Latest POC Briefing Notes

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Ninja_Stoker

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Update:

Candidates passing POC, but failing AIB, must now pass PRMC before being able to join as Other Rank Royal Marine.
 

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POTENTIAL OFFICERS COURSE (POC) BRIEF

General

1. Once you have received a letter from AIB informing you of the date of your POC, you should ensure that:

a. You have seen the POC video.
b. You have had the POC Medical. You will be sent a letter in due course, informing you that you should attend a medical conducted by a civilian GP under contract to the Navy, at your local AFCO, or in his surgery near the AFCO (check exact location before you go), on a certain date. This is a basic medical to ensure that you a medically fit to undergo the physical strain of the POC. If you are not, then recommendations will be made and you will have to comply with these before you attend the POC (which means you will have to have another medical to check). Your medical must be within 6 weeks of attending the POC. If you still have not heard from us regarding the medical 4 weeks before your POC is due, then please get in touch immediately (by phone).

c. You have re-read this brief. There are several pieces of “Advice” that are normally given out during a verbal brief. After that you will find “Frequently Asked Questions”, a list of questions that candidates have asked in the past, some of which you may also have in mind to ask.

d. You get in touch with your ACLO with any outstanding questions that you may have. There are no stupid questions (that have not been asked before!) and they are here to help.

Advice

2. Training Programme. Although the training programme in the POC booklet is 6 weeks, It's recommended that you give yourself as long as possible. The programme is a guide only. Being that way inclined, you are advised to maintain a fitness level around week 4, and then build it up gradually in the month or two before your POC. This way, when you go down there, you should be well beyond the recommended Week 6.

3. Warm-up. You should ensure that you have given yourself a comprehensive warm up prior to commencing the Royal Marines Fitness Assessment (RMFA), as on the POC many are surprised by the amount of work they have to do before the test begins. You might go for a 3-mile run before your circuit.

4. Exercises. At the end of the POC video, after a pause, you will see demonstrations on how to do each exercise correctly. Of note are pull-ups (arms fully extended, over arm grip, sit-ups (hands touching head at all times, knees together, head & elbows back to floor, elbows to knees), press-ups (arms shoulder width apart, chest down to 5cm off the ground, straight back). If you do these wrongly, the PTIs and Assessors will deduct points from your score. The bleeps are about a second apart. For press-ups and sit-ups you do one rep on each bleep. For pull-ups it is “bleep” up and hold, “bleep” down. Slow down your training reps to make it more realistic. If you are using a tape to practice in a gym, be aware that tapes can become distorted over time. We use a CD to ensure things are spot on. Do not be fooled by the pass marks – you lose a lot of marks for not getting 100% on the test, but the rate of point deduction declines the lower you go. To ensure success make sure that you are far beyond week 6 of the recommended training programme in the back of the POC booklet.

5. Endurance. Many train for the gym and forget the endurance part. Passing the RMFA allows you to commence the course. Doing well on the rest of the course is another matter. Endurance training is mainly running, but by getting your body to a level of upper body strength well beyond week 6 of the programme, your overall stamina will have improved. Running should be cross-country running wearing trainers and normal kit. Avoid gym running machines. Vary your route to include steep hills and some obstacles (gates, walls, streams), if possible. Vary your speed – sprints followed by a steady climb, possibly stop for some press-ups or pull-ups if you pass a suitable place. All this will improve your stamina. In addition, any sports or activities endured for long periods of time will help develop this quality as will booted runs.

6. Lecturette. 3 minutes long. Prepare well. Rehearse (in front of people for comments). You will have a overhead projector, but no other equipment (although you might have a chalk board or marker board in the room (but bring your own chalk/pens)). By all means bring view folds and props, but bear in mind that the time taken using these will reduce the time of your verbal part of you presentation and could send you over time. One or two relevant view-folds would be enough, if you need it. Use notes well – do not read off a sheet as anyone can do that.
Project your voice. Enthuse the audience.

7. Attitude. Treat the POC as an acquaint visit as well as an assessment. Soak up the atmosphere. Most go home, having passed or failed, saying that they had a valuable experience. It may be that life in the Royal Marines is not for you and you might feel this during your POC. If that is the case then you would have benefited from the course. Most find that they have enjoyed being there and it therefore increases their determination to be part of the organisation. Your attitude throughout will come under close scrutiny of the assessing staff. Be yourself and give your all.



Royal Marine Fitness Assessment (RMFA)

8. The RMFA consists of the following exercises:

a. Progressive shuttle run (the “Bleep” Test).

b. Press ups

c. Sit ups

d. Pull ups

All tests are conducted to an audible timing whereby you complete an exercise to a bleep, as instructed and demonstrated, and record a score when you can no longer maintain the set rhythm. Each teat has a maximum total of 400. The pass mark is 180 and if you fail to achieve this mark you will be withdrawn from the course. Repetitions are counted and recorded by the training team.

9. The important distinction between completing exercises whilst training and during the test is the ability to keep in time with the set rhythm. For the first 3 tests a repetition is conducted approximately every second with a pause at the full range of each movement. A 2-3 minute break between each serial allows for a brief rest and a thorough explanation and demonstration of the next test.

