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What Are the British Armed Forces?

Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are military forces responsible for the defense of the United Kingdom, its fourteen overseas territories, and three island territories off the coast of Britain – Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey, and the Isle of Man – called the Crown dependencies. The British Armed Forces give a helping hand to other counties striving to maintain peace and provide humanitarian aid. The commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces is the UK’s current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are divided into the following divisions:

  • The Royal Navy – The United Kingdom’s naval warfare force, going historically back to the maritime engagements in the Hundred Years War against France.
  • The Blue-Water Navy – The UK’s maritime force operating across open oceans around the world. It has a fleet of seventy-seven commissioned ships.
  • The Royal Marines – The amphibious light infantry of the UK’s Royal Navy formed in 1755.
  • The British Army – The United Kingdom’s major land warfare force. It consists of about 82,000 full time personnel and 27,000 trained part-time (reserve) personnel.
  • The Royal Air Force – The UK’s aerial warfare force. It was formed in 1918, by the end of the World War I, thus becoming the oldest independent air force in the world. Its fleet consists both of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

In addition to the active warfare forces, the British Army also has standing forces. Among them are the following divisions:

  • Regular Reserve – A part of the military reserve of the British Armed Forces. Its members were in active warfare forces in the past. Regular Reserve personnel maintain liability for service and are recalled for active military duty, whenever a need for this arises.
  • Volunteer Reserves – These are voluntary and part-time military reserve forces. They consist of civilian volunteers who constantly undergo training and participate in military operations. They serve under a fixed-term reserve contract.
  • Sponsored Reserves – This is a category of reserve forces in the British Armed forces, created in 1996 by the Reserve Forces Act.

Although militants swear allegiance to the Queen, the existence of the British Armed Forces is approved by the UK Parliament. Because the Bill of Rights (1689) requires this approval, the Parliament passes an Armed Forces Act once in 5 years. The Defence Council of the Ministry of Defence manages the British Armed Forces. 

What Is the British Ministry of Defence?

The British Armed Forces are supported by civilian agencies maintained by the Ministry of Defence. These agencies support military operations and sometimes follow military rules and orders. The main of these agencies are these:

  • The Royal Fleet Auxiliary – Funded by the Ministry of Defence, this agency operates ships that replenish warships of Royal Navy at sea. There are almost 2000 civilians working for the RFA.
  • The Ministry of Defence Police – This is an agency of police officers recruited to provide armed security, policing, and investigative services to personnel and property of the Ministry of Defence. There are around 3000 the Ministry of Defence police officers in the UK.
  • The Defence Equipment and Support – This is a procurement and support organization belonging to the Ministry of Defence. It was formed by the merger of two agencies: the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Procurement Agency and the Defence Logistics Organization. There are around 20,000 civilians and military people working in the DE&S. The Ministry of Defence Equipment, Support, and Technology oversees the organisation.
  • The UK Hydrographic Office – This organization is a part of the United Kingdom government. It supplies navigational and other hydrographic information for national, civil, and defence requirements. The UKHO has about 1,000 people working in it.

Who Can Be Enlisted in the British Armed Forces?

The majority of militants in the British Armed Forces are recruited from within the United Kingdom. A smaller part of the forces is enlisted from the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organization of 53-member states, formerly comprising territories of the British Empire. Irish citizens are also permitted to serve. There are around 6,600 militants recruited outside the United Kingdom. The British Armed Forces do not discriminate against people of different ethnicity and sexual orientation. It is estimated that around 11,000 (7.1%) of Black and Minority Ethnic people serve now in the British Armed Forces.

People as young as 16 years old can be recruited in the British Armed Forces. Yet they are not permitted to participate in military operations until they turn 18 years old. The maximum age of serving in the army varies, depending on whether a person wants to join the regular or reserve forces. As a rule, militants serve 22 years in the British Armed forces. The minimum period of serving is four years. There are 12, 000 people on average annually joining the army in the UK.

What Tests Are Usually Administered to Prospective Personnel in the British Armed Forces?

