Soldiers who fail the new Army Combat Fitness Test later this calendar year will not need to worry about it negatively impacting their careers.
Army leaders have announced that while the ACFT will become the force’s test of record on Oct. 1, the scores will not count until 2022.
The delay was caused in part by the ongoing suspension of physical fitness tests, brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The Army suspended such tests in March and has not announced when they will resume.
Officials announced the delay Monday, while also detailing other modifications, including changes to alternate events, as part of what the Army calls ACFT 2.0.
The core of the six-event test is unchanged, according to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston. The six events include a deadlift; standing power throw; hand-release push-ups; sprint, drag and carry; leg tuck; and two-mile run.
But under the latest changes, soldiers who cannot pass the leg tuck portion will be able to substitute with an alternative plank event, which will require soldiers to balance on their elbows and toes for a minimum of two minutes.
Officials said the event is a temporary alternative.
Another change was made to an alternative assessment, with the length requirement for the stationary bike event dropped from 15,000 meters to 12,000 meters. The bike assessment is an option for soldiers on permanent profiles who are unable to complete a two-mile run.
Grinston said the delay will give soldiers more time to train for and pass the test without fear of it hampering their military careers.
The new test, which replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test as the service’s fitness test of record, has sparked concerns among the Guard and Reserve, where soldiers have lacked exposure to the test and available equipment to prepare for it.
Grinston said the ACFT will remain on track to be the test of record Oct. 1, replacing the APFT even if the scores will not count against a soldier. Failing the test could have resulted in separation, derogatory evaluation reports or had a negative impact on a soldier’s potential promotion.
“When it’s the test of record, you have to put it into the system of record, and that’s the only requirement right now,” he said.
Grinston said that even though soldiers will not be required to pass the test, they must still take the ACFT as scheduled. And the APFT is still being phased out, with most soldiers likely to never take the test again.
Grinston said the only soldiers required to take the APFT are those without a current passing score.
“As for everyone else — they should start training for the ACFT,” he said.
Additional changes for the ACFT include an adjustment of scoring standards. Soldiers will not be required to score an overall minimum total score of 60, known as the “Gold Standard.” That is a change from tougher scoring minimums that had been in place.
The standard applies to all soldiers, regardless of age or gender.
Officials have said the new ACFT will serve as a better indicator of physical fitness, based on the demands of combat. But roll-out of the new test has been hampered by a lack of equipment and, most recently, social distancing requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic.