Royal Air Force candidates for Airman/Airwoman, Aerospace Battle Manager, Air Traffic Controller, Air Traffic Control Officer, Weapons Systems Operator, and the RAF Regiment are asked to sit the Airmen/Airwomen Selection Test, also known as AST. This test is administered at a local Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO). The results of this test affect the preferences and positions each candidate can be offered in the RAF.
The AST is not the only aptitude test candidates take as part of the recruitment process. Many applicants, including Officers, Non-Commissioned Aircrew, and Non-Commissioned Air Traffic Controllers candidates, also attend a series of aptitude tests at the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) at RAF Cranwell.
The AST, otherwise known as the RAF aptitude test, is comprised of seven sections, containing 148 question items in total.
- 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 question 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 operation, 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 – A table with shape and number codes is presented, and you must find alternative codes for a given sequence. This section lasts four minutes 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.
- 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.
- 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 RAF Aptitude Test
All of the aforementioned sections can and should be practised for prior to sitting the real test. That it 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. This can be explained in three reasons:
- Knowledge – Some areas of the test rely on strict knowledge, the kind of knowledge some people tend to forget. Numerical, verbal, and physical concepts rely heavily on knowledge. This could be knowing how to multiply decimals, understanding the 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 skills.
- Confidence – Pre-exposure to the content of tests removes uncertainty. This is key for test success.
Prepare for Success
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 test is vital in order to move to the later stages. JobTestPrep's comprehensive practice pack includes all the tools you need to ace the AST and be invited to the appropriate Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC).
Read more about:
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- Two full-length RAF aptitude practice tests + score reports
- Additional practice drills and tests in numeracy & mechanical comprehension
- RAF AST drills and practice tests in memory, numerical skills, spatial reasoning, verbal reasoning, and work rate
- Solutions, explanations, solving tips
- 14 study guides & video tutorials
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