Learn how to study for a military aptitude test

An aptitude test for the military is an important step in the recruitment process and determines which roles you are eligible for. Good preparation will increase your chances of success.

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If you plan to join the armed forces, you’ll need to sit a military aptitude test as part of the recruitment process alongside other stages such as interviews and a fitness test. In this article, we explain what to expect and how to prepare for a military career aptitude test.

Examples of military aptitude tests in the UK include:

  • the British Army Aptitude Test, sometimes known as the Army Cognitive Test and formerly known as the British Army Recruitment Battery
  • the RAF Aptitude Test, sometimes called the Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST)
  • the Defence Aptitude Assessment, formerly known as the Naval Service Recruiting Test.

An aptitude test for the military assesses your innate strengths and weaknesses across a wide variety of skills. As well as confirming your suitability for working life in the armed forces, your score determines which specific roles you are eligible for, so just passing the test won't necessarily get you your ideal job. This means it’s worth putting in the time and effort beforehand to do as well as you can.

How to study for a military aptitude test: top tips from targetjobs

Military aptitude tests don’t require much prior knowledge but a little preparation will go a long way. Getting used to the test format will ensure that you feel calm and confident on the day. Later we’ll explain more about what to expect and how you’ll be scored, but first here’s how to prepare for a military aptitude test effectively.

  1. Find out as much as you can about the test you’re taking. While this article covers military aptitude tests in general, the specifics of your test will vary slightly. For example, which skills is it assessing and how long will you have to complete it? Read the information you have been provided with carefully and ask questions if you are unsure of anything.
  2. Brush up on your knowledge of relevant subjects. You won’t need prior knowledge of the role you’ve applied for or any special training, but some questions may include elements of GCSE-level maths or physics. You could, for example, do crosswords and word games to broaden your vocabulary or get used to working out maths problems in your head rather than on a calculator.
  3. Practise. Doing similar aptitude tests under exam conditions will get you used to the style of questions, test structure and how to work accurately under time pressure (making sure you read each question carefully rather than skimming them!). As well as dedicated military practice tests, you can also use more general practice aptitude tests on numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning or inductive reasoning, for example. Think through any questions you got wrong to work out why.
  4. Use practice to focus your revision. The last two steps will feed into each other rather than necessarily being in that order. Practice tests will give you a sense of the areas you can improve on with further revision. Then, you can sit some more practice tests in your weakest areas.
  5. Improve your memory. Memorising key pieces of information is an important skill during military aptitude tests. Playing memory games will help.

What does an aptitude test for the military involve?

In the past, military aptitude tests were often carried out using paper and a pencil in a room with other potential candidates, but now military aptitude tests are usually taken on a computer at a test centre, often an Armed Force Careers Office (AFCO). To find out the specifics for your test, contact your local AFCO. When you arrive for your test you’ll need photographic ID, but everything you need for the test will be provided.

The tests assess a broad range of skills in one sitting, requiring you to manage your time well and avoid spending too long on any one section. If you get stuck on a question, don’t panic. Most military career aptitude tests are made up of multiple-choice questions so make an educated guess and move on. This is especially important as you will need to complete all questions in the limited time given for the best chance at passing.

Military aptitude test questions and answers

The different armed forces vary slightly in the skills and types of questions their tests include, but you can expect a combination of some of the following:

  • numerical reasoning
  • verbal reasoning
  • inductive reasoning
  • work rate (how quickly and accurately you can complete a task – some tests include specific sections on this, though it is also tested through your ability to complete the whole test within the time limit)
  • electrical comprehension (understanding basic circuit diagrams like those used in GCSE physics)
  • mechanical reasoning
  • memory/recollection.

Take a look at targetjobs’ advice for psychometric tests and these links to free practice aptitude tests from our partners at AssessmentDay, to give you a sense of what military aptitude tests and similar psychometric test questions are like and how to answer them.

How do military aptitude test scores work?

The threshold to pass a military aptitude test varies between roles, so the higher your score the more career options will be open to you. The tests can sometimes indicate that you’re especially well suited to an area you hadn’t considered, so it’s worth keeping an open mind.

You’ll be told your score on the same day you take the test and will meet with a careers officer who will talk you through your results, explain your options and answer any questions you have. If you didn’t score highly enough for your preferred role, this is an opportunity to consider alternative roles.

If you fail the test and don’t qualify for any roles, it’s usually possible to resit once. If you fail that, you may need to wait a few years before you can retake the test again.

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