AOSB tests

BT9

Active member
Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
38
This forum is becoming a gold mine for useful information. I thought it may be a good idea to start a thread for advice and pointers on more cognitive skills we could improve on.

Things like speed, distance, time calculations?

Route planning?

How to effectively plan and take part in command tasks?
 

Snows

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
95
Reaction score
326
So, AOSB tests? Fair question if so, but might be easier to rename the thread as such so people can find it, none of these are directly used a great deal after AOSB.

SDT calculations are just a matter of understanding the basics and then practice. Aside from AOSB and the odd course I've never really been required to do SDT in my head, you always have time to do it on paper. The best approach for me was: memorise the triangle as a picture (D over S X T), and remember that all you have to do to find one value is to calculate the remaining values in the triangle. So Distance is Speed X Time, Speed is Distance / Time, Time is Distance / Speed. Feed in numbers as appropriate. In some cases (i.e. if you know your average speed, which is often the case in real use), you can just memorise the distance / time table for that speed. This is what PTIs etc do for runs and tabs. For AOSB it's not so useful.

Route planning, if I'm correct in thinking you mean AOSB tests, is an integral part of your plan for the planning exercise. There's no such thing as a "choice" of best route, there are only different speeds of routes and objectives achieved. So obviously you want to achieve all the objectives within the time you have allowed, but planning exercises are usually structured to make that difficult. Routes don't really come into it.

Command tasks, also, are a mixed bag. AOSB actually has a range of difficulty of command tasks, and your DS will assign one to you based on what they think your capability is. You or your team may have a great insight that makes it simple for you, or not. It doesn't matter, as the aim is not really to pass the task, it's to challenge you and see how you respond to that. The answers to that are fairly simple. For a non-led command task, be active, helpful but not overbearing. If you have an idea of how to do it, come forward with it. If not, help those who do. Help according to your ability, not how you think it makes you seem - the small agile person is probably best at the end of the plank your team is pushing over a gap, the strongest biggest person is probably best anchoring the plank. For someone else's led command task, behave the same a non-led one. For your led command task, make best use of the people and ideas you have. If you have no clue how to achieve it, open up the floor quickly. For all command tasks, the test of the team is if you can communicate and try ideas as quickly and effectively as possible, without snapping at each other or becoming authoritarian or overbearing. A good leader enables the above, regardless of whether they came up with the winning plan. Whether or not you complete the task is secondary.

Roughly the same applies to the planning exercise (PLANEX). They aren't testing how brilliant you are, they are testing how you think, plan, and react when put under pressure. So you can't really avoid being put under pressure, that is the main aim of your DS. They will put you under the kind of pressure they can, or think challenges your weak spots. This wasn't at AOSB, but later on I had to do a set of PLANEX on another course. For one particularly difficult one, I hit on a good approach early and realised I'd found basically the "ideal" solution which achieved every objective in the time limit (pretty rare for most PLANEX). I went into the debriefing confident in the plan and with all the information memorised. It took the debriefer half the questioning time to realise my plan and recall was pretty solid. So instead they constructed an entirely seperate line of challenge about the moral aspect of what I was asking my fictional team to do, invented a mutiny scenario where they refused to do it, and then hammered me on that for the other half. If you've seen Star Trek, planning exercises are, not entirely but partly, a Kobyashi Maru. They want to see what happens when you are put under pressure, and they will pick holes in your plan until they see that.

For the same reason, it's not very worthwhile being super trained in how to tackle the PLANEX, or following a set format. Your DS will simply report that you had clearly been well prepared, but that doesn't actually answer the question they want. There used to be a number of example planning exercises available online. I would suggest getting those, and working out in slow time your own system of how to approach them. All PLANEX are broadly the same kind of problem: you have X number of objectives to achieve in Y time, there are a lot of different ways of doing it, the best approach is not obvious, and you don't have enough time to try all the options. Being quick at calculations will help with the time limit, but ultimately you need a way to prioritise objectives and think through different options, then develop your plan on paper and identify potential weaknesses or problems with it. If you build your own rational system of how to deal with that problem, you will probably execute it better under pressure than trying to do something you've been taught, and it won't look like you've just been taking lessons.

Like I said, none of these particularly map onto skills you will require later so it's not worth obsessing over them - planning in the Army is either a lot simpler than a PLANEX under the same time constraints, or more complex but you have a lot more time and assistance. AOSB isn't looking for a finished product, it's looking for potential and character: if you fail all your tasks horribly but approach them well, you still have a good chance of passing. Your AOSB result, also, has next to no impact on how RMAS or regiments view you (your pass grade actually used to be hidden from them, not sure if that still applies). A pass is a pass, it's your performance at Sandhurst and things like POIC that matters.
 

Chelonian

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2020
Messages
126
Reaction score
364
This might appear obscure but an interest in the natural environment can only be an advantage to those working in the field.
One needn't have Chris Packham's level of knowledge but anyone who, say, ventures out to develop navigation skills should keep their eyes and ears open and be curious. An understanding of one's environment is a key component of tactical awareness.
 

Snows

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
95
Reaction score
326
I spoke to a mate who was AOSB DS for years. Pointers:
  • Make sure you are comfortably achieving the basics. A lot turn up and struggle or psych themselves out with the fitness test. This means you simply aren't ready, and shouldn't be there yet (hopefully this shouldn't apply to Para candidates!). The recruiting pipeline is a civvy company that is only concerned about getting bums on seats, don't let them rush you.
  • Practice aptitude tests. The aptitude tests are computer set and scored, and pretty standard to most similar aptitude tests (spatial, numerical, verbal, abstract). Familiarising yourself with those kinds of tests online or from the many books available will increase your score, because you will be familiar with the kinds of problems used, which saves time.
  • Don't underestimate the assault course. A lot do, and have difficulties with things like hurdles or rope climbing. When you go on the briefing course, pay attention to the types of obstacles, and then find a way to practice them if you haven't done them before.
  • Command tasks, PLANEX questions, etc may seem random. They are not. Almost every DS-led activity in your group is targeted at you. So the command tasks and so on that you do are chosen specifically for you, even though they might seem random. Don't psych yourself out or feel it's unfair if you feel you are doing a harder task than your peers. This means your ability is thought to be higher. They are deliberately applying pressure.
  • Show your working. Particularly with the written part of the PLANEX. If you can demonstrate a reasonable logical process, you are more likely to do well, even if you make a mistake. A good planning process with an incorrect calculation is better than no planning process with all the right calculations.
  • Don't suck up to your DS. Apparently people try this. AOSB is much more objective and detailed than it might appear on the surface. Your DS is basically filling a set of scores and ticked boxes about your performance, very little of it is their opinion of you. So sucking up is a waste of time, and isn't a great character trait.
The one biggest failure that they said happens quite often is individuals who mistake "leadership" with "loudness". If you don't make your voice heard at all, then obviously you are unlikely to score well, because you have no impact. But conversely, if you constantly dominate the group, conversation, activity or ideas, you are shutting down everyone else, and that is not a good trait. Understand that you need balance.
 
Top