New Army PT Test Fails Our Soldiers


army soldierThe Army just threw 21 years of standard practice out the door, and left us really confused. They unveiled a new PT test (which stands for Physical Readiness Training) today to take the place of a test from 1980. The new test will "align the training and the tests with tasks that Soldiers have to perform on the battlefield."

Holy automatic weapons, Batman. You mean they haven't been training soldiers for battle conditions all along? Apparently not. And they still won't. Well, not if you look at the fine print in the Army's press release about the new PT test:

The pilot currently plans to align age categories for the test scores with the American College of Sports Medicine and Cooper Institute, broadening age categories to under 30, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60 and above, for both genders.

Let's sum this up quickly. The military is going to finally start aligning soldiers' training with battlefield expectations. But not every soldier is going to have the same training. Old fogies and women will do something else entirely from youngsters and the guys.

Color me confused, but if the training is to get everyone ready for battle, how can different tests possibly make everyone combat ready? I always thought combat readiness was pretty black and white. You know how to work a gun. You know how to listen to your commanding officer. You're physically in good shape, etc. Either you are ready, or you're not. There is no "well, you're as prepared as a woman who is 34 can be" or "you're as prepared as a guy who is 19 can be."

I'm getting the sense that this is yet another sign that women aren't going to be considered "good enough" to go into the same battles as men (as if we haven't been down this road enough times). But this isn't just a feminist fight. As an American, I'm perturbed that the Army doesn't want every person defending my country to be able to pass the same test.

And lest you think I'm being selfish, I'm a "support the troops girl" all the way. I'm disturbed on behalf of those servicemen and women. If they're not required to pass a standard test, how can you tell me they're combat ready? How can you tell me they belong on a battlefield? By their own admission, the Army just said they won't be prepped ... at least not in the same way as their colleagues. And that's not fair to our servicemembers.

Members of our Armed Forces have been calling for a revamp for a long time. Kudos to the Army for listening. But maybe they need to go back to the drawing board.

Do you think there should be a one-size-fits-all test? Is there a better way to handle this?

Image via The U.S. Army/Flickr

feminism, military


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nonmember avatar Ash

It's always been that way. There are charts for each age group and gender that show how many points you get for doing this many push ups and sit ups, or completing your run in however many minutes.

meatb... meatball77

Eeh, my husband sits at a desk.  When he deploys he deploys to a desk.  Does he need to be in shape incase somthing happens next to his desk, yes but does he realistically need to be in as good a shape as the guys who are on the ground no.  I also don't think that the 65 year old four star general who deploys to a confrence table and has a team of bodyguards needs to be able to be in as good a shape as that 18 year old or his seargent who are on the ground.

betha... bethany169

Yeah, I'm not sure why you think the new test fails the soldiers....the scores on the APFT have always been broken down by age and gender.  Everybody does the same exercise in the same amount of time, but age and gender are taken into account for the score each soldier receives.  And this new test really does look like it comes a little closer to measuring overall fitness than the standard push-ups, sit-ups, two mile run. 

I especially like that they added the ACRT, which looks more like what might actually happen down range.  In a firefight, I doubt anyone will ask a soldier to drop and do as many pushups as they can in two minutes, but having to drag a casualty to safety is a more likely scenario. 

Gwen Lewis Ingram

I'm not sure how this fails our soldiers. My husband has been active duty for almost 12 years. He has never had a problem with the PT test, but he's always found fault with them. He's always been held to a different standard because of his job with USASOC. There has always been divisions for ages and gender, that is nothing new. While I agree with the previous commenter, Meatball77, that not all soldiers do the same job, I think there need to be some generally set standards when it comes to physical fitness.  Being fit is about taking care of yourself. All soldiers, regardless of age or gender need to take care of themselves and their health. Just my opinion, of course.

Steve Cole

Hm. This article is written from what sounds like an extremely ill-informed point-of-view. I will chalk up the reference to "21 years of standard practice" to a typo and presume you meant 31 (2011-1980=31).

As other users have commented, the Army PT standards have always been adjusted based on age and gender. Women are not expected to do as many push-ups as men, nor are they expected to run 2 miles as quickly. Ditto for a 45 year old male vs. an 18 year old male.

You seem to be calling for an "across-the-board" standardization. While this exists for weapons qualifications, it's not practical for physical standards. If you standardize physical requirements universally you are going to one of two scenarios:

1) The standards will be high enough that few women will pass

2) The standards will be low enough that it really won't present a clear picture of someone's physical readiness.

The Army is on the right path with adjusting its physical readiness test, and assessing scores based on age and gender is appropriate. What the Army should be more concerned about is the tendency for good ideas on paper to devolve into bad ideas in execution. While I'm sure there will be kinks to work out, this is a step in the right direction.

toria... toriandgrace

I agree with the previous posters. There have always been different requirements for age/ gender with PRTs. Perhaps a little more research on your part would have helped with this article?

nonmember avatar Andrew

I've been in the military for 12 years and consider myself pretty liberal but in my experience if women were scored on the same scale as men, most of them would fail. For perspective, my last PT test I scored a 243 out of 300. If I input my same scores into the women's chart, I scored a 300/300. Point made?

Cruz Bryan

To the author- Are you a soldier? do you have combat experience? If not why are you talking about issues you have no experience with?
On the gender difference-they have easier standards for women because women rarely pass the same standards as the men and that makes women feel left out (can't pass a PT test means you can't be a soldier).

Maybe you should have talked to current soldiers with real world experience before writing?

nonmember avatar David

WOW, you really are misinformed, you should look into it alittle more. They are trying to work it so its gender NEUTRAL based on age.

nonmember avatar GuestOne

The author clearly has no idea how the Army's PT system has been for decades and thought up her headline to grab attention or readers. As others have said, the test has always had different age groups, and the new test actually does away with the differing categories for genders, unlike the previous APFT.

Ms. Sager: Do your homework before you write so you don't seem so misinformed next time.

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