How do you pass the army medical?

In the army medical, you’ll be asked in detail about your medical history. Here’s what you need to know.

Pre-medical checks

Before you even get to the medical, you’ll be asked a long list of questions about your medical history.

Failing the medical is the second-most common reason that people don’t end up joining the army after they’ve applied.

(The most common reason, by the way, is that they decide the army’s not for them – most applicants to the army change their minds before they sign up, in fact.)

The army keeps a long list of medical problems that might mean you won’t be able to join – see the bottom of this page for the current list.

Some of these medical problems will bar you from joining the army completely; others mean that you might have to wait a year or two before joining; and a few are not as serious and might not stop you from joining straight away, if the army doctor agrees to it.

You’ll be expected to sign a form giving the army access to your medical records.

You’ll also be asked about drug use. If you’ve had an addiction problem then you’ll need to have been clean for three years. Current use of cannabis isn’t a problem, though you’ll be expected to stop before you join up.

The medical

If you get through the pre-medical check, and there are no other problems with your application, then you’ll go to the army’s Assessment Centre for a full medical check, as well as fitness tests.

In the medical, you’ll be tested for:

  • Healthy heart and lungs.
  • Good eyesight and hearing.
  • Strong joints and muscles.
  • Healthy weight.

You’ll also be asked again about your medical history and the doctor will discuss with you any problems you’ve flagged up, or that appear on your medical records.

You’ll need to strip down to your underwear for the medical.

No part of the medical is painful and you’re not injected with anything.

If you’re later found to have lied about your medical history, the army will sack you.


Medical conditions that might stop or delay your enlistment (as of 2020)

Most of these medical conditions will bar you from joining up completely. Some may mean you have to wait a year or two. A few are less serious and the doctor who examines you might still allow you to join up.


  • Chronic abdominal diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Kidney disorders such as polycystic kidney disease or kidney stones.
  • Donation of a kidney within the last two years.
  • Significant kidney disease within the last two years.


  • Some spinal surgery (including internal fixation or fusion).
  • Spina bifida.


  • Sickle Cell disease.
  • Congenital spherocytosis.
  • Thalassaemia.
  • HIV seropositivity / AIDS.
  • Chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • Past history of leukaemia or malignant lymphoma.  Must be disease and treatment free for 5 years.

Bones and joints

  • Knee cartilage operation within the last year.
  • All fractures within the last year (but not fingers or collarbone).
  • Loss of a limb.
  • Complete loss of a thumb or big toe.
  • Clubfoot (including past surgery).
  • Chronic joint diseases like arthritis and gout.
  • Reiter’s disease within the last five years.


  • Asthma symptoms or treatment in the last year.
  • Chronic lung diseases.
  • Active tuberculosis.


  • Current perforation of ear drum.
  • Chronic ear diseases.
  • Eardrum grommets.


  • Chronic eye diseases.
  • Surgery for a squint within the last six months.
  • Corneal problems.
  • Loss or dislocation of an eye lens.

Neurological disorders

  • Epilepsy.
  • Symptomatic Cerebral Palsy.
  • Multiple sclerosis.


  • Currently pregnant or had a child in the last 3 months.


  • Schizophrenia.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Alcohol or drug dependence.
  • Significant Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • More than two episodes of depression requiring treatment.
  • More than two episodes of anxiety requiring treatment.
  • Significant suicide attempt.


  • An active skin disease like severe eczema or widespread psoriasis.


  • Loss of spleen.
  • Having received transplanted organs.
  • Food allergy requiring you to avoid some foods in your diet due to allergy or intolerance (e.g. gluten, peanuts).
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon / disease / syndrome.
  • Diabetes.
  • Diseases requiring long-term medication or replacement therapy (except under-active thyroid).

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