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Just took the Sift

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Not sure if this is thread worthy but I figured my experience could be of help to some others. Ill first start by saying I had no aviation experience other than being in a sim a few times. I knew from researching this forum that this test was gonna be tough. I had about 3-4 months to prepare and I studied about an hour or so a day. The two study guides I primarily focused on were the accepted inc book and one just called the sift study guide. I'll link them at the bottom. These two books were very helpful I learned them inside and out. On top of these books I also read through the FAA manual and reread the important chapters multiple times.


Simple Drawings- Be sure not to double click!! That got me in trouble a few times. The time pauses when switching to another question. Look over the study guides for this but don't spend too much time studying for this.


Hidden Figures-They weren't as convoluted as I was expecting them to be but were tough regardless. I had a decent amount of practice going in but it wasn't of much help. Only got through 27 of them and I guessed on a handful.


Army Aviation Information-This was the second easiest section on the test, those study guides and the FAA manual will adequately prepare you for this for the most part. There were a few airframe specific questions on Army helicopters and their roles. Mostly aerodynamic questions.


Spatial Apperception-This was the easiest section on the test. You are given plenty of time to finish and the concepts are simple to understand if you read over them once or twice in the study guides you'll be fine.


Reading comprehension-This was the toughest reading comprehension test I've ever taken. It was only about a paragraph per question but all of the answer choices were hard to choose from. It does give you plenty of time though.


Math Skills- I did well on the asvab math sections but this was another animal. I thought it would start off easy and get harder as I answered more questions right. But right of the bat it was pretty tough questions. This is where I lost most of my points. I was cut off 18 minutes into the section. Make sure you study distance/rate problems and work problems they gave me a lot of trouble. As far as geometry they provide most of your important formulas but know how to use them. I have heard a lot of good things about Khan Academy. Dont be like me and rest on your laurels since you did good on the asvab, the sift is much harder.


Mechanical Comprehension-Both the study guides provided me adequate information to do well on this sub-test. Easier than I expected.


I ended up with a 62 which I'm satisfied with. I really wanted a 65+ but my math really held me back. This test can be studied for, it takes a lot of preparation though because of how broad it is. Here are the two study guides I used:





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I always tell people the hardest part of the test was hidden figures and the math portion. Hidden figures: you're either good at it or not, I'm not. Math: I wish i could remember specifically what I struggled with, but it was much harder than I anticipated.


side note: mechanical comprehension was super easy

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The bigger question is how each section is weighted... which we don't really know. Also, apparently on HF (I'm not great at it, only made it through 25-26, but I don't think I got more than a couple wrong at most) you aren't supposed to guess, as they look at your accuracy in addition to how many you get through. The math was pretty tough, but it wasn't crazy. I probably lost a few points because I completely forgot what a log was.

The mechanical comprehension was mostly easy, but I got some curve-ball questions about some particle accelerator type thing. I have a science degree and I had NO idea what was going on haha. The trend seems to be the harder the test felt, the "better" you are doing. I felt like crap finishing the test as I was completely in the dark at the end of the math and mechanical sections, and I did pretty well (75).


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  • 2 years later...

I took the SIFT test recently (4/15/2019) and I am happy to say I passed with a 62. I am paying it forward by sharing my experiences studying and all the tools used during the process.


I hope that the previous posts on this topic as well as this post can serve you well on your journey to taking (and passing) the SIFT.


Simple Drawings:

There were questions before starting that asked if I played video games or flight simulators growing up and if I played a lot of video games now, even asked what systems. I said I didn’t play any and moved on.

The test worked as advertised in the study guide. Emphasis on accuracy followed by speed. I timed myself in the study guide practice tests as well as the Trivium practice test to prepare. I got through 89 of the pictures and I know I missed around 4 due to double clicking. Find a rhythm to click once and pause.


Hidden Figures:

I didn’t have an understanding, until the test, that the shapes within the drawings do not rotate. The shape in the figure will always be as presented as it is in the answer column. Like the Simple Drawings, time yourself with the study guides and the do the Trivium test too.


