ACF officers are selected at the Cadet Force Commissioning Board (CFCB), which is held at the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) in Westbury, Wiltshire. The selection panel in charge of the process is made up of ACF officers.
The assessment weekend is deliberately intensive (lasting from Friday evening through to 10am on Sunday) and is designed to test candidates’ leadership qualities and potential.
When you arrive at Westbury on Friday evening you will get a briefing, in readiness for the following two days of tests and assessments, followed by an opportunity to introduce yourself to the rest of the group.
The assessment weekend consist of a briefing phase (to prepare you for the tasks ahead) and a testing phase.
Most tests take place in syndicate groups (participants are given a numbered coloured bib and are referred to by number throughout the weekend). No one test will result in a 'not selected' decision, you will be assessed on your overall performance throughout the assessment phase and the process will help the assessors to identify your suitability for an ACF Commission as well as your strengths and areas for further development.
Over the weekend you can expect to:
- Take part in group discussions
Description: Leaderless syndicate groups will be given a number of set topics, including at least one youth related topic, that they will be asked to discuss.
Purpose: Assessors will be looking at listening and speaking skills, how well individuals communicate with others in the group and how well they put across their ideas.
- Take individual timed mental aptitude profile tests
Description: These are computerised verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning tests which give an indication of general intelligence.
Purpose: The tests will provide information on your strengths and weaknesses in different areas and will help the board to allocate tasks at a level that is appropriate for you.
- Undertake a Planning Exercise (PlanEx)
Description: Prior to the PlanEx all candidates are given a detailed tutorial on how to approach the exercise. Each PlanEx provides a written, non-military, scenario outlining the various challenges you need to overcome (you’ll be asked to look at aims, a variety of factors such as time, speed, distance, resources, weather, and risk; and to identify a number of courses of action which will then allow you to produce a plan). At the start of the exercise you’ll be devising your own written plan. This is followed by a group phase where you will work with the other members of your syndicate group to generate a verbal group plan. The Deputy President of the CFCB, who has been observing the exercise, then asks each participant to step up and answer a number of questions about the scenario or the plan.
Purpose: The main point of the PlanEx is to see how you can extract information, work out solutions, formulate plans and how you pass this information on to others.
- Have a one-to-one interview
Description: The interview will be based on your CV and conducted by one of the Vice Presidents of the CFCB.
Purpose: Your interviewer will be keen to find out why you want to be an officer and to find out more about you, your skills and your aspirations.
Undertake a written exercise on an ACF-related topic
Description: You will be given 30 minutes to produce a written report covering a page and a half of A4 paper.
Purpose: As an officer you will need to fill in quite a lot of paperwork so this exercise assesses your ability to express yourself clearly on paper.
Deliver an individual ‘Lecturette’ in front of your syndicate group
Description: You will be given three topics (chosen from reading through your CV) and given 10 minutes to prepare a five minute talk on one of the topics, which you will deliver to your syndicate group.
Purpose: This task will provide information on your communication and presentation skills.
Take part in group Command Tasks
Description: Each group will be asked to complete a number of command tasks with individuals taking it in turns to assume the role of leader. To succeed candidates need to interact well with their team, make best use of the time allocated to complete the task and demonstrate their ability to command other adults.
Purpose: The aim of the task is to see how people take command under pressure and time constraints. The assessors will be looking for practical ability, command, leadership, the ability to analyse and plan, and problem solving skills as well as team work.
At the end of the weekend the assessors will gather together to assess each candidate and decide who has reached the standard to receive an ACF Commission. There is no set selection quota, CFCB would like a 100% pass rate so they are looking for evidence to pass candidates, not fail them.
If you are successful you will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and begin a probationary period. During your first year you will undertake a year-long programme of tailored training to ensure you have the tools you need to fulfil your role. This Initial Officer Training programme (IOT) is undertaken online so you can fit it in around the demands of family, work and cadets.