There are several tests that you may be administered as a part of your recruitment process in the British Armed Forces. JobTestPrep can prepare you to the majority of them. Our sophisticated PrepPack™ contains the British Army Recruit Battery Test (BARB), the Airman Selection Test, and the Royal Navy Recruiting Test.

The British Army Recruit Battery Test (BARB)

This is a psychometric assessment that applicants write on computers. It measures candidates’ ability to understand and evaluate information quickly and accurately and draw relevant logical conclusion from it. The test is strictly timed. It is a multiple-choice test, containing several answers to each question, only one of which is correct. The score for the test is calculated by the computer that takes into consideration how many questions applicants answered correctly and how much time they used to do this. The final score is called the General Trainability Index.

When applicants to the British Armed Forces take the British Army Recruit Battery Test, they need to pass 5 different tests included in it:

  • Reasoning,
  • Letter Checking,
  • Number Distance,
  • Odd One Out,
  • and Symbol Rotation.

Overall, the BARB takes around half an hour to complete.

The Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST)

This is a combination of aptitude and psychometric tests. The AST contains several tests, each of which has different number of questions and takes different amount of time to complete. The list of these tests is provided below:

  • The Verbal Reasoning Test – It consists of twenty questions which applicants have to answer within 15 minutes;
  • The Numerical Reasoning Test – This test contains arithmetic questions and requires applicants to analyse information presented in statistical tables, graphs, and charts. There are 15 questions overall. A time limit is 11 minutes;
  • The Work Rate – This test evaluates how quickly applicants work. It contains 20 questions, while a time is limited to 4 minutes;
  • The Spatial Reasoning – This test evaluates candidates’ ability to think about objects in two and three dimensions. It measures how well they draw conclusions about these objects using only limited information. The test consists of 2 parts. The first part (2D) has 10 question and a 4 minutes time limit; the second part (3 D) has 10 questions that must be completed within 3 minutes;
  • The Electrical Comprehension – This text estimates candidates’ knowledge of electrical concepts and takes 11 minutes to complete. There are 21 questions on this test.
  • The Mechanical Comprehension – This test estimates how well applicants understand mechanical concepts and operational principles behind them. It contains 20 questions and has a time limit of 10 minutes.
  • The Memory/Recollection Test – This test measures how well applicants remember and interpret order patterns of letters, grids, and colours. There are 20 questions on this test.

Overall, the Airman/Airwoman Selection Test lasts around 90 minutes.

The Royal Navy Recruiting Test

This test is administered to find out what role in the Royal Navy a candidate can apply for. It is a multiple-choice exam containing four sections:

  • Reasoning – This test has 30 questions that you will need to answer within half an hour. It comprises several types of Reasoning Tests: the Numerical Reasoning, the Verbal Reasoning, and the Abstract Reasoning. A time limit on this test is only 9 minutes;
  • The Verbal Ability – This test evaluates candidates’ ability to understand English language. It also measures their knowledge of words’ connotation and denotation. You may be asked to find lexical relationship between words and phrases, choose a word that is dissimilar to others on a list, or fill in a missing word in a sentence according to the rules of grammar or overall meaning. There are 30 questions on this test which you will need to answer within 9 minutes;
  • The Numerical Reasoning – This test evaluates your mathematical skills. There are different questions on the test that require you to perform the following mathematical operations: subtraction, multiplication, addition, division, percentages, fractions, area, and basic algebra. A time limit on this test is 16 minutes, during which you need to answer 30 questions;
  • The Mechanical Comprehension – This test measures candidates’ knowledge of mechanical concepts and mechanical principles. Each question on the test is supplied with a diagram or drawing which you will need to analyse. The test contains 30 questions; a time limit given to answer them is 10 minutes.

The tests given to candidates aspiring to join the British Armed Forces are difficult. They cannot be passed successfully without preliminary preparation. Do not hurt your chances of joining the army by ignoring our high-quality test simulations that will lead you to a successful completion of your recruitment process. Purchase our PrepPack™ and start defending the United Kingdom and its overseas territories.  


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