Flight Aptitude:

This section I was the most worried about because I was starting from zero previous knowledge and it covers a lot of material. The study guides provided great overviews for this part, however, I think the best tool was the FAA Handbook - which the study guides pulled from. I made flashcard from the answers I got wrong in the practice tests and used some from the Quizlet site below. Some of the answers I knew not from the tests or cards but just from reading through the latter sections of the FAA Handbook. The youtube channel “Helicopter Lessons in 10 Minutes or Less” was a big help here too in grasping some of the concepts.


Some specific question topics I remember from the test:

-slip vs skid

-safety questions “I’m ready” checklist

-tandem rotor direction

-Night Operations - myopia

-Pedals, Cyclic, Collective, and Throttle functions

-few army helicopter questions; Kiowa responsibilities, Blackhawk responsibilities


Spacial Apperception:

Pretty straightforward. The only differences from the study guides to the test were:

-the plane used in the diagram: F-16 in the study guides and a T-6 on the test.

-the roll angles in some of the diagrams were more exaggerated than in the study guide, the concepts were the same though


There was plenty of time to work out each question and this section allowed you to bookmark questions and go back.


Reading Comprehension:

Pretty standard section here. The people outside my room were loud which made it hard to focus during this section. I took a pair of headphones in the room and wore them for a while, which helped a great deal.



A few of the other posts said this was the hardest section. I agree with that, this section seemed harder than the math on the ASVAB. The good thing here is that there are a lot more resources to practice beforehand. Many of the math topics you can google to get practice tests. You are provided the equations for the geometry questions; I didn’t get many geometry questions though. My math test had a majority of the questions dealing with probability, speed/work, and reducing algebraic equations.


Specific math topics I remember:

- a lot of questions with probability: if you roll a dice, the probability that numbers add up to 3?

- Averages with test scores, the 4th score was 20 points more than the average of the first 3, what do they need to get on the 5th and 6th scores to average blah blah blah.

-speed and time; two runners running at a different speed and distance from the finish. Difference between finishers times

-draining and filling faucets


Mechanical Comprehension:


-gears and gears with straps

-distance from fulcrum with weight on the opposite side

-conceptual questions with kinetic and potential energy

-weight on the moon vs earth


Took about 3 months to study for this, started right after the ASVAB. I devoted about 6 hours during the week to it and around 8 hours on the weekends to it. I have a hard time studying in my home so I found a few spots I liked from coffee shops to the office at my job. A list of the study guides I used is posted below. I bought two study guides because I wanted to see if there was a difference in how the material was presented and taught. I think either can serve you well.


I started the test pretty early in the morning at MEPS, right around 0630. I ate a lite breakfast cause I didn’t want to have to got the bathroom or anything during the test. Everybody is different, but give your nutrition and rest a thought before and during the test. It’s all part of the preparation. Take a deep breath before each section, stand up, stretch, do what you have to do to relax and or have your mind sharp.







FREE (PRINTED) FAA Helicopter Flying Handbook:



FREE (PRINTED) Fundamentals of Flight:



Practice Tests: Trivium Test Prep


Flash Cards:



Helicopter Lessons In 10 Minutes or Less https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG13vqdYSapylJU53JD8yEQ


SIFT Overview (Green Baggers) - Great resource for the whole process.



ASVAB Study Guide - used to reference for the math and mechanical sections


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Hello all,

I just want to share a bit about my background and give my thoughts on the SIFT.

I am a six almost seven year ex active duty NCO. I ETS’d in June of 2014 and since them I have been working in the west Texas oilfields. Like many others in any aviation field it has been my dream to become an Aviator for as long as I can remember. Four months ago I began the WOFT process.

Today I took the SIFT and let me tell you it was no easy task for me. I do not by any means consider myself of average intelligence when it comes to anything technical or hands on. Although throughout my life I have always been a terrible test taker and unfortunately I let my anxiety get the best of me. Now I will get to the meat and potatoes…


Test Date: 17 April 2019


SIMPLE DRAWINGS: I didn’t really focus too much on this because it’s a no brainer. What I will say is that the shapes that are in all of the practice exams available are not there. So don’t get comfortable with the shapes in the practice tests and expect them to be the same used on test day. Completed 96-100 with 4-5 wrong just because I was rushing. Ran out of time.


