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AOSB Briefing Diary

#1
Thought I'd add my experiences here. Hope it helps

Briefing Log


Day 1


Introduction


Once I’d arrived at Westbury we were put into the mess to form into our groups, before heading off for an introductory talk by the board’s Vice Principal. He basically explained the coming tasks and what Main would be like. Nothing too fancy, just listen to what he has to say and be receptive. And go for a piss beforehand. Trust me.


MAP Tests


After the talk it’s lunch, then you’re escorted by a colour sergeant to take the MAP tests. All done on computer with a sheet of scrap paper for working stuff out. The tests are not as advanced as I thought they would be, but the time limit makes them difficult, and getting the right answer has an added intensity as you’re weighing up the pros and cons of spending valuable time on a particular question, or moving on to another one.


If I could not figure out an answer, I at least took a guess. You have a 1 in 4 chance of getting the right answer so don’t leave it blank. You can go back later to it later if you want.


For anyone else who has done the Navy RT test, do not prepare for the MAP tests in the same way! I made that mistake, but the two differ by quite a fair bit. I was studying for algebra and questions on fractions, but I was met by a lot of data interpretation, and combined questions. By this I mean we would be asked to find the difference in profit for example. To do this you would have to first convert the given percentages to numerical figures, then figure out the difference between the two. Fairly basic, but dealing with multiple moving pieces under a time limit becomes difficult.


Group Discussions


You then move to your team room and meet the officer in charge of your group. They’re not your friends and won’t be nice to you, but they won’t be horrible either. So don’t get put off if they’re not being eager to make friends with you. It’s easy to think they don’t like you or think you’re good enough but from what I saw it’s just standard to avoid favouritism.


We start with a 2 minute talk about ourselves. I did a type of briefing intro day in Leicester back in November which talked us through the process of briefing and one thing that stood out was some advice the colonel at this intro gave me: don’t talk about the army. Seems a bit odd since you’re there to show that you’re wanting to be in the army, but anytime I go on a regiment visit or talk to an officer I keep getting told that the army wants variety, and these talks need to explain who you are, what you have done, your interests, your achievements and your family. It’s not a pissing contest of who loves the army most. If you’ve done cadets or OTC then yeah mention it, but don’t bang on about it.


Then the officer will introduce a number of topics and you need to talk about them, and contribute valid points. You’re on a time limit, so it does become difficult to get your point across when there’s 8 people all trying to speak. Be respectful to others and don’t over talk them, but get your point across. Also, try and relate to other people’s points. Something along the lines of “I see where you’re coming from, but…”. There is also the chance to introduce a topic of your own, but only one or two is picked. I got the suspicion that the same rule of not mentioning defence matters might be in effect. Show that you have varying interests. Pick something a bit different.

Planning Exercise


You get a tutorial from the officer so you don’t go in blind, but it is difficult. Don’t get caught up thinking it’s impossible, it’s not, the maths is basic but there’s a lot of detail to comprehend in not a great deal of time. My watch decided to fail on me at briefing which was great, so I didn’t time myself properly and struggled a lot here and did not get a finished product. Murphy’s law will probably apply in something you do in the plan ex but don’t panic. I honestly think the most important quality you can show at briefing is that you don’t panic under pressure.


Read the text. Then draw your map. Then go back to the text and read it again and take notes. This way you can think of a plan or factors while you draw out the map and work out distances. Take highlighters or a multi coloured pen. This way you can highlight different aspects in your notes so they’re easily seen. I did red for times, green for constraining factors, etc.


Anything which is life threatening/altering is the most important task to complete. This can include things which may see people’s jobs lost, or homes lost.


The group plan can make up for a bad individual plan. Take part and create ideas, admit where you went wrong so that your team know it is not a valid option.


During the group phase you are also pulled out one by one for an interview. The questions are easily prepared for if you have a proper reason for joining. I got asked what an officer should be and I started rattling off some pre-prepared lines, but I sounded ridiculous so I stopped and said what I actually felt. They will be able to see the difference between a rehearsed line, and something which is actually personal and sums up your feelings and motivations. Think about your answers, but don’t become Shakespeare about it.


Day 2


Group Plan Ex


Up at 06:00, quick breakfast, then into group rooms to go over details of your plan. Your officer will grill you, so write out your plan and keep your notes from yesterday and study them in the free time on day 1.


