One of the toughest stages of the Army Officer Selection Board (ASOB), is the planning exercises. This planning exercise is also used during the RAF Officer Selection process, and during the Navy Officer Admiralty Interview Board. In order to pass the ASOB planning exercise, you will need to demonstrate your team work skills, your logical thinking ability, and your ability with numbers. This blog will explain what the AOSB Planning Exercise involves, and provide you with a sample Planning Question!

**What is the AOSB Planning Exercise? **

The AOSB Planning Exercise is conducted in groups. Each member of the group will be given a copy of an exercise brief, and you will then have 15 minutes in which to read the scenario – this must be done in silence. Pay very close attention when reading the scenario, as it’s extremely important to glean as much detail as possible.

**AOSB Planning Exercise: Part 1**

Once the 15 minutes are up, you will have a sustained period of time in which you can discuss the scenario with the rest of the group, to try to come to an agreed solution. Your conduct here is extremely important. You will be assessed against qualities such as communication, leadership and teamwork. It’s essential that you are vocal and play an active part in the discussion, without being overbearing or rude. You must show respect to your group colleagues, and never dismiss people’s suggestions outright.

Following the group discussion, you will then be asked to present a solution to the selection board, who will ask you a variety of questions based on your proposed solution, and challenge you on the proposals you have put forward.

**AOSB Planning Exercise: Part 2**

Once the above has been completed, the selection board will now introduce a brand new issue into the scenario. This will make the previous solution impossible, meaning you need to find a way around the new obstacle. This exercise is done individually, and takes 20 minutes in total. Once the 20 minutes have expired, you will again deliver your plan to the selection board.

**Sample AOSB Planning Exercise **

Below we’ve included a sample planning exercise, using simple logistics. In many of the exercises you will need to make use of speed, distance and time calculations, and maps, which will be provided to you along with the scenario brief. The below exercise should be a bit more simple to work out, but will still require a great deal of calculation. Have a go, and see how you get on.

**Operation Lift Stacker**

** ****BRIEFING **

You are the leader of a 6-man team. Your team has been tasked with moving 6 large boxes, each containing dangerous ammunition, from the ground floor to the 14th floor of a tower block. Each ammunition box weighs 60 kg. The tower block contains two internal, fully-functioning lifts. Lift X serves all odd-numbered floors (including the ground floor) whilst Lift Y serves even-numbered floors (including the ground floor). The tower block also contains an internal staircase that has access doors on each floor.

The team start at the bottom of the staircase on the ground floor, directly outside the lift doors.

**NOTES**

- Each team member weighs 95 kg.
- A minimum of two people must lift and carry one ammunition box.
- Each lift can carry a maximum of 475 kg.
- Both lifts take 15 seconds to reach each floor (G – 14).
- It takes two people 25 seconds to carry one box of ammunition, up or down one floor.
- It takes 10 seconds to reach each floor without carrying an ammunition box.
- It takes 5 seconds to enter or leave a lift with an ammunition box.
- It takes 2 seconds to enter or leave a lift without an ammunition box.
- There is enough space on the stairwell between each floor for 4 people plus 2 ammo boxes at any one time, or 6 people without any boxes.
- The doors in each lift allow enough room to enter or exit with 1 ammunition box at a time.
- No boxes of ammunition may be left unsupervised at any time.

The time now is 9 am. Choosing the fastest method possible, by what time can you get all 6 ammunition boxes to the 14th floor? No ammunition boxes can be left insides the lifts.

**Want More Planning Exercises?**

How did you find the above exercise? Post your answer in the comments, and we’ll mark your answer.

In the meantime if you’re looking for even more sample planning exercise questions check out our brand new Planning Exercises for the Armed Forces workbook [Volume 2]!

09:25:42

09:18:30

Hi Haden,

Unfortunately it can be done in much quicker time than this! Have another attempt and let us know what you get.

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

09:05:18

Hi John,

You’re really close, but not quite there yet! You’re the closest so far, so have another go!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

09:04:50

Hi Toby,

Thanks for your comment, this is the fastest time so far! Would you mind sharing your working, so we can verify your method?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

4 boxes in X with two people (430kg) to 14th floor reaching at 09:04:30 including loading. 1 person goes up stairwell to meet them arriving at 14th floor 09:02:20. These three then unload boxes between them taking further 20s. Completed at 09:04:50

2 boxes in Y with two people (310kg) to 13th floor reaching at 09:03:25. 1 person goes up stairwell to 13th floor. Two people go up stairs with 1 box to top at 09:04:00 and then go back down and bring up the second arriving at 09:04:35. No boxes left unattended as team member who has gone up 14th floor already there to watch them.

