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The 'Official' RAF Application Guide

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Take our short survey, £100 of Amazon vouchers to be won! 23-09-2016
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    Since the last real application process thread was made 6 years ago I figured it's about time we had an updated one.

    You might be thinking, "What the **** do you know FattyHater?" but due to a combination of lack of preparation, and poor timings, I have been in the RAF application process for almost 2 years now, and I have amassed quite the collection of knowledge regarding the process, both for Officers/NCO's and Airmen. This threads main purpose is to answer questions, and give more of an idea of the application process to new applicants. I shall try my best to give an answer, but if I can't there are many people who can, and I'd like this thread to be a glossary of questions and answers, as-well as experiences and progress updates.

    Now a little about me for those who don't know, I first applied for the Royal Air Force back in early 2015 as a WSOp (Weapons system operator), passed my CBAT test(I'll get back to this later) and then was unsuccessful in the following stage, my filter interview and was told to come back a YEAR later. I was devastated. Alas, I came back the same time a year later to try again, luckily my CBAT results were still valid, so I sort of skipped a stage or two until my filter interview came around, this time I passed!! Then came the medical, I passed this with no problems whatsoever, good news! Next was my OASC board.. So I thought.. Unfortunately your CBAT results only last the year, and mine ran out a week before my OASC, so I was made to retake them WHILST being at Cranwell for my OASC. This did not go to plan, and I flopped them miserably, twice in a row I was unsuccessful.
    Fast forward to now, I applied again on the 8/08/2016, as a Weapons Technician. I successfully passed my AST and my educational waiver was accepted, and I have my filter interview date booked in for the 7th of October. Feeling quietly confident about that, combined with my fitness being to par, I believe that this time I might finally be entering the Royal Air Force.

    Anyway, less about me, back to the thread, I will start with a glossary of acronyms and 'RAF Lingo' per se. I will try to update this as I go on.

    *DISCLAIMER* I am not perfect, things in this thread could be wrong, and I don't claim for everything to be 100% accurate. If you see something wrong, let me know and I'll fix it, same goes if you have anything to add.

    RAF LINGO

    AFCO = Armed Forces Careers Office. Your local careers office in which you'll start your journey.

    AST = Airmen Selection Test. The test all airmen trades will have to complete in order to progress. Taken at your local AFCO.

    CBAT = Computer Based Aptitude Test. A computer based selection test all Officer/NCO/Aircrew applicants will have to complete in order to progress. Taken at RAF Cranwell.

    OASC = Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre. Based at RAF Cranwell, this is your stepping stone for all Officer/Aircrew applications.

    NCO = Non-commissioned officer. Self explanatory really..

    WSOp = Weapons System Operator. An aircrew role in the RAF.

    NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Google it, you'll need to know.

    SDT = Speed, Distance, Time. Maths equation, yada yada yada...

    MSFT = Multi Stage Fitness Test. Bleep test in simpleton terms.

    PRTC = Pre-recruit training course. 3 days in Halton before your basic training.

    RTS Halton = Recruit Training Squadron Halton. Your basic training.

    PJFT = Pre-joining fitness test.
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    MY CURRENT APPLICATION PROGRESS

    Will work on.
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    THE SHARED APPLICATION PROCESS PART 1

    *DISCLAIMER* This is how MY application processes went. I can't imagine yours being any different, but just in case..

    So you've decided that you're looking for some direction in life, and you've taken the plunge and decided the Royal Air Force is where you want to be, brilliant. So what's next? You'll want to find out where your nearest AFCO is, for some, it could be down the road, or for others, you might have to travel some distance. You'll have to get used to it though, as you'll be making the journey several times. I HIGHLY recommend booking an appointment with a careers adviser at the AFCO before you apply for anything. Have a chat with them, discuss your qualifications and your aspirations. Talk about which role you've been looking at, use this time to unleash every question you might have and really cement your choices. They're there for a reason and will aid your application immensely.

