Share this page:

AIB Diary by Deadhead, 2006

All Royal Marines related articles, frequently asked questions and other useful information in here.
Post Reply
Familiar Member
Familiar Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 10:45 am
Location: CTC

AIB Diary by Deadhead, 2006

#1 Post by Deadhead » Fri 05 May, 2006 2:26 pm

Here we go again. As before, feel free to ask questions.

Day One

Getting to HMS Sultan is easy by public transport. I just took the train to Portsmouth Harbour, walk out of the station straight to the ferry. Ticket price is £1.80 for a return, make sure you keep the ticket. The journey takes about 10 minutes if that, it's only going across the harbour mouth. From there the taxi rank is directly in front of you as you walk out of the ferry terminus. The flat rate charge is £5. Make sure you ask for a receipt so that you can charge the MOD for the fare. Taxi drivers do this constantly all year, so they know the drill better than you.

Once you've been dropped off at the main gate you show your letter of invitation to the guards, who direct you to the AIB complex. The letter is your ID card throughout your stay. If (when) you go out to the pub, the letter is what gets you out and in through the gates. If you don't have a letter (a couple of people on my course didn't) for whatever reason, then make sure you bring a passport or other photo ID.

Once we (I met another candidate on the train. He was easy to spot, he had a suit, a suitcase and a confused expression) got into the AIB building, the ratings gave us some admin to run through, plus a very quick tour of the building. Nothing particularly exciting to worry about. The rooms are what you'd expect. Bed, table, chair, wardrobe, sink. I just got my kit squared away and went downstairs to the restroom. There's a pool table (free), TV, monopoly, and a few newspapers.

Until five along there's nothing to do but wait. Gradually the other candidates turned up (I was third to arrive out of nine). One nurse (female), two lads going for logistics (one from the navy), two marines (including me), one army lad transferring, and one scholarship engineering place. Two didn't ever turn up. Foolish if you ask me, as they never informed the AIB, which will probably stop them getting a later date.

We all introducd ourselves and got chatting. I already knew the other marine from my POC, but the others were strangers. The better you know the people you're working with, the better you're going to do, so make sure you get talking. Don't sit quiet in the corner, as that's not going to get you anywhere. I'm not going to comment on personalities too much, but the quietest candidate failed.....

At 17:00 a senior rate came in and introduced himself. He took us into the testing room and gave us a quick brief on what to expect, before we got the overalls and gym shoes we needed for the Practical Leadership Tasks issued. Make sure they fit, as otherwise bending and stretching is going to be awkward. After that it's scran (not bad) and a visit to the pub for team building. I don't have to tell you, stay sober, there's pyschometric testing and a bleep test the next day.

Two real points I think about the whole of the time you're in AIB. First up, it's a lot more relaxed than POC. I called the Chief Rating during my PLT's 'Les'. I don't think I would have ever tried to do that with a CSgt. And Les didn't mind. The Ratings are their to make your life as easy as possible. It's your AIB to screw up, but you won't be doing it because of the Ratings. Ask for all the advice you can get, they want you to pass.

Secondly, it's not worth trying to do last minute revision. If the service knowledge is in your head, then it's in your head. There is nothing you can do to make up for poor preparation at this point. The most you can do is remind yourself of the things you already know. In my opinion a good nights sleep is more important than cramming.

After team bonding at the Cocked Hat (dead expensive) we came back for some pool and then went to bed. The work starts on day two....

Day Two

Wake up call (lovely bugle music through speakers plus a loud recording of "Good Morning Candidates"), is at 6:15. Breakfast is at 6:45-7:15. The food is enough to keep body and soul together, but I don't think it's as good as Lympstone. Not as big a calorie requirement I suppose. After breakfast you wait in the restroom to be called for the testing. This all takes place in one large room and is run by a rating. Before it starts there is an introductory talk from one of the board Captains.

Boards are supposed to be sets of 4. We were supposed to be 3 sets of 3, but as two people didn't turn up we became 1 board of 3 (mine) and 1 board of 4. If you are a board of 3, then for the PLT's you will be assigned a STand In Candidate (STIC). I'll talk about them later.

So, psychometric testing. I suppose you can find tests on the internet to practise on, but I don't think it will be much use. This is a test of basic intelligence, and I think you either have it or you don't. I don't think there's much you can do to prepare. Just don't worry if you find that you can't finish each section. I don't think any of us came close on some of them. The only section you can prepare for is the service knowledge test. For marines it's mostly RM based questions, but make sure you brush up on the navy as well.

