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Selection Experience - Pirbright

Hi all!

Returned from selection at ATC Pirbright on Friday and thought I would share my experiences as I personally found these threads very useful when I was doing my own preparations.

Day 1

I traveled from Norfolk to Brookwood via London, a fairly painless journey though I’m very used to travelling through London with Luggage. When planning your journey make sure you give yourself enough time to eat on the way as you won’t be fed on the first night.
Got into Brookwood Train Station at around 1820. There was already a large group of candidates waiting outside, we’re fairly easy to spot so I’d recommend introducing yourself straight away, the whole process is a lot easier if you get on well with your fellow candidates. I’d say don’t bother showing up in your suit, the instructions say smart casual so a button down shirt and some chinos or clean jeans will be fine. Save your suit for the interview.
The coach arrived to pick us up at around 1900, we were greeted by 3 staff, 2 in civilian attire and one uniformed junior NCO. We were lined up in 2 ranks and issued our numbers while our bags were searched. Remember your number! It is important to realise that the assessment begins as soon as the coach pulls up and will not end until you are out back on the bus at the end of day 3. Another note before I continue, about half the staff that assess you are civilians, the are however, all ex-Army and should be shown just as much respect as any uniformed soldier you encounter during your time on the base.
Once we arrived on base we were walked into the briefing room, there we were issued with our numbered bibs and went through some admin and the schedule for the next day. We did a brief icebreaker and were then shown to our dormitories.

Day 2

Rievalle was at 0515 though most of us were up earlier to make sure we had time to shower and shave (there were 30 of us and not many showers), you fill your p*ss pot and get all your forms or id and education certificates together before mustering in the briefing room. We were then walked over to the mess hall for breakfast, do not talk to one another when walking in ranks. We were encouraged to have a big breakfast as it would likely be a long day, don’t take too long though, the rule is that once the staff finish eating you leave, regardless of how much is left in your plate.
After breakfast we were walked back to the accommodation for the id and certificate checks, it took about 30 minutes to get everyone through, no dramas there, just make sure you have a proof of address as failing to do so will lead to a deferral! We were then walked over to the main assessment building for a briefing on the ACT and a welcome speech from the selection CO. After that we were lined up outside and handed over to the lead assessor and his 2IC, both civilians but they had 40 years each in the army, the lead assessor’s previous position had been RSM of the Rifles! We were then split into 3 groups to do a round robin through the required tasks (Bag lift/Jerry can carry, ACT, and medical). My group was on the bag lift and Jerry can carry first, they had a 30 meter course laid out and we were expected to carry 2 full Jerry cans back and forth a maximum of 5 times. The first thing that starts to go is your grip so make sure you get a could firm hold, got through that no problem. We moved straight into the bag lift, you’re shown the technique by the PTIs and expected to lift the bag on to a platform the same height as a standard army truck. Being a bit of a gym bunny and 6ft tall, this wasn’t really a struggle. Make sure you train for this though as a few lads fell down here, you get 2 attempts a bag but once you fail the second time then it’s over. Also remember that the whole process is a best effort exercise so don’t just sack it off at 30kg because that’s all your chosen regiment requires, you will be marked down if you don’t at least try to get to the maximum.
We were then moved to the ACT, if you’ve practiced a few reasoning tests then you won’t find it difficult, it’s not as time sensitive as the BARB was apparently. Because I was going for infantry, I didn’t have to do the TST but if you do make sure you get some maths revision in before selection, a few of the RE/REME guys found it quite challenging.
Next up was the medical, there’s a lot of waiting around here as you move to different rooms to do all the various tests. We lost 4 guys here for various reasons, the only thing I’ll say is that if you do get bad news then keep composed, obviously it’s disappointing but you may still be able to come back in a few months and they will remember you if you start back chatting the staff! I technically got a deferral here as my GP still hasn’t sent my medical form in but I was allowed to finish selection as everything else was in order.
Myself and a few others were through everything by lunch so we spent the afternoon in the rec room. By 1700 the whole cohort was through and we went back to the accommodation where we were briefed about the next day and issued with coveralls and helmets, we were strongly advised to be in bed by 2100.

Day 3

Rievalle was at 0500, we washed and shaved and stripped our beds. We were issued with replacement sheets and ordered to make our beds up exactly as shown in a picture on the notice boards. We were then walked to breakfast, the 1.5 mile run was the first test of the day so we ate light before going for the fitness briefing. After being briefed we were walked up to the course, the course itself is 1.2km so you do a jog/walk with the PTI for one lap, then you’re lined up and set off to run 2 laps. There are no nasty surprises on the course, it’s a very level track and there are staff placed at markers throughout, no matter how hard you find it do not walk! It’s a best effort exercise so even if you get the required time, you can be deferred for not putting enough effort into the run.
After the run we were walked to the grenade throw stand, I should add that the main objective of day 3 is to put you under pressure, it’s non-stop. You’re given a quick lesson on the grenade throw then do a leopard crawl along a course and throw. Follow the instructions to the letter and after you throw the dummy grenade, bury your face in the dirt and that is by no means an exaggeration.
Next we were straight into the team tasks, this was my favourite part, you get put into teams and set out to achieve certain objectives in a certain time. Make sure you make yourself heard and give valuable input, pay attention to the plan and make sure you have some points to bring up in the debrief. Don’t get frustrated if your plan doesn’t go right, the assessors want to see that you can keep cool and adapt when things go wrong. Team tasks is nearly half the grade so make sure you give it everything, I know that seems obvious but you are pretty exhausted by this stage of the day, particularly on the last task.
Next it was back to the accommodation block to shower and get suited up for the interview. Here you’re sat opposite a serving or former Army Officer (usually a major) and asked about Army life, how you prepared for selection, and what your Home situation is. Then he/she will go through your scores, you’ll be given your run time and asked how you feel about it, I got a personal best so I was very pleased with that. Then you’ll be sent outside while your scores are added up to get your grade. I was very pleased to be given an A grade!
Once that’s over you are given a talk by the CO and loaded into a coach and taken back to the station.

All I can say is put the work in to prepare and try to enjoy it, relish the chance to show the Army, and yourself, where your limits are.

I’m very pleased to say that once my medical papers are sorted I’ll be joining 3rd Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment and booking on to Phase 1 Alpha and Bravo as soon as possible! Best of luck to everyone with selection dates coming up!


Book Reviewer
Good write up - and congratulations on a good pass. I wish you a long and happy career.

civvy jay

Do you get a result there and then ? I have heard various about you wait to get back home for the result, I was under the impression you get the yes or no when your there

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