Getting ready to be a Marines Officer

The joining process for Royal Marines Commando Officers is exceptionally rigorous. Like any physical and mental test, being prepared will give you the best chance of success. This section gives you more details about the Naval Service Recruiting Test (NSRT), the Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT), the Potential Officers Course (POC), and the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB).

NAVAL SERVICE RECRUITING TEST

The NSRT enables us to test your general intellectual ability, regardless of your existing academic qualifications. This gives us more information, and is a fair way of assessing all candidates on a level playing field.

The test has four different sections, which you’ll need to complete within a strict time limit. They measure your:

  • General reasoning- testing your mental agility with logic based questions
  • Verbal ability - assessing your understanding of language and ability to communicate
  • Numeracy - testing your numerical reasoning and basic mathematical ability
  • Mechanical comprehension - Assessing your understanding of basic mechanical principles

If you don’t pass the NSRT first time around, don’t worry – you can take it again. Your Careers Adviser will tell you what the timescales are likely to be.

To help you prepare, try a practice Recruiting Test.

PRE-JOINING FITNESS TEST

For the Royal Marines PJFT, you’ll need to complete two 2.4km runs on a treadmill that is set to a 2% incline. To pass you will need to do the first run in less than 12 minutes and 30 seconds. The second run will start after a one-minute break and will need to be completed in less than 10 minutes. This time is an absolute minimum requirement and the expectation is that you return the best time possible.

If you’re going to excel at the PJFT (and in your Officer Training), it’s critical that you get into the best physical condition. We’ve put together a training programme to get your fitness levels to what they should be.

Ideally you should follow the programme in its entirety, so you can get the most out of it – and increase your chances of success, not only at the PJFT, but also the POC. Find out more about getting fit to join here.

Potential Officers Course (POC)

The four-day Potential Officer Course is demanding. However fit you are, you will be pushed to your physical limits and will be working outside your comfort zone. It’s your chance to show that you have the practical leadership skills needed to become a Royal Marines Commando Officer. The course will follow this schedule:

Day one

Arrive at CTCRM, Lympstone on Tuesday afternoon along with your fellow candidates. You’ll receive a PRMC briefing, clothing and boots, before seeing the facilities that will be available during your training. You will then enjoy an evening meal as a group.

Day Two

You will be instructed in basic drill techniques before completing your first physical test, which is a 4.8km run in two parts. You'll have to run the first 2.4km as a group in under 12 minutes and 30 seconds. Then you’ll run the second 2.4km as quickly as you can, with a minimum requirement of less than 10 minutes. This will be conducted outside, and you will have a one-minute break between each run.

After a series of interactive lectures, you’ll then have to complete a series of gym tests (remember to bring non-slip trainers) as part of the Royal Marines Fitness Assessment (RMFA). The RMFA is scored out of 400 points, and the higher score you get, the better your chance of passing the PRMC. Any candidate scoring less than 180 points on the overall RMFA will be withdrawn from the course. The assessment consists of the following:

  • VO2 Max (the ‘bleep test’): run between two lines, 20 metres apart, at a pace dictated by bleeps, beginning at level 1. Each level has shuttles at the same pace, with that pace getting quicker at the start of each new level. Level 11 is the minimum requirement, and failure to achieve this will result in withdrawal from the course. The more shuttles completed beyond Level 11, the more points are earned
  • Press ups: complete as many full press ups as possible in two minutes. 60 press ups will get you a maximum points. Each press up will be completed in time with audible bleeps to ensure the right level of muscle tension for each repetition
  • Sit ups: complete as many full sit ups as you can in two minutes. 85 sit ups will get you maximum points. Like the press ups, these will also be completed in time with bleeps
  • Overhand grasp pull ups: carried out on a wooden beam, your target should be a minimum of eight quality pull ups. 16 pull ups will get you maximum points. You will need to do the pull ups to bleeps for both the upward and downward movements to make sure you are moving correctly and not using momentum to help you. Any less than three is an automatic fail, and candidates are expected to continue to their own personal limit

After the gym tests comes a swimming assessment. You will need to jump off the 3-metre diving platform and complete two 100m lengths of breaststroke without any pauses, and pick up a rubber brick from the bottom of the deep end. If you struggle with any part of the assessment, you will be considered a weak swimmer and be advised on how to improve ahead of Basic Training.