HIDDEN FIGURES: HOLY HELL. Hidden figures was a portion of the test that I felt very confident about. Again I will say… DO NOT trust the practice pictures you see in the books or online. I was totally caught off guard by the pictures on the test. They were very very difficult for me. But in the study guides I used the shapes jumped out at me. I completed 20-50 with an estimated 3-6 wrong. Ran out of time.


AVIATION INFORMATION: This portion felt like it went well for me. I read the FAA Helicopter manual and touched on the Army’s Fundamentals of Flight (TC 3-04.4). Things to know (Just what I can remember)…. Slip, coning, flapping, translating tendency, dissymmetry of lift, gyroscopic precession, night myopia, basic flight controls, US Rotorcraft nomenclature and so on… Get on YouTube and check out Helicopter Lessons in 10 Minutes or less (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG13vqdYSapylJU53JD8yEQ/videos). Jacob helped me to really understand quickly. Had plenty of time to go back to the four flagged questions and re-work them. Completed all questions with probably 4-6 wrong… just a guess.


SPACIAL APPERCEPTION: Super easy for a flight simulator kid who has some Cessna 172 time. It was very straight forward. The only things I will say is that there were no rocks, only land and sea. Also on some of the pictures it was difficult to tell if the airplane was flying towards or away from you. It was almost like some of the images were photocopied a million times before they scanned them into the test. Completed the entire section with 3 minutes to spare. 100% correct.


READING COMPREHENSION: All I will say about this section is that you have so much time. I reread every passage twice, made my decision, and still had time to go back to the beginning and check work. There will be questions that seem to have multiple answers. I will not estimate this because it was very hard to judge.


MATH SKILLS: Math has always been my worst subject. This section really hurt me. Know how to evaluate and simplify algebraic expressions, negative exponents, area, volume, probability, and sequencing of numbers. I did 19 questions and I think I only correctly answered maybe 20%. The math just kicked my ass. I had plenty of time. That is without question. As far as formulas… there was a list on the right of the screen the entire time with about 10 or so formulas. I only used one for finding the circumference from the radius.

MECHANICAL COMP: Simple stuff. Pulleys, simple machines, joules, fluid flow, and gravity. Just use an ASVAB study guide for this portion and you will be fine. Time wasn’t an issue as this section ended before the time did. Maybe 10-20 questions. I’m not sure.


That being said, DO NOT RUSH THE PROCESS like I did. I would kill to have another month or two to study. I am very disappointed in myself. I went in cocky and got knocked on my ass. I will disclose my score. It’s mine and I have to own it. I earned a 40. Take your time studying and don’t take the test if you do not feel 100 % ready.


As for me I am going to continue on with the process and hope for some luck and a miracle.

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  • 1 month later...

Good afternoon, Im anxiously waiting to take the SIFT this Thursday the 30th. This forum has been a great asset in helping me study. I know that the math formulas are provided, however I havent read definitively if the formulas for the mechanical aptitude section are provide? Can anyone verify for me what to except? Thanks in advance.

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Alright y'all prepare yourselves for my wild ride:


Took the SIFT today and scored a 54. Active duty MP so no aviation background. I felt fairly unprepared for this test going in. Didn't dedicate much time to studying, as in like a week in total. I watched most of the helicopter lessons in 10 min or less and took a practice test but only 3 sections of it. Oh and studied math the night prior. I generally feel that I am strong test taker with a fairly good memory so relied on that a decent amount as well as educated guesses.


Simple drawings: Didn't practice, 60something/100, know one was wrong.


Hidden figures: Easier than I thought with the shapes remaining the same but still hard. 20ish complete.


Aviation info: Only a few I wasn't confident on, had enough time to go back through every answer to ensure accuracy. The 10 min or less videos were key in understanding some of the concepts.


Spacial: Easy, again enough time to recheck all answers.


I didn't know there was gonna be a break, it was nice to have.


Reading: Honestly was hard to read some of these, I got kinda distracted cause the passages were boring. Either way only a few I may have gotten wrong.


Math: I was dreading this section! I am really bad at math, like really bad. Which I should have spent more time studying this field. A lot of questions on this test were hard for me or I had no understanding of the question. But I tried my best to understand the problem and reason what could be a correct answer.


Mechanical: Zero studying. Only a few questions here that I had no idea what it was but mostly enjoyed this section.

