The British Army Recruit Battery Test, or BARB as it is more commonly called, is an accurate assessment of a candidates ability to perform specific tasks that are similar to those required in roles within the British Army. In order to increase your career opportunities within the Army, you will need to score higher than 26. Basically, the higher your score, the more jobs you will be eligibel to choose from.



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The British Army Recruit Battery test – or BARB test as it is more commonly known, is used by the Army recruitment staff to assess how accurately you can carry out tasks in your head. The result that you obtain during the test is called your General Trainability Index (GTI). This helps the Army match you with roles that most suit your abilities. The more technical the role is, such as a career in the Royal Engineers, the higher score you will need in order to pass. In addition to this, the higher your score, the more jobs you’ll have to choose from!


The BARB test is split into five sections: reasoning, letter checking, number distance, odd one out and symbol rotation.


One of the initial stages of the selection process will require you to sit the British Army Recruit Battery test, more commonly known as the BARB test, which has been in use for many years.

It is a tried and tested method that the Army will use to determine what career(s) you are most likely to be suited for. It is important that you aim for the highest score possible on the test and this can only be achieved through ‘deliberate’ and ‘repetitive’ practice.

The pass mark for the BARB test is currently 26 although you will need to confirm this with your local Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO). This effectively means that you must get 26 questions correct, but as I mentioned earlier don’t just settle for a pass. You need to achieve as high a score as possible as this will give you more career options depending on your academic results.

Work hard at practising the tests within this book and also within the BARB booklet when you receive it from the AFCO. Don’t just sit back like so many people do – practise hard and make sure you pass. Your choice of trade will be dependent upon the score you achieve during the BARB test. Basically, the higher your score, the more career options you will have. This is a good incentive therefore for you to work hard and prepare fully.

It is also important that you follow my previous advice on creating the right impression. It may not seem appropriate to dress smartly when you are attending the BARB test but that little bit of extra effort in terms of your appearance and bearing will go a long way to aid your mental preparation.

More about the BARB test
Psychometric tests within the British Army are used as a tool to measure the mind and your ability. If we break down the word ‘psychometric’ we can see that ‘psycho’ means mind and ‘metric’ means to measure. BARB is a computer-based, psychometric assessment that was developed by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) and Plymouth University. It is a series of timed questions that assess a candidate’s ability to absorb information quickly and logically.
The computer automatically calculates the candidate’s score, based on the number of correct answers and the time taken. The final score is referred to as the GTI (General Trainability Index). The BARB test has been in use since July 1992.

Tips for improving your BARB test scores

• Once you have completed your BARB test preparation there are still a number of things you can do in order to improve your scores. It is vital that you get a good night’s sleep the night before you are due to take the test. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that you will give yourself a better chance of achieving a higher score. This in turn will give you more career options to choose from. It will also ensure that you feel confident before taking the test as fatigue can cause stress, which will inhibit your performance on the day.

• Make sure that you know exactly where you need to go to take the test. This may sound like an obvious tip but you’ll be amazed at how many people get to the test centre late and are then not allowed to sit the test. Go to the test centre a few days before your scheduled date to familiarise yourself fully with the directions and parking facilities, etc.

• Do not take the test on an empty stomach. You should try to eat a good breakfast on the morning of your test. This doesn’t mean eating a great big fry-up but instead eating something that is light and that will give you sustained energy throughout the day. Porridge is great for providing sustained energy or alternatively you could choose a healthy cereal such as bran flakes with a chopped banana spread over the top.

• If your test is scheduled to start at 10a.m. make sure you get there early enough to avoid a last minute panic. It is far better to get there early and have to hang around rather than get there late and not be able to sit the test at all.

• Take a small bottle of water with you to keep yourself hydrated and focused.

• If you wear glasses make sure you take them along with you. You will be using a computer and you need to ensure you can see correctly.

• The night before the test read any correspondence thoroughly at least twice and make sure you haven’t missed anything glaringly obvious. You may be required to take something with you and if you don’t do what is required it shows that you are not very good at following instructions – something that is key to a soldier’s role.

• What dress code would you expect and what dress code would you be most impressed with? Remember that you are joining a disciplined service that always looks smart and prepared. Just because you are not a soldier yet, doesn’t mean to say you can’t start thinking like one. Go smartly dressed, which will present a good image.



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