BARB Test Success Guide 2017

BARB-testIn this army BARB test guide you’ll learn what to expect and how to succeed, step-by-step. Let’s get started.

Useful starting-point resources

Taking a practice BARB test is a ‘must do’ if you want to have a wide selection of army roles to choose from.

‘What included in this BARB test guide?’

We’re going to cover a lot of ground in this BARB test success guide so grab a drink, kick back and we’ll begin!

‘What happens before the BARB test?’

In a moment we’ll look in detail at the different elements of the BARB test itself. Before we do that, let’s quickly cover off the things that need to happen beforehand.

Before you can sit your BARB test you must visit your local Army Careers Centre or you can visit the army website, create an online account and submit an application form.

All being well, after completing your health questionnaire you’ll be invited back to the Army Careers Centre to sit your BARB Test.

The rest of this article will focus solely on the BARB test, but for a broader understanding of the army recruitment process check out this useful video.

‘What exactly is the BARB test?’

The army BARB Test or “British Army Recruitment Battery” is a computer-based aptitude test.

‘Where will I sit the BARB test?’

You will take your BARB test at your local Army Careers Centre.

‘What does the BARB test measure?’

The army BARB test is designed to assess and measure your problem solving and analytical skills.  You will take your BARB test using a touch screen computer. You will need to be able to answer the questions quickly, as well as correctly.

‘How long does the BARB test take?’

The BARB test lasts for around 30 minutes.

‘What is the importance of the BARB Test?’

There’s two reasons the BARB test is important:

1) If you don’t pass the BARB test you won’t be able to continue with your application.

2) Your BARB test performance dictates which roles you can apply for.

The BARB test measures your suitability for the wide range of roles available in the British Army.

Do you know what part of the army you want to go into? Do you have a perfect role in mind?

The outcome of your BARB test will dictate whether you will be allowed to progress your application for that role.  

If you haven’t got a role in mind yet your BARB test result will provide you with a list of roles that you are deemed suitable for.

So the army BARB test has two purposes: It filters out unsuitable candidates AND it matches suitable candidates to their most appropriate army roles.


‘How is the list of suitable roles calculated?’

This list is calculated by the computer and is based on your test performance, accuracy and time taken, which then generates your General Trainability Index (or ‘GTI’) score.

‘What score do I need to pass the BARB test?’

You need to get a minimum score of 26 to pass your army BARB test. The points required for each role vary, but the maximum score required for any role is 60.  (That’s quite a range! Are you beginning to see the major importance of this test?)

‘What’s the secret to passing the BARB test?’

Remember, the test measures not just your ability, but the speed of your answers. The ‘secret’ to performing well in the BARB test is practice.

Practising will not only show you what to expect but it will improve your speed. Practice will make you feel more confident and in control. If you take only 1 thing from this guide it should be this: taking a variety of practice BARB tests is essential.

Note the word ‘variety’. There’s several tests available out there, you should try a wide selection.

‘Where can I find practice BARB tests?’

This practice BARB test is a great place to start. It includes a practice BARB test, plus some great tips on getting the best result.

Remember: The better your BARB test score, the more army roles you will be able to choose from.

‘What happens if I get a bad score?’

You will either fail the BARB test and your application will be over, or you will have a very limited range of roles that you can apply for.

‘What happens if I do well in the test?’

If you get a great score, I promise you that your eligible job list will have so many roles you won’t even have heard of some of them before…! (There’s TONS of roles in the army.) It will provide you with a real opportunity to go away, reflect and research any of the more obscure roles and see what they involve.

It’s all about giving you the most choice. It is also worth pointing out that you only get one chance at this.  You cannot go back and re-sit the BARB test if you’re unhappy with your results.

So let’s make sure you get it right, first time! 🙂

‘Ok I get the picture, tell me how to pass the test!’

Let’s get into the specifics and look at the test in detail.

‘What’s included in the army BARB Test?’

The BARB test has five different types of questions:

  • Reasoning
  • Letter Checking
  • Number Distance
  • Odd One Out
  • Symbol Rotation

Let’s look at each one in turn.

