Air Force Delays PT Test Again But Adds a New Scoring System

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Air Commandos perform the cardiovascular portion of the Air Force Fitness Assessment at Hurlburt Field, Fla., April 27, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Ronald Feliciano Rivera)
Air Commandos perform the cardiovascular portion of the Air Force Fitness Assessment at Hurlburt Field, Fla., April 27, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Ronald Feliciano Rivera)

The U.S. Air Force just postponed its physical fitness assessment for the fourth time in about a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service announced Thursday that PT tests will resume July 1. When they do, airmen and Space Force Guardians will be graded using a new scoring system, according to a news release.

"As testing resumes, scores earned on the three-component fitness test will be redistributed," it states. The test consists of a 1.5-mile run, one minute of push-ups and one minute of sit-ups.

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How scores will be calculated and "final decisions on percentage component breakdowns will become available in June," it adds.

Other pending decisions include how the Air Force will divide personnel into age groups. There are currently 10 age categories between men and women; the service wants to reduce that to five, according to the release.

In March 2020, the service suspended physical fitness testing until at least May 30 of that year.

As the new date approached, officials delayed testing again until at least Oct. 1, 2020. In September, the service announced it would resume testing on the push-up, sit-up and run components starting Jan. 1, but would not administer the tape test in order to adhere to social distancing protocols.

Then in December, officials announced that PT tests had been put off again until April 2021.

However, because of a mandatory requirement outlined in Department of Defense Instruction 1308.3, the service backtracked on the tape test. It will still be used to determine whether an airman remains in compliance with body composition standards. But the result from the waist measurement won't be counted in the overall PT test, the service explained.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown previously stated that ditching the waist component score may force the service to reexamine how it conducts PT and what changes commanders could make to incorporate more effective training.

Officials are studying strength and cardio tests that may be included in the future, including the 20-meter High Aerobic Multi-shuttle Run, row ergometry, planks and burpees, the release states. Leaders previously have said the study is also looking at how the service measures body fat.

"We are also conducting a holistic review of policies associated with the physical fitness assessment program to determine if they are still a good fit for today's Air Force," Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in the announcement. "This includes a review of who's accountable for conducting our testing and how it gets administered."

Airmen and Guardians will also have the option of taking the "no-fail" practice PT test, the release states. The diagnostic PT test was unveiled by then-Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright in 2019. An airman must conduct his or her test alongside a unit fitness program manager or physical training leader. If they fail the test, it will not count against them or be documented as their official score. But if they pass, it would count as their official score.

The service said commanders may reassess the new July start date depending on COVID-19 restrictions and whether bases can accommodate physical distancing protocols and other local precautions.

Airmen and space members can check on their next PT test due date via the "Official Physical Assessment Due Date Matrix" on the myPers website.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

Related: Air Force Becomes First Service to Ditch the Hated Tape Test for Good

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