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What to expect from the Army Combat Fitness Test

This is an excerpt from Preparing for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association,Nathan C. Palin & Robert Hartman.

You can expect a longer and logistically intensive test that requires a comprehensive display of physicality to successfully pass. It will be hard to hide your physical weaknesses because so many performance traits are tested by the six events (discussed in detail in the next six chapters). Excelling on the ACFT requires power, strength, and endurance, all built on a foundation of movement competency. These are the same underlying physical characteristics that likely support success in your unit’s mission essential task listings (METL). Training to improve performance on the test and training to improve job performance now have a high level of compatibility compared to the one-dimensional APFT. Aerobic and muscular endurance are still essential qualities for passing, but the ACFT requires increased focus on other components of well-rounded athleticism.

Logistically, the ACFT requires a lot of time, equipment, space, and manpower. The test must be completed within 90 minutes; however, according to the Army’s Quick Reference Guide, most participants will finish in less than 75 minutes. A 5-minute rest period is allowed between all tests, and a 10-minute rest period is allowed prior to starting the last event, which is the two-mile run. For equipment, the ACFT requires a 60-pound (27 kg) trap bar and bumper plates, a 10-pound (5 kg) medicine ball, two 40-pound (18 kg) kettlebells, a 90-pound (41 kg) sled with straps for pulling, and a pull-up bar per lane (figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1 Single lane’s worth of equipment needed for executing the ACFT.
Figure 1.1 Single lane’s worth of equipment needed for executing the ACFT.

Recommended grading equipment includes stopwatches, 25-meter (27 yd) tape measures, sticks to mark the Standing Power Throw (SPT), tall traffic cones, and small field cones. Each unit should possess its own standardized locker full of the necessary testing equipment. The test also requires open space with enough width and length to accommodate the SPT and Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC) events, and a level, improved running service totaling two miles. Either a Non-Commissioned Officer or an Officer in Charge oversees the test’s administration, and a certified ACFT grader is required for each lane (two to four soldiers perform the events within each lane). The number of lanes depends on the size of the unit and space available for each event. The next six chapters explain execution and scoring of each of the six ACFT events.

Scoring Standards

As discussed in the introduction, ACFT scoring standards vary based on military occupational specialties (MOS). Table 1.1 depicts minimum passing scores for each event based on physical categorization of each MOS and criteria for maximum potential score per event.

The moderate (or “gold”) minimum passing score is 60 points on each event. As of the date of publication, due to training disruptions caused by the international coronavirus pandemic, the Army is opting to hold every MOS category to achieving the moderate minimum passing score of 60 points on each event. ACFT scores will not be used administratively for punitive reasons and promotion-related purposes until March 2022. ACFT scores will be recorded as a test of record, but it is the soldier’s last APFT of record that counts for the administrative purposes previously mentioned and for admission to military schools.

Table 1.1 ACFT Scoring Standards

Table 1.1 ACFT Scoring Standards

Table 1.1 ACFT Scoring Standards

More Excerpts From Preparing for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)