Introduction to the Planning Exercise Tutorial For The Army, Navy, and RAF
Hello there and welcome to your planning exercise tutorial. During this course I’m going to walk through a sample planning exercise. I’m also going to provide you with a number of tips that will help you to prepare for the planning exercise and also to pass it.
Now it is common knowledge that the planning exercise and this part of the assessment process is both in-depth and it is also difficult to pass. The planning exercise stage is used more commonly during the RAF Officer OASC (Officer and Aircrew Selection Board), the Army Officer Selection Board and also at the Royal Navy Officer Admiralty Board. Coupled with the fact that you need to tackle the planning exercise, you will also be asked a number of intense questions that are based around the decisions that you’ve made during the planning exercise and also your ability to use speed, distance, and time calculations. So what I’m going to do is walk through a planning exercise, so it’s going to take a little bit of time to do that. Now it’s important to stress at this point that I haven’t placed myself under any time restrictions. During the selection process you will be placed under considerable pressure in terms of completing the planning exercise that you’ll be provided with.
I’ve deliberately not placed myself under any time restrictions simply so that you can understand exactly how to tackle the planning exercise. It would be pointless me going through the planning exercise in, say, a 20-minute period because you wouldn’t fully understand what I’ve been doing during the process. What you need to do once this course is completed is to go away and practice lots of sample planning exercises in order to build up your speed, your time, and your accuracy.
Now before I go into a sample planning exercise, let’s take a look at a number of tips that will help you to pass it. First of all, this is very important; you need to be competent in the use of speed, distance and time. You can do that by trying out lots of sample test questions but I would also recommend that you visit the website Speed Distance Time, and I’ll show you that website in a minute. Specifically, it’s been created for candidates who are going for the Royal Air Force Officer selection process, but it is perfect for Army Officer candidates, for Royal Navy and also Royal Marines Officer candidates, so it’s a great website. It’s free as well, which is an added bonus, so it doesn’t actually cost you anything.
The Importance of Speed, Distance and Time
I also recommend that you are capable of answering speed, distance, and time questions both in written format and during intense questioning. What I would do is I’d get a friend, a colleague or a family relative to sit down and fire lots of speed, distance, and time questions at you. You need to be able to answer these without actually writing them down. Now many people who go through a selection process will only become competent in the use of SDT in written format. They fail to have the ability to answer these questions when they’re being fired at them and that’s what you must be able to do if you’re going to have a chance of passing. I also recommend that you develop the ability to read the information in the planning exercise quickly, and more importantly, accurately. When I go through a sample planning exercise, you will notice that I’m going to dissect information that is relevant away from information that is irrelevant and I’ll show you how to do that.
Finally, you need to try lots of sample planning exercises. You can get a comprehensive planning exercise booklet from How2Become. It’s relatively cheap in price, but it will provide you with about 10 sample planning exercises, and I recommend that you really try a number of them to build up your competence in the use of planning exercise. Now a quick tutorial on speed, distance, and time, this triangle here is something that I recommend that you memorise. Accuracy and agility in speed distance and time calculations will help you perform well during the planning exercise phase of the selection process. So speed equals distance over time and you can see that from the triangle. Speed equals distance over time. Distance equals speed multiplied by time and time equals distance over speed. Just by memorising that triangle that will really help you during the planning exercise phase so you could even write that down in the top right-hand corner of your blank sheet of paper at the assessment and you won’t have to worry about memorising these. Just memorise the triangle and you can think to yourself that “D” is the first letter in the alphabet out of distance, speed, and time. That always goes at the top.
