Gap Year Commission Questions


Hi Everyone,

I plan on applying for the GYC this year. I just have a few questions that I couldn't find answered on the British Army website, and I was wondering if someone who did the GYC could answer them.

The first one is about the AOSB.
When doing this is it strictly other potential GYC's that you do it with; and is it other potential GYC's that you're compared against?
If so, is the GYC AOSB the same as the real thing? (the real thing being the regular officer AOSB)

My next question is what does the gap year entail? The BA website is very broad.

Lastly, What is the training like? Is it as hard as regular officer training?

Thanks in advance!


Oh so they’ve brought it back? The last one of these was in autumn 2006 – then it was binned as being too expensive.

AOSB is AOSB. If you pass it, you are then subsequently entitled to entry to the regs for a certain number of years afterwards. It now says 5.

What you do depends on to which regiment / corps you are attached and what they do.

Reg RMAS = 44 weeks. GYC = 8 weeks. Work it out.
It's a very long time since I did the old SSLC. However back then the pass grade required was the very highest, & the Commission was even harder to obtain than a Cadetship, as they take an 18 year old with potentially no experience, send them on an attendance course at RMAS, and then let them loose on Soldiers.

The way it was explained to me was that if a GYC Officer p!sses off the Troops then said Troops may well vote with their feet, and the Troops are more valuable a resource than some spotty herbert who has no further commitment after the GYC ends.

I was offered a Cadetship as a Confirmed Cadet at the end of my SSLC as I had suitably impressed the Regiment. I turned it down as I felt I wasn't mature enough to make such a commitment at 19 having only experienced life in a middle-class family, a Public School & the Regiment. Always wonder what would have happened if I had accepted.

A colleague's son applied for the GYC staring in 2018. He is a hyperfit sportsman who attends a very good school & is involved in his sport at national level. He failed. I'm out of date on what is looked for these days, but as I understand it it is some inherent qualities as there simply isn't the time on the GYC course to bring out what the full RMAS experience does.

Good luck & no pressure!


War Hero
What you will experience on the gap year is very dependent on what unit you got posted to and what they are up to - therefore how much you enjoy your gap year is largely out of your hands. It also depends on how supportive your chain of command are - some will have no interest in you but some regiments take care to ensure you will have an enjoyable and valuable time. This is driven by the CO, Adjutant, OCs and other officers at the regiment you get sent to.

Having done a GYC (SSLC as it was at the time) and subsequently re-joining to serve full time after university and supervising GYC officers, experiences of different people were as follows:

1. Postings to Germany and participation in exercises as a troop commander, plus adventure training
2. Posting to a UK infantry regiment and a sad time as an unloved platoon commander in a light role battalion, spending all his time on exercise on crap training areas in the UK
3. Commanding a tank troop in Germany and drinking a lot with a cavalry regiment, plus whoring
4. Assistant instructor at an army adventure training parachute centre
5. Downhill skiing for 5 months, competing in army championships
6. Fixing vehicles as a spare REME officer
7. Spare bod hanging around the regiment and getting involved in exercises
8. Spare bod hanging around the regiment and used to do admin tasks no-one else wanted to do
9. Posting to South Georgia for four months in charge of the detachment down there

Overall I'd say 10% had an amazing time, 20% had a crap time and the remaining 70% somewhere in between.

When I did the course it was 4 weeks long and far more demanding than regular officer training. Very long hours, huge amount of information to take on, high expectations. There was none of the hanging around and general poorly organised, low-value training that you get on the regular commissioning course, and everything you learned was useful. By the time you left you were able to march, map read, use radios, shoot straight and command a platoon in the field to an acceptable standard. Quite a lot to learn in a short space of time.

I found the experience to be a bit of a poisoned chalice, as I rejoined the regular army after university. By the time I got to "real" Sandhurst none of it was novel or particularly interesting, likewise my troop commanders course and my first posting.

I'd only really recommend a GYC to people who don't intend to join the regular army afterwards. If your heart is set on joining the regular army then I'd suggest having a real gap year (drugs, girls, travel etc.), going to university and going to regular Sandhurst.

Overall I'd say it was a good experience, but certainly not as relaxed or enjoyable as a gap year spent in Thailand!
I was lucky on mine. Year went (roughly):

1. RMAS for four weeks on Vicars & Tarts course.

2. Week at Bovington to learn which bits of tanks bit & so I didn't look an arrse in front of the boys by not knowing how to open the back decks etc. Lots of fun cabbying around the driver training area. Sat Crew Comd's end of course exam as there was a course finishing while I was there, not given result!

