One of the initial stages of the selection process will see a requirement for you to sit the British Army Recruit Battery Test. The test is more commonly known as the ‘BARB test’ and it has been in use for many years. It is a tried and tested method that the Army will use to determine what career(s) you are most likely to be suited for. It is important that you aim for the highest score possible on the test and this can only be achieved through ‘deliberate’ and ‘repetitive’ practice.
The pass mark for the BARB test is currently 26 although you will need to confirm this with your local Armed Forces Careers Office. This effectively means that you must get 26 questions correct, but as I mentioned earlier don’t just settle for a pass. You need to achieve as high a score as possible as this will give you more career options depending on your academic results.
Work hard at practising the tests within this guide and also within the BARB booklet when you receive it from the AFCO. Don’t just sit back like so many people do – practise hard and make sure you pass. Your choice of trade will be dependant upon the score you achieve during the BARB test. Basically, the higher your score, the more career options you will have. This is a good incentive therefore for you to work hard and prepare fully.
It is also important that you follow my previous advice on creating the right impression. It may not seem appropriate to dress smartly when you are attending the BARB test but that little bit of extra effort in terms of your appearance and bearing will go a long way!
More about the BARB test
Psychometric tests within the British Army are used as a tool to measure the mind and your ability. If we break down the word ‘psychometric’ we can see that ‘psycho’ means mind and ‘metric’ means to measure. BARB is a computer-based, psychometric assessment that was developed by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) and Plymouth University. It is a series of timed questions that assess a candidate’s ability to absorb information quickly and logically. The computer automatically calculates the candidate’s score, based on the number of correct answers and the time taken. The final score is referred to as the GTI (General Trainability Index). The BARB test has been in use since July 1992.
In order to prepare effectively for BARB test study the following pages, which will provide you with a host of sample test questions. Another great way to help you practise is to purchase your own psychometric testing booklet. These are available from www.how2become.co.uk.
Once you have completed your BARB test preparation there are still a number of things you can do in order to improve your scores. It is vital that you get a good night’s sleep the night before you are due to take the test. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that you will give yourself a better chance of achieving a higher score. This in turn will give you more career options to choose from. It will also ensure that you feel confident before taking the test as fatigue can cause stress, which will inhibit your performance on the day. Make sure that you know exactly where you need to go to take the test. This may sound like an obvious tip but you’ll be amazed at how many people get to the test centre late and are then not allowed to sit the BARB. My advice is to go to the test centre a few days before your scheduled date to familiarise yourself fully with the directions and parking facilities etc.
Do not take the test on an empty stomach. You should try to eat a good breakfast on the morning of your test. This doesn’t mean eating a great big fry up but instead eating something that is light and that will give you sustained energy throughout the day. A bowl of porridge is great for providing sustained energy or a healthy cereal such as bran flakes with a chopped banana spread over the top.
If your test is scheduled to start at 10am make sure you get there early enough to avoid a last minute panic. It is far better to get there early and have to hang around rather than get there late and not be able to sit the test at all. Take a small bottle of water with you to keep yourself hydrated and focused. If you wear glasses make sure you take them along with you. You will be using a computer and you need to ensure you can see correctly. The night before the test read any correspondence thoroughly at least twice and make sure you haven’t missed anything glaringly obvious. You may be required to take something with you and if you don’t do what is required it shows that you are not very good at following instructions – something that is key to a soldier’s role. What dress code would you expect and what dress code would you be most impressed with? Remember that you are joining a disciplined service that always looks smart and prepared. Just because you are not a soldier yet, doesn’t mean to say you can’t start thinking like one. My advice is to go smartly dressed, which will present a good image.
THE BARB TEST PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Within this section of the guide I have provided you with a number of sample test questions to help you prepare for the real test. Please note that these are not the exact questions that you will be required to sit on the day. However, they are provided as a useful practice tool in order to help focus your mind on the type of tests you will be sitting. It is also important to point out that during the real test you will be required to answer the questions on a computer screen and how they will be presented will be different to how they are formatted within this guide.
Take a look at the explanations provided and make sure you fully understand what is involved before attempting the practice questions. Once you have completed the practice questions it is important that you take note of where you have gone wrong. Learn from any mistakes as this will help you to further improve your scores during the real test.
Reasoning tests form an integral part of the BARB selection tests within the British Army selection process. These tests are relatively simple to understand once you fully appreciate what is required. The reasoning tests are basically a form of problem solving and you will be asked a number of questions, usually about a relationship between two people. For example, you could be asked a question along the following lines:
Richard is taller than Steven. Who is shorter?
The answer in this case would be Steven as the statement suggests that Richard is taller than Steven. Therefore Steven is the shorter of the two.
Here is another example:
Mark is not as wealthy as Jane. Who has less money?
