What is a train driver selection test?
Train driver selection tests are designed to identify applicants with the inherent cognitive and psychomotor skills needed to fulfil their duties in line with strict safety measures.
There is no single selection test, but a full suite of assessments that measure concentration, observational skills, memory recall, reactions, vigilance and cognitive processing.
They assess your ability to apply these skills under pressure, each test requiring both accuracy and speed under timed conditions.
As these skills are natural capabilities, there is no preexisting knowledge required to pass your train driver selection tests. That said, they are purposefully designed to be mentally challenging, and for that reason, require plenty of practice and preparation.
The format of the train driver assessment
The nature of your train driver assessment will depend on the global location of the company to which you are applying, as they are aligned with the standards set out by the relevant railway authority.
In the UK and mainland Europe, the format is fairly standard, consisting of the tests outlined below, which you’ll typically sit at an assessment centre, either as a pen and paper or computerised version.
Before each one, you’ll be given an explanatory introduction, and a number of sample questions to work through to make sure you understand the process, and the tasks you’ll need to complete.
If you’re applying outside of Europe, the format will vary. For example, in Australia, candidates are required to sit numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and logical reasoning tests in addition to the specific train driver test suite. In the US, you’ll also take part in assessed group exercises.
The exact details of your assessment will be provided to you prior to test day, but you can reasonably expect to face the following as part of your train driver assessment, and should practice each thoroughly as part of your preparation.
Train driver mechanical reasoning test
Mechanical reasoning tests measure your understanding of mechanical principles, and your ability to apply these to solve a given problem.
To complete this assessment, you’ll need to answer a series of multiple-choice questions around concepts like gears, pulleys, levers, force and movement, all relevant to the technical aspects of your role as a train driver.
Questions are presented as diagrams and illustrations, and you’ll need to identify the correct response to the question prompt at speed, as you’ll be working to a time limit.
Trainability for Rules and Procedures Test (TRP)
In this part of the assessment process, you’re being tested on your ability to understand, interpret, retain and apply information.
There are two parts to the TRP test. In part one, you’ll process both verbal and written information through listening to an audio clip, and reading an information sheet on the same topic. You’ll then answer a series of multiple choice questions based on this information. You’ll have to recall this from memory, as any notes you’ve taken will be removed when you receive your question paper.
In part two, you’ll work with visual information in the form of colour coded dials and reference keys listing priority order for reading these dials. Again, you’ll answer a series of multiple-choice questions that require you to interpret this information correctly.
Group Bourdon test
As a form of psychomotor testing, the Group Bourdon test is a visually and mentally challenging assessment, measuring your ability to concentrate and observe under considerable time pressure.
It’s administered as either a pen and paper test, or a computerised version. In each case, you’ll be presented with a page (or screen) containing 25 columns split into boxes.
In each box will be either three, four, five or six dots, arranged in different patterns. You’ll need to scan from left to right and pick out those boxes with four dots only. You’ll have two minutes to work through a single page, and will need to complete five pages in total.
Test of Everyday Attention (TEA-OCC)
The Test of Everyday Attention challenges your concentration, auditory and visual observation, and multi-tasking skills, alongside your ability to follow specific instruction.
It is split into three parts, the first of which focuses on auditory processing. You’ll hear a series of beeps played at random, varying between low and high tones. You’ll need to count the beeps you hear in low tones only.
In section two, you’ll be shown a grid containing various pieces of information, much like a directory listing. As an example, information could detail types of businesses, phone numbers and locations. You’ll be given a series of prompts asking you to identify grid entries that match certain criteria.
Section three combines both previous sections. You’ll need to search a grid to identify relevant entries, whilst at the same time counting beeps. In each section, you’re required to work with focus and accuracy against the clock.
Traffic perception test (ATAVT)
As the name suggests, this is a measure of your perception skills. In this computer-based assessment, you’ll be shown an image, most typically of a street scene. This will appear briefly on your screen, and you’ll need to take as much information in as possible.
After each image, you’ll be given a list of things that may or may not have been present. You’ll need to select which items you believe to have been in the visual stimulus.
As a train driver, your ability to stay alert at all times is key, and this is what this test is designed to measure. There are variations on this computer-based assessment, but the most commonly used involves a grey square on the screen, which will change in shade intermittently.
You’ll need to watch this square for around half an hour, registering every time a change occurs with the click of a button. Both your accuracy and response times are taken towards your final score.
Train driver situational judgement test
As with any profession where these tests are used, situational judgement tests in the train driver assessment process measure how you’re likely to act in certain workplace scenarios.
You’ll be presented with a number of hypothetical situations and a series of possible responses to each. You’ll need to list these in order of which you think most appropriate, to least appropriate.
This will give the assessor insight into how well suited you are, both for the role and as an employee of the train operating company.
Written communication test
In a written communication test, employers are looking to establish if you have appropriate command of the English language to fulfil your duties, such as producing a coherent incident report.
These tests are fairly straightforward, and require you to draft a brief written explanation based on a passage of text or visual prompt.
These tests are only administered by some TOCs, so may not always make up part of your assessment. Where they do appear, they’re unlikely to impact your overall pass mark.