    So after your chat you should have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to be. Then, you'll go online and register your interest with the RAF and send off an online application to the role you're going for. This will be sent off to your AFCO and you'll be invited back within a few weeks. This is where things change up a bit depending on which role you're going for.
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    OFFICERS / AIRCREW / NCO'S

    You'll be invited in for a presentation, and a chance to make sure you have all of the required documents and qualifications needed for your role. The presentation isn't life changing but definitely worth paying attention and taking some notes. You won't be tested on anything at this point. At the end of this presentation, you'll be given dates of your CBAT testing. This is where things get interesting. You'll be invited to RAF Cranwell the day before your testing date. How you get there is up to you, both times I traveled by train, paid for by my AFCO of course. The journey isn't too bad, was a 4 hour train journey for me via London. You'll arrive at Grantham station (if traveling by train) and you will be collected by a minibus outside the station. Make use of this time by talking to the other candidates. The minibus will take about 30 minutes to get to Cranwell and you'll have to go via the security gate to have your photograph taken for your ID. You'll then go and collect your room key and head on to your room to drop off your things. Besides a quick briefing letting you know plans for the morning, the evening time is now yours. Head off to the local SPAR shop, or just chill in the mess with other candidates. (Very cheap bar) dinner will be served at around 1900. You'll be awake at around 6 for breakfast so I do not recommend having a late night.. but whatever floats your boat.

    So you've woken up at 0600, after a **** nights sleep in those horrible metal beds. Take the mattress off the bed and put it on the floor. For the love of god if there could be one thing I could tell myself it would be to do that sooner. You'll suit up, (make sure you're dressed smart, but relatively comfortable) and head down to breakfast. The food is decent at Cranwell, both times I've been I've had a full English, quality! Make sure you eat as you'll need all the brain food you can get down you. You'll head into the OASC center, and be given a quick brief about what to expect and what you'll be doing.

    CBAT
    *Please note, not all officer roles require CBAT testing*
    The CBAT tests are NOT fun. They're not in the slightest bit enjoyable and they will test you. 6 hours of solid testing with only one lunch break, and several 5 minute breaks in-between. I suggest making the most of these breaks and drinking water like a camel. The CBAT is composed of a variety of different tests to assess your mental aptitude. The majority of these tests you can't really prepare for as unfortunately they're mostly a "You either have it or don't" situation.. Memory, spatial awareness etc, but you can gain as much of a boost as you can by practising mental maths, and practising aptitude tests online can never hurt. Oh and one more thing, SPEED, DISTANCE, TIME. You'll be doing a hell of a lot of SDT questions so I suggest knowing the equations like the back of your hand. You WILL feel like you're doing horrendously, nobody I've ever met whilst doing the tests has been confident, but I assure you that you're doing better than you think. After this is over, you'll be sent downstairs to the waiting room. (The worst part of the day in my opinion) where you'll be called up one by one to discuss your results. You'll either be told good news, or bad news. Hopefully you'll hear what you want to hear and reach the scores required for your grade, but if not, you will be advised where to go next.

    So you're back home after your ordeal and you're either happy or not. I'm going to talk about what happens if you're happy. You'll be contacted by your AFCO and you'll be invited in for your filter interview. This will take place at your local AFCO with the NCO.

    YOUR FILTER INTERVIEW
    Your interview will consist of two halves. One being about you and the other being about the RAF. The first half is where you sell yourself, and I mean REALLY sell yourself. Everything you've ever done of importance, your school, your family background, your work history, being captain of the football team, looking after your nans dog. I don't care what it is, everything with any sense of responsibilty is important here, why you want to join the RAF. This part is down to you, you know you. The second half is what you can prepare for. They WILL grill you, you really need to prepare for this or you just simply wont succeed.
    I'm not going to do the research for you, but you'll need to know about;

    RAF General Knowledge
    • What is the role of the RAF today?
    • How long is your initial contract for?
    • Name RAF bases in the UK.
    • Where do we have permanent overseas bases?
    • Where are the RAF currently deployed on operations?
    • Why do YOU think the armed force get involved in operations in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq?
    • What do YOU think are the advantages of being in the RAF?
    • What do YOU think are the disadvantages of being in the RAF?

    RAF Recruit Training
    • Where is it?
    • How long is it?
    • How is that time broken down?
    -Name the 3 phases of training
    -What are you going to get taught during each phase?

    RAF Trade Training
    • Which RAF station is your Trade Training carried out on?
    • How long is it?
    • What are you going to be taught during your trade training?
    • What civilian qualifications will you gain from your trade training?
    • What is the role of your chosen trade within the RAF?

