Officer Educational Requirements

I am here hopeful that somebody can explain the Educational Requirements for office entry to the rnr better than my local AFCO, or at least help me to understand..

I have applied to join the RNR as an officer, and on Monday I sat the RT which by all accounts I smashed.. However today I had a phone call from the AFCO, saying that there was issues with my educational standing namely I only have a D in GCSE English language, all other components are C. And I have far more than 5 GCSEs above C including maths and science. Now on its own I could accept that, however I have a BTEC national diploma in engineering which the they say doesn't give my enough UCAS points.. Well this was passed in the late 90s and predates UCAS points so there is no way to align it to the modern lower standard (mine equates according to ucas to 3 a levels) and that asside it was enough to get me entry to university to obtain a very good honours degree in engineering. There was even mention of me going back and resitting an English GCSE, well at 36 with a degree behind me I really don't see any need for that expense.

I would appreciate a little bit of advice from others maybe in the AFCO service as to am I being penalised for being and old sod, and having sat my qualifications all those years ago,
Or am I being given slight mis information, I'd like to to go back to you AFCO a little bit more informed hence my post.



War Hero
The academic requirement for entry as an Officer, regardless of higher educational qualifications, is 5 GCSEs, which must include maths & English, passed at Grade C or better.

The UCAS points must be derived from A Levels at grade D or better or an accepted BTEC Level 3, dual or treble award, passed at Distinction & merit (or better) for dual awards or triple merit (or better) for triple awards. Single award BTECs are not accepted, nor are Higher Education access courses or Degrees. HNC or ONC can sometimes be accepted in lieu of a UCAS shortfall.

Not that I imagine it helps, but until recently, all RNR entrants without vocational qualifications, joined initially as ratings. In addition, those joining as ratings may apply for Officer without the A Level requirement - as long as they meet the GCSE requirement & have completed training as a rating.

As an aside, if I have a degree, with my BTEC Level 4 and 34 years service would not be qualified to apply as an Officer either, despite scoring 115/120 in the recruit test when I initially joined.

Hope that helps clarify. Good luck.
Many thanks Ninja, may I ask when you obtained your BTEC level 4?

I think I understand the requirements with respect to the BTEC as you describe, however from the UCAS website mine predates the single, dual and triple award types, which is where I am struggling. It seems all guidance uses the diplomas awarded since 2003 which is where they were allocated UCAS points. All diplomas before that just seem to be non existent in any form, which makes sense as it is a qualification that predates the UCAS points system.

Though I feel it's all fairly irrelevant, as I really have no realistic prospect or desire and to be honest the time to improve my GCSEs to obtain a Copy in English at my time in life, as it will serve no real purpose beyond the RNR, which for all the very best intentions is only a part time commitment.


War Hero
The level 4 was in 2006, I got a Level 3 mid 90's.

You can take a copy of all certificates to your AFCO and ask them to forward them to AIB for verification of academic eligibility but I suspect the response from AIB will be the same unless you are a qualified Doctor, Padre, Nurse or Master Mariner. I honestly don't know why the service equates academics with leadership and management experience or potential, regardless of age & later-life academic attainment, but am afraid they hold everyone to account for their achievements attained (for most), under the age of 18.


Book Reviewer
I honestly don't know why the service equates academics with leadership and management experience or potential, regardless of age & later-life academic attainment,
NJ I don't think that is the case. The academic grades are firstly a filter and also show baseline academic ability. The AIB assesses leadership ability/potential but to get there they have to set some metrics by which to filter.

Right/wrong/out dated....?
I think just as a matter of course, since the AFCO already have copies of my certificates, hence my being in this position now, I'll ask for them to be reviewed. As you say Ninja it will possibly result in the same outcome, but it might not so worth a go if nothing else.

Yes it does seem a bit strange, that joining the RNR as an officer, from an academic point of view seems almost impossible, purely down to the fact that I completed all of my education, to a high level almost 20 years ago. So my qualifications cannot be measured against the new standards.

Wave dodger that was very much my understanding of the AIB, and agree there has to be some form of filter to get you there, though in this case it very much seems as though the filter is geared towards young 20 year old joining the navy, and not old sods like me joining the RNR.

But at the end of the day someone at sometime has to make a call and three will be cases like this I suppose that just fall foul of this..

I'll give it a go and see where I can get, at the end of the day it's not a bar on entry just a forced change of direction, and it's worth exploring everything I can.
just on a point of order, it doesn't pre-date the UCAS points system, it predates diplomas being allocated UCAS points. I did my A Levels in the 1990s, and there were UCAS points in full swing then - albeit allocated differently (10 for an A, 8 for a B, etc).


