Overview of the British Army Recruitment & Assessment Centre Selection Process


For context and to help describe the recruiting process for an applicant wishing to join the Regular Army the following outlines the common soldier recruiting pipeline activity.

It is worth noting there are nuances between Soldier/Officer and Regular/Reserve (primarily at selection [Note 1] and medical screening [Note 2]).

This information was correct on 30 January 2020, and some of the key stages have since been affected by COVID-19 precautions/regulations – moving interviews online, for example.

Key Stages

The recruitment process delivers soldier candidates in to the British Army (via Training) in a series of stages. Entry standards are role specific and common for both UK Nationals and Commonwealth (CW) citizens. CW candidates conduct the initial stages of recruitment at reach, due to the vast majority not being physically in the UK at point of application [Note 3]. The result is a subtly different journey from Application to Selection, managed by Candidate Support Managers (CSM) in the National Recruitment Centre (NRC) rather than Regional Recruiters. The stages are outlined in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Stages of the Recruitment and Selection Process

Application1. All candidates apply to join the British Army online via the Defence Recruiting System (DRS).
2. This system then manages and tracks a candidates journey all the way to starting Basic Training.
3. This stage also includes an Initial Eligibility Check.
4. Due to these checks CW candidates require a manual intervention by the team based in the NRC to bypass the minimum UK residency requirement.
Online Medical Questionnaire1. The OMQ is conducted online using the DRS interface and seeks to filter out candidates early in the process, who are extremely unlikely to pass medical screening and therefore fail to achieve the Army medical entry standards.
Army Brief (AB) and Initial Career Discussion (ICD)1. Candidates who successfully pass the OMQ are invited to attend an AB/ICD.
2. This is most commonly held at an Army Careers Centre (ACC) and consists of two key parts.
3. The AB is an opportunity for Recruiting Group (RG) to explain to the candidate what the Army is and what it offers whilst the ICD is an opportunity for the candidate to discuss any personal preferences and ask any questions they may have with a recruiter.
4. CW candidates conduct the majority of the AB/ICD remotely with the CW Team in the NRC.
Medical Screening1. Candidates are medically screened against the Army’s Medical Entry Standards [Note 4].
2. For Regular Soldier this is facilitated using a candidates PHCR that is reviewed by a doctor.
3. For Regular Officer, all Reserve candidates and CW candidates the Recruiting Group Medical Declaration (RGMD) is used.
4. The RGMD is completed by the candidate’s doctor.
5. At both OMQ and Medical Screening Further Medical Evidence (FME) may be requested from a candidate and a medical fail can be appealed.
Assessment Centre (AC)1. Soldier Selection, conducted at an AC, consists of a Pre-Service Medical Assessment (PSMA), cognitive testing (Table 2) and physical assessment (Table 3).
2. The run element of the physical assessment is not conducted by candidates until they have been cleared ‘medically fit’ by the AC doctors, post full PSMA.
PSMA1. PSMA includes several tests and a thorough one-to-one examination conducted by a Doctor.
2. Prior to the one-to-one, medical technicians and nurses conduct a series of ‘run-ups’ including urine tests, basic measurements and vision/hearing testing.
3. All candidates have an ECG and all ACs can conduct both an exercise Spirometry and ECHO when a requirement is highlighted in a candidate’s ECG.

The cognitive assessment consists of four (4) elements as outlined in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Cognitive Assessment

General Trainability Index (GTI)1. As the name would suggest the GTI score gives an indication as to the trainability of a candidate.
2. Each soldier role has subtly different training requirements, which is reflected in the GTI score required.
Functionals Skills Assessment (FSA)1. The FSA assesses a candidate’s numeracy and literacy level.
2. Functional Skills Entry Level (EL) 2 is the minimum level to enter Basic Training in the British Army.
Technical Selection Test (TST)1. More technical soldier roles require candidates to conduct the TST.
2. This test is primarily maths focused.
3. You can find more information here.
Further Educational Evidence1. Some roles require Mandatory Academic Qualifications (MAQ) that are provided at AC, if not before, in the form of educational certificates.
  • GTI and FSA are common to all and therefore tested for all soldier candidates.
  • GTI, FSA, and the TST are scored refining which soldier roles a candidate is eligible for.

The physical assessment [Note 5] consists of three (3) elements [Note 6] as outlined in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Physical Assessment

Mid-Thigh Pull1. Very similar to a dead lift, this assessment assesses/indicates strength and capacity.
2. This has multiple correlations with military tasks.
3. Score required is dictated by role (but minimum 46 kg).
Medicine Ball Throw1. This measures upper-limb strength and involves throwing a 4 kg medicine (weighted) ball from the sitting position with legs extended and back against a wall.
2. The score required is dependent on role (minimum 2.9 metre throw).
2000 Metre Run1. This activity is best effort and determines a candidate’s cardiovascular fitness.
2. A 500-metre run/walk is conducted as a squad as a warm-up.
3. This is to be completed in 6:30 to 7:00 minutes (as a warm-up) immediately prior to the 2000 metre best effort run.
4. The score required is dependent on role (minimum Standard Entry requirement is 11:15 minutes).
5. The run element of RFT(E) is only completed when a candidate has been deemed medically fit at PSMA.


  1. Officer candidates (Regular and Reserve) attend Westbury (Army Officer Selection Board), rather than one of the four soldier AC’s (Pirbright, Lichfield, Glencorse and Belfast).
  2. Regular Soldier candidates have their Primary Healthcare Records (PHCR).
  3. CW Candidates are formally invited to attend AC in writing to help support their Visa Application (when required). The CW recruitment process is influenced by immigration requirements and security vetting.
  4. Joint Service Publication 950 Medical Policy Leaflet 6-7-7 (as amended).
  5. Role Fitness Test (Entry) (RFT(E)), effective as of 01 Apr 2019.
  6. The current RFT(E) tests and standards have been developed using an internationally-recognised scientific method which combines scientific technical analysis and military judgement. This approach considers the benefits of progressive physical development afforded during basic training and is intended to minimise risk of injury both during training and throughout career.

Assessment Centre Pass/Fail

  • All Regular Soldier Candidates can only be loaded to Basic Training having passed the Army Entry Standards for a specific soldier role.
  • Therefore a candidate’s result is dependent upon their preferred/chosen role (this is often a two way discussion).
  • Each soldier role has different cognitive, educational and physical entry standards specific to their future employment.
  • Providing a candidate passes for this role and there is training space available candidates are loaded to the event by the Load to Train Team in the NRC.

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