Fitness Tests

To ensure that you are prepared to pass the fitness tests at your assessment centre practice them first using our mobile web application.

Our web application lets you practice both the bleep test and agility test and lets you know how far ahead or behind the required pass mark you are.

You can also download our Fitness Guidance booklet to help you prepare for your fitness assessment.

Visit this page on your phone or tablet to access our fitness test web application.

Practice Fitness Tests
Fitness app previews

What happens once I accept my provisional offer and book Medical and fitness.


You will be required to attend a medical and fitness assessment with an Occupational Health professional. The purpose of the medical is to assess your general level of health. Factors such as weight, blood pressure, eyesight in both eyes and hearing so that an informed opinion can be made on whether you are fit for a role as a prison officer and can undergo a fitness test. This is conducted on the same day and candidates should expect to be on site for approximately two hours.

If you use an inhaler, wear glasses, use hearing aids or are on any prescription medication you must bring these with you, and they must be in date.

  • Eye test: You MUST have a minimum uncorrected (without glasses or lenses) distance visual acuity of 6/36 with both eyes open and have a corrected visual acuity with a minimum of 6/12 with both eyes open. If correction required to achieve this, at least 6/36 uncorrected with both eyes open. This is conducted using a keystone machine or if unavailable a Snellen test. If unsuccessful at this stage, you will be advised to see your Optician for a report that can be submitted at a later date.
  • Hearing test: You should be able to hear normal conversation at a distance of 10 feet (3m) without the use of hearing aids. Hearing will be tested by formal assessment on the day. This will be conducted using the whisper test.
  • Blood pressure (BP): It is important your blood pressure is recorded on the day of assessment as within a safe range, this will allow you to safely proceed to partake in the fitness test.
    • If your BP is between 90/60 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg this is satisfactory, and you will be able to progress to your fitness test.
    • If your BP is below 90/60 mmHg or above 160/100 mmHg you will be required to have 3 further readings to determine if your BP is within the range of 90/60 mmHg – 160/100 mmHg. Your BP is tested on both arms. If the further readings fall within these parameters you will progress to the fitness test, if they remain above or below, it would not be safe to partake in the fitness test on that day.
    • If it is deemed that you are unable to complete the test on the day due to your BP reading being too high or low, you will be advised to see your GP and you will be allowed time within the recruitment process to do this.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI): Your BMI is checked and ideally should be 30 or less. On a specific basis, those with a BMI of 31-35 may also be considered fit, particularly if they are heavily muscled individuals and have no restrictions to their movement / activities and no underlying contributing health factors. If your BMI is over this, the medical staff will seek advice on the day on how you progress. We do understand that people have different body types, and this may not preclude you from testing.

Once you have passed all elements of the medical you will be then approved to proceed to the fitness test stage on the same day.

Fitness test

Prison Officers need to be capable of performing to a certain standard to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of everyone else, including prisoners and work colleagues. Maintaining a certain level of fitness promotes general health and well-being and helps prevent injury.

These tests are designed to show you have the required level of fitness to perform control and Restraint techniques to ensure the safety of yourself, prisoners, and colleagues.

If you are unsuccessful at any stage during this process. You are allowed an overall three attempts at the medical and fitness stage.

Initial test – if unsuccessful you will be directed to the fitness guidance booklet and allowed 8 weeks to prepare prior to your next test.

Second test (retake 1) After your 8-week preparation you will be retested on all elements again. If the test standards are not achieved, you will be afforded 4 more weeks to prepare.

Third test (retake 2): Once you have had your 4-week preparation time. If at this stage, you have not met the required standards you will be withdrawn from the process. This is not the end of the journey in regard to a career with us. You can reapply after 6 months from your last unsuccessful attempt and your Online Assessment Centre scores will be mirrored over as long as the result from your online assessment centre is within the last year, allowing you to re-join at the medical and fitness stage.

If you do not attend your fitness assessment you will be withdrawn from the process if you haven’t pre informed SSCL and provide a reason for non-attendance. If you wish to be reinstated, you will have to contact SSCL at with your reasons for not attending.

  • How to prepare: Above is our fitness test video which shows the tests being performed, it also shows how to prepare at home. We do recommend that you do some prior fitness preparation so that you can ascertain your level of fitness.
  • Identification: Please bring photo ID and any documents you may need to allow entry to our sites. We do use secured facilities to test, so ID is a requirement for entry.
  • As part of the vetting process, you may need to have your Identity documents verified in person. The simplest way to have this done is to bring your documents with you to your medical and fitness assessment.

