A common misconception is that a person’s performance is dependent on how they feel on ‘the day’, and that they may not perform as they usually would.

At the ADC (Assessment and Development Centre) the assessors are looking for skills such as how an individual resolves problems or relates to others. If a person is usually able to approach a problem and suggest an effective way to resolve it based on the information provided, it is unlikely that they will fail to be able to do this despite difficult circumstances.

The PQA aptitudes are fundamental, underlying skills which are very consistent, in the same way personality factors tend to be.


The assessors and administrators all appreciate that the ADC can be an anxious occasion. It is in their best interests to make you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible, because the more relaxed you are, the easier you will find it to demonstrate your potential. If your mind goes blank in a role-play, the role-player will give you some time to get yourself back on track. If you panic in your written exercise, bear in mind you have over an hour to tackle the tasks, and structure your time systematically, starting with working out exactly what is expected of you. Remember, you are at the ADC because you passed the sift – the ITOP (Initial Test Of Potential). The reason for the sift is to identify people who are suitable to attend the ADC. Those applicants who are not ready would find it difficult, and possibly demoralising. The sift is used to identify people who are up to the challenge. You wouldn’t be there if you hadn’t already shown evidence that you could do it.

Showing what you can do

The crucial point to remember is that the ADC is all evidence based. Therefore it is up to you to provide observable evidence of what you are capable of. Make sure you explain your reasoning and rationale properly, if you don’t the assessors will not make any assumptions about what they think you may have meant, they will only go on what you made explicitly clear.

How assessors do their job

Assessors use what is known as the ORCE model. This stands for Observe, Record, Classify, Evaluate. They will take in what is being presented to them by reading the written exercise or watching the role-play. In the role-play they will be recording the key parts of the exchange, not what the role-player is saying, but the main points of your contributions. They will record both what you say, and how you said it. For the written they may make notes. After the exercise has been completed they will read through their notes and try to identify which bits of evidence you provided fit with which PQA. For instance, if you suggested to the role-player that you need to work together to resolve the issue, this would be evidence of ‘Working with Others’. The assessors will evaluate how closely the evidence you presented fits with their score sheets. The assessors will have definitions for each score to help guide them as to which score your evidence should be allocated. Each exercise has been designed to elicit evidence of specific PQAs – it’s not a question of all PQAs being looked at by each exercise!


For the National Toolkit, a scale of 1 to 4 is used, with 4 being ‘strong performance’, and 1 being ‘significant development need’. The system used by much of Scotland is 1-3, with 3 being an area of strength, 2 ‘acceptable performance’ and 1 being ‘area for development’. Each exercise looks at several PQAs, and each PQA is further broken down into ‘constructs’ or specific behavioural examples. The point is, there are bound to be lower marks in some areas of your performance, but this will not necessarily matter to your overall performances there are so many areas which are rated. The strongest candidates even have development needs in some areas.

Visit Now

FRS Development

Find out how to develop more within your current role by visiting FRS Development.
Visit Now