AOSB Briefing, Numerical, Verbal and Abstract Awareness Aptitude Tests Preparation

In many ways, the AOSB is like an assessment centre you would attend for more conventional jobs. In other ways, it’s not. Yes, you will sit psychometric tests, participate in group discussions and in-person interviews but, the AOSB selection process includes so much more than that.

The psychometric tests you will face during the AOSB process include those for numerical, verbal, and abstract reasoning, as well as a personality test. These assessments are computer-based and administered under strict time constraints.

Note: Both Briefing and Main Board act as elimination processes for Army Officer hopefuls. If you are unable to prove your skills during your time at Westbury, you may be unable to continue in the process indefinitely. If a military career is the path you have set forth for yourself, you must prepare for both your physical and intellectual assessments several weeks in advance.

Let’s find out more about this process below:


The AOSB Selection Process

The AOSB selection process includes mental and physical assessments. The purpose of this process is to evaluate a variety of traits deemed necessary for military life. These traits include your intelligence, fitness (stamina, agility, upper body strength, etc.), as well as your problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork skills. Here is a general break down of what you can expect during your time at Westbury:


AOSB Briefing Overview

The initial briefing lasts over a 24-hour period and includes the following:

  • Welcome Address
  • Introduction to AOSB – During the introduction, participants will be split into different teams and receive information regarding what to expect while at Briefing and Main Board. It would also help if you also  prepared to talk briefly about yourself – e.g. your hobbies, interests (outside of the military), family, etc.
  • Group Exercise – You and your assigned group will discuss many current event topics chosen by the board. It’s best to be up to date in both UK and worldwide military affairs. Being aware of what’s going on in the world allows you to bring something of substance to the discussion during this exercise.
  • Psychometric Assessments – These tests give the selection board an idea of how you work out complex problems, analyse, and understand data – all of which are essential traits for most military roles. These tests include:
    • Numerical Reasoning
    • Verbal Reasoning
    • Abstract Reasoning
  • Planning Exercise – You are given 15 minutes to read the provided scenario brief. From there, you are tasked with agreeing upon a solution with your group. The purpose of this task is to assess your communication, leadership, and teamwork abilities.
  • Obstacle Course – The obstacle course is made up of many elements, including hurdles and a long jump. You must get through as many obstacles as you can within the time limit.
  • Command/Leaderless Tasks – These tasks will be held outdoors and are used to assess your leadership and teamwork abilities. Each task will either have a clearly defined leader (command) or none at all (leaderless). The point of these tasks is to show initiative and help your fellow group mates at reaching a collective goal.
  • Fitness Tests – The requirements of the AOSB fitness are:
    • Reach 8.7 on a bleep test
    • Throw a 4kg medicine ball 3.1 metres from a seated position
    • Lift 76kg in a mid-thigh pull
  • Interview with Team Leader – In your initial interview you are generally asked about your motivation for wanting to become an army officer, your understanding of what an officer does, and what your plans are if you pass or fail.

Be advised: Your performance during Brieifing will determine whether you can attend Main Board. Your result will be discussed during a brief final interview which will cover the strengths and weaknesses you exhibited. Once this interview is completed, you will find out which category you have fallen into based on your performance. These categories are detailed below.

Category 1

You have been deemed worthy of proceeding to Main Board and may do so as soon as possible.

Category 2

You show promise but must improve on areas not deemed suitible for attending Main Board. You will be given the option to delay attending for 3-24 months in order to improve before returning.

Category 3

The board has deemed you unlikely to pass Main Board due to low performance during briefing. You will still have the option to continue to Main Board if you wish to attend.

Category 4

The board has deemed you unsuitable to continue to Main Board due to a number of factors including the inability to apply your intellect or personality issues. You can try to appeal this decision if you feel that your performance was not representative of your capabilities during your time at briefing.


