British Army Recruitment Process – Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

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The British Army recruitment process is a challenging and competitive one, no matter which career within the Army you wish to go for. To be successful, you will need to pass a number of stages, ranging from tests and assessments to an interview with an Army Development and Selection Officer.

Let’s now go through the British Army recruitment process step by step.

Step 1: Apply Online or Contact your local Armed Forces Careers Officer (AFCO)

This first stage of the British Army recruitment process is very straightforward – you need to let the Army know that you are interested in joining them. Most commonly, this will be done through their official website ( where you can fill out an application or chat to advisers. All the instructions you need will be easily found there, including information on the various roles and careers within the Army.

Otherwise, you can visit your local Army Careers Centre, or discuss your application with them on the phone. You can also ask any questions you may have about the British Army recruitment process. When there, you will also be able to get all the needed information and advice, as well as complete and submit an application form. The application form itself asks you for basic personal details; it will not be dissimilar from ones you have completed in the past.

What you will need to provide:

  • Name and title;
  • Marital status;
  • Your current address;
  • Phone number;
  • Residency info – whether you have the right to live in the UK or Ireland, and how long you have lived in the UK or Ireland;
  • Nationality;
  • Ethnic background;
  • Religion (or lack thereof);
  • Info on tattoos and piercings;
  • Whether you have been under a care order at any point;
  • Employment or education status;
  • Any additional info you believe to be relevant.

Your form will then be looked at by recruiters to see if you meet basic entry requirements. If you do, you’ll then be emailed an online health questionnaire that you’ll need to complete and send back. Army medical questionnaire questions will cover areas such as pre-existing conditions, surgery history and medication use. Of course, you will then be judged on whether you are physically fit enough to proceed. This is done on a case-by-case basis, so if you unsure as to whether you have a disqualifying condition, it is worth having a go.

Step 2: Invitation to an Army Career Centre.

If your medical responses satisfy recruiters, the next step of the British Army recruitment process involves you being invited to your local Army Career. Here, you will receive a 30-minute introduction to the Army, in which the AFCO will present to you the different career paths available within the Army. There are numerous options available here, ranging from Electrician to Rocket System Gunner.

You will then have the chance to have a sit-down meeting with a recruiter, in which you can discuss the options before you for half an hour. During the meeting, you can start to get an idea of which specific career path you’d like to go down. So, it’s perfectly fine to turn up to this meeting if you don’t yet know which role to choose – the purpose of this day is to help you decide.

Step 3: Assessment Stay

Again, if recruiters are still satisfied with you at this stage, and you have chosen a career area, you will be invited to an assessment day at a UK military base. This is the most involved and difficult stage of the British Army recruitment process. Base locations include: Lichfield, Pirbright, Glencorse, and Ballymena. You will be required to stay overnight, and will undertake several physical and mental tests, including a thorough medical examination. The tests may vary depending on which specific Army career path you have chosen.

Let’s now look at the activities that make up the physical side of the army assessment.

The Physical Selection Standards (Recruits) Assessment

Note: The following three physical tests that you will need to undergo are generally consistent across the Army careers, but different ones may require you to reach different levels than described below. Please check with recruiters if you are unsure. Having said this, they are not done on a pass/fail basis. Rather, your performance on each one will be taken into account along with the rest of your results during the assessment stay, and contribute to your overall score.

The Powerbag Lift
In this test, you will have to lift ‘powerbags’ (weights with handles on like a holdall) from the ground up onto a 1.45m platform. The lightest bag you will lift will be 15kg, and after each successful lift the powerbag will increase in weight by 5kg. This will continue up to a maximum weight of 40kg, or until you can no longer lift the powerbag.

The Jerrycan Carry
In this test, you will have to hold a 20 litre jerrycan in each hand and walk for either 150m or until you can go no further. One litre of water weighs one kilogram, so you will have to be able to lift 20kg (plus the equivalent of what the cans weigh) before you go into this test.

The 1.5 Mile Run
In this test, you will be timed running a distance of 1.5 miles, or 2.4 km. This run will be preceded by a warmup lap of half a mile, or 800m.

The Ability Tests

Note: Again, these tests are not assessed on a pass/fail basis; your results for them all will contribute to your overall performance at the assessment stay.

The BARB Test

This is a test you will face on a computer, which is designed to assess your ability to receive and digest information correctly and accurately. It does this through a series of psychometric tests. Your results are calculated not only using the amount of correct answers you got, but by the amount of time you take to do so as well.

See below for some examples of the types of questions you will face.

