From picking up the phone to Britannia - A guide to Officer Selection

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Hello all,
having had a quick scan of these threads there're clearly more than enough people helping and advising people on how to pass the AIB. However, Shameless Blog-Plug: if you want to subscribe to my blog which is all about my journey through the RN over the last 3 years including the AIB, Dartmouth, my time working at an armed forces career office, as well as general posts about living on a warship and travelling abroad on deployment, feel free to subscribe here.
it has only just started so subscribe to get notifications when I put up new posts about deployments in the southatlantic and the Gulf. Enjoy!


I was considering writing a similar post myself but having found this (which by the way is an excellent post) I will just add my own experiences where they differ or I politely disagree with ‘Freedom Tea’ or that may have changed since this was posted.

Basic Info:
Started Applying September 2013
Going for Warfare (Submariner)
Completed AIB June 2014. (My board president told me to be ‘very very confident’ of a place in September)

Just Completed lantern test and security clearance, know impatiently waiting for a letter with a BRNC start date.
Recruit Test
Make sure you fill out the booklet, I thought the tests in the booklet were of a similar standard to those in the real test. The booklet will show you what your weak areas are make sure you address them. Personally the only area I had any difficulty with was mechanical comprehension so I bought a book of Amazon and practiced, passed with Flying Colours.

Eye Test
I think the Navy know has an agreement with Boots, I was sent a form which was essentially an invoice all I had to do was book an appointment at a Boots opticians and hand the form in to them.

They seem to run a series of Medicals once a month so if you can’t make the date your given then you have to wait another month before you can attend a medical.

Fitness Test
All I have to add is that everybody runs a quicker time on a treadmill then at AIB (or any other outdoor circuit for that matter) so don’t lull yourself into a false sense of security.

Mine was very similar, Spanish inquisitor one minute best friend once you have passed.
Brush up on your Naval Knowledge beforehand and general interview technique is the only advice I can offer.

Pre AIB Brief
Mine was one on one, take a pen and paper and note down everything he says then go home and act on his advice.

Potential Officer Courses (POC’s)
I was fortunate to be able to attend two POC’s.
The first my AFCO asked me if I wanted to attend. It was a 2 day warfare officer’s course at Collingwood, it was truly invaluable experience, it hugely enhanced my Naval knowledge and also reassured me that I was choosing the right role. They arranged for us to have drinks with some young officers and then we met more Officers later who were all happy to give advice and generally spin dits (Captains included). There was a bit of death by power point but all the information was interesting and we got to go on a type 23 and have a go on their simulator.

The second POC I went on was Submarine specific which I had to ask my AFCO to try and arrange (which he was more than happy to do). Similar experience of power points, drinking with serving officers (once again all hugely helpful and enthusiastic) and a tour of a T-boat.

There is a tonne written about this in this post and in all the other forums so I will keep this section short.

Take spare shirts you will sweat a lot
Prepare for the planning exercise thoroughly; This is the first proper look that the board gets of you so make it a good one. Practice lots of speed, distance, time questions especially without the aid of pen and paper. Download practice planning exercises and practice reading through and taking down key bits of information and separating it into relevant categories (Timings, distances, group members, equipment etc.) they test you on the little facts in the narrative (team members names, the name of your boat etc) as much as they do on timings. Of my group the two of us who dominated this exercised ultimately passed and the two who weren’t very good at it failed despite what I thought were good performances in the leadership tasks. I personally think this is the most crucial element of AIB.

It’s important to get on with your team but don’t be intimidated by them or worry too much about politeness, my group had two big characters in it but once things got serious in day 3 I took charge in the planning exercise and leaderless task, where as in any other situation I would have probably of sat back and let the two most domineering take charge. Remember you only get one shot (at least for 12 months) and you may well never see these people so politeness goes out of the window (but obviously don’t be a dick).

Lantern test
Mine took no more than two minutes. Don’t worry about it, if you are colour blind then you already know (in which case worry). Was a bit annoyed to have to make a six hour round trip, but what can you do.

The whole process for me took 10 months, It could have been quicker but I delayed my medical due to a holiday and then asked for a later AIB date due to exams. I didn’t meet anyone who had taken longer than 12 months other than by personal choice. The process is bureaucratic and can be very frustrating as you are just given dates to be in place with little or no consultation, which for me was not such a big issue being a university student, but could imagine it would have been an issue had I been working full time.


Very informative post, a great help to those currently in the application process such as my self. I am Currently applying as a warfare officer. I have passed my medical and fitness, just awaiting a date for my SIFT interview at my AFCO. Im currently preparing a fact file of all things navy related as revision, although I am unsure how much emphasis is required regarding naval history. Is a brief over view of dates etc all that is required or do you need some depth? Does this also apply for the AIB test too?


War Hero
Obviously don't get complacent about it however I was asked no questions about Naval History at my SIFT back at the end of April.


