ACFT Standards and Scoring Information

Readiness is critical if you’re a soldier. As a result, physical fitness is regularly assessed by the Army as a means of ensuring readiness.

Currently, the evaluation of physical readiness is primarily conducted with the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), 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, as well as know what it takes to ensure physical readiness.

Here’s an overview of the ACFT, including what it is, the included events, the ACFT standards scoring scale, and more.

What Is the ACFT?

The ACFT is a physical fitness assessment designed to assess muscular strength, endurance, power, agility, coordination, flexibility, speed, and similar critical factors. Additionally, it ensures mental readiness, including toughness, diligence, and stamina.

The ACFT replaced the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which had been in place for 40 years. In October 2020, the ACFT functionally became the standard. However, the ACFT has undergone several iterations, with the most recent version representing ACFT 4.0.

Currently, the ACFT features six events, each designed to assess a different aspect of physical readiness and capability. For example, some evaluate muscular strength, while others are endurance-focused.

However, they all usually require several fitness-related abilities and rely on multiple muscle groups to complete successfully.

What Are the ACFT Events?

3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL)

During the MDL, soldiers must deadlift the highest amount of weight they can manage for three repetitions.

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.

Assessed Fitness Components

  • Muscular Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Balance

Standard Equipment

  • 60-Pound Hex Bar
  • Weight Plates

Proper Technique

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

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 it’s possible to grip the handles comfortably and firmly, 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 throughout.

Keep the back straight and ensure that the hips aren’t rising before or above the shoulders. Achieve a straddle stance, ensuring the weight remains under control and appropriately balanced throughout the entire 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 immediately 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. If all three repetitions are completed with suitable control and without pauses to rest, the assessment is complete.

However, soldiers can choose to attempt the MDL one more time with more weight in an attempt 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.

The goal is to achieve the maximum throwing distance possible, as the score is based on the distance achieved.

Assessed Fitness Components

  • Power
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Flexibility

Standard Equipment

Proper Technique

The SPT involves two phases. First, soldiers get into the starting position.

Begin by picking 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. Make sure to 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, 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, striving 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.

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

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 of them 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.

Assessed Fitness Components

  • Muscular Endurance
  • Flexibility

Standard Equipment

Proper Technique

For the HRP, the technique is relatively straightforward. 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. Make sure that the head, neck, and spine are aligned, and keep the hips lowered to create a relatively 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 begin pressing 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 make contact with the floor simultaneously.

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 brings the arms and hands back in, placing them back on the ground in the starting position, completing 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 while managing heavy items in a particular fashion or using specific movements to complete the shuttle. During this event, the weight of equipment and the distance that must be covered are fixed.

The goal is to complete the required distance in the shortest time possible using the proper technique.

Assessed Fitness Components

  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Reaction Time
  • Anaerobic Endurance
  • Anaerobic Power

Standard Equipment

  • Two 40-Pound Kettlebells
  • 90-Pound Sled

Proper Technique

The SDC is a multi-phase event divided into five 50-meter shuttles. Once at the starting line and instructed to begin, the soldier sprints down to a line 25 meters away, ensuring to make contact with the line with the 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.

Once 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, going down the 25-meter lane and touching 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.

Assessed Fitness Components

  • Muscular Endurance
  • Balance

Standard Equipment

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 the hands 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 then shift into the plank position. The straight-line positioning must be maintained from heels to head, 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 where soldiers must run a set course. The goal is to complete the two miles in the shorted possible time, as quicker times receive better scores.

Assessed Fitness Components

Standard Equipment

  • Two-Mile Route (level field, track, or similar running surface)

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 Scoring Scale

The ACFT scoring scale outlines the minimum required performance to pass the assessment. The comprehensive breakdown of the ACFT scoring scale is available through the Army website.

The tables show all of the scoring guidelines based on age and gender for every exercise.

Additionally, the scoring scale outlines the precise number of points awarded based on performance. For example, it lets you know exactly how many points are earned by deadlifting a specific amount of weight three times successfully.

However, a simplified version is also helpful. Along with showing what’s required to achieve a maximum score for each exercise (based on gender and age), it shows what’s needed to secure a minimum passing score – the 60-point requirement – in each event.

The lowest possible cumulative passing score is a total of 360 points. However, that is based on a soldier achieving at least a 60-point score in every event.

If any individual event score is below 60, that event isn’t successfully passed, regardless of the point total.

The highest possible cumulative score is 600. That involves meeting or exceeding the maximum performance standard in every event.

For example, for a 25-year-old male, that would comprise of an MDL with 340+ pounds, an SPT of 13+ meters, an HRP with 61+ reps, an SDC no longer than 1.5 minutes, a PLK of 3 minutes and 25 seconds or longer, and a 2MR in 13 minutes and 27seconds or less.

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.

That exemption applies 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. In order to combat erroneous flagging of those soldiers, those who score exceptionally well on the ACFT – which essentially proves an appropriate degree of physical fitness – the exemption was created.

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

FAQs About the ACFT

What’s 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 is the result of 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. Age and gender-neutral scoring don’t account for physiological differences that occur when soldiers are of different ages or genders, so those approaches were deemed unideal.

Additionally, the ACFT 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.

How Was the New Scoring Scale Developed?

The new scoring scale is the result of an analysis of approximately 630,000 ACFT scores, APFT historical data, and scoring tables in use within other military branches.

The 100-point maximum score is designed to represent the 96th percentile in regard to performance, while the 60-point mark represents the 5th percentile. Everything in between is an even distribution that was observed in past performance records.

The only exception is the 2-mile run, where the minimum score required was selected to ensure it didn’t mandate a faster time than outlined in the APFT run standards.

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 is ensuring that soldiers 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.

Will the ACFT Change Again?

The ACFT is undergoing rigorous assessment on a continuous basis. As analysis of scores, pass rates, and other factors is conducted, changes may occur as needed to optimize the ACFT to ensure readiness.

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