  • Reasoning Test
    Example: “Richard is taller than Steven. Who is shorter?Answer: Steven
  • The Letter Checking Test
    Example: “How many letters match?”British Army Recruitment Process Ability TestsAnswer: 2.
  • The Distance Number Test
    Example: “Which number is the furthest from the middle number of the three given?”7 10 14

    Answer: 14

    Explanation: 10 is the middle number. 7 is three numbers away from 10, and 14 is four numbers away from 10. This means the ‘distance number’ is 14, because it is ‘furthest away’ from the middle number.

  • Selecting the Odd One Out
    Example: “Which of the following is the odd one out?”Warm Cold Car
    Answer: Car
  • Symbol Rotation Test
    Example: “Out of the following three sets of symbols, how many can be matched using rotation only?”British Army Recruitment Process Symbol Rotation TestAnswer: 2

    Explanation: You could get box 2 to look like box 1 simply by using clockwise rotation on both F shapes within it. However, if you wanted to get box 3 to match, you would have to use reflection; rotation alone wouldn’t cut it. This leaves the answer ‘2’, as two of the boxes match using rotation alone.

Grenade Throw

This is a practical activity in which you will be taught how to throw a grenade, or at least a dummy one! The exercise will consist of you leopard crawling under some obstacles and launching the grenade when you emerge. This one is largely there to break up the day – you are encouraged to have fun while getting down and muddy while wearing some army gear.

Team Tasks

This section of the assessment stay involves a number of teamwork exercises you will undergo alongside your fellow hopefuls. You will have to complete practical and problem-solving tasks under time constraints, with some of them having a competitive element against other teams.

Of course, the ability to work as a team is vital for a member of the Army, so your performance in this area will be scrutinised heavily. You will need to get involved, taking and giving orders where appropriate to efficiently get a task in front of you completed.

Career Discussion

The final stage of the assessment stay involves another sit-down meeting. Here, you will further discuss your career preferences, and ultimately commit to one of them. It is best to treat this discussion as a formal interview, as you will again be asked questions such as “Why do you want to join the Army?” and “Why do you think you would make a good member of the Army?”

Also, you will be given feedback on your application, focusing on your performance during the assessment stay. This meeting also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and talk about your experiences with the Army so far. At this point, you are nearing the final stage of the British Army recruitment process.

Step 4: Progression to Training

This next step is the final one in the British Army recruitment process – entering phase 1 of basic training! Of course, you will only get this far should recruiters choose to advance you after considering your entire application. All the while, you will be able to contact a recruitment officer with any questions you may have.

You will then be provided with all the information you need concerning your next steps and chosen career path. So, this is where this guide to the recruitment process ends!

For more resources on how to join the army in 2017, follow the link.

For information on our 1-day Army Officer training course, follow the link.

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25 thoughts on “British Army Recruitment Process – Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Tom says:

    Hi, hopefully this gets answered ive just apply for the army not a few weeks ago ive been sent a medical and a more about you form which ive sent of back to them, i just wanted to know from the interview in the careers center how long is it till you have to go to the assessment center. Thanks

    • Joshua Brown says:

      Hi Tom,

      Thank you for your comment. Great to hear your application is coming along. As far as we are aware, there is no set amount of time between your interview and assessment centre. It could be a couple of weeks apart. If there is any help you’d like with preparation for the assessment centre, do let us know and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Best of luck!

  2. Shalom Kyalo says:

    Hello how2BECOME..I’m Shalom from Kenya, how long does all this process of assessment take from the day you submit your application on your portal!? Coz the site said I should wait for a review of my application for two days and it has taken longer than that..thank you.

    • Joshua Brown says:

      Hi Shalom,

      Thank you for your comment. Our understanding is that it can vary – they should get back to you very soon. If in doubt, it is always best to ask the centre you have sent your application too as they will be best placed to help.

      If you have any questions about the process, please let us know!

      Best of luck!

  3. Sarah Mckee says:

    I’m an undergraduate considering to join up rather than pursue my degree. However I feel quite clueless in regards to the options available to me (even after reading up online etc), so i just want more information and not necessarily to commit to anything. I was planning on going to my nearest recruitment office; but since I’m so unsure, is it still appropriate to go a this stage? I don’t want to be seen as a time waster!
    Thanks in advance,

    • Joshua Brown says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for your comment. It sounds like visiting your local army careers centre is the best option. They will be more than happy to discuss entry routes, army life and any other questions you may have – this is what they are there for and if you don’t want to join, that won’t be a problem. You can find your nearest local army careers centre here.

      I wish you all the best and let us know how you get on and if we can help! 🙂

  4. Joe says:

    Hi, I’m joe great info here I throughly enjoyed reading this and the
    Process, quick question if possible: I’m due to go to selection within the next month at glencourse and I was wondering if you’re sure the 1.5mile run isn’t a pass/fail test. Because I can run the distance and even 5k no problem but my times vary.

