Army Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT)
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — On Jan. 3, the Army started administering the
Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, to all recruits as a way to assess their
fitness for military occupational specialties. The OPAT will also be used to assess some
Soldiers who are reclassifying into a different MOS.
U.S. Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about
80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually.
Soldiers moving into a more physically demanding MOS will also have to meet the OPAT
standard for the gaining MOS, said Jim Bragg, Retention and Reclassification Branch
chief for U.S. Army Human Resources Command.
MOSs are divided into three physical demand categories under the OPAT, he explained.
These PDCs are: Heavy (Black); Significant (Gray); Moderate (Gold); Unqualified
(White). When a Soldier wishes to reclassify to a new MOS, from the Significant
category to the Heavy category, then he or she would need to take the OPAT. However,
if that Soldier’s new MOS falls within the same or lower-level category, the Soldier will
not need to take the OPAT.
The Soldier’s commander is responsible for ensuring the OPAT is administered prior
to approval of a reclassification, Bragg said. As with any reclassification action, the
battalion- or brigade-level career counselor will administer the OPAT.
Regarding the recruiting side, “OPAT is not designed to turn away or weed out people
from the Army,” emphasized Brian Sutton, a spokesman for U.S. Army Recruiting
Command. “It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep
our recruits safe while doing so.”
He added that OPAT scoring is “gender neutral. All Soldiers, male and female, must
pass the same physical standards for the desired career field.”
The test will be administered to everyone coming into the Army, officer, enlisted, active,
Reserve and Guard, he said. It will be administered by any command responsible for
Soldier assessions, including Recruiting Command and U.S. Army Cadet Command
after the Soldier swears in but before he or she begins training.
4 TESTS OF OPAT
OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance,
explosive power and speed. It consists of four individual tests:
— The “Standing Long Jump” is designed to assess lower-body power. Participants
stand behind a take-off line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They jump
as far as possible.
— The “Seated Power Throw” is designed to assess upper-body power. Participants sit
on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall.
They hold a 4.4 pound (2 kilogram) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine
ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an
approximate 45 degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10
centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.
— The “Strength Deadlift” is designed to assess lower-body strength. Participants
stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to assure good technique. Then they
begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, and working up to 220 pounds.
— The “Interval Aerobic Run,” always performed last, is designed to assess aerobic
capacity. The evaluation involves running “shuttles” or laps between two designated
points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,”
produced by a loud speaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time
between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the
shuttle. Participants are scored by the level they reach and the number of shuttles they
THREE FITNESS CATEGORIES
Three categories of fitness are incorporated into the OPAT. They are:
— “Black” for MOSs with heavy physical demands, like those of the combat arms
branches, that require lifting or moving 99 pounds or more.
To attain Black on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to attain a minimum of 5
feet, 3 inches for the standing long jump; 14 feet, 9 inches for the seated power throw;
160 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:14 minute mile over the course of 43
— “Gray” for MOSs with significant physical demands that require frequent or constant
lifting of 41 to 99 pounds and occasional tasks involving moving up to 100 pounds.
To attain Gray on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to attain a minimum of 4
feet, 7 inches for the standing long jump; 13 feet, 1 inch for the seated power throw; 140
pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:20 minute mile over the course of 40 shuttles.
— “Gold” for MOSs with moderate physical demands, such as cyber, that require
frequent or constant lifting of weights up to 40 pounds or when all physical demands
To attain Gold on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to attain at a minimum, 3
feet, 11 inches for the standing long jump; 11 feet, 6 inches for the seated power throw;
120 pounds for the strength deadlift; and, a 10:27 minute mile over the course of 36
Sutton noted that if a recruit fails the OPAT, he or she can request to retake the test. If
the recruit cannot eventually pass the OPAT color designator for his or her MOS, it could
be possible to renegotiate the contract that would allow the recruit to go into an MOS
with a lower physical demand OPAT category, the minimum being Gold.