After the tests (you get a series of 15 minute breaks in between the tests, to try and stop your brain turning into cabbage), you do a practise discussion exercise. I found that when I looked at the 'staff notes' on the answers, I'd missed out a lot of important points. The most important of them all is speed and distance calculations. If there is a distance on the map between two points, work out how long it will take you to cover it in every mode of transportation you have available.

I'm sorry I can't give more advice on the psychometrics, but it really is designed to measure inherent ability. Not much you can do to improve that.

After the tests it's scran before you get taken to the PLT gym. You take your running kit with you, as you'll be doing a bleep test. Also take a towel in case you fall in to the water tank (you shouldn't unless you have weak arms, which you won't, as you passed POC).

The PLT practise is the only chance you get to familiarise yourself with the equipment before you do the PLT's properly on day 3. So make sure you take in all the information they give you, handle every bit of equipment, make sure you're clear on the commands you can give to the staff (the ropes you use need knots tied in them, which Ratings do for you). If you have ANY questions at all, make sure you ask them. You can't ask them tomorrow, and if you do anything unsafe/not permitted, they will simply shout 'STOP'. You'll have to work out your mistakes yourself.

A few points that I think are important:

If you are using ropes for a bridge, make sure the bowlines are at the same height. Otherwise it's a lot more difficult.

The only things that can bridge between ropes are the 8 foot plank and the 8 foot pole. Everything else is too long and moves the ropes out of range. We failed one of our PLT's because of it.

LOUD VOICES! If they can't hear you they can't mark you, and the accoustics inside the building are terrible.

Using a STIC. STIC is basically a robot. He will just stand there unless you tell him to do something. He won't carry any equipment, he won't be the first across any gaps, he won't come up with any plans. The best use for him is to make him secure the first end of the first plank you start bridging with. It keeps him out of the way and leaves all the actual work (which you get marked on) for the rest of the team to tackle.

I'll deal with the planning of PLT's when I talk about day three.

MSFA (bleep test)

You know the drill. It's exactly the same format as the POC bleep test, only there are less of you, and the standard is lower. After the PLT practise you get changed and taken to the gym. There'll be a very brief warm up and then you'll start the bleep test. One thing I did notice was the difference between marine candidates (and one lad who was currently at Sandhurst) and other people. You don't really get a sense of how fit you actually are at POC, as everybody is up to the same standard. Four candidates dropped out below level 10. I went at 11.12 (which is the point before level 12, and also higher than I managed on POC, which I was chuffed with), the army guy at 12.1, and the other marine at 12.4. Although there isn't the same scrutiny on your results as there is for non marine commisions, if you score low, they will seriously doubt your motivation. So give it everything you've got.

After that the day is your own. You jog back to the AIB, get yourself sorted out, have some scran, and go back to the Cocked Hat for more team bonding. Make sure you get together as a syndicate (board) and talk through what you're going to do for the PLT's. You can't plan your task, but you can make sure that everybody knows what they can do. Teamwork is the key to making sure you all look brilliant on the PLT's.

That's it for the first two days. I'll write up the third in a couple of days (bit busy). Sorry I can't provide as much info and advice as last time, but you do a lot less, and it's not really possible to prepare for some of them.

[EDIT - unstickied as this is no longer the most recent AIB diary on here. However, it still contains much useful information, and so is well worth a read - druadan]

Advertise your company or services here and contact us today!

Familiar Member
Familiar Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 10:45 am
Location: CTC

#2 Post by Deadhead » Tue 09 May, 2006 4:22 pm

Day Three

Up at 6.15, showered, shaved and down for breakfast at 6.45. Back to the room, into overalls and gym shoes for the PLT’s by 7.25. You get taken by bus to the PLT gym, and then it’s straight into the planning:

You get given a piece of laminated card (A4) that shows the layout of the equipment for your task (i.e. platform A, platform B, the ropes and any trestles, tables etc in between the platforms). It also states the mission, which in my case was ‘Get yourself, your team, and the suspended pole to platform B. No more than two people to be on the table at any one time’. Simple enough really. Make sure you read the mission several times to make sure you’ve got it clear in your head. Obviously you don’t want to make a mistake.