AOSB Main Board Overview

If you have successfully passed the initial briefing, you will receive an invitation to attend Main Board. Main Board lasts 3 ½ days and consists of many of the activities you participated in while on Brief, albeit, with a few exceptions:

  • Personality Test: This assessment measures your interpersonal skills, i.e. how you interact with others.
  • Essay: Your team leader will present your group with 5 or more topics to write about regarding current events or broader political, social, or economic questions. This part of the assessment centre tests your sentence structure, English level, spelling, neatness, etc. It also tests whether you can offer a set, clear and concise argument.
  • Military Knowledge/Current Affairs Test: Brush up on your knowledge of military equipment, command hierarchy, etc. as well as current events within the UK and the rest of the world.
  • Lecturette: You will prepare to give a 5-minute talk and take questions from the group.
  • Additional Interviews
  • Team Dinner

Remember: You get only (2) attempts to pass the Main Board and a minimum of 8 months must pass between these attempts. As such, preparing for each assessment gives you a better chance of passing the AOSB selection process and moving on to officer training at Sandhurst.

AOSB Psychometric Tests

Proving your intellectual ability is crucial during the Army Officer selection process as it can predict your success while in the military. You can improve your psychometric test scores and reduce stress through practise. Why not give the following sample questions a go before looking at the provided answer explanations? Good luck!

AOSB Numerical Reasoning Test

Number of questions: 36

Types of questions: Tables & graphs, word problems,

Time Limit: 15 minutes

In this section, you are given five answer options to choose from for each question. You may not use a calculator during the test, as mental arithmetic is one of the abilities the assessors are on the lookout for. You must work quickly to ensure that you answer all questions promptly.

Sample Question

Sample question - numerical


  1. 2003
  2. 2004
  3. 2005
  4. 2006
  5. Cannot Say

The answer to this question is 4.

In this question we need to find the year in which the number of men swimmers equals half the total number of swimmers. We can use the data we calculated on question 1. In the year 2006 there were 120 swimmers all together and 60 of them (which is half) were men.
Note: To answer this question one can make an estimation by looking at the numbers. If one group equals half the sum of all the groups, then the sum of the two remaining groups also equals half the sum of the swimmers. We need to find a year in which the men column equals the sum of the other two columns.

Good news! You can significantly improve your mental arithmetic abilities and answering speed using the practise materials in this pack. Not only does it include examples of questions you will face on your actual test, it also includes full answer explanations and study guides to help you learn as you go.

AOSB Verbal Reasoning Test

Number of questions: 40

Types of questions: True, False, Cannot Say

Time Limit: 15 minutes

During this section you will read short passages to read along with four statements related to the text. Your task is to decide if the statement is true, false or if you cannot say based on the information in the text. Careful reading is imperative here, as you need to fully understand the text.

Sample Question

Read the passage to choose the correct answer.

A day of national mourning is a day marked by mourning and memorial activities observed among the majority of a country's populace. Most are designated by that nation's government. Sociologists claim that national mourning is both a symbolic political gesture as well as a meaningful expression of grief. On the one hand, predetermined mourning days reflect and create a national community, united in a feeling of grief. On the other hand, mostly in mourning days instigated by the people, such as on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral, they reflect a spontaneous bout of pure grief manifested in the closing of shops and banks, cancellation of sports, theatre and cinema showings. Although the fervour of the mourning can differ dramatically from one country to another, there is no doubt that a day of collective grief is extremely good for national unity.

Different countries manifest national mourning in different memorial activities.

Cannot Say
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The answer is Cannot Say

Although the passage describes two types of mourning days (predetermined and spontaneous) it does not elaborate on the different ways they are expressed in different countries. Notice that the word "fervour" does not mean activities.


Being able to communicate well verbally, non-verbally and via text is essential for military life.  The purpose of a verbal reasoning test is to assess these vital skills.

AOSB Abstract Reasoning Test

This portion of the test contains 70 questions and is 12 minutes in length. Each question presents two sets of shapes, Set A and Set B. Your first task is to determine how the shapes in each set are related. You are then given five further shapes and must determine if they belong in Set A, Set B or neither.

 Sample Question

Sample question - abstract

The following test shape belongs to:

Sample question - abstract

Set A
Set B
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The answer is Set B

Set A: The number of triangles is always equal to the number of hearts. The rest of the shapes appear randomly; they are a diversion.
Set B: There is always a star and a circle within a circle ("bullseye") in opposite corners. The rest of the shapes appear randomly; they are a diversion.
The test shape matched the criteria of set B, since there a star and a "bullseye" are found in opposite corners.

Tip: There are many tricks to solving abstract reasoning questions quickly. By practising, you will be able to train your brain in pinpointing both the patterns and differences between each set of images you are presented. This will not only help you beat the clock but also increase your probability for success.

