Expect on the ICAO English Test

The ICAO English Test measures the ability to speak and understand english in an aviation environment. The test examiner measures a set of skills then scores them according to the ICAO rating scale. The final test score determines if the applicant meets the ICAO standards for english proficiency.

How is the ICAO English Test conducted? The ICAO english standards are the same around the world but the methods for conducting the test vary. Each examiner may have their own preferred way of administering the test. Reading and writing are not required so the test is discussion based. Common exercises are used to help start conversations.  Here are some of the most common activities you can expect on the ICAO English Test:

Introduction and Background

The test usually starts with questions about your background and experience in aviation. The examiner wants see how well you can express your thoughts using the english language. Some common questions may include:

-“How did you get started in aviation?”

-“What are the good and bad things about being a pilot?”

-“Describe your daily routine.”

-“Tell me about your first solo flight.”

 

Listening and Comprehension

The examiner may play a short audio clip of a normal or abnormal situation. After the the recording finishes, the examiner will ask you to describe what you heard. You want to be as detailed as possible in your explanation. You may also play a role in the scenario which you just described. For example, a recording may be of a flight attendant notifying the first officer of a sick passenger. As the first officer, you must relay the message to the captain about the situation. The captain may respond for you to notify air traffic control. Remember, it’s important to use proper ICAO phraseology when making radio calls.

 

Photo Descriptions

The examiner may present a photo of an aviation related event. Like the previous exercise, the examiner will ask you to describe what you see. Depending on the photo the examiner may ask questions such as:

-“What factors contributed to this event?”

-“If you were the pilot, what would you have done differently?”

-“What do you think happened after the picture was taken?”

The examiner will probably ask more detailed questions about the scenario in the photo.

Remember that the examiner is testing your ability to understand and communicate in the english language. These are just a few of the ways examiners check these skills. Each exercise may lead to more detailed discussions about the topic.  Don’t try to memorize responses to questions but instead focus on as many ways to communicate your ideas and opinions. Good luck!

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