    I'm sure I've missed things out but you'd have been told the things you need to know about at your presentation. After your interview you'll sit in at your AFCO for around 20 minutes whilst being assessed and reviewed, and then you'll be told whether you're successful or not there and then!

    MEDICAL
    The medical will change depending on your chosen role, but they all have the same sort of basis. You'll be sent off to a civilian doctor, (may require some traveling). You'll have a basic hearing and vision test, followed by a test of lung capacity and heart thingymagig, I don't know what it is. Making sure you have healthy heart I guess. You'll then be weighed and measured. Then you'll be stripped down to your pants and socks and made to squat, walk around on your heels, and generally make a fool of yourself so the doctor can assess your joints and how you walk. I don't know if this applies to everyone but the doctor told me on the date that I was combat ready and my medical passed without any problems.

    OASC
    This is what separates the men from the boys. This will really determine your future in the RAF. Unfortunately I missed this by a matter of days, so I can only go by what I've read and heard. You'll be invited up to RAF Cranwell for 3 days of leadership testing, problem solving, and planning exercises. You'll also undertake a fitness assessment involving a MSFT and press ups and sit ups. I think you have to pass every part of OASC or you'll be sent home? Someone will have to confirm that for me. What I do know however, is that you'll have to to sit a Final Interview infront of the OASC board, following the same sort of pattern as your filter, only much much more detailed and grilling.

    ALL AIRCREW / SNCO CANDICATES WILL NOW RE-JOIN THE SAME PATH AS THE AIRMEN CANDIDATES AT THE STAGE OF PRTC. OFFICER CANDIDATES WILL CONTINUE ON THIS PATH.

    CRANWELL FAMILIARIZATION
    Will work on once I've researched it.

    IOT
    Will work on once I've researched it.
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    AIRMEN / AIRWOMEN

    AST
    So once your AFCO has received your application, you will be invited in to sit the AST. The AST is a test compromising of;
    • Verbal Reasoning with 15 minutes to answer 20 questions
    • Numerical Reasoning Part 1 with 4 minutes to answer 12 questions
    • Numerical Reasoning Part 2 with 11 minutes to answer 15 questions
    • Work Rate with 4 minutes to answer 20 questions
    • Spatial Reasoning Part 1 with 4 minutes to answer 10 questions
    • Spatial Reasoning Part 2 with 3 minutes to answer 10 questions
    • Electrical Comprehension with 11 minutes to answer 21 questions
    • Mechanical Comprehension with 10 minutes to answer 20 questions
    • Memory Test Part 1 will comprise of 10 questions presented on film
    • Memory test Part 2 will also comprise of 10 questions presented on film
    The tests aren't as dreadful as they sound, and as long as you've got your head screwed on properly, and have done some preparation beforehand you should not have a problem. There are many, MANY different aptitude tests online you can practice with. I think I must have gone through every military in the world practising their aptitude tests up to my test date. Once you're in, it will fly by, and hopefully you'll be successful. If you are, you'll find out on the day. The score requirement will change depending on which role you're going for. If you let me know here I can tell you the required score and you can hone your skills in the selected area.

    EDUCATIONAL WAIVER (MY EXPERIENCE ONLY)
    Unfortunately, I didn't get the required GCSE grade for the role I wanted. Applying for Weapons Technician requires a physics specific GCSE and my school didn't have it. Additional Science at a C would have also been accepted but I only managed a D. My superstar Corporal at the AFCO said that she'd apply for a Educational Waiver for me, but I had to write out my covering letter myself, and she would jazz it up a bit for me with RAF talk. It worked and my qualification was wavered!!!

    INTERVIEW
    I have my interview on the 07/10/2016, I'm *guessing* the interview is a toned down version of the Officers/Aircrew interview. You'll need to know the same information, but they won't be quite as grilling if you're unsure of the answer. I guess if you've shown dedication and willingness to learn and research then you'll have a good chance. If you are going to be sure on one thing however, let it be why you want to join the RAF. If you've read my officer/aircrew guide then the information you'll need to know will be up there, it'll also be given to you on your P2 Presentation date, I'm not going to research it for you.

