The fitness test involves running up and down a 15-metre track. It is timed against a series of audio beeps and you must 'beat the bleep' and complete the shuttle before you hear the sound.
At the end of each level, the time between beeps gets shorter, meaning you have to run faster.
The standard required is level is 5.4, which means running at least in time with the bleeps for four shuttles at level 5. The whole test takes 3 minutes and 35 seconds and covers 525m.
How should I prepare?
We suggest that you practice the test at the start of your training so that you have a baseline score to work from. You'll be able to see how effective your training is if you re-test yourself intermittently throughout your training.
As with any sort of exercise, if you're not a regular exerciser we recommend you check with your GP prior to starting any fitness programme.
You can test yourself by measuring 15 metres on a flat track (sports hall, track, garden or quiet pavement) and listen to the bleep test recording on an app to set the pace as you run. If you arrive at the end line before the bleep sounds you’ll need to wait for the bleep before resuming running and you should adjust your speed accordingly.
The timing between bleeps is slow at first (the bleeps are about seven seconds apart) but they become faster as the test progresses and it will become more difficult to keep up with the required speed.
You shouldn’t use the bleep to train; it’s there to test and monitor your progress.
When you are going through the recruitment process you will also have the opportunity to do a practice test at our respective Headquarters.
How should I train?
You should focus on exercise activities that will increase your cardiovascular fitness. Regular runs are a great way to build up your heart lung capacity and your leg muscles. Try a mix of steady running and interval training:
Steady running: warm up 5 minutes, followed by 15-20 minutes of running at a steady pace, then a cool down. You can use the NHS Couch to 5K plan to build up your running ability.
Interval training: warm up 5 minutes, 30 seconds hard sprint and 30 seconds walking ten times, cool down. Interval training simulates what your body will go through in the bleep test.
Be mentally strong
It is important to be in a good frame of mind, not scared of the test and what is to come, and be motivated to push yourself as hard as you can and for as long as you can.
Be well rested
Avoid heavy strenuous exercise for the 24 hours prior to testing. Do not exercise at all on the day leading up to the test to ensure your body is well rested.
Ensure you are fully hydrated, especially in hot conditions. Drink regularly in the days leading up to the test, particularly in the 12 hours prior to the test. Caffeine products (such as coffee, cola or tea) should be avoided on the day of testing, and alcoholic beverages should definitely be avoided in the few days prior.
Be well nourished
Ensure you are well nourished on the day of the test. Where possible, consume a high carbohydrate diet in the previous 24 hours (such as pasta, potatoes, cereals, toast, fruit etc.). In the two hours before completing the test do not consume a heavy meal; however, you should eat something in the four hours preceding testing.