09:05:00 if all team members to top floor.

Hi Toby,

Thanks so much for your response. We’ve checked your numbers, and unfortunately we don’t think the maths is quite right. You’ve done a great job, but some of the figures are a little bit off – for example Lift X can only serve the odd numbered floors, and Y can only serve the even floors. Have another go!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

9:04:10

Hi Graham,

Thanks for your answer. Please let us know your working out so we can evaluate it. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

Hi guys,

I have 9:02:55secs

Everyone is on the ground floor helping to load up the lift (which goes to the even floors). It takes 5 secs to get one box (between 2) into the lift, so if everyone is helping in rotation, this will take 30secs (6×5). 6 boxes in the lift totals to 360kg (6 x 60kg). As they cannot be left unattended, 1 95kg man can be left with the boxes in the lift (2 secs to get in). This leads to a total weight of 455kg, which is under the limit. This lift sets off and takes 1min 45sec to get to the 14th floor (as they are stopping at alternate floors, this comes to 7 x 15secs). Meanwhile, whilst this box full lift sets off, the other 5 men get in the odds elevator which takes 10 secs (2 x 5) (5 x 95 = 475kg) to the 13th floor which also takes 1min 45secs. They then get off which takes 10 secs and go up to the 14th floor via the stairs which takes another 10 secs. Once they are on the 14th they wait 2 secs for the box lift then unload the boxes together with the supervising box man which takes another 30 secs. Total time 2mins 47secs. Arrival time of 9:02:47am.

I hope!

Sorry, I left a different time at the top accidentally! Final answer is 9:02:47!

09:04:08

Boxes are brought into the lift (2*5s = 10)

Team members exit the lift (2*2s = 4)

Two people stay in each lift, the remaining 2 run to the 13th floor.

13 floors *15s = 195s

5s = removing one box

2*2 = 4 (two people re-entering the lift)

5s = removing second box

25s = running to the 14th floor.

In the mean time, the boxes are removed from the lift on the 14th floor by the two people that were in the lift.

10+4+195+5+4+5+25=248s = 4 mins and 8 seconds

Hi Tom,

Thank you for this – this is an excellent attempt! From looking at your working out, you haven’t accounted for the time taken to leave the lift to get the next ammunition box. And also, the lifts take 15 seconds per floor, not just the floors they service.

We hope this helps, and that you’ll have another go!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

Lift Y:

4 boxes plus 2 people, 20sec to load lift, 14 floors to top x15sec per floor, 20sec to unload. 250sec in total – 4min 10s

Lift X:

2 boxes plus 2 people, 10sec to load, 13 floors to highest odd number floor x15sec per floor. Remaining 2 people on foot up to 13th floor and will arrive before the lift, they take one box and the 2 in the lift take the other on foot up to 14th floor.

240sec total, 4mins

Lift Y takes longest at 4min 10sec, starting at 9am ends 9:04:10

I’ve read it over that many times I won’t be able to see my mistakes now!

Many thanks

G

Hi Graham,

This is a brilliant answer, well done for working it all out. The one thing we noticed, was that you didn’t account for the timings for the team to exit the lift, to pick up the next boxes. Have another go and see how you get on!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

09:04:08

Boxes are brought into the lift (2*5s = 10)

Team members exit the lift (2*2s = 4)

Two people stay in each lift, the remaining 2 run to the 13th floor.

13 floors *15s = 195s

5s = removing one box

2*2 = 4 (two people re-entering the lift)

5s = removing second box

25s = running to the 14th floor.

In the mean time, the boxes are removed from the lift on the 14th floor by the two people that were in the lift.

10+4+195+5+4+5+25=248s = 4 mins and 8 seconds

Plan; Take 4 boxes with 2 men in lift Y and 2 boxes with 3 men in lift X. 6th man goes up stairwell.

Loadings; lift Y (4×60)+(2×95)=430kg. Lift X (2×60)+(3×95)=405kg.

