Potential recruits are normally aged between 16 years and nine months and 33 years, except when they are applying for a vacancy as a junior soldier, when the age limits are from 15 years and seven months (on application-16 on entry) to 17 years and one month. As a trained soldier the minimum length of service will be four years and three months from the age of 18, or from the start of training, if over 18.

Under the selection system, a potential recruit will have a preliminary assessment at the Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO) or Army Careers Information Office (ACIO). Here he or she will take the computer based British Army Recruit Battery (BARB) test, a touch screen psychometric test which is designed to assess ability to assimilate the training required for the candidate's chosen trade. They will also sit a Literacy and Numeracy test, again which is computer based.

During the recruiting process the Recruiting Staff will conduct a number of interviews to decide on overall suitability for the Army. The Recruiting Staff staff will look at references from school or any employers and offer advice on which trade may be available and might suit the candidate. The Recruiting Staff will also require references from schools and / or any employers, as well as proof of identification, nationality and residency. A preliminary medical takes the form of a questionnaire, which is completed by the candidate and their family GP.

If these tests and interviews are successfully passed the candidate will be booked for further tests at the Recruit Selection Centre which is closest to his or her home. Recruit selection centres are at Lichfield, Pirbright, Glencorse in Scotland and Ballymena in Northern Ireland.

The candidates will remain at ADSC for an overnight stay and undergo the following:

  • A thorough medical examination.

  • Physical assessment tests which include pull ups, static dynamic weight lift, back extension test, 150 metre jerry can carry and a 2.4 km (1.5 mile) best effort run. There are also some team games held in the evening.

  • A Technical Selection Test, a paper exam for those applying for technical trades.

  • An information retention lesson and test based on the L2 hand grenade.

  • A practical grenade throwing test (using practice drill grenades).

  • Team building tasks, to assess the ability of the candidates to work in a team and any leadership potential they may have.

  • An interview with a Army Development and Selection Officer.

The potential recruit will also see at first hand the type of training that they will undergo and will have the opportunity to talk to recruits in training and the sort of life that they will lead in barracks if successful in getting into the Army. After their interview with the ADSO the candidate is informed if he or she is successful and if so is offered a vacancy in a particular trade and Regiment or Corps.

The selection process is intended to be demanding, and many applicants fail to be accepted for recruit training. As the table shows, the failure rate at the RSC has reduced, but remained high at around 37% of all entrants in 2002