*Warning* I did fail, so don't do as I do! The real highlight of AIB was the other guys. All of them were great, and I glad I got to meet them, even if I can only remember 2 of their names. The worst bit? Failing, but apart from that, probably my own nerves. The worst actual event is the planning exercise. My key bit of advice is to be loud. Very loud, and say lots and lots. I wasn't, and that's the main reason I failed. There was supposed to be 3 boards, but 5 people didn't turn up, so they moved the one guy in board 2 to join the two in board 1. Board 3 (mine) was full. I suppose that's a good bit of advice; if you want to pass AIB, turn up. Interestingly, there were no girls in our group, and only 1 in the next day’s 2 full boards Day 1 Only the essay counts, and even that doesn't count for much. The rest is all practice. Arrival Make sure you have your passport, invitation letter and photograph ready. I looked like a right prat at reception because I had to dive through my suitcase to get the photo out. Don't look like a prat. After that, there was some waiting until lunch. The food was a bit too fancy for my liking, but it's all right. Essay We changed into overalls, then went straight to a room to write an essay. Nothing you can really prepare for - 6 questions, and 3 were defence related. The others were along the lines of the OCR GCSE English language paper; look at questions 4 and 5 on it to get a feel for the style of it (not sure if I can actually say what the questions were). PLT practice This is okay. I was still too nervous to find it fun, but swinging across water on ropes is never a bad thing. Just make sure to pay attention to all the techniques you’re taught here, and remember things like hands go on shoulders when 2 people are securing planks (at least for my board it was on shoulders), and when securing a spar, you can't show any nails - fingers and thumbs must be fully tucked in. Planning exercise practitice You get far less time to think about the problem, only 7.5 minutes to look at the scenario and then 7.5 minutes to come up with a solution to a problem that has now been introduced, but it's for a reason - this exercise is far easier than the one you'll do tomorrow. This was all in silence, and at the end, you’re given three answers. All of us had chosen the exact same plan of action as answer c described, so I guess that shows how easy this is. Rest of the day We had an hour and a bit free time in the rec rokm before tea, then a couple hours afterwards. We spent some of this time practicing PLT techniques and some going over planning exercises from the books that they have there. There's also the latest copy of Navy News. Tea was fancy as well (maybe I’m just a really simple person, though) but I managed to eat enough. We then chilled in the rec room for a while, just talking or playing pool, until we went up to bed. I then showered on the night, because there was no one else about and so no rush to try to get done or push in front of others. Beware; you have no room. Also, the doors are glass and so the layout is rather public - just sling your towel over the door frame if it bothers you. For those who are over 18, you can leave Sultan after planning exercise practice and have tea at the pub (you will have to pay for that, of course), as long as you return by 11. Day 2 This day we more relaxed, I found; although this is the busy day where everything counts, I had settled in a bet more. The marine seargant woke us up at 6:15 with some music, then we rushed into suits for breakfast. Don't get too much for breakfast if you know you're not going to eat it; I had a bowl of coco pops and then realised I wasn't hungry, so my eggs and toast went to waste. Lunch is ordered now as well. PLT I found this quite enjoyable. Still too nervous at the beginning, but it didn't affect me in the end. We had 15 minutes to plan a fairly straightforward situation, then we left our plans behind to go do a leaderless task which there was no plan for. Try to take control from the beginning. Make sure to speak up here, and say “well done team!” for absolutely everything. But be loud; it’s an echoey hangar, and the officers need to hear you easily to be able to award you marks. Refer to everybody by “candidate number #” throughout, it helps the officers give marks too - and everybody getting more marks is a good thing. After that, our planned PLTs began. I was candidate 1, so I went first - which was really good, as after my PLT I relaxed and had fun in all the others. You get your plan back, then have 30 seconds to attempt to memorise it, if you haven't already. From the card you read out the equipment check and then the mission statement, then it's taken away from you. My brief was apparently really good - I managed to be loud enough and because I split it into phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 it seems more military (or so my ACLO told me). The other guys on the board were impressed, at least. Then we got into action. I was still issuing commands, but no support or motivation - my downfall. At one point, I had all of us standing on a little platform on the water. This platform wasn't big enough for the four of us, so we all took a dive. That actually relaxed us all again, as now there was no pressure to stay dry. All the staff were laughing too, so it was a good thing. Obviously I planned to do exactly that. All to my design. Anyway, we successfully completed my PLT, then I stopped being nervous after it - and the rest was fun. We completed one more PLT out of the 3 remaining, but the others were quite close to being done. Planning exercise This was horrible. 15 minutes silence looking at a situation, then you’re moved to a room with the officers who are assesing you and the same one who appears in the AIB video that the navy put on YouTube. She gives you the problem (which you don't get in writing) then you get 15 minutes to discuss with your board to come up with a solution. I was told I didn't speak enough here, and that's possibly because I had no bloody clue what to do. At the end, we hardly had a plan. One guy presented it, then the questionning began. I didn't think it was that bad. After that, we had 2 minutes in silence to make a plan (whether we used the same one as before or changed it) and then two minutes, one at a time, to present to the officer. My plan wasn't very good, because the first question I was asked was basically “how about you do something entirely different instead?”. Interview After that, I had my interview. People say it's relaxed, but I disagree. The officer on the right in particular had a sort of blank expression throughout, but when he started asking questions, he had a sort of bemused “why on earth would you answer with that?” face. As for navy knowledge, the only thing I was asked was where the navy is in the world - they didn't even care about which ships in particular. The only question that caught me out was “if your family and friends were to describe you in 3 words, what would they be?” I gave 2 words then couldn't think of a third. Throughout the interview, I didn't come across as confident and as a naturally quiet person, I really wasn't doing myself any favours here, which is another reason I failed. My examples were fairly weak too - but as a young’un, I don't think I was expected to have great examples anyway. Tests Lunch was brought to the rec room, so I scoffed it down then. From when my interview started, the next sessions were split into approximately 1 hour chunks. 1 person would do an interview, the other 3 would do a psychometric test. When they finished the test, they returned to the rec room and waited for the next activity. The tests themselves were fairly simple - though at the last few questions, the maths requires too much thinking and the abstract test… all the shapes were the same. No idea what the answer might have been, so I guessed. It seems it paid off because the RM seargant said I got one of the highest psychometric test scores he’d seen in months. Running This was the easiest part, as you’ve already passed it if you're at the AIB. As long as your time is below 11:09 (for the youngest age group) it doesn't matter what it is. The PTI was quite nice, until one guy started walking on the final lap. PTI mode activated, and the shouting started - but he didn't go full ballistic, so the guy got off easy. He passed with 1 second to spare. My advice here; pass with more than 1 second to pass. I was the fastest in my group at 9:57, but no where near the AIB record of 7:23. Results I was already prepared to fail, so I didn't have much of a reaction when the officer said “you put in a lot of effort, but unfortunately you didn't quite make the mark”. At least he was the one who didn't have the bemused expression. We were all waiting in the waiting room beforehand, then called up one by one to get results. After getting them, I talked to the seargant then started packing up. Once the other guys had also came up to pack up, I asked them - they all passed. In fact, I was the only person to not pass from both boards. Oops. My advice I won't get the full report back for a couple of weeks, so I don't know exactly what I did wrong,but the officer said it was mostly because I wasn't loud enough in both the PLT and planning exercise. What I did say was really good, he said, it just wasn't often enough or loud enough. He also said I didn't come across as confident enough in the interview, and thst I didn't say enough in it - they weren't able to get the detail they needed. So to pass, be loud and say lots of stuff. Whatever seems relevant. Things like “good job candidate number #” and “well done team!”.