ROTC Cadets test their physical skills twice a semester

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Strained faces, groans and beading sweat were a common sight in the Smith Fieldhouse and LaVell Edwards Stadium parking lot early Friday morning as ROTC cadets underwent the rigorous Army Physical Fitness Test.

ROTC cadets at BYU take the Army Physical Fitness Test twice a semester and must meet a minimum requirement of pushups, situps and a timed two-mile run to pass.

According to Matthew Long, ROTC public affairs officer, the minimum requirements for the test are calculated based on the age and gender of Army personnel.

“For instance, for a 25-year-old male, they must complete 40 pushups, 50 situps and run two miles in under 15:40,” said Long in an email.

The process for the test is demanding, but simple in its layout. Cadets arrive in the morning and line up in front of their graders, who are responsible for ensuring exercises are done properly. Each cadet must complete the minimum requirement of pushups and situps in two minutes to pass the test before completing a two-mile run inside their assigned time.

A minimum score in each category is 60, but any who go over and above the requirements can earn scores  up to 100 for a total of 300. A better score provides cadets a better chance of obtaining their desired future position in the Army.

“The real test is the final fitness test, but this provides each of us a good measure of where we are and what we need to improve,” said Nathan Christiansen, a junior from Idaho Falls. “We always want to perform our very best because it affects our chances of obtaining our desired position.”

According to Long, there is a growing problem in the Army regarding inadequate fitness levels, and so tests like these are able to better prepare cadets. He acknowledges that although these tests aren’t a perfect representation of combat, they are designed to improve a soldier’s fitness level.
“The Army is looking at changing the system so that fitness tests are more representative of combat, and would therefore include longer runs, carries and other drills,” Long said.
BYU’s ROTC program has a strong reputation, with 90 percent of its cadets passing the test and 75 percent going on to active service. Personnel in the program are eager to better their skills and serve their country.
“As a first-generation American you see how awesome this country is,” said Hyrum Palmer, a fourth-year student in the program, studying English. “You feel like you owe something, that you must earn your citizenship and give back to the greatest country in the world.”
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