Timings; Load/unload 4 boxes into lift Y by 2 men; each box takes 5s in and men take 2s to exit lift each time totalling 7s per box at each end > 7s x 4 boxes x2 = 56s. 3rd man stays in lift.

Time to go 14 floors 14×15 = 210s.

Total = 266s.

Load/unload 2 boxes into lift X by 2 men; as above 7s to load each box so 14sx2=28s. 5th man stays in lift.

To to go 13 floors 13×15=195s.

Final floor 25s

Total = 248s.

1 man goes up stairwell; 25×14s = 320s.

Time is 320s = 5m20s

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your response, you’ve done a great job here. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit off in terms of timing. Have another go and let us know how you get on!

Sincerely,

The How2Become Team

Hi, I got 09:04:26

Lift Y:

4 boxes onto lift Y servicing even floors. Time taken to enter lift with box = 5s + time taken to leave lift and collect another box = 2s.

5+2s = 7s multiplied by 4 boxes = 7*4 = 28s

Weight = 2 people (2*95kg = 190kg) + 4 boxes (4*60kg = 240) Total = (190kg + 240kg = 430kg)

Lift Y travels 14 floors at 15s per floor, 14*15s = 210s

Empty lift Y same as filling the lift so 28s again.

Total for lift Y = 210s + 28s + 28s = 266s = 4 minutes 26 seconds

Lift X:

2 boxes onto lift X servicing odd floors. Time taken (2*7s = 14s)

Weight = 2 people + 2 boxes (2*95 = 190kg) + (2*60 = 120kg) Total: (190kg + 120kg = 310kg)

Lift X travels 13 floors at 15 seconds per floor, 13*15 seconds = 195s

Empty lift Y = 14s

Time = 14 + 195 + 14 = 223s

2 remaining people on ground floor run up 13 floors at 10 seconds per floor to reach 13th floor in 130s, waiting for boxes to arrive.

4 people with 2 boxes climb from 13th floor to 14th floor in 25s.

Total time for lift X: 14s + 195s+ 25s = 248s

Lift Y takes longer at 266 seconds (4 minutes 26 seconds) so the job finishes at 09:04:26

Lift X carries 6 boxes and one person, Everyone else walks.

Loading lift X takes 7 seconds per box, leaving one person in the lift at the end. Lift X goes to level 14 taking 3:15 (13×15 seconds). Total = 3.57.

The 5 people leave 2 seconds after lift Y, but will arrive 63 seconds early as walking is 5 seconds quicker per floor than taking the lift.

Once lift X arrives at 14 it takes 2 seconds to get one person on, then 40 seconds for all boxes to be unloaded.

Time of all boxes to be unloaded: 09:04:39

09.05.24

all 6 boxes in Lift X and 1 man ( loading weight=455kg)

– loading time = 42 seconds (7×6) – 5 seconds in lift for box, 2 seconds to get out

– travel time 3 mins 50 sec (14 floors x 15 seconds)

= 4 mins 32 seconds

5 men walk up stairs

-travel time to 14th floor = 2mins 33 seconds

-wait for lift X to arrive

Unload lift

– 42 seconds (same as above)

total = 4 mins 42 secs +42 seconds

= 5mins 24 seconds

final time 09.05.24

09.03.49 ?

09:04:12

M=Man, B=Box

M1M2 load B1 into Lift Y (09:00:05).

M3M4 load B2 into Lift Y (09:00:10). M1M2 exit during this load at no additional time.

M1M2 load B3 into Lift Y (09:00:15). M3M4 exit during this load at no additional time.

M3M4 load B4 into Lift Y (09:00:20). M1M2 exit during this load (09:00:17).

M1M2 take the stairs to Floor 13 (09:02:27)

Lift Y takes M3M4 and B1B2B3B4 up to Floor 14 (09:03:50).

M3M4 unload B1 from Lift Y and re-enter lift (09:03:57).

Meanwhile:

M5M6 load B5 into Lift X (09:00:05), then exit lift (09:00:07).

M5M6 load B6 into Lift X (09:00:12)

Lift X takes M5M6 and B5B6 up to Floor 13 (09:03:27)

M5M6 unload B5 from Lift X (09:03:32). M1M2 enter during this unload at no additional time.

M5M6 carry B5 up to Floor 14 (09:03:57). M1M2 unload B6 from Lift X and carry up to Floor 14 (09:04:02).