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  • 8 months later...

Did you guys find the math section required a lot of pen and paper? It seems a lot of the study books have more simple equations that you could do in your head. I just took the trivium online test and it seemed to require more paper and pen for some of the weird multiplication and division of numbers with decimals and things like that. I'm curious as I'm trying to judge the pace you should have while working through it. 

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  • 3 months later...

My son took the ASVAB a week ago and scored a 79 with a 115 for the GT portion.

He got scheduled two days later to take the SIFT for this Friday.  He's been practicing tests and reviewing the FAA Helicopter manual but only has four study days left.  He asked his recruiter about postponing the exam til next month (recruiter said it is given only once a month).

The question is.........should he postpone or cram like crazy?  

The recruiter made it sound like it would be bad to postpone, but my son needs to ace this test to be considered for the Warrant Officer program.


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I’d say it depends on how confident/strong he is in FAA knowledge and more importantly math and science. The math and science is no joke, and for me at least a lot of the math problems were complex. For example the study guides show you how to figure out weighted test scores, and then later on how to figure out a missing test score given the averages or whatever. I had problems where you would have both in the same problem.

I found the aerodynamic knowledge pretty straight forward if you study but it was also my strongest area I studied. 

But all in all if he’s worried about being ready and it can be rescheduled I don’t see what the big deal is, unless your gonna miss a board date or something. If he fails your 6 months behind right there. 

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If he's not ready, he shouldn't take it. If he passes the test, even with the minimum score (40), that score is his forever. No retakes. 

If he fails, he's waiting a minimum of 6 months to take it again.

There are no consequences when it comes to the selection board with rescheduling the SIFT. His recruiter might be annoyed but there are other recruiters in the world. A SIFT score is forever and is used to weed out non-competitive packets at the board. 

The selection board only has a few minutes to review each packet. Don't let the SIFT score be a reason they put your son in the "ehh" pile. 


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On 6/8/2020 at 11:39 AM, Fox 21 Alpha said:

I’d say it depends on how confident/strong he is in FAA knowledge and more importantly math and science. The math and science is no joke, and for me at least a lot of the math problems were complex. For example the study guides show you how to figure out weighted test scores, and then later on how to figure out a missing test score given the averages or whatever. I had problems where you would have both in the same problem.

I found the aerodynamic knowledge pretty straight forward if you study but it was also my strongest area I studied. 

But all in all if he’s worried about being ready and it can be rescheduled I don’t see what the big deal is, unless your gonna miss a board date or something. If he fails your 6 months behind right there. 

Fox21 Alpha,

I’m confident I got all General Aviation questions correct but struggled with the “academic” sections (math, science etc.). Having taken a meteorology and algebra class in college since getting a 54 on the SIFT, I wish I had taken those classes before the test. I used multiple guides and thought my 81 AFQT would carry me through the math sections because the types of questions in the guides and ASVAB were similar, but don’t rely on the study guides’ math content. It’s been mentioned a lot on here before, but I feel it’s worth sharing again for those lurkers (like I was) that are getting an idea of how to prepare. It may not need to be meteorology, but a physical science class and college algebra class can be knocked out in ~9 weeks via online class through a local CC . Your return on the time and money you invest on those classes will be worth it when you’re clicking through questions at the ed center/MEPS. 

Good luck!

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  • 11 months later...

Took the sift today at Fort Dix,

simple drawings: got through 90 of them probably had 5wrongs. Overall it was pretty easy.


Hidden Figures: this one was nothing like the ones in the sift books or the practice tests. Way harder i got through about 17 with probably about 8 wrongs. felt pretty shitty after this section.


Aviation Knowledge: Answered all 40 of the questions, had 10 mins extra to go through it again. Pretty confident i got 40/40 correct. FAA handbook was my go to. 
got a few army helicopter questions


coning, induced flow, helicopter performance, class g airspace, cyclic/ pedal functions, autorotation definition,

and few others like forwards cg effects



Spacial Apperception: pretty straightforward, read the instructions clearly you should be fine. Answered all 25. SIFT books will easily help you


Math: this section kinda sucked. I got through maybe 8-10 questions and know for a fact i only got 3-4 correct. 
dont rely on the asvab math because this is on a different level. 


