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The new fitness test: Can you pass?

Jul. 25, 2011 - 08:34AM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 25, 2011 - 08:34AM  |  
To pass the new physical fitness test, men will need to do 36 push-ups in one minute.
To pass the new physical fitness test, men will need to do 36 push-ups in one minute. ()
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One frustrating factor is repeatedly heard among the ranks as soldiers prepare for the new fitness test: There is no way to measure how well — or how badly — you are doing.

Until now.

The Army Physical Fitness School, which played a key role in designing the new test, is building the scoring scales that will separate the average from the exceptional. The school has completed 3,000 of 10,000 initial tests. The final scoring scale is still a long way off, but patterns emerging in the initial tests provide a good look at what you will need to pass the challenging new test.

The school provided Army Times an exclusive look at the average scores for men and women in each of the new test's five categories, as well as the high and low numbers for each.

The averages, rounded to the closest whole number, are:

Push-ups in one minute: Men, 36; women, 19.

Shuttle run: Men, 16 seconds; women, 18 seconds.

Rower in one minute: Men, 33; women, 31.

Long jump: Men, 79 inches; women, 61 inches.

1.5-mile run: Men, 11:02; women, 13:12.

These scores are not the goal, unless your goal is to be average. But if you hit these numbers, you should pass.

While the fitness school continues to compile the data needed to build the full scoring model, we will use a statistical analysis of the averages and compare them with average scores obtained on the current fitness test to help you see where you are, and where you need to be.

This effort is challenging because the Army does not keep good statistical or historic data on individual fitness tests and trends — a fact bemoaned by fitness school officials. For our purposes, we will compare these new averages with the average scores of trainees at Fort Jackson, S.C., and the average scores of noncommissioned officers whose scores equate to points toward promotion.

In the old test

Male trainees averaged 49 push-ups, 62 sit-ups and a 2-mile run time of 15:09.

Female trainees averaged 39 push-ups, 61 sit-ups and a run time of 16:37.

The majority of trainees are 24 or younger, with most coming in under the legal drinking age. Still, there is little difference between the scores of the average 17-year-old and 42-year-old trainee.

In terms of promotion points

Soldiers competing for sergeant, on average, are awarded 110 points. This equates to an average of 250 points on the fitness test, said Diana Dawa, spokeswoman for Army G-1.

An average of 64 promotion points is awarded to soldiers competing for staff sergeant, but don't let the number fool you. The average soldier in this category scores a 259 on the test.

There are hundreds of ways to come up with 250 points on a test, and the points awarded change as you add candles to the birthday cake. The chart, "Making 250," at left, shows what an average soldier would need to score 83 points in each of the three events, for a cumulative total of 249 points.

In the new test

Initial results from the new test are consistent with the old scoring scale, but age hasn't been "a whole lot of a factor," said Kelly Williams, a researcher with the fitness school's experimentation and analysis element.

When comparing the old data with averages emerging from the new test, you see the number of push-ups in one minute is a little more than half the number done, on average, in the current two-minute test.

Though a different event, the rower totals follow a similar pattern when compared with sit-up averages. The run also shows similar patterns.

In our analysis, the new test is seeing a 7:21-mile average pace for the men and an 8:48-mile pace for the women. In comparison, the average male trainee runs the current test at a 7:39-mile pace, while women run a 8:17 pace.

Based on these early indications, you can simply transition the point tables from the current test to these three events in the new test to have a pretty good idea of where you stand.

To prepare for the long jump, a good target is a distance 10 percent greater than your height, officials said.

For you PT studs who want an above-average comparison, we offer you scores from the Army's six Drill Sergeant of the Year competitors. The men would have scored an average of 15 seconds on the shuttle run were it not for two improperly dropped blocks. The women came in at 17 seconds. The men averaged 39 rower reps and 47 push-ups, while the women averaged 37 rower reps and 19 push-ups. The average long jump was 82.5 inches for men and 61 inches for the women, and average run times were 12 minutes for women and just under 11 minutes for men.

Keep in mind that our analysis is neither official nor final. The Army can shift the numbers as it wants — and may do that in the future, said Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, who as deputy commanding general of Initial Military Training at Training and Doctrine Command, is heading this effort.

Once soldiers become proficient at the new test, the scoring scale may be adjusted to make it harder to achieve higher scores, and the subsequent promotion points they carry, he said.

The final 7,000 evaluation tests will be completed in September, Longo said. About two months will be needed to dissect the data and make any adjustments.

The final plan will then be presented to Army leadership, and Longo expects implementation Oct. 1, 2012.

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