Finally you will have an interview with your course Corporal, where you will need to show a broad understanding of the Corps. To do well, study the information your careers adviser gives you, take a look at the website and do your own research.

Day three

The third day is a gruelling physical and mental examination, beginning with the confidence test and assault course. These are carried out in all weather and you will be outside and active for over two hours. This is an opportunity to show your determination and stamina.

During the day you will complete:

  • A confidence test on the Tarzan Assault Course. This involves climbing ladders, moving across ropes and negotiating obstacles up to 30 feet off the ground
  • An induction and run through the bottom field assault course. This will also include team games and other arduous physical activities designed to test your motivation and determination. Listen and watch the instructor’s demonstrations carefully as it will save you time and reduce the risk of injury
  • An endurance course. This is the last physical test, lasting about 90 minutes and covering over 2.5 miles of cross-country ground in Woodbury Common (four miles from CTCRM). You will tackle tunnels and water obstacles, including the ‘sheep dip’ (submerged tunnel), and a number of determination tests. Finally you will do a “Hare and Hounds” where you must keep pace with one of the course instructors for a mile, before going on a steady run back to CTCRM through four miles of country lanes. The endurance course will test your dedication. We will expect you to keep going while staying positive, despite being wet, cold and tired
  • After your endurance course you will collect all the field equipment you need to spend the night out in field conditions This over-night exercise will give you the chance to experience a side of recruit life that is less about fitness. You will work as a team to prepare food and shelter, and look after yourself and your equipment.

Day four

Your final day at CTCRM will include a physical lecture with the PRMC Physical Training Instructor (PTI), a medical brief and a pay brief. After returning your kit, you will be told if you have passed, certificates will be issued and you will depart.

ADMIRALTY INTERVIEW BOARD

The one-and-a-half day AIB is your opportunity to show us that you’ve got what it takes to be a Royal Marines Officer – both mentally and physically.

This competency-based process assesses whether you have the qualities to successfully become an officer, once you’ve completed your training. You can expect the following:

Essay

You'll need to choose from one of six topics and write an essay, within 45 minutes using a computer. This will help us assess your written communication skills.

Practical Leadership Task

In the gym, you and your group will be set a series of tasks involving crossing a space using various planks, ropes, poles and spars. You may have to take an item with you and cross the gap more than once, and the task may be over a water-filled tank. Each candidate will lead one of the tasks.

Before the tests begin, you'll each be given a written brief for the task you're leading, including the objective of the task and a list of the equipment you'll be using. You'll have 15 minutes to study it on your own and develop your plan. The task is designed to test your:

  • Teamwork and leadership ability
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Resilience
  • Strength of character

Planning Exercise

You’ll have 15 minutes to study a written brief, which details a fictional scenario. After entering the Boardroom we’ll introduce some problems to the scenario setting, and you’ll have a further 15 minutes to discuss possible solutions with your group, and agree on a plan.

You will then present this to the Board, as a group. We will question each member of your group to examine everyone’s grasp of the situation, before you individually present your own final solution to the problem.

Interview

This will last 30-40 minutes, giving us the chance to explore your motivation for joining the Royal Marines. You should be able to give us examples of things you’ve done in support of your answers, so it’s worth preparing yourself by picking out relevant activities and events from your life.

You may also be asked about how your chosen career will contribute to both the Naval Service and to wider Defence Policy.

You will then complete computer-based psychometric tests on the second day and these will be conducted around your interview. These tests include the following:

  • A verbal test designed to demonstrate your general reasoning and ability with words
  • A non-verbal reasoning test, again measuring your reasoning power, but this time without the emphasis on verbal skills
  • A numerical test covering numerical fluency, reasoning and statistics

Fitness Assessment

Your fitness test consists of an outdoor, timed 2.4km run. As well as counting towards your overall grade, this is a pass or fail assessment. If you don’t reach the required standard for your age and gender, you will not be considered for selection, no matter how well you did in the rest of your time at the AIB.

AIB RESULTS

You’ll know if you’ve been forwarded for selection that same afternoon, though being forwarded doesn’t guarantee your entry into training. Everyone is placed in an order of merit. The final selection depends on the number of vacancies available at the time and the number of successful candidates who reach the required fitness, medical and educational standards.