Okay. Let’s just come out with these. Bear with me. Now I mentioned about the speed, distance, and time website. There it is on the screen in front of you so it’s Speed Distance Time . info. As I said, primarily, it’s been created for candidates who are going through the Royal Air Force Officer Aircrew Selection Centre process. You don’t have to use it just for that. As I say, if you’re an Army Officer candidate or Royal Marines or Royal Navy, then it’s great. If you look at the link there, you can press the link and it will take you through to a number of sample test questions. You can submit your answers and it will tell you the ones you got incorrect and also the correct answers to the questions. Then, you just need to click “Take another test” and it will refresh the questions. It’s a fantastic one. It’s also got fuel calculation questions and an orientation test as well, so it really is a fantastic website that I would encourage you to use, and it’s got some useful tips there at the bottom of the screen. So make sure that you spend plenty of time on the website. As I say, it is free to use.
Now, as part of this course, you should have received a planning exercise which is called “Seaside Mission.” We’re going to actually walk through this planning exercise. It’s a sample one. You won’t get asked this during the selection process, but it’s a great one to practice with. I’ve made a few tweaks to this to make it a little bit easier to understand, but what I’m first of all going to do is walk through this planning exercise with you, so make sure that you’ve printed it off and you’ve got it in front of you. If not, then just take a look at the screen; listen to me as I process through the information.
Now I am going to be moving around. You’ll see that as part of this, there is information based on a scenario. At the bottom there are a number of questions that we need to answer, and there’s also some questions for you to try out yourself at home. I’ve also provided answers to the questions and an explanation as to how I have reached the answers, so it should help you. I would say that this planning exercise is at beginner level. The reason why I’ve chose one which is relatively simple is to help you understand the process. You can then go away and practice planning exercises of varying degrees of difficulty, but it’s always obviously good to start off at a simple level.
You will also notice that there is a map as part of this scenario, and you’ll see there the sketch itself, and I will move across from this sheet to that sheet periodically and I will explain through doing snail’s pace exactly what I’m talking about. Okay. So let’s take our time and actually read through the planning exercise. You’ll see there the planning exercise is called “Seaside Mission.” Now what I’m going to do as I walk through this information is highlight the areas that I believe are really important. There’s some information in the exercise which I think is really irrelevant that we don’t need to concentrate on.
How to tackle the Planning Exercise briefing
So let’s start off. “You are the duty officer in charge at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s rescue centre at Flitterby.” Okay. So we’re an officer in charge. “The Flitterby lifeboat is currently involved in rescuing some sailors from a drifting yacht in the Irish Sea.” So if we just go across to our map there’s the Irish Sea. There’s RNLI Flitterby. Okay. “It is exactly 10:00 a.m. and the coxswain of the lifeboat has just radioed the following message to you: ‘One of the sailor’s we have taken off from the sinking yacht is desperately ill and must have a blood transfusion as soon as possible. I have just been talking, by radio, to the A&E, Accident and Emergency, staff at Ashby Hospital and they will be standing by to receive him but have pointed out that every minute counts.'”
Let’s just go across to our map. We can see there that that’s where you are, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute at Flitterby, and there’s the hospital. You can see a number of different routes on the map that you should have in front of you and these will become apparent in a second but basically, obviously, they’re out in the Irish Sea. They’re going to get to the RNLI there and then it will probably be your task to get to the hospital in the quickest time possible. So that’s the information that we’ve got to. “Make sure the RNLI’s ambulance, a specially adapted estate car, is ready to take him to the hospital as soon as we arrive at the jetty.” So that’s what you must do. “I cannot give you an exact time of arrival but it will not be before 10:20 hours” – I’m going to highlight that because that’s important-“and it will not be later than 10:45 hours.”
So already we’ve got a couple of pieces of information that are relevant. I’m not saying that the previous information is irrelevant, but in terms of us being able to tackle this exercise, that information there is crucial. “Once we are tied up, it will take us five minutes to get him from the boat into the ambulance.” That is also important. You’ll see there that I’m highlighting information that is based around time. I’ll also highlight other factors which are important to helping us to tackle this situation. Now, “It will be up to you to get him from the jetty to the A&E department with the utmost urgency.” Okay. So that’s basically our aim, to get him from the jetty to the A&E department so that’s what we must do. I’m going to highlight that part there in green.