3. Arrive in Regiment in Germany. No real idea what to do with me, so sent to Norway for three weeks with the Regimental Cross Country skiiing team. I was rubbish, & known as the only Officer in NATO who did Langlauf as a contact sport after routinely finishing races well behind the field & coming in with a ripped ski suit, covered in blood, & with branches sticking out of my swede.

4. Christmas duties. Honest, my name was picked from the Adjutant's hat in a fair manner. I think my name was the only one in the Adjutant's hat, but there one goes.

5. Op GRANBY then kicked off properly & we were possibly one of the second wave in. Training became very serious & we spent more time than I would have liked in 3R. I wasn't to be allowed to deploy to the desert (although I gather one of the SSLC blokes from my course did wangle it & was awarded the gong) but I was lined up to be attached to a Light Cavalry mob in Cyprus on a UN tour had my lot gone on GRANBY.

6. Gunnery camp at Hohne & Troop Training on Soltau for about six weeks as Loader/Operator to the most grizzled Corporal Crew Commander in the Regiment. Developed taste for Regals, Du Mauriers, McEwans, & learnt how to cook meals for four from BV.

7. Big chunk of Regiment went to desert to clean up after GRANBY. Fairly quiet time in Regiment, so went through all the usual Junior Officer stuff with lots of Orderly Officer duties as those who hadn't gone to the desert had been sent on courses & leave.

8. Wangled way onto Range Conducting Officer, Basic Freefall, Rock Climbing, & Top Roping & Abseiling Supervisor courses. Was allowed as it was quiet to spend days at DZ with duty driver dropping me in the morning/collecting me in the evening so I banged out close on 200 jumps & qualified Cat 8 & C-Licence in about three months.

9. Troop to Battlegroup training on Soltau for a month or so. Commanded 0D, a Sqn spare panzer, basically bimbling around a tactical bound behind the Sqn 2i/c.

10. Ex MED MAN commanding an armoured ambulance as while my Regiment would probably have let me the BATUS staff weren't too keen on someone who hadn't completed the Troop Leaders' course being in command on live firing, & besides there were real Subalterns who needed the experience. No R&R as within about a week of leaving the prairie I was a fresher at University.

Parts 9 & 10 meant I flew through JOTES & JSC(TA) when the time came. It's a lot easier to understand a Battlegroup when one has followed on behind one at BATUS having been to all the O Gps, & the majority of TA Officers had only ever experienced this on TTXs.

Throughout the year, after a couple of days shadowing another Subaltern, I was left to it to do Orderly Officer on a regular basis. Dealt with one of my Troopers stabbing someone in town & the burning down of the Regimental Restaurant after another Trooper broke in to make himself an egg banjo on Christmas Eve & left the stove on. This was when I gained my distrust of the SIB/RMP as they tried to break every rule in the book to fit the poor sod responsible up without the niceties of following proper procedures.

The Soldiers were vaguely aware I was very green, but didn't seem to care. I expect most thought I was just waiting a very long time for a Troop Leaders' course as often Officers went to their Regiments first rather than going direct from RMAS. Pretty much everyone Captain & up accepted me & my limitations - I obviously made a good enough impression as I was offered the Cadetship.

One of the Captains in particular became my future role model as an Officer. I was never as good as him at the Soldiering stuff, but think I did emulate him in how he looked after the Troops. Strangely enough he was a Commissioned Corporal from, IIRC, the R Signals.

The only issue was with a few of the Subalterns who thought I wasn't socially right, a bit of a fat biff, & not well off enough to join in some of their antics. They were probably correct. One in particular I heard of more than 10 years later & he was well known as a bully in every rank - I believe even as a Sqn Ldr he was known for dealing with Junior Officers with his fists.

Overall it was a fantastic experience. It shaped me as a person & gave me an awful lot of self-confidence & the ability to bluff like a master. Some of my peers did the 12 months in sports kit thing - they might have ended up as excellent skiiers and the like, but I bet they didn't come home with the ability to converse with everyone from Trooper to General as I did.
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Thanks everyone for your feedback!

I would love to do it but don't think I have the leadership qualities that they may be looking for just yet.
I do hope to join the army after college and was looking at this as a good experience and some learning as well as a bit of money to get through college.

Does anyone know of a gap year program to become a regular soldier? I did read up on that lead first program and I'm struggling to see the differences between that and the GYC.

Thanks everyone for your input, really enjoyed reading about your times!
Why not give it a whirl? How long do you have until you finish Sixth Form?

All you have to lose is your time and one pop at AOSB, and the AOSB Briefing (think I have the terminology correct, I went through at the back end of the '80s when it was Pre-RCB and RCB) will tell you if you have a chance at passing the main event.