You then have 15 minutes to plan your approach to the task. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Best advice I can give. You should know all the techniques available to you, and they aren’t designed to be impossible. Once you’ve had 15 minutes they take the plans away and you line up in the gym to wait for the board to arrive.

Leaderless Task

Once the board have arrived (“Good luck chaps!”), the first task is one without a leader. The Senior Rating who is running the PLT’s will ask who wants the mission card. Stick your hand up. The only time I wouldn’t would be if the plan I’d devised for my PLT had been utter rubbish. In our case all three of us (STIC doesn’t get involved naturally) jumped for it, one of the other guys got the card. You then follow the same format as for the PLT’s: Equipment Check (“boathook! “Check!” etc etc), Mission (read what’s on the card). You then come up with a plan your team. As soon as you touch the equipment, or you have spent 60 seconds planning, the card is taken away from you. The clock starts as soon as you finish reading the mission, and the time limit is eight minutes. It took us under three minutes 50, which is apparently very impressive. There’s no point in describing the task, as they have over 60 different ones. In summary, we built a bridge across the water tank and carried a jerry can across it, before swinging back over to platform A. The leaderless tasks are usually a bit simpler than the PLT’s you get given to plan individually, or at least ours was. Just keep things simple and make sure everybody is doing something (except your STIC if you have one. Ours secured one plank and that’s about it. If the STIC is getting all the attention you’re doing something wrong).

Individual Tasks

As soon as the Leaderless task is finished, you run over to start the individual tasks. Our Senior Rating said that what happens a lot is that he has to give a quick pep talk here, as people aren’t loud enough, active enough, etc. We just got told to keep up the good work we’d done, so we must have been getting something right.

The format for the PLT’s is always the same. You stand on platform B, your team on platform A. The Senior Rating hands you your plan and you have 30 seconds to reacquaint yourself with it, before the plan is taken back. You then address your team. After Equipment Check, you read the mission. You then say ”My plan is….” and read the plan. The clock starts from the moment you say “My”. Once you’ve read the plan you go round to platform A, join your team and get started. Keep your voice nice and loud so they can hear you, and make sure you lead, basically. Most importantly, if things go wrong, don’t panic. Completing the task is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to demonstrate leadership.

Out of the three tasks we had to do (STIC obviously didn’t lead a PLT), we completed 2. One of them (mine) took 7 minutes 15, the other under 4 minutes. Now the lad who failed to complete his task passed AIB, whereas the 4 minute lad failed. So you see, it’s more the leadership you show to the board than the time.

As soon as you finish the PLT’s you take the bus back to the AIB to get changed and prepare for the discussion exercise. I’ll cover that in my next post (probably tomorrow). Feel free to ask questions.

Familiar Member
Familiar Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 10:45 am
Location: CTC

#3 Post by Deadhead » Wed 17 May, 2006 3:32 pm

Sorry for the delay. The real world caught up with me.

Discussion Exercise

After the PLT's, you get back into suits and go off for the discussion exercise. First up, you get given a scenario booklet, and 15 minutes to make as many notes as you like (on your own) on the contents. Ours involved a narrow boat trip. The other board was given something different. I took as many notes as I could on speeds/times/distances, tried to make sure I knew where the phones were, where I could get help, that sort of thing. Chances are that whatever problem is thrown in to the scenario by the board, it will involve travelling somehow.

Once the 15 minutes are up you go into the board room, and sit down at a table facing the female rating who will run the discussion. The rest of the board sit off to the right, but you don't talk to them at all during the first stage of the exercise.

The Rating will give you a problem (injured crew member, explosion on the boat, and an embankment that gave way in our case). You then have 15 minutes collectively to come up with a plan. I can't really give advice on what plan to come up with, obviously. I will say that you get marked down if you don't speak up, if you talk over other people, etc etc. make sure you get your ideas out, make sure you listen to everybody else. Write down your final plan clearly so you can explain it properly. We had an interesting moment when one of the lads on our board got his papers mixed up:

"Explain your plan"

"Our plan is............................

"Do you want me to take this bit?"

"Yes please"

I don't know if that's what did it, but he failed.

After you’ve explained the plan the Rating reads it back to you, making sure it’s all correct. Once you agree with her that she has the plan written down correctly, it’s into the questions.

First up, don’t drift off just because somebody else is being questioned. If candidate one doesn’t know the answer, it’s straight over to another candidate for the same question. If it’s not being asked at you, answer it in your head.

