What is the British Army (BARB) aptitude test?
The British Army Recruitment Battery (BARB) test, or the Army Cognitive Test (ACT), is a computer-based psychometric test and the first standardised test you'll take if you're looking for a career in the armed services. Taken on a computer at a test centre, the BARB test examines everything from your numerical fluency to your aptitude with words and orientation skills.
The results of the test will determine which roles within the army you're eligible to apply for, so it's important to put as much preparation and practice into it as possible as it can increase the opportunities available to you.
The tight time limit and challenging questions are designed to put you on the spot, assess your critical thinking skills and determine how good you are at keeping calm under pressure — all key skills for any role in the army.
What to expect in the British Army cognitive test
The cognitive exam contains five different sections (see below for more details) and is designed to assess your strengths and weaknesses across different crucial areas to build a better picture of which roles and responsibilities you're likely to be suited to in the armed forces.
Error detection test
This error checking test assesses your strength at processing information quickly, to point out errors.
Typically you'll be required to memorise different combinations of symbols or images, before answering questions on what you've seen and identifying errors in what's being shared with you.
For more information on the British Army Error Detection test, check out our full page.
Your mental agility is under scrutiny in this section of the test.
You'll be asked to memorise a series of rules, before using these rules to solve various problems. In doing so, you'll showcase how well you react under pressure, how strong your memory is, and whether you're a natural logical thinker.
Want to know more about the British Army Orientation test? Click here for our full page.
Number fluency test
Just as its name suggests, this section of the test assesses your numerical ability.
You'll also need to exercise your memory again, as you'll be required to memorise a mathematical rule and then apply it to the numerical challenges on the numerical test.
Practising numerical reasoning questions is a great way to sharpen up your skills and help you to prepare for this part of the test.
Click here to find out more about the British Army Number Fluency test.
Word rules test
Here, you'll be asked to identify the rule that governs different combinations of three words.
In doing so, you'll give the examiner a better idea of your overall literacy and communication skills, which can be crucial for many different roles within the army.
Check out this full guide to find out more about the RAF mechanical reasoning test.
Deductive reasoning test
Deductive reasoning is a vital skill for any army recruit. Essentially, you can process information and draw logical conclusions from it.
The questions may ask you to read statements about different relationships and then make a deduction based on what you've read.
Want more information on this test? Take a look at our British Army Deductive Reasoning test page.
Additional British Army aptitude tests
British Army literacy test
Good communication skills are essential in the army. This section of the test is designed to assess yours (but it's only necessary if you don't have A-C/9-4 GCSEs, or equivalent, in English).
Covering grammar, punctuation, and reading and writing skills, it's a good idea to brush up on the basics before taking this test.
British Army numeracy test
This section is only mandatory if you don't have A-C/9-4 GCSEs (or equivalent) in maths.
Much like the literacy test, this is designed to assess your basic mathematical skills and will require you to show you're comfortable with basic numerical calculations and principles.
Technical selection test
This part of the test is only necessary if you want to take on a technical role.
As the name suggests, the test covers technical skills from basic calculations through to data interpretation. Set at roughly GCSE level, the questions can be challenging if you haven't given yourself the head start of practising numerical reasoning questions before the test.
Top tips on preparing for and passing British Army aptitude tests
- 1. Practice, practice practice - practicing past tests and various types of questions is the single best way you can improve your speed, sharpen your accuracy and ensure you feel comfortable and confident with anything you might face on the day.
- 2. Test your memory - many of the questions you'll encounter on the test require you to memorise key pieces of information to carry out tasks. Playing memory games and finding new ways to test your memory can help you hone your mental strength for the test.
- 3. Focus on speed and accuracy - knowledge isn't the only thing you're being tested on the assessments. It's essential to find a balance between speed and accuracy. Make sure you time your practice tests and work through any questions you got wrong to understand why, and how you can improve.
- 4. What works for you? - solving tricky problems is a personal thing and what works for you won't necessarily work for someone else. If you need to make up a song or a silly saying to memorise statements or principles, then do it!
- 5. Read the questions carefully - it sounds obvious, but not reading the questions properly trips a lot of people up. When you're against the clock it's tempting to skim-read the question, but that can lead to mistakes.
Is the British Army aptitude test hard?
All of the military services have high standards. Like any exam, the British Army aptitude test is challenging — but less so if you study, practice and prepare as much as you can beforehand.
What do I need to complete the British Army aptitude test?
The assessments are usually carried out on a computer at your local test centre. You may be allowed a pen and paper to work through the mathematical problems, but it's best to check with your test centre whether they'll provide that for you or not.
How long is the British Army aptitude test?
The test is usually 30 minutes long.
How is the British Army aptitude test scored?
The British army cognitive test scores are based on the number of correct answers you got and presented as a General Trainability Index (GTI). To progress any further, the minimum score requirement for every candidate is a GTI of 26 or more. The highest possible score on the BARB test is 60 and the average score is 50.