    Thank you in advance

    • Joshua Brown says:

      Hi Joe,

      What time are you running at currently? Depending on your age, you should really be looking to be at the very least under 12 minutes – however, everything else will be considered so you wouldn’t necessarily fail. Ideally, you should be aiming for 9-10 minutes (obviously better if you can, and with the right practice, you should find this quite achievable, especially if you are already good at running 5k. Keep at it, create a routine and even practice some sprints and you’ll get there! Let us know how you get on!

      All the best,


  5. Dylan says:

    Good day Henry,
    Holding dual citizenship in South Africa and Portugal, kindly advise on the recruitment process on joining HMAF?

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Dylan,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear that you are interested in joining the Armed Forces. Hopefully the following should give you an idea on whether you are eligible to apply

      Any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


      The How2Become Team

  6. Joseph says:

    I applied in the army back in late 2016 it’s now 2018.
    I’m half British/Colombian.
    I have passed my assement Center
    The only issue has been the time it’s taken and I Was diagnosed with blood in my urine, I performed the tests such as endoscopy, cystoscopy and a ultrasound (all very unpleasant tests) to see if I had any illness and peace of mind as well.
    And after a7-8 month wait back from the army they simply replied with another set of two tests(shistomaniasis and tuberculosis) I was very displeased with this as the disease isnt in my country and they would have clearly seen if I had tuberculosis in the assement Center medical tests. So As this has gone on with back forth letter each taking 2-3 weeks each I am nearing the year of “ solving médical issue” I called them am I may have to do the process all over again. This seems a bit unfair and very poor seeing as it took the army 7-8 months to reply back just looking at my test results showing I had no abnormalities or illnesses. so I beseech anyone help me Or tell me a corse of action I can do because all this time I’ve put my effort and time Into this I do not wish to do it all again because it’ll end up the same or just a repeat.
    Thank you for taking the time in reading this.

    • Jacob Senior says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for your comment. We’re sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad experience with the selection process. Please take a look at the following page, which might shed some more light on why your application was cancelled:

      Thanks for sharing this with us, we’d love to hear how your application goes.

      The How2Become Team.

  7. Karen Devine says:

    Hi! My daughter applied to join the Army in February 2017, and went for selection in May. She passed everything with flying colours, except the run, and was called back to do this again in August 2017. Unfortunately, she missed the run time again having twisted her ankle, and was told she would be called back in December. After much badgering, she was finally called back in August 2018. She had been training hard for the 13 minute run time, and had logged all her runs and had them verified although as she is used to running with a watch, she had found her times without it to be a bit erratic. Having travelled the 160km to the recruitment centre for the two day assessment, she requested a pacing run (which was refused). On Day 1, she completed the written tests (all good), the Command Tests were skipped over altogether, and then, after lunch, they were rushed through the Fitness Tests as the staff had decided to cut the 2 day Selection process to one day as 2 recruits had failed to show. With insufficient prep, she failed the run again. She has been told they will call her again in 3 months, but at this stage, she is so despondent, I think she is considering giving up. Her CSO is useless, and can never be contacted; does not reply to emails or return calls. Can she request to go to another Selection Centre or appeal against the decision, as she has proof that she can make the run, and just missed it on the day?

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Karen,

      We’re so sorry to hear that your daughter has had such a difficult time with the selection process, and it certainly sounds like she’s earned her spot. We definitely think it’s a good idea to request another selection centre, but obviously we can’t guarantee that this will lead to results. It’s definitely worth looking into though.

      We really hope she gets the role, and wish you the very best of luck!


      The How2Become Team.

  8. Isaac Amos Ekele says:

    My name is Isaac Amos Ekele am from Nigeria I have being trying to register online and its being difficult registering… When registering u get to a point where they ask if I have being staying in the UK for than 5years and am applying as an African from Nigeria please how do I get pass this stage because it’s so tiring and frustrating when you keep doing the right thing and getting the wrong result… Please what should I input in that space of residence in the UK for more than 5 years..

    • Jacob Senior says:

      Hi Isaac,

      In order to be eligible for the British Army, you need to have been a resident in the UK for at least 5 years. Since you’re a citizen of a Commonwealth nation, you do not need to obtain UK citizenship. All you need to do is live in the UK for at least 5 years. We hope this solves your issue.

      Good luck in your application process!

      The How2Become Team.

    • Tara Chung says:

      Hey im a member of a common wealth country too, i have heard in the news that it is ok for us to join even if we have never lived in UK for 5years, i thought it was fake news but i confirmed this with my family in the British Army…and for you to get over tht step..enter the country and dates youve lived in for the past worked for me …i put in Fiji and lived in fiji from 1/01/2013-31/12/2017.

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