Secondly, be precise in your answers. “About half an hour” will NOT do if the answer is 28 minutes.

Third, don’t panic. Although it will feel like the rating hates you, wants you to fail, and is determined to make you look as bad as possible, that’s just her job. I found that while I was being questioned, just taking a half second before answering helped clear my head a little. If you snatch at an answer and you’re wrong, you’ll look worse than if you take half a second longer and get the right answer. (Example from my board: “At 60 miles an hour, how long will it take you to cover 4 miles?” (quick as a flash) “Fifteen minutes” “No. Candidate 2?” “…4 minutes”

Fourth, be prepared to argue back. If the Rating makes a suggestion that you disagree with, then say so. Not all of her suggestions are good ones. You have to decide for yourself which ones are worth keeping.

After 15 minutes grilling (five minutes each, flitting between candidates), we left the room. We then had two minutes to formulate our own personal plan, based on the discussion. If you think the original plan is perfectly sound, then use it. I used a completely different one, as our initial plan had a few problems. Once the two minutes are up you go back in individually and explain your plan to the whole board. Again you have two minutes.

I didn’t find this nearly as worrying as I thought I would. I have quite a good head for figures and a good short term memory, which helps. We also worked well as a team, which helped us through the PLT’s. I can’t stress enough the advantages of making sure you get to know your other team members. Knowing a little about how they work makes a hell of a difference.

Once we’d finished the discussion, we had a few minutes to drink tea and quietly crap ourselves before the interview. We chatted to our Chief Rating, who did his best to calm us down (whilst we sat around talking about how badly we’d done on everything).


After about fifteen minutes of stressing, I was called for my interview. Strangely I wasn’t too nervous once I walked in. The attitude is quite friendly, which helps. This is the one chance you have to really sell yourself. I talked about why I wanted to join the marines, situations in my life where I’d had to demonstrate leadership, a time where I saw racism, and what I did about it. There was some service knowledge, but not too much. I think (although I’m not sure) that the amount of service knowledge you get tested on in the interview depends on how well you scored on the service knowledge test the day before. All I had to do was talk about where the commandos were, what they were doing, and identify a ship on the wall (I’m not telling you what it is, that would spoil the surprise. If I had to spend a week memorising all those frigates and destroyers, so do you :D). What advice can I give? Keep calm, and remember that if you don’t mention it then they can’t think good things about it. Before you go to AIB you fill in a form about yourself, which is used as the basis for the interview. So you should have a reasonable idea what questions are being asked.

After the interview, it was off to lunch. Gradually people filtered in as they were interviewed. One lad sat down, looking miserable as hell, took one look at the menu and simply ordered ice cream! Comfort eaters….. passed though.

After lunch you just have to hang around until you hear the results. Stressful? Hell yes. I took up smoking again after a year. But there’s nothing you can do except wait. After about 30 minutes we were called in to get our results. You knock on the door and walk in to see the board president. I passed, as did one other lad from my board. Two passed from the other board of four. They don’t give you your score, but they do give you a quick summary. I was apparently very solid on everything apart from my service knowledge (curses!), which was a bit below average. To be honest I didn’t take much in at this point, as I was too busy trying to stop the massive grin spreading across my face.

Once you’ve received your results, if you failed then you go straight out of HMS Sultan and home. If you pass, you have a medical. I’m not going to talk about that, as it’s very very boring. Then off to find some celebratory booze!

That about wraps everything up. I hope it helps (although not too much, as I want to get into Lympstone this year :wink: )! I know it’s not quite as good as the POC diary, but there’s less to talk about, and in a way, these are the things you can’t prepare for. Feel free to ask questions, and thank you all for your patience.

Rising Star Member
Rising Star Member
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon 12 Jun, 2006 2:37 pm
Location: UK

#4 Post by batess01 » Sat 24 Jun, 2006 11:42 am

Out of your whole group, how many passed and failed?

thank you

Familiar Member
Familiar Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 10:45 am
Location: CTC

#5 Post by Deadhead » Mon 26 Jun, 2006 11:00 am

batess01 wrote:Out of your whole group, how many passed and failed?

thank you
There were supposed to be nine of us. Two didn't turn up, and three of the remaining seven failed. But it varies. One of the ratings told us that a month prior to us, they'd failed everybody on one of the boards.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest