The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT): Standards, Scoring and FAQs

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a comprehensive physical fitness assessment designed to assess muscular strength, speed and endurance, power, agility, and other critical skills service members need to serve in the Army successfully. The ACFT replaced the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) in October 2020 and has undergone several updates. It is no…
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The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a comprehensive physical fitness assessment designed to assess muscular strength, speed and endurance, power, agility, and other critical skills service members need to serve in the Army successfully.

The ACFT replaced the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) in October 2020 and has undergone several updates. It is no longer designed to prepare soldiers for combat but is used as a general fitness assessment. The Army uses ACFT 4.0 to measure service members’ fitness-related abilities and corresponding mental acuity, which is part of the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) System.

Whether you’re currently a soldier or are considering joining the Army, understanding the ACFT standards is beneficial. It allows you to prepare for the assessment to ensure you achieve a passing score and know what it takes to ensure physical readiness.

The ACFT consists of six tests, each designed to assess physical readiness and capability. Participants must meet minimum performance standards to pass the assessment, scoring a minimum of 60 points in each of the six following areas:

3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL)
Standing Power Throw (SPT)
Hand-Release Push-Up (HRP)
Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC)
Plank (PLK)
Two-Mile Run (2MR)

These events assess eight critical components of fitness.

Fitness AttributeDescription
StrengthThe ability to handle heavy loads
Muscle EnduranceHow long muscles can perform tasks
Aerobic EnduranceCardiovascular stamina
Anaerobic EndurancePerformance in short, intense activities
PowerQuick and forceful exertion
AgilityQuick direction changes
SpeedSwift movement from one point to another
CoordinationEffective multitasking and spatial awareness

ACFT Scoring Scale

The ACFT scoring scale outlines the minimum performance required to pass the assessment. You can access a complete scale breakdown for individual tests on the Army website.

The tables show all the scoring guidelines based on age and gender for every exercise.
The scoring scale also outlines the precise number of points awarded based on performance.

The lowest possible cumulative passing score is 360 points, and the highest possible score is 600 points. Results are entered on an ACFT Scorecard. However, to pass the ACFT, a soldier must score at least 60 points on each event.

A soldier will fail an event if any individual score is below 60, and soldiers who fail any of the six events must retake the whole test.

What Are the ACFT Events?

Soldiers conduct the ACFT in the Army Physical Fitness Uniform. Other devices or gear, such as weightlifting belts or gloves, are not permitted unless prescribed by a medical provider.

Biometric devices such as watches and heart-rate monitors are authorized, except in certain operations and overseas conditions dictated by the commander.

The six ACFT components are:

3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL)

During the MDL, soldiers must deadlift the highest amount of weight they can manage for three repetitions. This test part will assess muscular strength, flexibility, and balance using a 60-pound hex bar and weight plates.

Soldiers choose the amount of weight they’ll attempt to lift, so some experience with deadlifting is helpful. It allows soldiers to choose the proper plates the first time around, ensuring they work with a total weight that represents their personal maximum.

Proper Technique

The MDL is divided into three movement-based phases. During the preparatory phase, the soldier steps inside the hex bar when instructed.

Place the feet shoulder-width apart and visually identify the mid-point of the integrated handles. Bend the knees and hinge the hips backward, ensuring the knees don’t extend beyond the toes.

Lower down until you can comfortably and firmly grip the handles, keeping the back flat, arms fully extended, and head aligned with the spine. Also, make sure that the heels of the feet remain on the ground.

The upward movement phase is next. When instructed, lift the bar by straightening the knees and maintain the feet in the same position.

Keep the back straight and ensure the hips aren’t rising before or above the shoulders. Achieve a straddle stance, ensuring the weight remains controlled and appropriately balanced throughout the movement.

Then, soldiers complete the downward movement phase. After achieving a straddle stance, maintain a straight back and lower the ground to the floor, bending the knees and hips as the weight descends.

It’s critical to ensure that the weight plates contact the floor, but the weight must be set on the ground, not dropped. Once contact is made, the repetition is complete.

After the first repetition, the soldier must begin the upward movement phase again, followed by the downward movement phase to complete the second repetition. Then, both stages are repeated once more to finish the third repetition.

If that doesn’t occur, the solider can retest once with less weight. The assessment is complete if all three repetitions are completed with suitable control and without pauses to rest.

Soldiers can also attempt the MDL one more time with more weight to improve their score.

Standing Power Throw (SPT)

The SPT involves taking a medicine ball and heaving it backward and over the soldier’s head. During this event, the weight of the medicine ball is fixed. This event assesses power, coordination, balance, and flexibility using a 10-pound medicine ball.