BARB Test – Reasoning

This part of the BARB test is a logical reasoning test and assesses your ability to think critically. You should have a read of my Logical Reasoning Test Guide to learn more and to fully prepare in this area.

ARMY-BARB-TESTThe BARB test will present you with sentences in regards to the relationship or details of two people.  You will then be presented with a question, based on the information you read.

For example: John is shorter than Peter.  

This information will then disappear from your screen, so take care to remember it.  The question could then be, ‘Who is taller?’

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s not so easy when the pressure is on. And remember that speed is vital and that you are being measured against all the other candidates. You need to be moving through these questions at a high pace if you want to get top marks, but take care as working quickly can easily lead to mistakes due to incorrectly read questions.

The key to being able to work fast, and with accuracy, is to repeatedly take a variety of practice BARB tests.

BARB Test – Letter Checking

This area of the BARB test will see how quickly and accurately you can conduct ‘checking tasks’ in your head.

  • Expect to be presented with four sets of letters.
  • Each set will be encased within a rectangular frame and will have two letters – one on top of the other.

army-barb-test-questionsThe aim of this section is to identify how many of the sets contain the same letters. They will be a mix of upper and lower case.

Again, this sounds very simple but answering these questions at speed can easily lead to you making a mistake.

BARB Test – Number Distance

This element of the army BARB test will analyse your speed and accuracy when carrying out numerical tasks in your head.

Three numbers will be presented on your screen.  The first task is to quickly identify the smallest and largest number.  The focus here is on speed. Your second task is to indicate which number is furthest from the remaining number and that is the number that you will select for your answer.

My Top Tip:  Practise until this almost becomes an involuntary action. It’s possible to get to the point where you will be able to do this in the blink of an eye – all you need to do is plug away and practice, practice, practice. It’s really is as simple as that.

Practising can be boring, but focus on the reward; Keep that long role list in the front of your mind and imagine how elated you will be when you walk away from your BARB test with a whole host of exciting job roles to choose from.

Focussing on this, the reward for a successful outcome, will help you to stay disciplined and practice every day before your BARB test. 

BARB Test – Odd One Out

This part of the BARB test judges your ability to spot the odd one out.  The army recruiters want to know that you can interrogate information and quickly draw the correct conclusions.

Three words will appear on your screen.

Let’s use these as an example: SEAT – SING – CHAIR

Your task is to see which two words are related in some way.  In our example, SEAT and CHAIR are related to each other – meaning that the word SING is the odd one out.  You will have to select the odd word as your answer, not the related words. (But obviously you will need to know which ones relate, in order to come to the right conclusion.)

As with all parts of the BARB test, your speed is as important as the correct answer. Getting 100% correct will mean nothing if you take ages to answer!  You must get your speed up. Remember, practise, practise, practise.

BARB Test – Symbol Rotation

This final part of the army BARB test will test your ability to mentally rotate objects, quickly and correctly. For many people this final section is the toughest.

You will see two pairs of shapes, each contained within a rectangular frame.  You will need to decide how many of the pairs (if any at all) contain the same shape.

3 top tips for this section:

1) Of course, I want you to practise! Just like for every other section of the BARB Test.  It is the only way to up your speed.

2) Try this. Take some shapes (try the letters ‘F’ and ‘L’) and write them on a piece of paper. Turn them around in your mind, get your brain used to seeing what they look like when rotated.  It sounds crazy, but it will help.

3) Watch out for this sneaky tactic: They throw in shapes that are mirror images of each other. At first glance, and if you are working quickly, they look identical but they will never fit together.  And that’s basically what you want to be constantly asking yourself during this exercise: How many pairs would fit on top of each other perfectly, if rotated?

‘What happens when I have completed my BARB Test?’

You will be given your GTI score straight away and -as long as you have reached the minimum 26 points- you will receive your list of suitable job roles to take away and research.

You will also need to sit your numeracy and literacy aptitude tests, before going on to your Army Assessment/Selection Centre.

2 pieces of essential reading for you

Example BARB test questions

You can find a practice BARB test on the army website here.

This video by Richard McMunn is briliant. It includes lots of advice and example questions (thanks Richard!).

Thanks for Reading

I hope you found this free BARB test guide useful and I wish you the best of luck with your future career and your BARB test!