“You study the map and recollect that there are three ways to get to the hospital, each with advantages and disadvantages.” So let’s now take a look at them. “The route via the gate bridge is subject to delays as the crossings are controlled and the bridge is only open three times per hour.” Okay, so “three times per hour for 12 minutes. The bridge is open at 10 minutes past, 30 minutes past and 10 minutes to the hour. The journey across the gate bridge will take you 10 minutes and the B120 is twisty and a maximum average speed could be no greater than 40 miles an hour.”
So let’s go across to our map. So we see there that the B120 is a total of 80 miles and there’s the gate bridge from that point to that point and then on the other side is a total of 40 miles. So we need to travel 80 miles to get to the gate bridge and then 40 miles once on the other side. Okay. Let’s recap. The route via the gate bridge can be subject to delays because the crossings are controlled and the bridge is only open three times per hour for 12 minutes. Let’s click that. Okay. The bridge is only open three times per hour for 12 minutes. The bridge is open at 10 minutes past, 30 minutes past and 10 minutes to the hour. The journey across the gate bridge will take you 10 minutes. So that’s important. Also, along the B120 is twisty and a maximum average speed could be no greater than the 40 miles an hour. So that information is crucial too so we know the bridge is only open three times an hour for 12 minutes. The bridge is open at 10 minutes past, 30 minutes past and 10 minutes to the hour so that information is going to help us to tackle this scenario.
Okay. “The route through the centre of Ashby on the A424 is further, but although it should be possible to average 40 miles an hour out of town, once inside the central congestion zone, heavy traffic and narrow streets means no more than 5 miles an hour can be averaged for the 10 miles through the walled part of the town.” So let’s have a look at the map. This part here, the A424 is what it’s referring, to and you can see from the A11 junction to the edge of the congestion zone is 90 miles. Then, once inside the congestion zone, and it says here “central congestion zone, the entire shaded area is 10 miles in total.”
If you recap, how fast can we travel once inside 10 miles, the congestion area, just 5 miles per hour? Once we’re outside, to the hospital is an area of 70 miles that we need to travel. So that’s out first route, which is the B120 and our second route, the A424 which incorporates the congestion zone is all the way around there. So 90 miles plus 70 is 160 outside and then 10 miles inside we have to reduce the speed to 5 miles an hour. So we can see there that outside of the congestion zone we can travel at 40 miles an hour, but once inside we can’t travel any more than 5 miles an hour. So that information is crucial to us.
The final route, “The new A11 bypass is dual carriageway and passes the hospital, but although the longest route, you will be able to travel at an average of 70 miles an hour,” so that’s a lot faster. “It is possible to reach the A11 from Flitterby in 10 minutes.” Now that information there, even though it forms part of the third route that is crucial to all the other elements. It is possible to reach the A11 from Flitterby in 10 minutes. Now there’s an important tip there that when you’re actually reading the scenario, some of the information can come towards the end of the scenario that’s relevant to information at the beginning. So let’s go to the map.
So basically it’s saying from the RNLI Flitterby to the A11 junction, and there it says there the road to A11 junction, it takes 10 minutes. Now, the important part of that information is that you can see from that A11 junction we can access all three routes, both the B120, the A424 and the A11 bypass and that’s going to help us tackle this situation. Okay. So we now understand the three different routes. “You warn the duty driver to stand-by. Unfortunately, you cannot alert the local police on the telephone to make any special arrangements, so there is no way of interrupting the steady but reliable timetable of the gate bridge. The duty officer at nearby RAF Valley tells you the Search and Rescue helicopter is unavailable as it’s on a mission rescuing someone from an oil rig miles out at sea.” Okay. “Your aim is to transport the sailor to the hospital in the quickest time possible.”
