The Army needs physically fit soldiers. They must be able to run long distances, carry heavy loads and be agile enough to evade danger when their survival depends on it. To ensure soldiers remain physically fit, the Army regularly conducts physical training tests. These scores can vary pretty widely. Some soldiers continually fail the PT test and must be booted from the Army, while others excel on a consistent basis. Most soldiers fall somewhere in between, closer to the average score.
Understanding the Structure
The Army breaks down its physical fitness program into aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Each soldier must complete both types of exercises with maximum effort. The grading scale depends on a soldier's age and gender. For example, soldiers between the ages of 17 and 21 must do more repetitions and faster cardio to equal the score requirements of soldiers between the ages of 32 and 36. Also, the Army realizes that the average female cannot match the performance of the average male, so the scoring requirements are lower for women than men.
In 1980, the Army implemented a scoring system that breaks down PT requirements into gender groups in six different age categories. The test begins with push-ups, then moves on to sit-ups and ends with a two-mile run. Each soldier has two minutes to crank out as many push-ups as she can, and another two minutes for the sit-ups. Her repetitions are scored following these two rounds. Next, she runs two miles in the fastest time possible. Each event is graded on a 100-point scale. This leaves her with the potential to receive a total of 300 for the entire test.
Tests have been conducted to gauge the average PT score under the 1980 scoring system. As of 2011, females averaged 39 push-ups, 61 sit-ups and a run time of 16:37. According to the Army's PFT calculator, this results in a score of 255 for 21-year-olds, 254 for 25-year-olds and 256 for 30-year-olds. It's important to note that the subjects used were 24 and younger, but the Army found little difference in the scoring of 17-year-old trainees and 42-year-old trainees, according to the Army Times website
In 2011, the Army revamped its physical training program. Instead of three events, there are now five events. The sit-up event was eliminated and replaced with the shuttle run, long jump and rower. The two-mile run is now a 1.5-mile run. The Army has begun testing to assess average scores. As of July 2011, the females averaged 19 push-ups; 18 seconds for the shuttle run; 31 rower reps in one minute; 61 inches in the long jump; and 13 minutes, 12 seconds for the 1.5-mile run.
- Army Times: The New Fitness Test: Can you pass?; July 2011
- U.S. Army: TRADOC Revises Army Physical Fitness Test; Kelly Schloessler; February 2011
- Western Illinios University: Army Physicial Fitness Test Standards
- U.S Army: New PT Test To Get at Least a Six-Month Trial; Rob Miclvaine; April 2011
- U.S. Army: Athlete Offers Advice for Improving Fitness; David Vergun; December 2012
- U.S. Army Basic: APFT Army PT Test
- U.S. Army: Army PFT Calculator
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.