RAF Aptitude Test - Practice for the Selection Test

Royal Air Force candidates for Aerospace Battle Manager, Air Traffic Controller, Air Traffic Control Officer, Weapons Systems Operator, and the RAF Regiment – all are asked to sit the Airmen Selection Test, commonly abbreviated as AST. The AST, which includes seven aptitude tests, is administered at a local Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO).Your results in this test will determinethe preferences and positions you will be offered in the RAF.

As with every test, adequate preparation is essential for your success. However, it is perhaps more so with the RAF aptitude test, as it may not only be your ticket into the Royal Air Force, but it will also determine your eligibility for specific positions within the organisation based on your score. Therefore, it is paramount to practise effectively, focusing on your desired position and making sure to hone the skills in the sections most relevant to it.

Our AST preparation PrepPack™ contains clear and comprehensive explanations to enhance your understanding, and has recently undergone an extensive update to faithfully reflect the changes that have occurred in the real test.

It is worth to mention that the AST is not the only aptitude test candidates might take as part of the recruitment process. Some applicants, including Officers, Non-Commissioned Aircrew, and Non-Commissioned Air Traffic Controllers candidates, also have to attend a series of aptitude tests at the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) at RAF Cranwell.

Familiarise Yourself with the Test Content

The Airmen Selection Test is comprised of seven sections, containing 148 question items in total. Each section focuses on a different set of skills and is timed strictly.

  • Verbal Reasoning – This section includes 20 questions that must be answered in 15 minutes. You are presented with short passages containing many details. You must read each passage and then answer questions related to it. While most questions are not too difficult, they do require attention to detail and the ability to sift through text and filter relevant data. Moreover, the short time frame adds to the pressure. 
  • Numerical Skills – This section contains two sub-sections: basic arithmetic and data interpretation. You are given four minutes to answer the first section. It consists of 12 questions that require the four basic operations, decimals, and fractions. You have 11 minutes to answer the 15 questions in the second section. These rely on graphs and tables. The second section is the more difficult of the two as it requires critical reasoning skills. 
  • Work Rate – Here there is a table with codes that consist of letters, numbers and shapes You must find alternative codes for a given sequence according to the table.This section lasts 4minutes and contains 20 questions. 
  • Spatial Reasoning – This section is comprised of two parts. Part one is four minutes long and contains 10 questions that measure your 2D orientation skills. Shapes are broken into pieces, and you are asked to reconstruct them. The second part measures your 3D orientation skills. You have three minutes to answer 10 questions in which three-dimensional shapes are depicted from different views. You must choose the set of shapes that changes only the perspective and not the nature or type of shapes. 

Sample Question:

The letters near the side of each shape point out where exactly should the different shapes be joined together. Which of the following options shows the correct joint shape?


RAF Spatial Reasoning Sample Question


The correct answer is (C)

According to the question, the sides marked with letters are the "joint sides" of the different shapes. Therefore, these sides will not appear in the newly formed shape (made of all three shapes) since they function as connecting sides and not as borders of the newly formed shape and hence, cannot visually be seen.

It is strongly recommended to draw the gathering process of the three shapes as their marked sides are being brought together:

raf sample answer

Now, look at your options and choose the one whose borders are obtained by joining the three shapes together via their marked sides. The only shape that fits is the one in option (C).

  • Electrical Comprehension – This section represents basic electrical concepts that are part of GCSE-level physics. You have 11 minutes to answer 21 questions. 
  • Mechanical Reasoning – This section is also based on GCSE-level physics, focusing on mechanical principles, such as forces and motion, energy, levers, pulleys or screws, and more. You have 10 minutes to answer 20 questions. 

Sample Question

Which kayak rider needs to put in more effort?

raf mecahnical sample question


The correct answer is (A).

In this question we are required to determine which paddler is forced to use more effort into the paddling.
First, we must distinguish the differences between the paddlers: Paddler A is using a longer paddle than paddler B. Given a longer paddle, a larger part of its surface will be in contact with water. Water’s resistance will thus apply a stronger moment; therefore, rowing with a larger paddle requires more effort.

  • Memory – This section is comprised of two parts. Part one contains 10 questions. You are presented with letter sequences and have one minute to memorise each sequence. You are then asked questions about the order of letters within the sequence. Part two consists of 10 questions that test your ability to remember patterns. You are shown a sequence of grids. Within each grid there are a number of coloured squares. These grids appear one after the other, and you can only see one grid at a time. You are then asked to decide which grid is a proper combination of the set of grids displayed in the sequence.

Practising for the the RAF Aptitude Test is Your Key for Success

All of the aforementioned sections can and should be practised for prior to sitting the real test. That is not to say that a three-month prep course should be taken but, rather, that limited, concise practice of concepts can help improve your test's score. The main advantages such practice will give you are:

  • Knowledge – Some areas of the test – especially numerical, verbal and physical concepts – rely heavily on knowledge, the kind of knowledge some people tend to forget over time.  This could be knowing how to multiply decimals, being familiar withthe meaning of certain unpopular words in the English vocabulary, or understanding the principle laws of motion and gravity.
  • Response times – The act of practice is rewarding. At first, everything seems complicated and time consuming. With even little practice, these feelings start to change as performance improves. Even the memory and work rate sections are worth rehearsing, as they represent cognitive elements that are now known to be affected by training. For example, the memory section is popularly given to older people to help increase their memory abilities.
  • Confidence – Pre-exposure to the content of tests removes uncertainty. This is key for test success. 

Prepare with JobTestPrep to Land the Job You Deserve

The AST is designed to test a range of skills, some of which you may possess more than others. The AST is taken early in the application process, so preparation for each aptitude test is essential in order to move on to the later stages. JobTestPrep's comprehensive practice PrepPack™ includes all the tools you need to equip yourself for the challenge. As the package consists of a rigorous simulation which reflects the precise length, difficulty level and time limit of the ATS itself, you will be thoroughly prepared and substantially more confident when you face the real thing on your way to get the position you desire!


Read more about:
RAF Recruitment FAQ
Military Aptitude Test
ADF Aptitude Test

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