New entrance test to increase Soldier quality, reduce attrition
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New entrance test to increase Soldier quality,
reduce attrition
WASHINGTON -- A new military entrance exam is
now being given to Army recruits to predict
performance, behaviors, attitude, and attrition of
potential Soldiers. The pilot program is designed to
see how the Army can get best-fit recruits, even in
jobs that require slightly higher standardized test
scores than the applicant achieved.

The three-year pilot study authorized by the
Department of Defense is for a talent management
tool known as the Tailored Adaptive Personality
Assessment System, or TAPAS.

The TAPAS accession pilot will evaluate the use of
personality testing to supplement the Armed Forces
Qualification Test score, known as the AFQT, which
grades four of the nine sub-tests of the Armed
Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, known as
ASVAB.

Using this pilot, up to 6,000 applicants annually from
the Army's three components who score between
a 45-49 on the AFQT, have a high school diploma,
and also score in the top 50% on the TAPAS test
will be exempt from the AFQT grading scale.
Whereas already fully qualified to enlist, this
exempt population will be used to assess the
effectiveness of TAPAS on new recruit screenings.

The 120-question, non-cognitive test has actually
been used on recruits in conjunction with other
entrance exams, such as the AFQT, since 2009.
However, then it was used to collect data on
individuals already entering their military
occupational specialties.

While TAPAS is expected to expand the market of
eligible recruits, Heffner said it will not compromise
Army standards.

"Anyone who enlists must meet standards," she
said. "Those enlisting in this pilot that expands
eligibility must still pass the ASVAB, the OPAT,
pass a drug and alcohol screening test as well as
a criminal background check before selecting one
of the Army's occupational specialties."

"Those who will enlist through the pilot program
will be more qualified than what their cognitive test
score says," Heffner said. "I expect them to perform
much higher than that. It's not even a little bit, it's
noticeably higher than that. There will be lower
attrition for the people in the pilot program and
they will outperform many of their peers.

Allowing those who score in the top 50% of the
TAPAS to enlist will help fill the Army with "high-
quality, extremely-fit individuals who are capable of
performing successfully as Soldiers," Heffner said.

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