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30,000 airmen have failed waist tape since 2010

Aug. 8, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
PT Testing
More than 30,000 airmen have failed the waist measurement component of the PT test since 2010. Airmen must pass all four components of the test to pass. (Colin Kelly / staff)
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As airmen wait with bated breath for Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to decide whether to separate the tape test from the PT test, the Air Force has launched a pre-emptive strike against those who feel the tape test isn’t fair.

For years, airmen have complained that they can max out their pushups and situps but still fail the tape test because they are simply built large. Now the Air Force has released several figures on how many airmen have busted tape since the latest PT standards were implemented back in 2010.

“Recent comments on social media sites show there’s a rumor among airmen that the abdominal circumference component of the Fitness Assessment is where the largest majority of failures come from,” according to a July 31 Air Force News Service story. “This opinion is wrong.”

The story includes several figures that downplay how many airmen have failed the tape test, but the numbers also corroborate what airmen have been saying: It is possible to fail the waist measurement component of the PT test but score well enough on the pushup, situp and run parts of the test to pass.

Here is what you need to know:

The total

Of the 1,277,826 airmen who have taken the PT test between October 2010 and March, a total of 30,174 have failed the waist measurement component of the test, according to the Air Force, which could not say by deadline if those airmen were counted once or every time they failed the test.

The breakdown

The 30,174 airmen who failed the waist measurement part of the PT test took all or a portion of the test, said Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Tingley. That means 9,785 airmen who busted tape only took part of the test because they were exempted from at least one portion of the PT test. Of the rest, 5,141 airmen who failed the tape test passed the other three parts of the PT test.

Making the grade

What this means is that 16.7 percent of airmen who failed the tape test didn’t have a problem with the pushups, situps and run. Moreover, 348 airmen whose waists were too big scored well enough on the other portions of the PT test to get a passing score overall if the tape test results were not included.

How to pass

You don’t have to max out all the other portions of the PT test to get a passing score if you throw out the tape test results. “For example, a male under 30 years old could max both the pushups and situps and complete the run in 11:06 (max for the run is just over 9 minutes) to score a 75 composite while failing the AC [abdominal circumference],” Tingley said in an email.

The takeaway

The numbers show the tape test is causing some airmen who are otherwise physically fit to fail the PT test. The question is whether Air Force leaders will decide to separate the tape test from the PT test or allow airmen who fail the waist measurement to get a passing score if they do well enough on the other three components of the test.

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