What is the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test?
The Canadian Forces Aptitude Test, or CFAT, is a test that potential recruits must take in order to join the Canadian Armed Forces as part of the application process. The idea of the test is to give your military recruiter a better idea of where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and which roles within the Canadian Forces you're likely to be best suited to.
The higher you score across the different sections, the more career options become available to you — so it's really important to put as much practice and preparation as you can into the test.
The aptitude test is just one part of the recruitment process, which also involves your initial application, a medical exam and an interview.
The selection process for the Canadian Forces is rigorous and competitive, and a lot of effort goes into finding out as much about each candidate as possible to ensure you're placed in a suitable role.
What to expect in the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test
Overall, the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test consists of three distinct sections that evaluate all the necessary skills for the wide range of roles available in the forces:
1. Verbal skills
2. Spatial ability
4. Personality Inventory
All the questions are multiple-choice and each section is timed to increase the challenge and give employers a chance to see how you work under pressure.
The verbal skills test that lasts just five minutes and requires you to answer 15 different multiple choice questions.
Most questions in this multiple-choice test will present a word, and require you to identify the alternative word which means the same or the opposite of that original word.
Designed to assess your vocabulary, spelling, grammar and knowledge of synonyms and antonyms, the test is a chance to highlight to your recruiter that you have the strong communication skills required for a role in the Canadian Forces.
Want to know more about the CFAT Verbal Skills Test and practice test questions? Click here for our full page.
You'll have slightly longer to answer the questions on the spatial ability section of the test — 10 minutes for 15 questions. Within this timeframe, you'll have to complete two different sets of questions:
The first question type will require you to identify what the 3D shape will look like if it were unfolded.
In the second set of spatial aptitude questions, you need to find the 3D form that can be made if the 2D cardboard pattern were to be folded and fitted together.
This test measures your ability to manipulate objects in a two-dimensional and three-dimensional space.
We have a full guide with sample questions and practice tests on the CFAT Spatial Ability Test here.
Arguably the most important section of the test, you'll have 30 minutes to answer 30 questions (each one with a possible four different answers) on the problem-solving section of the CFAT.
A mix of mathematical problems and logic questions, the test is designed to put your problem-solving abilities under the microscope and see how well you perform under pressure.
The format of the questions varies, but you can expect to read statements and answer related questions, look at diagrams, unpick patterns and sequences or answer mathematical problems on ratios, fractions, graphs, or percentages.
For more information on the CFAT Problem Solving Test, check out our full page with practice tests.
As part of the aptitude tests in the application process, you will also be asked to complete a personality inventory. This is an adaptive personality assessment, which means it adjusts depending on how you answer the questions. The Canadian Forces use this assessment to determine your personal characteristics and qualities to ensure you are a good fit for the position you are applying for.
Top tips on preparing for the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test
1. Practice — there's no substitute for practicing past CFAT tests if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success. Not only will it help you to improve your speed and accuracy, but it'll also instill you with confidence when you recognize the question style and format on the day.
2. Think outside the box — it can get boring going over old papers, so try and incorporate learning into everyday activities. Whether it's calculating a restaurant bill in your head, playing a word-based game online, or using a mirror to learn more about shapes, little practices like these can help to improve your skills.
3. Visualize your goal — knowing that the results of the test can determine your future career path can be both daunting and inspiring. Try and visualize your end goal throughout the preparation process. Having something to work towards makes it much easier to motivate yourself to keep going when things get tough.
4. Stick to a time limit — timings are tight on the CFAT and you mustn't get caught up on a complex problem at the risk of missing out on answering easier questions further into the test. Try and stick to a rough time limit per question to give yourself the best possible chance of answering everything.
Can you fail the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test?
You must hit the minimum score as set by the Canadian Forces to move on to the next stage of the recruitment process. If you don't you'll have to wait until you're allowed to retake the test.
What score do you need on the CFAT?
Minimum CFAT scores vary for each role in the forces, but they aren't made public. In fact, you're often not even told your own score. What you will learn is how suited you are to a series of roles within the forces, including any you may have your eye on. If you haven't done well enough you can retake the test, but you have to wait up to a year to do so.
Is the Canadian Forces aptitude test hard?
The test is designed to be challenging to filter out people who might not be cut out for a role in the Canadian Forces. However, that doesn't mean it's impossible. With the right amount of practice and preparation, there's no reason you can't succeed on the test.
How is the Canadian Forces aptitude test scored?
For some roles, the score is based on your overall score on the CFAT, whereas for others it'll depend on what you get in each section.