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Becoming a Sergeant
I am going to focus on the promotion points system for a Specialist (E-4) pursuing Sergeant (E-5). The system is generally the same for current sergeants. The main difference is the number of points possible in each category. So all numbers I am stating and all steps I cover are focused on the aspiring E-5 but can also be applied to those pursuing E-6.
Promotion Points Won't Matter
There are certain things you have to have done before you can even become eligible for promotion. If you haven't completed these, it won't matter if you have 800 promotion points.
- Pass a promotion board
- Graduate from WLC (Warrior Leader Course)
- Meet the minimum TIS (Time in Service) and TIG (Time in Grade) requirements.
Primary Zone TIS = 36 months TIG = 8 months
*Secondary Zone TIS= 18 months TIG = 4 months
*The point's requirement is usually higher for those trying to get promoted using the secondary zone.
Promotion Points Breakdown
Military Awards & Decorations
Promotion Points Possible
The maximum number of points you can earn is 800. These are further broken down into maximum points for different categories. Beyond that, there are different things in each category worth a predetermined amount of points. If you plan to get promoted early in your Army career, there are certain categories you should focus on to get the most points for your effort.
Army Promotion Points Calculator
How Many Promotion Points is Your PT Score Worth?
In general, a passing score of 180 is 40 promotion points. Every score amount above 180 is equal to that many promotion points.
- Ex. PT Score = 270
- 270-180 = 90
- 90+40 = 130
- Promotion Points = 130
This category is only based on deployments, your PT test and your weapons qualification. There is a much bigger emphasis on this category for getting SGT than SSG.
The deployment category isn't going to help you out too much. You could always volunteer for a deployment but it would take too long and you only get 2 points for each month. If you have already been deployed, make sure the amounts on your ERB (Enlisted Record Brief) are correct.
The Army Physical Fitness Test may not be the easiest category to max out but it is the fastest. Most units will let you take a PT test anytime if you request one. If you max it out, you get 160 points. If you just barely pass with a score of 60 in each category, you get a measly 40 points. This is a big difference. Doing badly on your PT test can really sabotage your attempts at promotion. If you have one area, such as the run, that it always holding you back; make sure you focus on it more while training. If you have determination, you would be surprised how much further you can go. Dedicate yourself to it and give it all you have.
Be sure to check your height and weight to see if you pass. If you are overweight, check your body fat percentage as well. If you can not pass weight or tape, it will be considered a fail for your PT test. You can use the Army Fitness Calculator to check these. The day to find out you are overweight is not the day of the test. So, check now and start working on losing weight if you need to.
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Qualifying on your weapon is also going to be a quick category to score some big points. A passing qualification will only get you 33 points while a perfect score will get you 160 points. This is another big gap. Every extra shot you make makes a big difference in points. So, make sure you are calm, have properly fitting gear, and know exactly what your target is. (I have seen people shoot at the wrong target.)
The issue with PT and weapons qualification is that they expire. You have to maintain a high ability in these categories or you will have trouble with getting enough promotion points. I believe the Military Training is the base you should work off of when it comes to promotion points. Focus on maxing out these categories. They will become your platform. Once you are successful at these then you should begin "adding" points from the other categories a little at a time.
Military Awards & Decorations
This is the hardest category to gain points in quickly. You cannot have a direct effect on your points here and I would suggest leaving this category to develop on its own. The best thing you can do here is to make sure you are the best soldier you can possibly be. Don't piss off anyone who outranks you, be willing to help those you outrank and don't be afraid to volunteer for a crappy detail. This sometimes randomly produces an award. People have received Certificates of Achievement for things like enduring cold weather in the field. Also, make sure any awards you have gained in the past are turned in to S1 so they are on your ERB.
10 Point Course List
- The Army Maintenance Management System Clerk Course
- Prescribed Load List Clerk Course
- Motor Pool Operations/Management Course
- Generator Operator Course
- Fuel Handlers Course
- Basic Welding Course
- Forklift Operator Course
- Bus Driver Course
- Unit Supply Clerk Course
- Unit Supply Operations/Management Course
- Unit Armor Course
- CBRN Defense Course
- Unit Postal Clerk Course
- Disk Operating System Course
- Word Processing Course
- Database Management Course
- Unit Level Logistics System Course
This is one of those things, in the Army, where you want to volunteer as much as possible. If your leadership is asking who wants to go to a certain class, you raise your hand! Many lower enlisted soldiers don't realize that the classes they avoid out of fear of boredom could be worth to promotion points for a week's worth of class. You would be at work anyway, why not get some promotion points. Make sure you check into the Army classes for promotion points. To the right is a list of all of these 10 point courses.
Warrior Leader Course
Another big chunk of the points available in this category are from attending WLC (Warrior Leader Course) This course (currently) lasts for about 3 weeks. Upon completion, you will earn 80 promotion points. If you excel while you are there and graduate in the top 10% of the class, you are named on the commandant's list and you get 92 points instead of 80. If you end up being the top soldier in your class, you are named distinguished honor put graduate and receive 102 points instead of 80 or 92. That seems pretty simple. It is if you put your full effort into being the best.
Another easy way of gaining points is by doing correspondence courses (Army online classes). If you max them out, you get 78 promotion points. Every 5-hour class correlates to 1 promotion point. Even though the classes are listed by how long they take, they do not take nearly that long. Courses listed as an hour take about 5 minutes if you pick the right ones.
Once you're in SkillPort, got to the category "Desktop Curriculum." Within this are a ton of Microsoft classes. These are typically the easiest ones to complete. They focus on things like Word, Spreadsheet and PowerPoint. You don't have to go through the whole course. Just take the course test and attempt to get 70%. If you don't, go back and take the incorrect questions again. It may take a few times through but it is much faster than actually going through the whole course. Keep in mind, this is not cheating. It is working smarter not harder.
Note: You cannot max out your military education points with SkillPort. You will top out at 78 promotion points. Also, SkillPort is sometimes referred to as Army e-learning.
This category is debatable. Some find it overly simple, and others extremely difficult. There are a few different options in gaining points here. But, the general idea is that any kind of college education you have or can get is worth promotion points. The maximum amount of points for this category is 75.
Previous College Credits
If you have already attended college credits in the past, this is the easiest way to get promotion points. Bring your official transcripts to your S1. Each credit hour is worth 1 promotion point. To max out this category using the previous college would be the equivalent to a little more than an Associate Degree.
CLEP & DANTES Tests
If you already have knowledge about a subject but have never actually taken a class, you can test through CLEP or DSST to get college credits. Most tests are worth 3 college credits, which is worth 3 promotion points. There are tons of different tests to choose from and will most likely have a few you will excel at.
Use your Army training to get college credits. Every AIT varies on how many college credits it is worth and which college you are going through. Look for a very military-friendly college, submit your AARTS transcripts, and have them evaluate them. Once they have awarded you your college credits, take a copy of those official transcripts to S1 and you will get 1 promotion point for every college credit. I know when I did mine; basic training was 6 college credits alone.
If you are close to finishing a degree, go ahead and finish it on the Army's dime. Take classes online or at a local college using Tuition Assistance. Once you finish it, submit a copy of your degree and you will get 10 promotion points. The degree has to be completed while you are in the Army to count.
Promotion Points Submission Deadline
Make sure your points are turned in to your S1 no later than the 8th of the month before. That is the cutoff date. For example, if you are trying to make points for a December 1st promotion, you need to have your points turned in by November 8th.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2012 Megan Garcia