Thanks for the replies, they are very helpful! I have subscribed to navy news already, it's very informative. With regards to history, I'm going to go over it knowing major events, dates etc. Been told provisionally that my SIFT will take place in September as the officer doing it is on leave in august. Gives me loads of time to prepare. I've also been offered a place on an aquatint course in November for warfare officers at HMS Collingwood. Really looking forward to that as I've been told it's a good insight into the training pipeline post BRNC.


Hi everyone,

One thing I've noticed there is very little on on RR is what you should be doing in the run up to AIB to prepare for it- both in the long run and in the immediate days before. I know revise your service knowledge and work on your fitness, but is there anything else you'd recommend doing to prepare. What about the few days before you go down? Should you be spending those at home really focussing on practice and preparation or should you carry on with life as there's not much you can really do in those last few days before hand?


Hi guys, first post here. Really interesting reading all this and seeing how little has changed from 1989, so here's my dit. I went down for the AIB as an LMA in the RNR, with about six years' rating service behind me. Two leading Wrens from my division came with me. We'd been CW officer candidates for about a year, getting the coaching in-house which took us away from our branches a lot of the time. Medicals, fitness etc was sorted and as we were all current with our PULHEEMS, that eased things somewhat.

Come the big date and arrival at Sultan, after settling in we hit the pub. We'd been warned about a "plant" sitting with us to see how we behaved and interacted, and there was a PO with us for the evening. I think we all restricted ourselves to a couple of pints, though half of us were smoking like crazy as there was no ban then and we had the full-on nerves!

The gym tests came on the next day and it was pot luck if you got a dry or wet one. Mine was dry, as was my mouth after sitting on a bench with my briefing notes and thinking: "I'm f*cked!" Anyway, we all cracked on in our numbered stokers' overalls, loads of encouragement, delegation and "Good idea, Number 3, we'll go with that!" after I had my team stuck up in the air. Anyway, the objective wasn't achieved!

We had PSO interviews the next day (personnel selection officers, not sure if they still do this) which went really well for me. It was a Wren officer who I think may have been a psychologist or shrink of some kind. She was a great looker and I felt we were getting on fine, talking about life experience, political views, family stuff. It just flowed. I do remember her asking how I'd deal with my former messmates if I passed and came back an officer. I just said: "I'll not let them have a go at me, Ma'am." Truth is I hadn't anticipated the question, obvious as it was!

PLT's came after that; my syndicate had Jungle Fever with the crucial serum to be delivered by boat against a current flow/speed/time/distance variable. Not my strongest subject working that kind of thing out - or even knowing what I should be working out - but we pulled together and spoke when we felt we could contribute.

Next up was the board interview. "Be yourself" and all that other stuff was ringing in my head so I snatched a quick look at the ship picture on the wall on the way in, which was just as well as I was ready to reply: "Rolls Royce Olympus turbines Sir - same as Concorde," when the question came up. I hadn't been to uni at that point so I felt I was up against it, although I'd done certificate courses at night school and being in my mid-20s, had life experience of working since I was 17. Also I was already a trained rate, so it felt to me they probably had a handle on me already. Anyway, I felt it went OK.

On the train home, the two Wrens and I tried to relax but they were quite pessimistic so it was hard not to find it rubbing off. When I was on duty the following Tuesday I was desperate to find out if the results were in. The Cap Sec told me to come in a suit and not my usual No 8s (called 4s now). I asked him if anything was in yet and he said he couldn't tell me. I then asked if I he thought I had anything to worry about and he said: "Oh, I shouldn't think so." Ahah! My final duty as a killick was taking my squad of new entries to safety in a fire drill before being summoned by my divisional officer for congrats. He called me by my first name and took me into the wardroom to meet all the officers, which was quite freaky and nerve-wracking.

It was a surreal time as the Berlin Wall was just coming down but we still faced the "Red Menace" so it was same as usual - at least initially. Being a new acting subby but not being a doctor meant leaving the medical branch and entering NCS (naval control of shipping) but meantime working through the task book. Then it was Options for Change due to the Red Menace having receded, or something. The division closed as did a chapter of my life, but I'm still in uniform, having swapped a stripe for a PO's badge as a Sea Cadet instructor, meaning life has gone full circle as I started out as a cadet aged 12. Gen dit.

Good luck in your careers all. Go safely. Remember, when it stops being fun it's time to swallow the anchor :)


Sorry for bumping a slightly old thread but I was reading through this hoping to get some insight... Ive just passed my medical and arranged my fitness test for a couple of weeks from now which I should pass, but my AFCO recruiter told me after I pass my fitness he can start bidding for me? (Going in as an ET(ME) At the time I didn't know this place existed so didn't question it, but reading this, does he mean he can start bidding for me to have my SIFT interview? Cheers.


This post is so incredibly helpful, thank you!!

I am new to the forum - currently in the process of joining the RN as Warfare Officer and would welcome any helpful comments from people currently serving/joining!

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