Now:

M3M4 unload B2 from Lift Y (09:04:02). M5M6 enter during this unload at no additional time.

M5M6 unload B3 from Lift Y (09:04:07). M1M2 enter during this unload at no additional time.

M1M2 unload B4 from Lift Y (09:04:12).

= 09:04:50

Time is now 9am

Each person weighs 95kg

Ammo boxes weigh 60kg

Lift max capacity – 475kg

Considerations: Scenario does not require the whole team to be at the 14th floor, only the ammo boxes. Ammo boxes must be supervised at all times, therego at least one member of the team must travel in a lift with ammo boxes.

If using lift Y, this would mean reducing load capacity by the weight of one team member would provide 380kg capacity. 6 ammo boxes at 60kg = 360kg. This means all ammo boxes can be loaded into the lift at the same time with one team member.

Stage 1 – Load lift Y with 6 ammo boxes and one person:

Ammo box 1 = 5 +2secs

Ammo box 2 = 5 +2secs

Ammo box 3 = 5 +2secs

Ammo box 4 = 5+2secs

Ammo box 5 = 5+2secs

Ammo box 6 = 5 (second person does not enter the lift when loading final ammo box as this is positioned at the front of the lift so they can stay outside the lift to avoid exceeding the lift capacity)

Stage 1 total = 40 secs

Stage 2 – Travel to 14th floor

Lift Y travel = 14 (floors) * 15 = 210 secs

One team member must also make their way to 14th floor to help unload, there are 2 options here:

Option A – use lift X = Entry + Time per floor to 13th + Exit + Walk to 14th = 2+(15*13)+2+10 = 209 secs

Option B – walk to 14th = 14 * 10 = 140 secs

So team member 2 walks to 14th floor, as this happens at the same time as the lift is travelling to the 14th floor and is less than the overall travel time for the lift, this does not affect the finish time.

Stage 2 total = 210 secs

Stage 3 – unload the lift

Ammo box 6 = 5 (second person doesn’t need to enter the lift to unload as can lift from outside the lift)

Ammo box 5 = 2 + 5

Ammo box 4 = 2 + 5

Ammo box 3 = 2 + 5

Ammo box 2 = 2 + 5

Ammo box 1 = 2 + 5

Stage 3 total = 40 secs

Solution = Stage 1 total + Stage 2 total + Stage 3 total = 40 + 210 + 40

= 290 secs

Finish time is therefore 09:04:50

Fantastic answer and working out Dom! This is all excellent, the one note to make is that

‘second person doesn’t need to enter the lift to unload as can lift from outside the lift’is an assumption – which you could be penalised for making, as the size of the lift is not provided. As the information states ‘It takes 5 seconds to enter or leave a lift with an ammunition box & It takes 2 seconds to enter or leave a lift without an ammunition box.’ This must be factored in the calculation.09:04:22

Lift X:

– Load 2 boxes with 2 men while other 2 walk upstairs (5secs in, 2 secs out, 5 secs in) = 12 seconds

– Time for lift to 13th floor = 3 minutes 15 secs to 13th floor (15secs x 13 floors)

– 2 Men walking upstairs get to 13th floor within 2 minutes and 10 seconds (10 secs x 13 floors) and wait

– 2 men in lift unload 1st box ( 5 secs) and take it to 14th floor (25 secs)

– 2 men waiting wait for 5 secs while first box is unloaded and then enter lift (2 secs), unload 2nd box (5 secs) and carry box to 14th floor (25 secs)

Therefore, total time to get ammo boxes in lift X to 14th floor = 4 minutes and 4 seconds

Lift Y:

– Load 4 boxes (5 secs in, 2 secs out, 5 secs in, 2 secs out, 5secs in, 2 secs out, 5 secs in) = 26 seconds

– 2 men go up in lift with 4 boxes ((95×2) + (60×4) = 430 kg (within weight limit of 475kg)) = 3 minutes 30 secs to 14th floor (15 secs x 14 = 210 secs)

– 2 men unload 4 boxes (same time) = 26 secs

Therefore, total time to get ammo boxes in lift Y to 14th floor = 4 minutes 22 secs

Because time taken in lift Y was the longest, the earliest time that all 6 boxes will be successfully moved to the 14th floor is 09:04:22