    MEDICAL
    The medical will change depending on your chosen role, but they all have the same sort of basis. You'll be sent off to a civilian doctor, (may require some traveling). You'll have a basic hearing and vision test, followed by a test of lung capacity and heart thingamajig, I don't know what it is. Making sure you have healthy heart I guess. You'll then be weighed and measured. Then you'll be stripped down to your pants and socks and made to squat, walk around on your heels, and generally make a fool of yourself so the doctor can assess your joints and how you walk. I don't know if this applies to everyone but the doctor told me on the date that I was combat ready and my medical passed without any problems.

    PJFT
    Your Pre-joining fitness test will be held at a local Nuffield Health or Fitness First gym. It will compromise of a timed 2.4km run, press ups, and sit ups. The requirements change depending on age/gender and such, they are as follows;


    PRTC
    PRTC has been designed to help future recruits familiarise themselves with RAF Halton, and the environment they're going to be in during their phase one training. This is where you will do your second and final fitness test, only this time it compromises of a bleep test instead of a timed run. A bleep test or 'shuttle run' I think i've heard some people call it, essentially just means running in-between two cones 20 meters apart, hitting each cone before the bleep, the bleeps will become closer and closer together until you don't manage to hit the next cone. There are also various literacy and numeracy tests, but I feel like if you've managed to pass your AST you shouldn't find these too taxing. You'll also do functional skills examinations. You'll also get issued your boots and your service number, which is a great feeling! The RAF website has some useful information on the PRTC here.

    YOUR FINAL INTERVIEW
    The last hurdle of your application process. You should feel proud to get this far. People seem to be under the impression that you cannot fail this, as you already have your service number and boots, but you definitely can fail it. From what I've heard and spoken to applicants about, the interview lasts around 20 minutes and covers everything you've covered in your previous interviews. Once the interview is over, you'll be given your provisional offer of service. You'll then go over some documents and be given an informal chat about the training process and what to expect. Overall a very straight forward event.

    Considering you've passed all of the above stages. Your application process should be complete and you should be given your start date for RAF Basic training soon enough.
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    Reserved.
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    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    *Will be added and updated as they start to come in*
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    Quite a few errors in here. Not all officer branches require a CBAT. Logistics/personnel support/training are just 3 examples of those that don't. There are more. Officers do NOT go to Halton for PRTC. After OASC, if successful they will do a familiarisation visit at RAF cranwell before starting a 24 week Initial Officer Training Course at RAF Cranwell.
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    (Original post by Lekzz)
    Quite a few errors in here. Not all officer branches require a CBAT. Logistics/personnel support/training are just 3 examples of those that don't. There are more. Officers do NOT go to Halton for PRTC. After OASC, if successful they will do a familiarisation visit at RAF cranwell before starting a 24 week Initial Officer Training Course at RAF Cranwell.
    Thanks for the heads up. Will correct where needed. Interesting stuff, I was under the impression that everyone went through Basic at Halton before then moving on to their respective training!
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    This might not be the best place to ask but since Fatty Hater been in the application process for 2 years you might know the answer to my question.

    I was applying for SNCO ATC and got knocked back on the first day of OASC. I'm now looking to apply as an airmen and wanted to know how the AST compares to the CBAT? If I passed the CBAT is it safe to assume I could pass the AST? Obviously I'm still going to do the preparation either way, I'd just like some idea of what I'm getting myself into. Thanks for any help you can offer!

    Ethan
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    (Original post by FattyHater)
    Thanks for the heads up. Will correct where needed. Interesting stuff, I was under the impression that everyone went through Basic at Halton before then moving on to their respective training!
    No problem, I think it's admirable someone is making the effort to get an accurate post constructed which can be of benefit to everyone who is thinking of applying. but yes, Officers so not go to Halton. Straight from OASC into a 24 week Officer training course at Cranwell. You didn't mention NCA's so
    I'll add that on. They do Halton before coming to do a 12 week course at Cranwell. They graduate as sargeants.
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    (Original post by Lekzz)
    No problem, I think it's admirable someone is making the effort to get an accurate post constructed which can be of benefit to everyone who is thinking of applying. but yes, Officers so not go to Halton. Straight from OASC into a 24 week Officer training course at Cranwell. You didn't mention NCA's so
    I'll add that on. They do Halton before coming to do a 12 week course at Cranwell. They graduate as sargeants.
    I figure if I started with a baseline people would contribute and I'd end up with a pretty solid step by step guide along with questions people often ask so I appreciate the input!

