Mid Jan came and I received a notification that I was through to the next stage of the application process. This second stage was to undertake the Royal Navy psychometric test at a “Local” Armed Forces Recruitment Office. Yeah, indeed! Nothing is local to my remote island, so plans were afoot in booking several ferry tickets, coach seats, accommodation for a few nights – but I will come onto the adventure of the journey to a big city in due course. But this was a worth while hurdle, a hoop to jump through in my pursuit of joining the Royal Fleet Auxiliary a Deck Apprentice.
Sat waiting in the AFCO made me feel like that 19-year-old kid I was back 20 years ago waiting to accept the Queens shilling before I enlisted to the Army. Nervous, new adventures before me, keen and eager to get back into the military mindset, and more so back into that club that I have missed for the past decade
This assessment stage, nerve racking. The assessment is split down into 4 sections –
Questions are against the clock, and each segment has to be completed before you move onto the next one. It has been man years since I was in school, and failed my Maths GCSE on no less then 5 occasions, mostly because I tool issue with the silly examples used in the questions or came to the right answer without showing my working out, so I knew that the Maths element was going to be the big issue for me. However, with a little revision and recall of the answers to the pre-set questions, I felt that I did ace this bit.
The verbal ability was slightly annoying as the starting questions seemed to be taken from a toddler book about a dog with a ball, a big ball, a big red ball. Q) What colour was the ball? Then, the questions jumped into thesaurus digesting, Left-dislocated positive pronouns verses Right-dislocated negative pronouns. If I were joining the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as a communications officer, I might need to know how the left and right affects the positive / negative use of pronouns, however, I am applying for a position of a deckie, questions on how to grease nipples or sanding the futtocks on the poop deck would have been more up my street
I found the mechanical comprehension and reasoning sections the easiest – a good dose of life experience and common sense will see you through. If however, you have never wired a plug or anchored a boat, you may struggle with a few questions.
I found out at the end of my test that I had passed, but the pass mark could not be revealed. It was slightly annoying, especially as I was told that if I wanted to improve my mark, there was an option to retake the test – but, without knowing my initial mark, it was a hard call to judge. I thought that I would chance my grade considering I felt confident with what I had done. Taking a trip back down to Inverness was not something I wanted to repeat in a hurry.
My local AFCO is down in Inverness, some 200 miles away. No easy feat in getting there. It took over a week of travel to attend the 45-minute assessment. Although it was great to be off of my remote island and to see sights that I had forgotten had existed, such as well stocked shops, traffic lights and traffic, it did feel like heck of a trip.
The whole trip down and the assessment was an eyeopener and a success. I am pleased I had passed, but would have loved to have known my mark!