Classification Exams: fit for purpose?

I’ve been taking our senior/master cadets through their exams and lessons. It’s worked out quite well because the subjects I was going through, Jet Propulsion and Rocketry, were same as the modules I was studying for my Uni Degree at the time.

Good for me, not so good for the cadets…

I noticed that exam questions were, in some cases verbatim, the exact same as the ones in my examination for my Bachelors!

My question is, is it fair that we are making cadets take examinations and study to an undergraduate level and then only rewarding them with a level 2 qualification? Or should the questions and material actually be at a level 2 standard rather than undergraduate?


From what I have seen of the syllabus, it is very hard for your new CI off the street to teach. I struggle to teach subjects and I was only a cadet four years ago.

IMHO the classification systems needs an overhaul and/or there needs to be some train the trainer sessions for teaching the classification syllabus, a more simple classification system that is.

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I’d like the questions & training material to be correct for a start. (Basic Nav has fundamental flaws!)


That’s because it’s not at an appropriate level. I’m a Avionics tech and a lot of my training was radio and radar, the “advanced radio and radar” is as indepth as what I was taught during my trade training! (which I got a level 3 qualification for!)

They all do…

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I have a way to fix this which involves a simple just do it conversation but my idea seems to cause tantrums.

Bin of QAIC turn the team into a central aerospace training team, their job:

1)ensure the material and classification syllabus from an aerospace perspective is fit for purpose.
2)Share their knowledge by running train the trainer course regularly and locally.

Instead of 30 cadets nationally being trained a year to teach in flying suits, dont get me started on that though I struggle to see why you need to don mavericks finest to teach principles of flight!

The training would be avaliable to all staff and MOI cadets, now given you can technically get MOI within about 6months of joining the RAFAC now that population will dramatically increase resulting in more opportunity for more people to know what they are trying to teach instead of blagging it! Also resulted in more cadets experiencing the training




Uses resource already there (unless they have tantrums and quit because the clique now has a new purpose) and doesn’t require hasselling the RAF for more resource

Basically as close to a free solution as possible

Removing the cost for Flying Suits and badges and lanyard will also save a few pennies


I’ve always wondered what the flying suits were for?

Was there ever a flying element to the courses?

Flying a mouse and keyboard yes


Some key differences though between this and your degree (I hope). Your degree will go much more in depth as well as covering the basics. Your exams won’t be multiple choice open book tests which can be completed in 5 minutes. The maths on your degree is more intense than anything on the ultilearn tests. Just because a couple of questions were the same doesn’t mean the test is at undergraduate level. Just that a degree generally assumes a zero base level of knowledge so has to cover some level 2 stuff as well.

I only did a year of aerospace at uni before switching to something easier but it was far more advanced than the staff part 1 exams I did. As far as I can tell the classification system hasn’t got harder, if anything it’s easier due to the open book nature. Maybe uni has got easier since I was there.

But I agree the training materials need to be improved

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Yeah… It was exactly the same as a cadet Jet Propulsion exam. Joys of distance learning…

Apart from a tiny percentage of the cadets at my Sqn, and the other Sqns I’ve been aquatinted with, none of them are remotely interested in doing this stuff - school is hard enough these days, they come to cadets for a break.

Same with the staff - only a tiny percentage are really interested, and only a tiny percentage are capable of teaching it.

I don’t mean to sound like an old duffer, but that’s my experience…


I fully agree. I feel a lot of our cadets just power through so they can be promoted.

And I agree with the capability to teach. I seem to be it for senior and master at my place, and that’s only because I have had experience with those modules with my job.

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The exams are open book - the law of averages says that after 3 goes you will have scrapped a pass

Unfortunately that’s how most cadets approach it in my experience

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In the not so dim and distant, new member of staff would be asked if they have anything they are interested in, given a book and asked to start to teach the subject in a few weeks. Before this gets decried I have probably known many like this and those eager to decry the idea, will have been instructed in all things by people like this. It is part and parcel of volunteering.
This worked for God knows how long as the books had all the things the cadets might be asked and quick look at the last 3 or 4 past papers gave an idea of the questions and areas that might need some attention.
The exams didn’t and still don’t expect any real knowledge or understanding to answer questions in an essay or short form.
Some bright spark decided to not have books anymore and have a purely online system, with poor resources and even poorer exam system, that the new member of staff couldn’t access immediately.

Even under the old exam style 3 attempts was the most as the number of questions was severely limited. IF a cadet took more than one resit you’d be wondering about them.
I seem to recall a document with a lot of different questions and answer styles when the new system was adopted, as the old question database was on a rickety old system that was a problem to print the papers and the questions couldn’t be used on another system. But the questions now are largely the same as I remember in exams as a cadet. The only reasons the old system was got rid of was cost

As to whether it’s fit for purpose who cares? It’s easy to do as you only really need to do minimal instruction as the exams are rubbish and only really test the patience of cadets as they have to go through umpteen mouse clicks to answer one question.

The PTS system seems to need a more knowledgeable member of staff, which means longer for new off the street staff to feel they are properly contributing and may have to go on courses, which is not good for retention or recruitment, if they have a mate who could be a potential and tell them about the system to become staff and do things.

Thinking about it properly Basic Nav is actually pitched at the wrong level for Leading too. (Most cadets doing Leading are about to do Bronze DofE, this is mostly done on Lowland Terrain where apart from orientating the Map a Compass is superfluous).

The classifications would be better off aligned working to the NNAS system when you look at Navigation, Bronze at Leading, Silver at Senior and Gold at Master. (With Silver & Gold being optional levels to work to for those who have selected the Navigation Route at the lessons they want to do).

We could even get away from the multi-choice exams altogether and just have a list of activities (including PTS) and day once you have 3 Bronzes you are Leading, 3 Silvers Senior and. 3 Gold for Master.


They can access immediately as once you add them to SMS they have an Ultilearn login.

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Well, one of the subjects has a book :wink:


Why aren’t there centrally produced instructor led videos teaching each module?
This is 2019 not 1989 not even 2009! We should be using the internet to provide lessons electronically.

Squadrons would be better served if cadets could be sat down in front of a 45 min teaching video on meteorology for example. Frees up an instructor for other tasks. Maybe planning consolidation activities and lessons for example.

Each classification subject is split into modules already. Each module should have a centrally produced, high quality lesson available to watch over internet… vimeo per chance!

Sqns who have a SME in rockertry can ignore those videos, but if that same Sqn had no one who knew about history of flight, boom there is your answer.

We could even farm this out to keen volunteers who love the lime light… (not me).

Any thoughts from people.


I don’t think it’s a good idea as a replacement for instruction - but would potentially be useful for catch-up, revision, etc - or in extremis for units that simply don’t have enough instructors.