With regard to the Gap Year soldiering thing never heard of it. I believe 4 Para did something along those lines, though, squeezing in all the training and then an Operational tour in a Gap Year. May be worth asking them.


The biggest problem for me is that I'm in Ireland and I dread the cost of buying a suit, of travelling over etc.
In Ireland we don't have any cadets or Harrogate or gap year or anythingg. It's a shame.
Ah, right y'are. However I wouldn't worry about cadets or anything, do you play a sport or do something else which could help your application? Leadership skills can be found in all sorts of places!


Played football for 8 years, did krav maga, do MMA, like to run and go to the gym.

I plan on doing more sports during collee because with the leaving cert (final exams) coming up I have 0 free timee

I did a few leadership courses in school and I'm a prefect, but I can't see myself being able to lead soldiers


The three chaps I know who did this, in the decade leading up to 2006, were all fairly different. One was slightly built and wiry, a keen and competent rugby player, and intelligent but not top-rate academically. Second was a big powerful bloke who was pretty bright and had a commanding personality. They both went on to commission into the infantry after university and ended up as captains; the first is now a banker and the second runs his own artisan bakery.

The third was an experienced hillwalker but otherwise not startlingly physical; he was however academically outstanding and went on to do an MSc in fancy maths. He wasn’t interested in the regs, but after his GYC as 2Lt in an infantry regiment (which involved everything from accompanying stupid squaddies to court on a Monday morning after whatever they’d got up to at the weekend, to jumping out of helicopters in Belize) he was persuaded to go to RMAS for 6 (??) weeks and completed TACC. What he had saved up during the GYC, and his TA pay, was sufficient to fund a substantial part of his subsequent 4 years at university, and the experience thereby gained apparently contributed towards him finding that being offered his first graduate job, with Dstl, was relatively straightforward.

All anecdotal and of course after this long gap things may have changed a bit. But it does show that all sorts of people may have the qualities sought after in these 3/4 days in Westbury. Can you borrow a blazer and chinos? Worth giving it a go.

Another thought – in its previous incarnation, one of the justifications given by the Army for giving 18-year-olds (then) £16k to have fun for a year, was that those who survived selection would be among the brightest of their peers and would be presumed to be heading for high-level careers if they chose not to go reg. So the idea at that time was that they would, in these positions of influence, be able to counter negative opinions expressed about the Armed Forces with ‘Oh but I served for a year and it was all impeccably run and a brilliant experience yada yada yada’. Given that we’re not at the moment engaged in a theatre of war that may not now be among the reasons for the re-introduction of the course…

Put in your application and see what happens? Worst case you don’t get in and go off to uni anyway.
The biggest problem for me is that I'm in Ireland and I dread the cost of buying a suit, of travelling over etc.
In Ireland we don't have any cadets or Harrogate or gap year or anythingg. It's a shame.
We should have short service commissions but ....

As far as I know there is generally no requirement to stay after the 15 months


With the Irish army I could always try for a cadetship and get my college through them but a lot of people say that you'd never get in without relations in the army.
Played football for 8 years, did krav maga, do MMA, like to run and go to the gym.

I plan on doing more sports during collee because with the leaving cert (final exams) coming up I have 0 free timee

I did a few leadership courses in school and I'm a prefect, but I can't see myself being able to lead soldiers

My army number could have been written in Roman numerals but I think you might have answered your own question with your last sentence. Officer selection is (or at least was) all about confidence. They are looking for a nineteen year old that can interact confidently with soldiers who will generally be much older and more experienced.

The confidence thing is a tightrope. Err on one side and you're arrogant. Err on the other and you're useless.

Perhaps you'd be better off taking that gap year as @CaptainPlume suggests...and then try out OTC...or whatever that's called these days.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


I feel I'm a good leader around my peers, but i can't envision telling some 30 year old soldier with loads of experience what to do
What he had saved up during the GYC, and his TA pay, was sufficient to fund a substantial part of his subsequent 4 years at university...

Plainly wasn't in a Cav Mess in Germany just after the end of the Cold war, then ;)
Sadly my exposure to the Short Service Limited Capabilty Commision entries was not brilliant, a Scots Guards twat who should have been put down at birth and another Infanteer who had spent too much money in a surplus store and was utterly imcapable. I know numbers are down but to piss the limited budget up against the proverbial wall like this is a bad use of funds.
I would be intreagued to know what the conversion figures were like from the numbers completing the SSLC to those returning as a Commisioned Officer in either the Regular or Reserve forces.

Spend the cash on sorting out Capita either improve them or remove them and get the in house HMF customer care experience refined!

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