If you don’t know and can’t make a reasonable guess then say so.


Knowing the plan well, we were told, is very important at Main Board.


Bleep Test


Harder in coveralls. A couple of people failed here. I don’t think they had practiced them before coming to AOSB. I think you should definitely practice. I hadn’t done one in about six years, and tried one around Christmas and found it difficult because it was different. So I practiced a lot from there. I’m a good cross country runner, but the change in rhythm and speed makes a bleep test different. So get used to them because you can’t mirror the effects by simply running. And if you’re not used to it, then the chances of you failing it are higher. Again, Murphy’s law might apply and you might not be 100% so knowing you have got to your respective level before can play a big psychological factor.


I saw that a lot of people were going faster than me at every level till about 7, but for no reason. By then they were visibly more tired because they’d gone harder than necessary earlier. So count in your head how long you have and give yourself a better chance by putting energy in at the right time!


Obstacle Course


Again. Practice. The hurdles are high, and tuck jumping them at speed is the best way. Don’t slow down before them, if you hit them in mid-air they will fall off, you won’t fall over them.


Long jump, you can have just your feet over the line and the rest of you behind, but you’d still pass. The rules say feet over the line, not body. Just throw your feet forward then.


Steeple is the one that got me. I kept getting sent back to the start of it because I was touching the start line to get on the first step. You have to jump if you are a short arse like me.


Wall is simple enough. A lot of people forget the kick and talk about how impossible the whole thing is. You can take so much effort out of it if you kick off the wall to propel yourself forward.


Rope swing is a lot easier than it may look. Grab it around chest height though, don’t be grabbing it too high or it gets rid of the momentum you have built up.


Your group does not watch you on this, just so you know.


Leaderless Tasks


Same as the group discussion, be respectful but get your point across. You need to show that you cannot just participate, but you can have an active part in coordinating things and using other people’s strengths.


Try the most obvious route because chances are it works. A lot of them seemed to put added stuff in there so that candidates would come up with incredibly difficult plans which sound impressive but are very hard to pull off.


Have a full plan at the start also. We kept starting with a half thought through plan and needing to adapt later.


Interviews


You get your category and then go on your way. You get a lot of tips and pointers on where to adapt and what to do, so take a notebook. Also, again be receptive. It might not go your way but what they’re telling you can make it go your way at a later date.


Final Tips


Keep your chin up. I did not do brilliantly on ANYTHING, and was slow and clunky on the plan ex, but I still passed and I honestly think it’s because I just put everything behind me and got on with the next task. A lot of people really seemed to linger on mistakes. You can’t change the past, but you can still do well on the next job. I also joked about the situation with people. Have a sense of humour about it.


Also, talk to regiments before you go. Most will have an officer who deals with officer recruiting and getting your name out there helps. The regiments also might do a bit of poaching with you to encourage you to their regiment. This can be trips or events which are pretty fun. I went around a few and have been invited on a number of trips abroad with them which should fill out Summer pretty well. Also, it shows that you aren’t just joining the army on a whim. You’re really looking into it.


Good luck.
 
#2
Thanks for this, I had my own briefing recently and found this write up to be extremely useful. Any chance of doing a similar one when you progress to main board?
 
#3
Yes mate, I will do. It's booked for September 5th, so if you've not already been to main yourself then look around the 10th and I'll have something written up
 
#5
Read this before my briefing and found it nice to have a good outline beforehand. I would like to add some basic things that a number of people didn't seem to think about on my briefing. I doubt any of these things will make or break your briefing but all these little things can help you be taken more seriously.

-Shave (it seems so obvious but a couple of people weren't and it just looks scruffy)
-Have smart hair (doesn't have to be a crew cut but off the ears and collar)
-Make sure you suit is an appropriate dark colour and not a fashionable skinny one (same goes for ties and shirts, nothing outrageous or trendy. It's Wiltshire, not Milan)
-Clean and polished black shoes, none of these ridiculous tan brogues that everybody seems to wear these days
-A watch with a stopwatch function, for timing the leaderless tasks

Just personal opinion, but anecdotal evidence showed I got a cat 1 and the unshaven, long-haired bloke in a light grey suit and scruffy shoes didn't.
 
