Preparing for OASC Selection: The CBAT Pilot Aptitude Tests

Preparing for OASC Selection: The CBAT Pilot Aptitude Tests

Please note: This article may not contain the very latest information on the CBAT tests and should be viewed as an overview.


For those aspiring to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) as officers, the journey begins with rigorous selection processes. Among these processes is the Computer-Based Aptitude Test (CBAT), a pivotal step in the assessment of candidates for various RAF branches, including Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, and Weapon Systems Operators. This article serves as a simple guide to help you understand the CBAT pilot aptitude tests and what to expect during the selection process.

RAF Officer Selection: High Standards and Strict Screening

The RAF maintains high standards for its officers, and rightly so. These individuals will be entrusted with advanced training and equipment, responsible for complex tasks that may involve the well-being and lives of others. Selecting the right candidates is crucial, and the RAF makes no apologies for its stringent screening processes.

The CBAT Aptitude Tests

1. CBAT Overview: The Computer-Based Aptitude Test (CBAT) is a full-day assessment designed to evaluate your cognitive abilities. It measures specific cognitive skills essential for success in various RAF branches. The tests are computer-based and don’t require advanced computer skills.

2. Test Content: The CBAT consists of multiple aptitude tests, each focusing on different cognitive abilities. The tests you take will depend on your branch choice. Not all branches require aptitude testing. The types of tests include:

– Numerical Reasoning
– Verbal Reasoning
– Spatial Reasoning
– Hand-Eye Coordination
– Multitasking

3. Test Preparation: Before each test, you’ll receive detailed instructions and practice questions to help you understand the requirements. While you can’t predict the exact questions, you can prepare by brushing up on relevant skills. Practice mental arithmetic, spatial awareness, and multitasking abilities.

4. Test Results: Your performance in these tests will indicate your potential for success during professional training in specific RAF branches. Keep in mind that not all branches require aptitude testing, so the tests you take depend on your branch preferences.

Test Retakes and Eligibility

– There is no limit on the number of times you can retake an aptitude test, but a year must elapse between attempts.
– Be aware of upper age limits for branch preferences, as they may affect the number of attempts.
– Some tests used for RAF pilot selection are also used by other services like the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps. Attempting a test for one service initiates a time limitation for testing in the others.

Understanding the Aptitude Tests

Each test is designed to assess specific abilities:

– Airborne Numerical Test: Measures your ability to estimate numerical calculations under time pressure, essential for airborne environments.
-Angles, Bearings, and Degrees Test: Assesses your judgment of angles and bearings, vital for navigation.
– Auditory Capacity Test: Evaluates your memory capacity under multitasking conditions.
– Cognitive Updating Test: Tests your ability to manage and coordinate tasks in a busy environment.
– Colours Letters and Numbers Test: Measures your ability to shift attention between different tasks.
– Digit Recognition Test: Assesses your short-term visual memory.
– Directions and Distances Test: Evaluates your ability to interpret spatial relationships.
– Dynamic Projection Test: Tests your ability to interpret and direct objects’ movement in a 3D environment.
– Instrument Comprehension Test: Assesses your ability to visualize aircraft orientation using instrument readings.
– Mathematics Reasoning Test: Measures your ability to solve numerical problems related to time, speed, and distance.
– Numerical Operations Test: Evaluates your ability to perform mental arithmetic quickly and accurately.
– Rapid Tracking Test: Assesses your eye-hand coordination in tracking and targeting objects.
– Sensory Motor Apparatus Test: Measures your eye-hand-foot coordination.
– Situational Awareness Test: Assesses your ability to maintain and update a mental picture of a changing situation.
– Spatial Integration Test: Evaluates your ability to form a 3D air/ground picture from 2D displays.
– System Logic Test: Measures your ability to solve logical problems related to systems.
– Table Reading Test: Assesses your work rate in scanning and cross-referencing tables of information.
– Target Recognition Test: Evaluates your ability to search for and identify visual targets.
– Trace Test 1 and 2: Assesses your orientation and memory abilities in 3D space.
– Verbal Logic Test: Measures your ability to use and interpret written verbal information to solve problems.
– Vigilance Test: Assesses your ability to scan information and switch between tasks.
– Visual Search Test: Evaluates your ability to scan information under time constraints.

Test Environment and Timing

The tests take place in a specially equipped room with computer-based testing stations. Instructions are provided on-screen, and practice sessions precede each test. Test sessions can be long, so it’s essential to have a good breakfast and stay hydrated.

Post-Testing Review

After completing the tests, you’ll receive a debriefing from an OASC staff member, discussing your performance. This review is a chance to explore branch options, particularly if your test results affect your initial branch preference.

Further Assessment

If you meet the minimum aptitude standards for your preferred branch, you may be invited for further assessment, including exercises, medical boards, interviews, and fitness tests.

Preparing thoroughly and approaching the CBAT with confidence will help you put your best foot forward in the RAF. For some useful practice at these types of test, you might like to check out


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