Main Board Tips

Hi all, had Main Board back in early July and passed. I know there are loads of tips threads on this site, but one more couldn't hurt. So I thought I would disclose some useful information given to me and a few things I learned from Westbury.

Day 1: Bleep Test. BREAK IT DOWN. The bleep seems daunting but like all problems try and break it down. You aren't really running until level 6 really. The bleep is roughly 1.6km or 1 mile in distance at level 10.2 and more to the point it is 82 shuttles between the two lines. Break it down. Adrenaline will keep you going. I was nervous as hell before it and my legs felt heavy and laden despite me being relatively fit. It's all mental. Press ups and sits smash it and again BREAK IT DOWN. Don't think of it as fifty, think of it as two groups of 25 or five groups of ten. Try count down so its getting smaller rather than count up where it gets bigger. I finished first on sit ups but alot of people failed to finish at all. Three in my board didn't even clear 40 sit ups.
Indoor Tests Do your best and make sure you know your TLA's for the service knowledge test. You either know general knowledge or you don't. The first day of Main Board gives them an imprecise but valuable insight into your base fitness levels and intellectual profile. Naturally the other days when you're outside show them more detail of your character, ability etc but they will have a strong profile of you on paper by day one eg is fit, is smart or is unfit but very smart and so on. End the day strongly and be ready for day two.

Day 2: Group discussion is first up. Always give strong opinions. The Army don't want people who sit on the fence. That doesn't mean you have to bark at people who disagree with you but nonetheless mean what you say. They will see through attempts to grab points with lines like 'well guys does anyone have any opinions' and so on. Have your topic prepared and make it relevant to the group. One guy brought up the war in Afghanistan. Fair enough but in a room full of officers who have probably done multiple tours on Herrick you can't really delve deep without sounding like a twat given the present company.
The Interviews. You have three. Group leader, education officer and vice president of the board. Group leader is sound and smiley. Vice president is pretty unemotional and Education is a c**t. He will have a few ways to catch you out with odd questions. When you step into his office the chair is wedged against the wall with the back legs up in the air a few inches. If you move it he will bark at you about furniture in your home. Just keep calm and be honest. Know your CV backwards for all three interviews and make sure you're honest and up front. The Vice President is trying to find out why you are joining and as such it's up to you to impress upon him why it should be you. That evening you will have a plan-ex tutorial again showing what they want. It's informal but very helpful so pay attention.

Day 3: Going to include the leaderless tasks and opening race in this section along with command tasks and other outdoor stuff for brevity as they nearly require the same approach. Leaderless taks and opening race take place on Wednesday. Motivation and communication are the main points and if you have an idea or spark of thought say it out loud and speak up. Doesn't matter if they seem stupid as when you look at all these pipes, ropes, barrels and seesaws that make up the various tasks and burdens you see that they are also pretty stupid. Just speak up and keep the motivation up without overdoing it. We were lucky that our group hadn't any pillocks who were too domineering or dismissive but if you are sprouting noise for the sake of it then the DS will see through you. Command tasks are tough and a plan can be hard to make up but they are looking at your command and control so stay vocal the whole time and give people individual tasks. The order of the day is to BREAK IT DOWN. Keep on top of the tasks and listen if people have ideas and speak up. Be forceful where you have to and when you're not leading the command task always help out and look busy so it appears that you're a team player.
Plan-Ex. Right you know what I am going to say. BREAK IT DOWN. It's not this big narrative and daunting test but rather a test of your application to logic and problem solving. Do your aims, factors and deductions and so on and make your written plan readable and concise so when they mark it they can see your logical approach. Get a plan and a few courses of action. ....

Edited by Mod - don't put details of the AOSB Planexes online. You were told not to by the Deputy President at the end of the board and if they get compromised they have to be rewritten

You'll also have your Obstacle Course which is again just physical prep and then your Lecturette. You're given a sheet with a few topics and then given fifteen minutes to prep the topic you choose to present to the group. Remember you aren't a stand up comedian. Most people think this is all about being funny and having banter. Throw a joke or two in but if you go through the whole thing laughing and looking for laughs it looks like you're not serious and so on. Have good presence and try and give a full insight into the topic you're given. One guy talked about magic which was brilliantly done. He had a few gags, threw in two actual tricks making the pen cap disappear, but then talked about the types of magic, his reasons for gaining and interest etc. He balanced the banter with the seriousness very well. You then have your Dinner where you can have fun unwind but don't go OTT with the booze. 'Naked Westbury' is a game with the rules written in one of the books in the bar, and I urge you to play it. Chat to Damien the bar man as he has some outstanding stories about the various boards throughout the era's.

Day 4: Closing Race Same as the opening race. Lots of motivation as long as it is natural and if you have an idea present it loudly and sound it out. Keep up the urgency and play to the strengths of the group. Some lads will be agile, some strong, some clever etc etc. Feed off those strengths and give it your all. The race is the last time the board will see you so give them a good picture as within one hour of the race ending, they will be sitting in Leighton House deciding your fate. Don't leave them in any doubt.

The cliches are always the same with Main Board. Smile, be yourself, work with your team, keep your perseverance and if you fall down get up and always have fun. They are all true. You won't pass everything but make sure your head doesn't drop at any stage and keep your enthusiasm. The officers will occasionally have a one-on-one with you say before your obstacle course or command tasks asking you how you are feeling have you enjoyed it etc. Be enthusiastic and show them you're enjoying yourself. They will see if you're the right material over the course of the week. It is stressful but hugely rewarding all the same.


There's some good advice and some bad advice here. You've passed Main Board so well done, but do you actually know why you passed? I still have no idea how I managed it 30 years later; and when I observed a Main Board at Westbury last year as a visitor, I was surprised at the way the system works and at the weight put on various events, and on how the candidates are graded in each different dimension.

The bottom line is to make sure you go there both mentally and physically prepared, and put everything into the tests. Don't hold back: go for it.
Yeah I appreciate what you are saying cpunk. I certainly kept thinking about a quote from Patrick Hennessey with regards to RCB when he said 'to this day I still have no idea what they do at Westbury'. I know I have probably put some bad advice in here alright, but after getting past it, certainly the majority of advice on this forum rings true about going for it and doing your best. I know where I did well but I still don't know how or why I passed, but all that being said I have achieved my goal. Thanks for your feedback cpunk.
There's some good advice and some bad advice here. You've passed Main Board so well done, but do you actually know why you passed? I still have no idea how I managed it 30 years later; and when I observed a Main Board at Westbury last year as a visitor, I was surprised at the way the system works and at the weight put on various events, and on how the candidates are graded in each different dimension.
I don't suppose you are allowed to elaborate on that?


I don't suppose you are allowed to elaborate on that?
Hmmm. Broadly speaking each event during the Main Board is designed to highlight key aspects of the candidates' intellectual, physical and personality profiles. The assessors are looking for specific indications to guide them towards the grades that they give, and the assessors are all looking at subtly different aspects to which they have to assign a score. This comes together at boarding, when the Group Leader, Deputy President and Vice President make a judgement on potential, based on what they have seen during the board together with the candidates' age, background and so forth.
You say 'know your CV backwards' for the interviews. Is this the CV we filled in months ago when we first applied to AOSB or do you take a current one with you?
Great post, however can I just confirm one point? You mention the Bleep test on Main Board, I was under the impression that on Main, you do the 1.5 mile run having already done the Bleep test on Briefing? This is not the case anymore then?

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It hasn't been the case for several years. You do the bleep test just after you arrive at Main Board: 10.2 for male candidates; 8.1 for female candidates. Simples.

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