RAF Aptitude Test – What you need to know
Ok, firstly it’s important to understand that there are two different batches of RAF aptitude tests. This article will cover both, but it’s important you understand how the two are linked.
Airman/Airwoman roles (& RAF regiment applicants)
These RAF aptitude tests are carried out early in the recruitment process and are held at the nearest Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO).
This batch of RAF aptitude tests (there are 7 in total) is collectively called the “Airman/Airwoman Selection Test” (AST).
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Non-Commissioned Aircrew and Officer candidates
These RAF aptitude tests take place at the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.
IMPORTANT: Applicants for Aerospace Battle Manager, Air Traffic Controller, Air Traffic Control Officer and Weapons Systems Operator are required to successfully pass the Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST).
NOTE: The two different suites of tests are obviously tailored to the various roles in terms of suitability and difficulty. Regardless of your long-term aims and career path in the RAF you will have to pass your RAF aptitude tests during the selection/recruitment period.
So let’s get into the detail. What should you expect and how can you succeed? Let’s look at the AST first.
RAF aptitude test – Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST)
The Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST) is a standard suite of aptitude and psychometric tests. There are seven tests in total:
- Verbal reasoning (15 mins, 20 questions.)
- Numerical reasoning (11 mins, 15 questions. Standard arithmetic & data interpretation.)
- Work rate (4 mins, 20 questions. Speed of work is measured.)
- Spatial reasoning (Part 1 (2D) is 4 mins, 10 questions. Part 2 (3D) is 3 mins, 10 questions.)
- Electrical comprehension (11 mins, 21 questions. Electrical concepts.)
- Mechanical comprehension (10 mins, 20 questions.)
- Memory/Recollection (20 questions interpreting & remembering order patterns of letters, grids & colours.)
Your performance in the tests will be used to match you to RAF roles that are well-suited to your strengths.
Don’t interpret this by thinking ‘great, I’ll just do my best and they’ll automatically match me to an appropriate role’. If you perform strongly in the AST test you will have more career options.
So the aim is to excel in as many areas as possible. If you’re serious about building a career in the RAF it is essential you perform strongly in the AST.
How is the test administered?
- A member of the RAF Careers Service will facilitate the airman selection test and provide guidance to you before each exercise.
- The first six tests will be completed using a booklet, but the memory test is presented on film. (You will be given a workbook to write your answers.)
How long will the test last?
The airman selection test will last around 90 minutes.
NOTE: You won’t be allowed to use a calculator or a dictionary during the test. For the numerical reasoning test you’ll be given some paper to demonstrate your workings.
So how do I pass my AST test?
Later in this guide we’ll show you more detail how to succeed and highlight lots of useful resources.
Above all else, it is vital that you practise before the test itself. Nothing will improve your performance on the day more than practising the skills that will be required and increasing your familiarity with the test format and competencies.
YOU CAN PRACTISE AN AST TEST HERE (Note this practice test isn’t free but it’s a must if you’re serious about delivering your best possible performance during the AST.)
RAF aptitude test – Officers, Non-Commissioned Aircrew and Non-Commissioned Air Traffic Controllers
Successful applicants for Officer, Non-Commissioned Aircrew & Non-Commissioned Air Traffic Controllers spend up to 4 days at the OASC (Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre).
During your time at the OASC you’ll perform several aptitude tests on a computer. The tests will obviously vary depending on the branch of choice.
The tests measure your ability in a number of ways:
- How strong are you at dissecting and organising language. (This is a psychometric verbal reasoning test. Read our in-depth verbal reasoning guide here.)
- How good are your maths skills and can you successfully manipulate and interpret numerical data? (This is a standard numerical reasoning test. Read our numerical reasoning guide here.)
- How good are you at deductive reasoning? (Read our logical reasoning guide here.)
- How well do you respond to visual information & how well can you multi-task?
- How high is your ability to interpret 2D information and create a 3D solution? (This is measuring your spatial awareness. You can see a free sample spatial awareness test here.)
- What is your maximum work rate & how well can you concentrate under pressure?
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Here’s two videos that will show you a little more what to expect at Cranwell:
OASC RAF Cranwell video – Part 1 of 2
OASC RAF Cranwell video – Part 2 of 2
Inspired? Excited? Worried? Terrified?
Hopefully you’re feeling more of the first two emotions than the second…!
Four simple steps to success in your RAF aptitude test
Step 1 – Read our guide ‘How to Prepare for Your Interview or Assessment Centre‘
Step 3 – Practise the AST aptitude tests here and the OASC tests here. (These are the two tests we recommend you take as they most accurately mirror the competencies in the actual RAF aptitude tests.) However, you can also find cheaper-but-less-appropriate tests here and free tests in each of our guides: Verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, logical reasoning.
Another useful resource for you is this book which comes highly recommended and is well-reviewed.
Step 4 – Read our guide ‘How to cope with nerves & anxiety about your interview or assessment centre‘, it’ll help you keep your nerves in check and deliver a solid performance on the big day.
What happens if I fail the RAF aptitude test?
You may be offered a different role (a role that requires a lower test score) or if your score does not reach the required threshold you may not be accepted into the RAF.
Follow our steps to success and you will have given yourself the best possible chance to succeed and enjoy a long and fruitful career in the RAF.
Did you find this article helpful?
We hope so. It took a long time to build all of these resources for you! Thank you for wanting to spend time in service of our country. Good luck in your future career and with your RAF aptitude test!
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