    (Original post by Ethan1998)
    This might not be the best place to ask but since Fatty Hater been in the application process for 2 years you might know the answer to my question.I was applying for SNCO ATC and got knocked back on the first day of OASC. I'm now looking to apply as an airmen and wanted to know how the AST compares to the CBAT? If I passed the CBAT is it safe to assume I could pass the AST? Obviously I'm still going to do the preparation either way, I'd just like some idea of what I'm getting myself into. Thanks for any help you can offer!Ethan
    Hi! Sorry you didn't quite make it through OASC, what held you back, the fitness test? I found the AST pretty straightforward, no offense to the airmen candidates but it doesn't really compare to the CBAT. As long as you're not complacent and you do keep your brain switched on and maybe practise a few aptitude tests online you shouldn't have any problems at all. I was worried about it but I came out with scores allowing me to apply for every role in the Air Force that requires the AST. It wasn't a problem, which role are you going for?
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    FattyHater The more you post, the less likely it is I will ever join the RAF You've completely put me off even trying.
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    Hot damn this post is fresh. I too started my application two years ago but got stopped by first having a car crash then second Capita making me TMU then 3rd Capita losing my Medical documents then just everything seeming to take longer than it should do. You still got a while to go yet with the Medical process and Fitness test so I reckon you'll be in for next year.

    Good luck with it all though!
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    Fattyhater,

    Excellent idea and well done for the work you're putting in. Its looking like a good thread/sticky so far :-).

    Best of luck with the rest of your application.
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    (Original post by cbreef)
    FattyHater The more you post, the less likely it is I will ever join the RAF You've completely put me off even trying.
    You shouldn't be put off in the slightest. What is making you so? If you want to apply, apply, don't give up.
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    (Original post by 0902)
    You shouldn't be put off in the slightest. What is making you so? If you want to apply, apply, don't give up.
    Selection looks really tough, I'm not sure I'd make it through.
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    (Original post by 0902)
    Fattyhater,

    Excellent idea and well done for the work you're putting in. Its looking like a good thread/sticky so far :-).

    Best of luck with the rest of your application.
    Thanks mate it means a lot! Just thought I'd lend a hand.. cheers mate. Here's hoping I manage to succeed this time!!

    (Original post by MarshallR)
    Hot damn this post is fresh. I too started my application two years ago but got stopped by first having a car crash then second Capita making me TMU then 3rd Capita losing my Medical documents then just everything seeming to take longer than it should do. You still got a while to go yet with the Medical process and Fitness test so I reckon you'll be in for next year.Good luck with it all though!
    Thanks mate! Sorry about all the delays, seems to be the case with the RAF doesn't it. You should be in this time though! I passed my medical for WSOp earlier on in the year before failing my second CBAT so my medical results are still valid, my AFCO seem to think I'll be able to skip my medical on this ground so hopefully this is the case!!
    (Original post by cbreef)
    @FattyHater The more you post, the less likely it is I will ever join the RAF You've completely put me off even trying.
    Don't be disheartened buddy, selection isn't necessarily that tough, just long and a bit tedious! All good things are though right? Go for it!
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    Really? I think you should be able to aswell but lucky you then. I would hate to have to do my medical again to be honest it seems like Capita try to make you fail like for the tiniest reason or even to delay it. Plus they really were not the most helpful in terms of getting there paperwork organised. Got PRTC on Wednesday so hopefully I should pass that fairly easily then final interview then off to start my career in the RAF!1
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    (Original post by MarshallR)
    Really? I think you should be able to aswell but lucky you then. I would hate to have to do my medical again to be honest it seems like Capita try to make you fail like for the tiniest reason or even to delay it. Plus they really were not the most helpful in terms of getting there paperwork organised. Got PRTC on Wednesday so hopefully I should pass that fairly easily then final interview then off to start my career in the RAF!1
    Yeah man, passing aircrew medical means that I will pass for everything considering the aircrew medical is the most comprehensive. Any idea how long after the medical is the fitness test? I feel like that's my next big hurdle before PRTC! That's awesome mate, PRTC sounds so exciting, it's when it all falls together and you get your boots and service number and it really feels like final. All the best!

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