AOSB Main Board Personality Test

Number of questions: 200

Time Limit: 30 to 40 minutes

The AOSB personality test determines to which degree your traits influence your daily behaviour. Be sure to keep your responses consistent as the test can detect inconsistencies and differences between responses.

Sample Question

Please indicate to which extent you agree or disagree with the following statement:

Sample Question - Personality

More Information

This statement is trying to figure out your level of anxiety. As you may have guessed, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers here. Regardless, it is important to note that although this may be technically true, certain responses can have a negative impact on your overall profile. A combination of responses is needed prior to getting a full analysis of each trait.


Tip: It is wise during a personality test to adapt your answers to the job you are applying for. The Personality Tests Guide found in this pack includes everything you need to know about how personality tests work and how you should go about answering each question.


Keep in mind that parts of your personality (e.g. your leadership and teamwork skills) will be on display and evaluated throughout the AOSB selection process. Not only during this written assessment, but also during your group exercises, outdoor tasks, and interviews.


AOSB Main Board Memory & Attention Test (MAT)

In this test, you are presented with a series of either matrices (grids) or letters. You must memorise the order in which they are shown to answer a follow-up question.

Types of questions: Following instructions and procedures

Time Limit: 20 Minutes

The purpose of this assessment is to see how quickly and accurately you can memorise and apply guidelines and procedures. During this test, the number and complexity of instructions increases. Your MAT results detail a pattern of responses which make up your performance profile. Your score is based on the following criteria:

  • Speed of working – How much time did it take you to complete the test?
  • Memory – How often did you need to refer to the current set of test instructions?
  • Accuracy – How many test screens did you complete correctly by following the current instructions?

The strict time constraint and amount of information you must remember to answer each question in this section can make it a bit tricky to pass. Check out the RAF-style memory test question below to put your skills to the test:


AOSB Main Board General Knowledge, Military Knowledge, and Current Affairs Tests

Although we do not provide practice for this portion of your assessments, it is still essential that you find a way to prepare. Here is some information on questions you may be asked in each of these sections:

General Knowledge

The general knowledge questions will come from a mix of topics. These topics can include:

  • General geography
  • Famous authors
  • Famous artwork/artists
  • Famous musical composers
  • Presidents/leaders of countries around the world
  • ‘Where does the UK treasurer live?’
  • UK political structure

Military Knowledge Questions

You will be asked a variety of questions ranging from those regarding equipment, weapons, and vehicles, as well as personalities, regiments, acronyms, etc:

  • Vehicle Types
  • Abbreviations of Military Words (RAMC for Royal Army Medical Corps etc.)
  • Deployment Knowledge
  • Ranks
  • Gun Types (e.g. SA80 and Javelin)
  • Army Structure

Current Affairs

You will be asked up to 10 questions regarding current affairs. Our advice for passing this section is to be in the know of the goings-on in the world. You can do this by keeping up with the news and reviewing a wide range of news media (online articles, videos, newspaper, etc).

Now that you have learned a little bit more about each of the written assessments you will face during your time at Westbury, it’s easier to see why preparing beforehand is so crucial.

What to Expect During your AOSB Interviews

During your time at Westbury, you will participate in several interviews. You will participate in a single one-on-one interview once you have completed the briefing. At this interview, you are given a category ranking based on the strengths and weakness you exhibited during each exercise/test.

If you are given the go-ahead to attend Main Board, you should be prepared to participate in up to 3 interviews while there. These interviews are as follows:

  • Interview with board Vice President – During this interview, you will discuss your motivations for wanting to become an officer.
  • Interview with Education Advisor – This interview will go over your educational achievements.
  • Interview with Assessing Officer – At this interview, you will be asked about things you have included in your CV. Be sure to know your CV inside and out (e.g. your time in school, extracurricular activities, etc.).

Remember: You can prepare for your AOSB interviews by practising how you would answer potential questions. These mock interviews can help you organise your thoughts and improve your confidence. When the time comes, be sure to answer each question honestly and just be yourself!

Preparing for the AOSB Recruitment Process

Now that you have a better understanding of the Army Officer selection process, you can see how important it is to prepare. Even if you are taking your AOSB assessments tomorrow, starting to practise now can significantly improve your test scores and limit your stress. Get a handle on your AOSB written tests and start practising now.


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