#7
No, there is a bleep test, which I believe equates to around 1.5 miles of running. But the bleep test isn't too taxing. You don't run a best effort 1.5 till the pre-commissioning course
 
#8
Oh cool, thats good to know. Bleep Test doesn't worry me as much, I feel better at running short distances over and over than one long distance at speed.

Cheers!
 
#9
As I say in the log, practice them beforehand. The audio is easily downloaded, or can be played on youtube. The variation in pace effects your heart and your muscles need for oxygen in a different way to a 1.5 mile run.
 
#11
Just a note to say the original post was useful for Briefing and thanks for writing it. Orwin1995, were you successful at Main Board and did you write a similar diary for it? I would be interested in reading it if you did.
 
#12
Unfortunately I failed mate. I made two potential routes for the planning exercise and chose the one that I realised in the brief didn't work, and I also slipped on the obstacle course and cut my shins pretty badly. I continued but time was called before I could even do a lap. Those were my main failing points. Didn't see a point in writing a how to pass diary when I didn't pass. I am however now in the reserves as a potential officer, and I'm getting sent on a bunch of pre-main board courses that focus on plan ex etc for when I go back. My current plan is to get those courses done and write up what I get told and put it on here, then head back to AOSB around August. If you'd like then I'd be happy to talk with you via DM about what happens. I did fail, yes, but a few friends have recently passed and said that the information I gave them beforehand was pretty valuable.
 
#13
Unfortunately I failed mate. I made two potential routes for the planning exercise and chose the one that I realised in the brief didn't work, and I also slipped on the obstacle course and cut my shins pretty badly. I continued but time was called before I could even do a lap. Those were my main failing points. Didn't see a point in writing a how to pass diary when I didn't pass. I am however now in the reserves as a potential officer, and I'm getting sent on a bunch of pre-main board courses that focus on plan ex etc for when I go back. My current plan is to get those courses done and write up what I get told and put it on here, then head back to AOSB around August. If you'd like then I'd be happy to talk with you via DM about what happens. I did fail, yes, but a few friends have recently passed and said that the information I gave them beforehand was pretty valuable.
Sorry to hear that you missed out. However despite that I'm sure there are plenty here, myself included, who would be very appreciative if you could find the time to break down the four days like you did with your Briefing.

Actually finding a proper breakdown of what happens on each day and how each individual section was run is nigh on impossible.
 
#14
Unfortunately I failed mate. I made two potential routes for the planning exercise and chose the one that I realised in the brief didn't work, and I also slipped on the obstacle course and cut my shins pretty badly. I continued but time was called before I could even do a lap. Those were my main failing points. Didn't see a point in writing a how to pass diary when I didn't pass. I am however now in the reserves as a potential officer, and I'm getting sent on a bunch of pre-main board courses that focus on plan ex etc for when I go back. My current plan is to get those courses done and write up what I get told and put it on here, then head back to AOSB around August. If you'd like then I'd be happy to talk with you via DM about what happens. I did fail, yes, but a few friends have recently passed and said that the information I gave them beforehand was pretty valuable.
Agreed.

Would be ace if you could write something up!

Much appreciated, and good luck in August.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#15
Actually finding a proper breakdown of what happens on each day and how each individual section was run is nigh on impossible.
No it isn't.

Day 1. Initial physical tests (bleep test; press-ups; sit-ups). Followed by: Mental Aptitude Profile; Personality Profile; Essay; Service Knowledge Test; Current Affairs Test.

Day 2. Opening Discussion; interviews; Opening Tasks; Opening Race; Planex refresher

Day 3. Planning Exercise; Command Tasks; Individual Obstacles; Lecturettes; Sandhurst Film; Candidates' Dinner Night.

Day 4. Closing Race; President's Farewell Address; Candidates' Dispersal; Final Boarding Conference.
 
#16
For anyone still reading this, I'm prepping for retaking Main Board at the moment. I've found that the MAP tests are practically a mirror image of UKCAT (tests to study medicine at uni) and that there is a LOT of advice and example work online, most of which is representative of Briefing/Main Board. I'll add links to a few videos and websites that should help. One is to a book on Amazon that has a lot of practice questions that some mug has made fully available online without purchasing if you just click the cover image. It also explains the abstract reasoning in detail showing that there is a method to the madness. I honestly wish I had this book and knowledge before main board so please give me some karma points and help yourselves out.



 
#18
I have recently completed main board with a successful pass and thought I'd add my two shillings in to help other budding officers.

