Army Officer Selection Board
The Army Officer Selection Board [http://www.army.mod.uk/aosb/] at Leighton House, Westbury in
Wiltshire, England, runs selection courses which must be passed before being offered a place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Eight distinct boards are run for entry into the various Arms and Services of the Regular and Territorial Army.
AOSB (Regular) Briefing
This is a two day course which must be passed before proceeding to the main AOSB. It is a relatively easy course intended to give potential officers an idea of what is required and expected on the 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
# The candidate is considered unsuitable on the basis of their showing at the briefing and it is considered highly unlikely that they would be successful at the Main Board. 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.
# Rejected entirely, further applications will not be accepted. This is usually only awarded on the basis of an inadequate showing on the standardised mental aptitude tests (the results of which are the only aspect of the briefing to be carried forward to the Main Board).
AOSB (Regular) Main Board
This is a four day course consisting of many different academic, physical, mental and aptitude tests. It is designed to put the candidates under pressure whilst fostering their team spirit and competitiveness.
On arrival, candidates are allocated a number (used instead of one's name) and placed into teams. They remain in these teams 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 teams 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.
For obvious reasons, the details of the physical tasks, command tasks, interviews and academic tests are not publicly broadcast. It is known that the assessment consists a mental aptitude test (arithmetic, verbal and abstract reasoning); several physical tests; 4 interviews; a group discussion; individual planning exercise; and both leaderless team tasks and a command task where individual team members command the rest. There is also an end of board team race across an obstacle course which does form part of the assessment. However, the winning team is not given any extra credit for the race victory.
AOSB (TA) Briefing and Main Board
This is the course for the selection of TA officers, run over a weekend. The qualities sought are the same as for Regular Service and all the tests are identical, with the exception that they have already passed a medical examination. Since it is done in a little over half the time of the Regular Briefings and Main Boards it is more time pressured.
The standard AOSB (TA) Briefing and Main Boards were introduced in April 2004, replacing the various regional Territorial Commissioning Boards (TCBs). The TA Briefing and Main Boards are identical in content to that provided to Regular officer candidates midweek.
Physical fitness requirements
According to the AOSB's websites, the general fitness requirements for both Army and TA officer entrants are as follows: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" measured against the an undefined minimum standard, although unofficially candidates who completed the obstacle course slower than 3 minutes are considered unfit and a time of anything below a minute is considered good or excellent.
* [http://www2.army.mod.uk/aosb/ The AOSB website]
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