So just to recap, there’s our map and you hopefully got that in front of you. You’re there at present. The sailor’s out in sea. He’s going to be coming in at a certain time. We’re not sure, but we’ve been given times of the earliest time possible and also the latest time possible. The distance from RNLI to the A11 junction is 10 minutes, and then you’ve got the three different route options: route 1, which is the B120 which incorporates the gate bridge which obviously gives us problems with the gates being open at certain times past the hour; the second route, which is the A424, which is longer. You can travel faster speeds but the problem is the congestion zone, which is 10 miles but you can only travel at 5 miles an hour. Then, finally, the longer A11 bypass, which is obviously longer and is 280 miles but there are no restrictions.
So let’s take a look at the questions. Question number 1: “How long in minutes will it take you to get from RNLI Flitterby to the A11 junction?” They’ve already told us that because we’ve remembered the information. How long’s it take to get from there to the A11 junction and the answer is 10 minutes. So there’s the answer on the sheet. We know that because the information is provided there. It is possible to reach the A11 from Flitterby in 10 minutes. That is a simple question. Okay. Question 2, which is slightly harder: “Based on the sailor arriving at Flitterby at the earliest time possible, what time will he reach the hospital if you choose route 1?” So let’s just go up here. The key part to that is “the earliest time possible.” Now if we go up to our information, we know that the earliest time possible is 10:20, which is highlighted there at the top. We know that the latest time is 10:45 because we’ve highlighted that information, so 10:20. Now it’s asking us about route 1, which is this one. “The route via the gate bridge is subject to delays as the crossings are controlled and the bridge is only opened three times an hour for 12 minutes. The bridge is open at 10 minutes past, 30 minutes past and 10 minutes to the hour and the journey across the bridge takes 10 minutes and we can only achieve a maximum of 40 miles per hour.”
So the question, “Based on sailor arriving at Flitterby at the earliest time,” which is 10:20, “what time will you reach the hospital if you choose route 1?” So let’s now walk through question 2. “Based on the sailor arriving at Flitterby at the earliest time possible, what time will you reach the hospital if you choose route 1?” Okay. The sailor arrives at Flitterby at 10:20. We know that. He arrives at 10:20 hours. We know that it takes 5 minutes to load him onto the ambulance, which brings the time now to 10:25 because obviously 10:20 plus 5 is 10:25. We know that it takes 10 minutes to get to the A11 junction, which now bring the time to 10:35 hours. So we’re now at 10:35 and we’re at the A11 junction there.
Travelling route 1, it is a total of 80 miles to the gate bridge. We know that because of that there. It says 80 miles to the gate bridge. We’re able to travel at a maximum speed of 40 miles an hour because that’s what it tells us. To find out the time it takes to travel this distance, we need to use a calculation. Time equals distance divided by speed. Don’t forget, we know that because of the calculations that we’ve learned. Therefore, time equals distance, which is 80, divided by 40, maximum speed. The answer is therefore two hours. Because of that, we now know that we’ll arrive at the gate bridge at 12:35 hours. So we’ve now travelled from there to there and the time is 12:35 hours.
From the information provided, we know that the gate bridge is open three times an hour for 12 minutes. The bridge is open at 10 minutes past, 30 minutes past and 10 minutes to the hour. Because the bridge is open at 30 minutes past the hour, the bridge is already open when we arrive at 12:35. It’s been open for 5 minutes; therefore, we are able to cross straight away. The journey across the gate bridge takes us 10 minutes because we know that information, which means that we’ll arrive on the other side at 12:45. So we are now there on the other side at 12:45. We now have to make the final journey along the B120 towards the hospital. The distance is 40 miles so we know that because, there, 40 miles and we can travel at a maximum speed of 40 miles an hour. In order to calculate the time we need to use the following calculation: time equals distance over speed, the same one. Distance is 40 divided by the speed of 40 and the answer is 1 hour. Therefore, we arrive at the hospital at 13:45 hours. Okay? So that should be clear. From there to there we know the exact time that it will take us. So that’s an explanation there to question two which you can go through at your own time.