War Hero
Book Reviewer
NJ I don't think that is the case. The academic grades are firstly a filter and also show baseline academic ability. The AIB assesses leadership ability/potential but to get there they have to set some metrics by which to filter.

Right/wrong/out dated....?
Tweaked that for you - no charge...

Wave Dodger is quite right. These things are set as filters. As an educator I've come across this many times across the years, like my room mate at Teacher Training College with an MA in Philosophy and D at O Level English, who therefore was not allowed to teach in the state sector, until he got a C. A few years back, when I was doing Maths A level at a local college, I used to sit in on the GCSE class and help the tutor out in return for a little bit of tuition myself. There were many people in the same situation, like the Nurse I sat with who was trying to bump up a D to a C so she could become a Nurse then Nurse Tutor. Remember, this is someone who might be using the Maths for a serious clinical application. Remember, a lot of the time, its not Maths that's important. Maths is Differential Calculus, what most people need and struggle on is Application of Number.

This whole argument demonstrates the fundamental difference between Education and Training...

Free Maths and English tuition is available at Naval Bases, why not join the RNR as a rating and see how you get on?

As Ninje points out, we are not looking for academics, rather leaders of men......
I stand corrected KS, yes the points system was very different then, though I'm still in the same position, I have a perfectly valid qualification that in its day was as equivalent to 3 good grade A levels respected by the system in place at that time, now the system has changed, it seems I have a qualification that holds no standing, and the higher qualification I have holds even less standing.. I just find it rather strange.

On a slight different subject, does anyone know the difference in an IGCSE AND GCSE, other than I'm assuming one is online and the other not. I ask as I think an online course may be the way to improve my English, if I can somehow resolve the BTEC issue which is irrelevant at the moment it seems as I'd still have to sort out a GCSE at C in English.
IGCSEs are the international equivalent of the GCSE and were generally sat abroad in schools that used English as a teaching medium as an alternative to the lower level of the IB. More recently they've become more common in some English private schools as some consider them more rigorous, the exam set up is like O-levels rather than the more modular GCSE, though that has changed with current educational reform. They don't count in (most) league tables hence the state school avoidance.

As for arbitrary educational requirements, they have to put them somewhere. The argument being yes you'll miss out on some good people, but having a manageable number of people to filter more thoroughly is also important. That said of the maths not the English, I've seen baby warfare officers really struggle with some of the basic maths, so it might have some logic
Yes, IGCSEs are basically O-Levels (not online) - they're harder, more "traditional" etc. My old school isn't in league tables anymore as it took the view (well after my time) that GCSEs and A Levels had got a bit "Noddy does some exams" so moved entirely to IGCSE followed by the IBac.
For some reason, I thought that you were 'older'.

year or two younger than Alfred, roughly contemporary with Jim30, actually at Dartmouth when Silverfox was on the staff if he's who I've always thought he is....

I guess it's just my devil-may-care temperament and louche good looks (somewhat reminiscent of Lesley Phillips' and David Niven's test tube progeny)


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Don't get hung up as to whether IGCSEs are ''harder" than GCSEs. Yes many Public Schools do them as opposed to the State Sector. They are not counted in the Stats that the government compiles on schools, correct, and allow schools to offer broader curricula.

The main difference that should concern you is that there is no continuously assessed coursework on an IGCSE course and they are exam only.

Therefore it is the IGCSE that will be taken in any given Naval Learning Centre. Hence a good chance for someone to pick up the requisite Quals for promotion, CW or other officer entry. And hence any online version you come across will fit the bill.

You would, of course, as a rating, be entitled to £175 Learning Credit, per annum.

Get on with it................
Well thankyou very much, guys this has been a very informative thread. Having spoken with various people and all the advice here, it's evident, whilst not really logical that my BTEC is not going to get me that far, but is irrelevant given my English GCSE anyway.

So it seems it's join as a rating, back to school for me (well online school anyway), and see if I can get recommendation for an officer, at which point my UCAS points become irrelevant.

Thanks for the good advice too Trainer, and others with regards the IGCSE. And your parting advice Trainer, very sound. That's just what I intend to do.

Billy Q

But GCE's were below the standard required for School Certificate.
Six subjects had to be passed in one fell swoop. They had to include English Mathematics and Science or a Foreign Language. Fail one and you failed the lot.
The navy thought these a trifle difficult for her UY Commissioned Warrant Officers or SD Sub Lts permitting a pass in the HET examination to qualify. The HET consisted of English Maths and General Knowledge at a fairly low level.

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