Mechanical Comprehension: was fairly similar to the asvab. Nothing too difficult here answered about 15 questions.


paragraph comprehension: i ran out  of time so only could get through 15 questions but similar to the asvab.


overall i was pretty surprised i got a 63, i felt like i bombed the test after the math section. I guess my aviation and mechanical sections saved me! 

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  • 9 months later...

I'm so lucky to have found this forum, you all are SAINTS. I'm Navy Reserve 9 total years (4 Active/5 Reserve) and was an ABH (basically air craft handler). I have some knowledge of aviation through my time active duty, I've also recently graduated ERAU with a Major in Aeronautics and a Minor in UASs (Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science). I'm a week away from when my packet is due for WOFT, this forum is my saving grace. Just waiting on my memo request to come back down so I can be scheduled my exam. I will revisit this forum to let all know my feedback and hopefully this will be helpful to others who's passing through just as I did.

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  • 1 month later...

PHEW! TOOK THE SIFT AND PASSED WITH 63! Thank all of you for the posts, I've seen a lot of the content that was mentioned here on the SIFT so I owe my experience to the next candidate.

Simple Drawings:

Overall pretty easy. Got 70/100 w/ like 10 or so wrong. You'll know when you get one wrong because there's a split second before it goes to the next. It actually takes a second to load to the next so it's not as grueling as it may sound. This does not count toward your time.

Hidden figures:

Honestly pretty dam hard. I got through 7 and guest on 5. I was use to the abstract shapes in the study books but the shapes on the test were simple. In the test there's honestly not a whole lot going on in the picture which surprised me that I couldn't find the dam shapes. That being said, I did not study for this but for a total of 1 hour. Maybe get a routine going before taking the test.

Aviation Info:

A few questions threw me off but expected most. Maybe missed 5 or less. Talked about; Slide, Skidding, Myopia, Hypoxia (which I didn't even know going into the test, I just know some medical terms from college). Definitely know what the different helicopters are and their full name and nomenclature ex: UH60 Black Hawk. Sometimes they'll just use the number and letter part. Flight controls. Thrust. Coning. Centrifugal. Autorotation. A question about what I'M SAFE meant.

Spatial Apperception:

Maybe missed one. Easy subtest. But study and learn what the techniques are for determining banking angles and how climbing vs descending look. Had time to go back but had to take my time because the pictures are pretty bad quality.


Pretty difficult. Hard follow up questions. Paragraphs were difficult to understand. I think I may have just finished in time. That being said I did not study because my job is to literally read stuff and extract the important information from it. But still I would touch up on this a few times. I guest on a few especially towards the end.


Again another difficult subtest. No matter how hard you study it will always be some degree of confusing. I remember some proportions with a variable, finding an average with a variable, distance over time questions, some weird algebraic expressions and equations like: If c2=a4 then b2= What. Like no idea. There were square roots raised to powers. There was a volume question. There was a question regarding filling a certain volume with a certain amount of bricks. So you were given LxWxH of the space and asked how many bricks it would take that were a certain LxWxH. Guessed on more than I thought I would need to. 


I studied quiet a bit on this portion and did not expect the questions on the test. There was a work done question. Force required to lift a block using a pulley system. Just really odd ball questions. Can't really explain them except to say think though the question because you have the time, that's what got me through it. I also had a question regarding a resistor and voltage output. 



I used the (2) books. The Agis one and the larger red cover one. I used the FAA Handbook as well but paired it with helicopter lessons in 10 minutes or less. The best one for mechanical knowledge and math is https://www.cognitoedu.org/dashboard . So glad I found that website. It will help you tenfold in mechanics and math.


End result:

I studied for the ASVAB and sored a 113 GT (Marine Corps Scoring) then went into the SIFT. I went off and on through studying for a few months. But honestly a hard month and a half of studying will get you good results. I would take at least a few weeks to read the FAA handbook (select chapters), then go study the practice books and look at that aviation info. I come from infantry so no aviation background. Get really good at the math portion. Get use to writing numbers down and trying to formulate an equation based on a script of words. I really put a lot of pressure on my self and though I'd get a lower score. Put the time into it and you'll come out on top.

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