10. The maximum repetitions attainable are as follows:

a. Press ups – 60

b. Sit ups – 85

c. Pull ups – 16

d. Progressive shuttle Run (the “Bleep” Test) – 15.5.

11. You should aim for maximum scores on all the tests and not just to achieve a marginal pass. Your attitude and work rate in the gym will be closely monitored and a less than determined approach may detract from a good RMFA score in the final grading.
 

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Potential Officers Course: Frequently Asked Questions

12. Do I need to buy a pair of boots? You do not have to, but I would recommend that you do. Go to an Army/Navy store and get a pair of black combat high boots. Failing that, any boot with a decent (2cm) heel block and good ankle support will suffice. If you turn up without a pair, you will be issued some, but then your feet will not be used to them and this might impair you performance. Buy a pair, walk in them for weeks to break them in, apply liberal amounts of polish (do not brush the polish off though) to soften the leather, especially when they are drying. Then in the least few weeks prior to going down on POC, go for a few runs in them to familiar yourself with the feeling. Be careful not to run too much in boots because people injure themselves by doing so. I also recommend that you get them wet when you are running, again for familiarisation. You might also go for a run in wet trousers and wear a heavy rugby shirt instead of a tight T-shirt. All other kit is issued.

13. How much current affairs do I have to know? The Admiralty Interview Board (AIB) will test you more thoroughly on your current affairs, but you need to know as much for POC. Although not tested in the interview at POC, you have to write an essay on a current affairs topic (which could be domestic or foreign affairs). During the discussion exercise your knowledge will determine whether you can contribute sensible. You are marked down for speaking nonsense and for not speaking at all. With an arsenal of up to date information on a wide range of database topics, your confidence and contributions should be considerably improved. Read the Economist or broadsheets and have balanced views and an open mind.

14. I cant do sit-ups – will I fail the RMFA? Not necessarily. Each exercise has its maximum score. You should be aiming higher than a narrow pass. A weak performance in one area can be supported by a strong performance in another. Aim for overall performance can be strong.

15. What sort of topic should I choose for my lecturette? Without giving you an actual topic, I would say that you have to remember what is being tested: your ability to stand up in front of an audience and convey your knowledge in a confident, enthusiastic and well-prepared manner. The subject itself is not that relevant, but the delivery is. I would recommend avoid anything to do with the military and also avoid the “What I did last summer talk”. Choose a subject that you are enthusiastic about, that the audience will probably be interested in listening to (something unusual, something that might help them) and something that fits into 3 minutes easily. You cannot cover a whole topic, so limit yourself and do not rush. Try to sell your qualities – if you have a sense of humour make sure that you get that across.

16. What if I get injured before my POC? Go and see you doctor for an assessment of the injury. If you will recover in time then take no action, but if you are not going to be fit, then telephone AIB and POC immediately. AIB is important, as they are main administrators for your application. Contacting the POC staff (telephone number on their joining instructions to you) is only courteous and avoids them putting you down as “failed to attend”. Please bear it in mind that if you leave it too late (thinking that you might recover, when you know that you will probably not) means that someone else cannot be allocated your place. AIB will either offer you a later POC or postpone your application until the next years intake (earliest POCs in October). Please do not forget your good old ACLO – keep us in the information loop as we are sometimes left out at this late stage. There is no point of you attending with an injury – the cause will exacerbate it and could cause permanent damage and you performance will not do you justice.

17. When should I go down to Lympstone? I recommend that you travel down on the Sunday so that you have time to settle in, get to know the others on the course and mentally prepare for the kick-off. I would take the train so that you are free to think about what you are letting yourself in for, rather than draining yourself by driving. Arriving on the Monday is fine, but you will be tired from the journey and be worried about getting there on time, which you could probably do without. You will be sent a rail warrant and if you are driving you will be able to claim the funds back later.

18. When will I find out if I have passed or not? You are told on the last day, in the morning. If you have passed all physical tests then you should have passed, unless there are major flaws in other areas of your performance. If you have failed just one or two of the tests, then all is not lost, as there is always a chance of redeeming yourself in another area. In the de-brief interview you will be told where your strengths and weaknesses lay and, if you were unsuccessful, you will be given a comeback period. I will be sent a copy of the report, as will AIB, so I will be in touch later to go through the report in detail and give my advice.

19. Looking ahead, when can I expect to get an AIB date? If AIB are busy, as they usually are from February to July, you might get a short-notice AIB 2-3 weeks after your POC. Otherwise expect to wait about a month or so. Then again, this is subject to change, as if lots of candidates pass, then AIB places are filled on a “first come, first served” basis, so you might have to wait until the very end.
 

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By popular request, another FAQ:

I missed the first deadline, but AIB told me that they would try to give me a board - what are the chances of me getting an AIB?.

It does all depend how many candidates get through POC and how many late applications there were. Those that have not had a POC by the start of July are unlikely to be seen by AIB. Indeed, even those in June are going to be lucky, if they missed the first deadline. Some places at AIB are reserved for overseas candidates who are attending POC (so that they do not have to return from abroad), so if some of them fail POC, a place may become available for you (again, if you are lucky).
 
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