Army Officer Selection Board
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|Army Officer Selection Board|
|Located Near Westbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom|
|Controlled by||British Army|
Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) is an assessment centre used by the British Army as part of the Officer selection process for the Regular and Territorial Army and related scholarship schemes. It is an equivalent of the Admiralty Interview Board and the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre of the Royal Air Force. The board is based at Leighton House, Westbury in Wiltshire, England in a dedicated camp.
AOSB is commanded by the President AOSB, a Colonel in the British Army. The board president is supported by a number of Vice-Presidents.
Applicants for the British Army undergo initial suitability assessments, through computer based tests and interviews, along a number of routes. All candidates will be required to attend AOSB at a point determined by the type of entry. Candidates for Scholarship, Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College and Professionally Qualified Officers will attend only one board, other entrants will be required to attend both a Briefing Board and a Main Board.
Candidates will have undertaken insight or familiarisation visits to appropriate units prior to attendance at the board.
All boards have a similar format, consisting of a range of academic, physical, mental and aptitude tests assessing suitability for future employment.
Each Board of up to two 'syndicates' is presided over by either the President or one of the Vice-Presidents, with Professionally Qualified Officer boards supervised by an officer of the appropriate specialisation. Each 'syndicate' of 6-8 candidates is assessed by a Deputy President, who is a Lieutenant Colonel, a Group Leader who is a Major or Captain, who will run the activities in addition to recording evidence, and an Education Advisor who is a serving or retired officer of the AGC(ETS). Up to three boards can be running concurrently with each syndicate made up of eight candidates.
This is a two-day course which must be passed before proceeding to the main AOSB. It is a challenging, but relatively easy course, (in comparison with the main board) intended to give potential officers an idea of what is required and expected on the main board. There will also be a series of three aptitude tests on verbal reasoning, numeracy and abstract reasoning. The results of these tests form an overall Officer Intelligence Rating, which will be carried forward to Main Board.
Before leaving the AOSB Briefing, candidates are assigned one of four possible categories:
- Allowed to proceed to the Main Board as soon as desired.
- Required to delay for between three and twenty four months (often awarded to younger candidates with potential ability but insufficient maturity, or for remedial purposes such as to improve upon Physical fitness)
- The candidate is considered is thought unlikely to pass the Main Board on the basis of their showing at the briefing. However, they are allowed to attempt the Main Board if, after further consideration, they believe they can achieve the required standard. It is rare, but not unheard of, for Category 3 candidates to be successful at the Main Board.
- Not considered suitable for commissioned service on the basis of personality, ability to apply their intellect or both. This is usually only awarded on the basis of an inadequate showing on the standardised mental aptitude tests combined with a poor performance in the other activities which take place at the Briefing. Candidates who receive a Category 4 at the Briefing may appeal against this result and, if they are successful (which is very exceptional), may be allowed to continue to the Main Board.
AOSB Main Board
This is a four-day course consisting of many different academic, physical, mental and aptitude tests. It is designed to put candidates for both the Regular Army and Army Reserve under pressure whilst fostering their team spirit and competitiveness.
The Boards normally run from Tuesday until Friday but a small number each year take place from Thursday until Sunday.
On arrival, candidates are allocated a number (used instead of one's name) and placed into teams known as syndicates. They remain in these syndicates for the duration of the board, making it common for strong friendships to develop during the process. As candidates are assessed against a standard and not against each other's performance (there are no set quotas for acceptance – if you meet the standard you pass), it is often found that strong syndicates will see all members meet the standard.
On the last night of the course a formal dinner is held for the candidates. In the past this was regarded by the candidates as another test, this time of their manners and social skills; it is not clear whether this was ever actually the case. Nowadays, the staff are at pains to point out that the meal is not an assessment, and no directing staff are present at the event.
The details of the physical tasks, command tasks, interviews and academic tests are not made public. It is known that the assessment consists of a physical fitness assessment, individual obstacle course, three multiple-choice tests on current affairs, general knowledge and military knowledge, three interviews, a group discussion and essay on current and moral affairs, a 5-minute lecturette, individual planning exercise, and both leaderless team tasks and a series of command tasks where an individual team member commands the rest. There is also an end of board syndicate race across an obstacle course which does form part of the assessment. However, the winning syndicate is not given any extra credit for the race victory.
Candidates are only permitted to make 2 attempts to pass the board, separated by a minimum of 6 months.
AOSB (Reservist) Main Board
This no longer exists as Regular and Reserve candidates are assessed together at the AOSB Main Board. The standard AOSB (Reserve) Main Boards were introduced in April 2004, replacing the various regional Territorial Commissioning Boards (TCBs) but have since been abolished. Some AOSB Main Boards are held over Thursdays to Sundays but these cater for both Regular and Reserve candidates and are exactly the same as normal midweek Boards.
CFCB (Cadet Forces) Board
The Cadet Forces Commissions Board is the course used for selection of officers for the Army Cadet Force, run over a weekend. The course is broadly similar to the AOSB (Reservist) Main Board however there are no physical tests. As with the Regular and TA Main Boards, there is no set quota for selection and candidates are assessed against a standard, not each other.
Following completion of CFCB, a candidate is awarded one of four possible results:
- Selected - The candidate has been successful at the board and is recommended for a TA General List Section B commission within the Army Cadet Force.
- Not Selected (Encourage) - The candidate has not been successful, however it has been recognised that they have potential and are encouraged to attempt the board again at a later date.
- Not Selected - The candidate has not been successful. If they wish, they can attempt the board again at a later date.
- Not Selected (Discourage) - The candidate has not been successful and is deemed to be unsuitable for a commission. The candidate cannot normally attend for another attempt, however in extenuating circumstances their county commandant can appeal to the President CFCB for an exception to be made.
If a candidate has not been successful at the board, they must wait at least 1 year before a second attempt. If the second attempt is unsuccessful, they must wait a minimum of 5 years for a third attempt.
Army Scholarship Board
The Army runs two Scholarship Boards each year for boys and girls aged between sixteen and seventeen. The board is similar in many ways to the Main Board, with a fitness test, interviews, planning exercise and leadership tasks. However, the Scholarship Board is only 24 hours, and the expectations are proportionately lower to account for the difference in age. The Board seeks to find examples of intelligence and leadership at a young age, with successful candidates broadly being described as 'a wise head on young shoulders'. Recipients of the award currently receive £1500 each year they are at sixth form, £1000 for each year they spend at university, and a £3000 bonus on completion of the 44-week Commissioning Course. By passing the Board, scholars have a guaranteed place at Sandhurst, and they do not need to pass the AOSB Main Board to enter RMAS.
Physical fitness requirements
The general fitness requirements for both Regular and Army Reserve officer entrants are:
- 44 press-ups (males) or 21 press-ups (females) in 2 minutes or less.
- 50 sit-ups (both genders) in 2 minutes or less.
- The Bleep test, or MSFT, to level 10.2 (males) and level 8.1 (females).
- Obstacle course "best effort" within 3 minutes, measured against an undefined minimum standard.
The Fitness requirements for the Welbeck Board and the Army VI form scholarship board are:
- Level 9.3 on the Bleep test, or MSFT for males and 6.6 for females
- Obstacle course as above