The statement suggests that Mark is not as wealthy as Jane therefore suggesting that Jane has more money. Mark therefore has less money and is not as wealthy as Jane.
When you are answering these questions it is important that you READ each question thoroughly. The questions are relatively simple to answer but they can catch you out if you do not understand exactly what the question is asking.
Tips for passing the reasoning tests
When you attend the careers office to sit the BARB test you may be asked to take the test on a computer. The computer version of the test will require you to use ‘touch screen’ answers, which means that instead of using a pen and paper to mark down your answers you will have to touch the computer screen instead. Whilst this is far quicker than writing down your answers, you will need to understand the questions fully before giving your answer.
The question on the screen may appear as follows:
Once you have read the statement you will then need to touch the screen to obtain the question. Make certain that you remember the statement as when you touch the screen it will disappear and you will be given two choices of answer as follows:
Once the question appears you will then be required to touch the screen in order to indicate your answer. Can you remember what the question was? My tip is to repeat the statement at least three times in your head before touching the screen to obtain the question. Once the question appears you can repeat the statement to yourself that Steven runs faster than Janeand therefore provide yourself with the answer to the question – Steven is the fastest.
Once you fully understand what is required, move on to exercise 1 on the following page. You have 5 minutes in which to answer the 15 questions. Please note that the time limit placed on this exercise will not be the same as the one set during the real BARB test.
Once you have completed the exercise make sure you check thoroughly any questions you got wrong. It is important to do this so that you can improve your scores during the real test.
Marcus is not as bright as Andrew. Who is brighter?
Sharon is taller than Sheila. Who is the tallest?
Pauline is stronger than Beverley. Who is the weaker of the two?
Gary is lighter than Frederick. Who is the heavier?
The black car is faster than the white car. Which car is the quickest?
Rachel runs faster than her sister Georgia. Who runs the slowest?
David has more money than Arnold. Who is the poorer?
Jill is weaker than Bill. Who is the strongest?
Hayley sleeps for 10 hours and Julie sleeps for 650 minutes. Who sleeps the longest?
Sadie’s shoe size is 7 and Mary’s is 9. Who needs the larger size shoes?
THE LETTER CHECKING TEST
When you come to sit the BARB test you will be asked to answer questions where you are required to check letters. The aim of this test is to see how fast you can check information that is presented before you. Whilst working in the Army you will be often required to carry out specific tasks which involve the accurate checking of information, equipment and data.
You can see from the above example that there are columns of letters. In the 1st and 4th box are letters that are identical, albeit one letter is a capital and the other is not. The other boxes contain different letters and therefore do not match. It is your task to identify how many pairs of letters match. In this case I have circled the correct answer for you as being 2 matching pairs.
During the real BARB test you will most probably be asked to sit the computer ‘touch-screen’ version of the test as opposed to writing down your answers.
When you carry out the test on the computer the question on the screen will be presented to you in a similar format to the following:
Below the provided letters will be a number of boxes giving you a choice of how many letters match. In this case the answer is 2 as the middle two columns of letters match, whereas the outer two do not. In this case you would touch the number ‘2’ box as your answer. It is important that you work as quickly as possible as the more you score correct, the higher your result will be at the end. As always, deliberate and repetitive practice will serve well to increase your scores.
Tips for improving your score on the Letter Checking test
When answering these questions you may find it useful to scan each line downwards in turn and keep a check of how many are correct. When you have scanned the final 4th line you will know how many are correct and then you can touch the number on the screen that corresponds to the right answer.
You will have very little time to answer as many as you can during the real test so you need to work quickly but as accurately as possible. Look out for letters that are similar but not the same, such as:
Q and O G and Q P and q
These are the ones that may catch you out so make sure you check carefully.
Now take a look at the first Letter Checking exercise on the following page and see how you get on. There are 15 questions and you have 5 minutes in which to answer them. Simply circle the correct answer with a pen or pencil.
THE DISTANCE NUMBER TEST
During the BARB Test you will have to sit what is called a Distance Number test. This test requires you to analyse three numbers and decide which one of the three fits a certain criteria. For example, you may find 3 numbers appear on your computer screen as follows:
The numbers can appear in any order and will not necessarily increase in value as indicated above. You then have to analyse the numbers and decide which one is the largest number and which one is the smallest.
In this case that would be as follows:
Largest Value = 14 Smallest value = 7
This then leaves you with the number 10. Once you have decided which number remains (in this case the number 10) you then must decide which of the two numbers (7 and 14) is the furthest away from it, hence the title ‘Distance Number’ test. To work this out you can see that 7 is 3 away from 10 but 14 is 4 away from 10, therefore leaving you with the answer 14.
This may seem complicated at first but with a little practice you will soon grasp the concept of what is required. As with all types of assessment test, the best way to improve your score is to prepare and practise. Try as many practice questions as possible and you will find that your scores will keep increasing.