The goal is to achieve the maximum throwing distance possible, which is how the event is scored.

Proper Technique

The SPT involves two phases.

In the first phase, soldiers assume the starting position and pick up the medicine ball, holding it with both hands – and standing with both heels at – but not on or beyond – the starting line on the floor.

Place the feet hip-width apart and keep both hands at hip level. Hold the ball firmly and broaden the grip as much as possible.

Once instructed, the soldier can begin the movement phase. Before starting the throw, specific preparatory movements are allowed, such as knee and hip lowering and positioning the ball between their legs.

During the throw, soldiers must keep the arms straight and move the ball in an arc while simultaneously pushing up through the legs and hips. As the ball reaches the directly overhead point, arch the back to propel the ball backward.

The ball will arc over the soldier’s head before release to achieve the right trajectory. The goal is to throw it behind toward the measuring lane, trying to achieve the longest possible throwing distance.

Soldiers are allowed to jump when throwing the ball backward. However, if they fall or step onto or cross the starting line when landing, it’s considered a zero score.

The distance is measured and recorded if the throw is successful – either with or without jumping.

After completing the first throw, soldiers repeat the SPT for a second throw measurement. If both of the initial two throws result in faults, a third throw is permitted, with the new score replacing the score associated with the second attempt.

While two scores are recorded, only the longest is used for scoring purposes.

Hand-Release Push-Up (HRP)

Soldiers are given two minutes to complete as many HRPs as possible, with higher numbers leading to better scores. This event measures muscular endurance and flexibility and is performed on a level surface.

Proper Technique

Soldiers get into a plank position with their hands flat on the ground, keeping the index fingers within the outer edge of the shoulder on each side.

The feet should be no more than a boot’s width apart, with the ankles flexed and the toes on the ground. Align the head, neck, and spine, and keep the hips lowered to create a flat plane across the legs and torso.

Bend the elbows to lower the body toward the ground, maintaining the aligned plank position. A lack of straight alignment will prevent a repetition from counting, so it’s critical to remain mindful of body positioning.

Continue lowering until the body (chest, hips, and thighs) reaches the ground.

When instructed, soldiers press back up to the original plank position with the elbows fully extended, reaching the up position. Then, they repeat the lowering movement back to the ground, ensuring the chest, hips, and thighs simultaneously make contact with the floor.
Once contact is made, the head, body, and legs remain in their position, and the soldier picks up both arms to create a T-position with the arms extended out to the sides. Touching the ground during this movement is allowed.

Then, the soldier returns the arms and hands to the starting position, placing them back on the ground. That completes the repetition. The goal is to finish as many repetitions as possible in two minutes.

Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC)

The SDC involves five 50-meter shuttles. Heavy items are managed in a particular fashion, and specific movements are used to complete the shuttle. During this event, the weight of equipment and the distance that must be covered are fixed.

This event measures muscular strength and endurance, reaction time, and anaerobic endurance and power using two 40-pound kettlebells and a 90-pound sled.

The goal is to complete the required distance using the proper technique as quickly as possible.

Proper Technique

The SDC is a multi-phase event divided into five 50-meter shuttles. Once instructed to begin at the starting line, the soldier sprints down to a line 25 meters away, making contact with the line with a foot or hand before turning around and sprinting back.

Next, there’s the drag shuttle. Soldiers grip a pair of handles attached to a 90-pound sled and begin pulling the sled backward.

After the entire sled crosses the 25-meter line, they turn the sled around and go back to the starting point, making sure that the sled entirely crosses that line.

The third phase is the lateral, where soldiers go down the 25-meter lane and touch that line before doing the same movement back to the start. For the fourth segment, soldiers pick up two 40-lb kettlebells, one in each hand.

With the kettlebells, they run the 25-meter path, touch the line with a foot, then run to return to the starting point and put the kettlebells down. The final phase is a repeat of the first, involving sprints.

The goal is to complete the entire series of shuttles in rapid succession and achieve the lowest possible total time. Instruction to begin is only provided at the start of the first phase, so the soldier should continue through each stage without further direction until completion.

Plank (PLK)

The PLK is a time-based event where soldiers must maintain a plank position. The goal is to keep the position for the longest amount of time possible, as longer times lead to higher scores.
This event measures muscular endurance and balance and is performed on a level surface.

Proper Technique

When instructed, soldiers get into the starting position. They should position their body on the ground, ensuring the toes and knees are making contact.