Okay. Question number 3: “Based on the sailor arriving at Flitterby at the latest time possible” – we must highlight that there-“what time will you reach the hospital if you choose route 3?” Now we know route 3 is the A11 bypass. There are no restrictions there so we should be able to get there without many problems. So let’s go back up to route 3. “The new A11 bypass is a dual carriageway and passes the hospital, but although the longest route, will allow averages of 70 miles an hour to be achieved. It is possible to reach the A11 from Flitterby in 10 minutes,” which we already know. So basically we’re there at a certain time. Don’t forget that the sailor’s arriving at the latest time possible, which we’ll come on to in a second; and therefore, we’re traveling all the way around there to arrive at the hospital.
So let’s go down on your sheet to question 3. “Based on the sailor arriving at Flitterby at the latest time possible, what time will you reach the hospital if you choose route 3?” Now the sailor arrives at Flitterby at 10:45. We know that that’s the latest time possible. It takes 5 minutes to load him into the ambulance which then brings the time to 10:50 hours. Okay? It takes 10 minutes to get to the A11 junction which brings the time now to 11:00. So we are set there with the sailor all in the car, the ambulance, at 11:00. Traveling along route 3 we know that we can achieve a maximum of 70 miles an hour in order to work out the total time that it will take us to reach the hospital we need to use the following calculation. Again, time equals distance divided by speed. Distance, 280 miles because that’s what it says there, divided by 70, which is the speed, we know it will take us 4 hours. Therefore, you arrive at the hospital at 15:00 hours, okay. Because of the time from 11:00, 4 hours, 15:00 hours and we will have travelled all the way around there and arrived at hospital.
Now you’ll see that those questions are relatively simple, but it will show you the process of using speed, distance, and time. Now, what I’ve done is I’ve provided you with two further questions that I want you to try. Now I’m not going to walk these through with you because at the bottom of the sheet here I’ve provided you here with explanations to question 4 and also question 5, and they are slightly harder than what we’ve gone through so let’s just run through the questions. “Based on the sailor arriving at Flitterby at the latest time possible, what time will you reach the hospital if you choose route 1?” Now we’ve already gone through this for the earliest time possible. You’re going to go through it for the latest time.
Question 5, “Based on the sailor arriving at Flitterby at the earliest time possible, what time will you reach the hospital if you choose route 2?” Now route 2 we haven’t done at all so this is for you to go through. Route 2 is on the A424 and it incorporates the congestion zone, so that’s slightly harder. So make sure that you go through the questions and the responses that I’ve provided you with there and the explanations and answers. Obviously, try it without looking at the sheet. Go through the calculations. So that’s basically walking through a sample scenario. Let me just come back to the presentation. So don’t forget the tips that I’ve provided you with. Be competent in the use of speed, distance and time. Remember the website that I’ve just shown you. Go on there. I’ve only shown you calculations for working out the time. In the planning exercise, documents that are available on the website how2become.com, it will encourage you to use different calculations. You must become competent in all three of these calculations. Don’t forget, answer speed, distance, and time questions both in written format and during intense questioning.
Once you’ve finished the planning exercise and you’ve written down all of your calculations and that’s what you must do is work out the calculations, you’ll go through a period of intense questioning. You must make sure that you remain calm. When the officer is firing questions at you, make sure you are calm. Never flap. Don’t show any signs of crumbling under pressure. They are asking you intense questions to see how you cope with it. Another tip is if you do not know the answer then just say so. Don’t try to waffle. Don’t argue with the officer. They’re looking to see if you can cope under pressure. Make sure you read the information quickly and accurately and try lots of sample planning exercises. You’ll see there that out of all of that information on that scenario, I’ve only highlighted certain parts of it. Some of it, I believe, is irrelevant. Okay, so you’re the duty officer in charge at the RNLI rescue centre in Flitterby. What does that matter? It’s irrelevant. Only dissect information that is really relevant to the scenario and that will help you to deal with it a lot faster. Finally, make sure you’re competent in use of speed, distance, and time and don’t forget the triangle I’ve provided you with there. So make sure you try lots of planning exercises and thank you very much for watching.
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