    The documents you will need to bring are the documents that you have uploaded for vetting purposes. This may have included:

    • Your right to work documentation
    • Passport
    • Driving licence
    • Bank statement
    • P45

    Please bring the documents you did upload at the time just in case we need to verify them, and this enables us to do this with minimum inconvenience to yourself.

    For more information click here to visit the IDVT page.

  • Hearing test: We recommend that you do not expose yourself to loud environments prior to your hearing test. This does include the use of headphones on the way to the test centre.
  • Gym attire: We recommend that you wear comfortable clothing that allows appropriate movement and support to perform the fitness test.
  • Drinking water: Please bring a drink to site with you. We do have drinking facilities but do recommend you bring a bottle of water with you. We DO NOT recommend any caffeinated or performance energy drinks prior to your medical.
  • Footwear: Our fitness instructors require you wear appropriate ‘running’ footwear. Please ensure that the footwear you wear is appropriate for the task and allows the appropriate levels of support.
  • Phones and filming: Our sites used, and the tasks undertaken are done so within accordance of UK- GDPR and as such filming on our sites is prohibited and may result in the cancellation of your test. You are allowed to bring your phones, but we do ask you only use them in emergencies whilst on site.

Stages of the fitness test

  • Grip test: This is to show that you are able to achieve a minimum grip strength of 25kg in both hands. This displays the necessary amount of hand strength needed to perform Control and restraint techniques.
  • Shield hold: This is holding a 7kg shield at shoulder height for 1 minute. You may be required in the course of your duties to be part of planned interventions using a shield.
  • Multistage fitness test or Bleep test: This is a 15-metre shuttle run to a level of 5.4, this is 35 shuttle runs in total. The bleep test, which involves running/jogging, is not a specific test to assess your ability to run, but a simple test to assess the efficiency of your working muscle capacity to use oxygen during physical stress/activity using the large muscle groups of the body. Once in post you will be subject to an annual fitness test, so will be expected to maintain your level of fitness during your employment. The audio we use is available to use by accessing this page on your smartphone. If in the Fitness assessor’s opinion, a candidate is showing undue signs of distress, as a duty to care, they will be stopped immediately, and a test fail is recorded.
  • Agility run: This test is a run through a specified course and has to be completed within 34 seconds. This is to show levels of agility in responding to incidents, these may be upstairs or in other parts of the establishment, so a level of response is required.

If at any of these stages, you have failed you may be asked to speak with the fitness tester privately so they can advise next steps.

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are offered to those who have a disability or condition that affects them. We cannot offer this if you have minor or short-term injuries. If you require a time extension due to an injury this can be applied for via email to

We offer a reasonable adjustment to the Multistage fitness test only (The treadmill test is formally known as the Chester Treadmill Police Walk Test - CTPWT). This is the use of a treadmill to reach a certain level of 6 kmph for 10 minutes with the gradient increasing from 0 to 12% (3% increase per 2 minutes). This can be applied for at Stating the nature of the disability this typically will be a mobility or joint issue that may be exacerbated during running.

We do not offer any other reasonable adjustments as a certain level must be reached to perform key tasks as a prison officer as this is a requirement of the role and is in line with the Equalities Act 2010.

Travel to your Fitness and Medical

Candidates can claim reasonable travelling expenses for attending Fitness Testing or Physical online Assessment centre up to a maximum of £100.00.

Our fitness centres are in the following locations:

  • Swindon
  • Cambridge
  • South London (Croydon)
  • Rugby (Newbold Revel)
  • Leeds
  • Manchester
  • North London (Kingsbury)

You should be invited to your nearest test centre based on what establishment you have applied to. If you are located closer to another venue, please contact SSCL via email to whom will invite you to a closer venue if needed. This is also the email to request additional later dates or to ask any questions.

To claim travelling expenses please note the following:

  • Complete the attached form in full including email address and postal address.
  • Complete the bank details and sign the form.
  • Loss of earnings, hotels, taxis, car parks, Air fares, travel from outside the Uk and meals will not be reimbursed.
  • Taxis can be claimed to our Newbold Revel site from Rugby Train station only as this has very limited transport links. No other Taxi travel will be approved.
  • Mileage will be paid at 45p per mile verified by AA route planner.
  • Claim will be paid for return journeys, i.e., home to centre and back-please detail both on the form (i.e., Home to Fitness Centre-x miles; Fitness Centre to Home- x miles)
  • Public transport journeys will need the tickets (pictures) attached to the form/email.
  • Reimbursement can take between 6 to 8 weeks once it has reached Finance for processing.
  • To claim back expenses from attending your assessment centre please complete this form and send it to