Day 1.
As mentioned above after a short presentation from the president you are taken outside to complete the beep test to level 10.2, 44 push ups in 2 minutes and 50 sit ups in 2 minutes. The key here is prior preparation, main board is a daunting process and so having your fitness sorted before attending leaves one less thing to worry about.
If you are to fail any of the physical, put it behind you and move on at the very least you can show the assessing staff you are resilient.
After a short break you are taken to Sandhurst hall to sit psychometric tests, these are slightly harder than the ones sat previously at Briefing however nothing too challenging. To prepare for this I used the UKCAT book listed above. The style of questioning is almost identical and so grants a good insight into the testing on the day. There are also service knowledge, general knowledge and current affairs tests which were for the most part quite difficult. To prepare for the service knowledge I read the 'British army guide 2016-2017' by Charles Heyman.

Day 2.
The day begins with the current affairs discussions, to prepare for this I read the week and listened to BBC radio 4 on a regular basis. Your knowledge on facts doesn't need to be that great as long as you can effectively argue a point and sway the discussion in a constructive direction.
Next you will have interviews, three in total. The first for me was the vice president, this interview is really focused on you and your motives for joining the army. The second was the educational advisor, for me this was more of a lecture rather than an interview however I would recommend being open to suggestions and really listening to what he has to say. He will also ask a speed distance time question which should be relatively easy. Lastly I had an interview with my group DS, this interview was extremely relaxed and is a good opportunity to really show your personality and have a one on one conversation with the assessing officer.
Following a quick break we were taken outside for the leaderless tasks. This phase consists of obstacle courses with governing rules that your team must abide by to get from one side to the other. The trick here is to be a team player and be vocal, this does not mean spout meaningless nonsense but if you have an idea put it out there and help your team wherever necessary. You are then led to the opening race, this is a fast paced competition between the teams and was really enjoyable. Listen to the rules!
In preparation for Day 3 all candidates are given a plan ex refresher, this is roughly an hour long and is a chance to pick up some last minute techniques to use the following day. This is not assessed and so if you have a question ask the officer in charge.

Day 3.
All candidates are taken to Sandhurst hall to complete the planning exercise, I would recommend bring a multi coloured pen with you to make factors and initial sketch map more legible. After the hour is up you are led in silence to your group rooms for the interrogation and group plan stage. As a group you will have 15 minutes to formulate the best plan and decide what your aims will be. Each member of your group will have a different part that they will be briefed on. The first person will be briefed on the setting and story line so best piece of advice would be try finish your full plan ex in 50 minutes so you have time to read through the text to remember the finer details the officer will try test you on. The order in which you are interrogated is at random and so knowing as much as possible is advantageous.
Next was the command task. This is a great opportunity to show the assessing staff your leadership potential. Much like the leaderless task you are presented with an obstacle with rules that govern how you may cross however you are taken aside away from the group and given 2 minutes to formulate a plan. After the 2 minutes are up you must then brief the officer before briefing the group and attempting complete the obstacle. Do not worry if you don't get everyone across these are deliberately short for time and designed to put you under pressure. Give clear decisive orders and improvise if the initial plan fails. Do not lose control but by all means seek help from the team if you need to.
The individual obstacle course is all about speed and aggression, it is a gruelling 3 minutes however thoroughly rewarding. Try your best to complete as many obstacles as possible.
The lecturettes were quite enjoyable, by that point you should be quite comfortable with your group and so talking for 5 minutes about a topic you know well should be fairly simple.

Day 4.
The closing race by far was the most enjoyable part, it is the last chance to show the assessors how good you are. Work to the strengths of those in your group, which you should already know by now anyway.

Overall main board is a challenging process however the reward of passing and being granted a place at the RMAS makes it more than worthwhile. Take the time between briefing and main board to really fine tune any areas you struggled upon. Lastly and most importantly just be yourself.
 
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#19
I have my briefing coming up in the next few weeks and I was wondering if for the fitness you only had to do the beep test and assault course or do you have to do the press ups and sit ups too?
 
#20
I have my briefing coming up in the next few weeks and I was wondering if for the fitness you only had to do the beep test and assault course or do you have to do the press ups and sit ups too?
Just the bleep test and assault course. You must demonstrate that you can perform 3 press ups and sit ups after the obstacle course but that is only so the DS can make sure you have the correct form. Good luck
 

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