The hands are placed on the ground in one of three accepted positions. They can be in fists, on the side (pinky-side down), or flat, ensuring that they are no more than a fist-width apart, regardless of position.

Keep the elbow bent, aligning the elbows with the shoulder while the forearms are on the ground, creating a triangle.

When instructed, soldiers lift their knees off the ground to create an even plane from the legs through the shoulders and head, with eyes facing the floor. The ankles remain flexed, ensuring the toes are holding the weight.

When instructed, soldiers shift into the plank position. Straight-line positioning must be maintained from heels to heads, and the hands, forearms, and feet must keep contact with the ground.

The goal is to maintain the plank position for as long as possible, as longer times lead to higher scores.

Only one warning of improper positioning is given, and failure to return to the right position will end the assessment and determine the score. Trembling or shaking is allowed as long as the overall positioning is kept.

Two-Mile Run (2MR)

The 2MR is an endurance event in which soldiers must run a set course. The goal is to complete the two miles in the shortest possible time. This measures aerobic endurance on a two-mile route that can be a level field, track, or similar running surface. Soldiers are not allowed to wear headphones during the run.

Proper Technique

The two-mile run can be completed using any running technique. Sprinting, running, and jogging are all permitted, and walking is technically allowed, but it’s discouraged.

Switching between running methods is also allowed, giving soldiers the ability to adapt their approach throughout the assessment.

Soldiers begin at the starting line and finish once they’ve completed the entire path, the required number of laps, or another marker that notes completion. The goal is to achieve the shortest possible time, as quicker times lead to higher scores.

ACFT Body Fat Assessment Exemption

In March 2023, the US Army released a directive regarding exemptions from body fat assessments based on ACFT performance. Soldiers that secure a score of 540 or above and have a minimum score of 80 in each event are no longer required to undergo a body fat assessment, regardless of the soldier’s gender, height, and weight.

The change was instituted after a study concluded that soldiers with high volumes of lean muscle mass could fail a body fat assessment that’s outlined in Army Regulation 600-9.

A soldier who doesn’t meet the parameters is not automatically exempt from a body fat assessment based on their ACFT performance. They should assume that one is required unless they qualify for one based on the exception to policy.

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Army Combat Fitness Test FAQs

How many times can I take the AFCT?

A service member can take the AFCT as many times as needed during their career, but there is a six-month waiting period between each test. The military keeps the most recent score, not the highest.

What happens if you fail the ACFT?

If you fail the ACFT, you can be chaptered out of the Army. A failure in one event is a failure of the whole test.

What are the three alternate events for the ACFT?

The three alternate events for the ACFT are rowing, biking, and swimming. You can only take one of the alternate events if you’re on a permanent profile. If you’re on a temporary profile, you shouldn’t be taking the ACFT at all.

Can you switch shoes during ACFT?

You can change your shoes during the ACFT. A lot of people want to do the MDL and the 2MR in different shoes. There is nothing in the regs about changing your shoes during the test.

What has changed since ACFT 3.0?

The current version of the ACFT went into effect on April 1, 2022, and it adjusted the scorecard to feature scaled scoring based on gender and age. The move back to a gender and age-based scoring scale results from an analysis of collected data and feedback from soldiers, with the scoring developed to ensure that all soldiers meet necessary standards.

The age and gender-based strategy was also the preferred approach to ensure force readiness while ensuring fairness because age and gender-neutral scoring don’t account for physiological differences that occur when soldiers are of different ages or genders.

The ACFT also transitioned to a single core-strength event – the plank – eliminating the leg tuck, which was deemed an inaccurate assessment of core strength. Finally, a 2.5-mile walk can serve as an alternative to the aerobic event – standing in for the 2-mile run – for soldiers whose medical profiles prevent running.

Are pregnant or postpartum soldiers required to take the ACFT?

Soldiers are exempt from taking the ACFT while pregnant. Additionally, postpartum soldiers are exempt for 365 days after the conclusion of a pregnancy, whether that involves birth or perinatal loss.

However, soldiers can volunteer to participate in physical fitness activities and assessments without any risk of ending the exemption period early.

Why do soldiers in a non-combat MOS need to take a “combat” fitness test?

Physical fitness ensures individual and unit readiness. Regardless of a soldier’s MOS, ensuring that they’re physically capable of deploying and engaging in combat successfully is critical, as it increases their ability to return home safely.

By requiring all soldiers to adhere to the ACFT standards, the Army ensures that they have the necessary tools – including strength, endurance, power, agility, speed, balance, coordination, aerobic capacity, and reaction time – to maximize their potential and handle responsibilities effectively.

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