Are you gearing up to serve your country as a member of the U.S. Army? If so, passing the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) is a critical stepping stone on your path to military greatness. This all-important test isn’t just a formality—it’s a stringent measurement of your physical and mental grit, designed to match you with a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that taps into your unique capabilities. The clock is ticking, and your future role in the Army hinges on your performance. Don’t leave your military career to chance; prepare for the OPAT with the dedication it deserves. Interested in how this all stacks up against other Army fitness metrics? Check out our U.S. Army ACFT Calculator to get a holistic view of Army fitness standards. Ready to dive into the OPAT Army experience? Let’s go!
What Is the OPAT Test?
The Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, is a series of physical tests designed to evaluate the physical skills and abilities essential for different job roles within the U.S. Army.
Purpose: To measure physical abilities necessary for various Army jobs
The OPAT serves as a benchmark to gauge a recruit’s physical capacity against the specific requirements of their desired Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
The OPAT was introduced as a way to more accurately measure the physical capabilities of Army recruits and to better match them with MOSs that fit their abilities.
Over the years, the OPAT has seen several revisions to improve its effectiveness and relevance. New exercises have been introduced, scoring methods refined, and standards updated to align with the changing nature of military operations.
The OPAT is required to ensure that Army personnel can physically perform the critical tasks that their MOS demands. It aims to mitigate the risk of injuries and maximize operational readiness.
Your OPAT score is instrumental in the MOS classification process. A low score may limit your MOS options, while a high score can open doors to more physically demanding specialties.
OPAT Test Exercises
The OPAT measures various physical attributes, including:
- Muscular Strength: Assessed through the strength deadlift.
- Muscular Endurance: Also assessed through the strength deadlift and the interval aerobic run.
- Cardiorespiratory Endurance: Evaluated through the interval aerobic run.
- Explosive Power: Evaluated through the standing long jump and seated power throw.
- Speed: Assessed through the interval aerobic run.
Detailed Exercise Descriptions
- Standing Long Jump: Designed to assess lower-body power. You stand behind a takeoff line with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, then jump as far as possible.
- Seated Power Throw: Designed to assess upper-body power. You sit on the floor with your lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. Holding a 4.4-pound medicine ball, you push or throw the ball at a 45-degree angle. The distance from the wall to where the ball first contacts the ground is your score.
- Strength Deadlift: Designed to assess lower-body strength. You stand inside a hex-bar and perform lifts, starting with 120 pounds and working up to 220 pounds to test your strength.
- Interval Aerobic Run: Designed to assess aerobic capacity. This involves running “shuttles,” or laps, between two designated points spaced 20 meters apart. Your pace is synchronized with “beeps” at specific intervals. The test gets progressively harder as the time between beeps shortens.
For most exercises, recruits usually have multiple attempts, except for the Interval Aerobic Run. The highest score among the attempts is typically considered.
If a recruit fails the OPAT, they can request to retake the test. If a recruit cannot meet the minimum standard for their desired MOS, it’s possible to renegotiate the contract for an MOS with lower physical demands.
OPAT Army Test Standards
The OPAT standards are categorized into four main levels based on the anticipated regular lifting requirements of the MOS:
- Black = Heavy Physical Demand (99+ lbs.)
- Gray = Significant Physical Demand (41-99 lbs.)
- Gold = Moderate Physical Demand (40 lbs. or less)
- White = Unqualified / Unsatisfactory
The goal is to achieve anything but a “white” (unqualified) status on the OPAT Test.
Wondering how the OPAT measures up to other Army fitness evaluations? Dive deeper by checking out our guide on ACFT Standards to get a full picture of what the Army expects from you physically.
The type of status you need to achieve on the OPAT varies depending on your intended MOS. A physically demanding MOS may require black or gray status, while other roles may only call for gold status.
The OPAT Test is also used by active-duty Army members seeking to transfer to a new MOS, provided the new MOS has higher physical demands.
Here are the minimum benchmarks necessary to achieve a certain “physical demand” status in the U.S. Army:
|Standing Long Jump
|Seated Power Throw
|5′ 3″ (160 cm)
|14′ 9″ (450 cm)
|Level 6-2 (43 shuttles)
|4′ 7″ (140 cm)
|13′ 1″ (400 cm)
|Level 5-8 (40 shuttles)
|3′ 11″ (120 cm)
|11′ 6″ (350 cm)
|Level 5-4 (36 shuttles)
Recruits have one hour to complete the OPAT Test, making time management a crucial aspect of successful completion.
Source: US Army fitness standards for recruits
Gender and Age Considerations
The OPAT is “gender-neutral,” meaning the same fitness standards exist for both men and women. Thus, the test requirements vary by designated MOS and not by gender.
How Can I Prepare For The OPAT Test?
Achieving success in the OPAT isn’t just about your physical prowess but also your mental readiness. Here are some concrete strategies you can employ to ensure you’re at your best when test day arrives:
Recommended Workout Regimens:
- Strength Training: Incorporate compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses into your routine. This helps build overall strength, which will be beneficial for the strength deadlift.
- Plyometric Training: Exercises such as box jumps, burpees, and plyo-pushups will enhance your explosive power for the standing long jump and seated power throw.
- Cardiovascular Training: Integrate interval running sessions into your regimen. Begin with short distances, gradually increasing both the duration and intensity to mirror the conditions of the interval aerobic run.
Exercise-specific Tips and Strategies:
- Standing Long Jump: Focus on building power in your calves and quadriceps. Practice the technique of swinging your arms and pushing off with both feet simultaneously.
- Seated Power Throw: Build up your chest, shoulder, and tricep strength. Understand the mechanics of the throw to maximize distance.
- Strength Deadlift: Prioritize proper form over lifting heavy to prevent injury. Engage your core and keep your back straight.
- Interval Aerobic Run: Focus on pacing. Don’t start too fast, and find a rhythm that allows you to maintain stamina throughout the run.
Psychological Preparation Tips:
- Visualization: Envision yourself successfully completing each part of the test.
- Practice Under Test Conditions: Familiarizing yourself with the test environment can alleviate anxiety. Time your workouts to simulate the actual test conditions.
Believe in your training and abilities. Your mindset can influence your performance, so remain positive, focused, and motivated.
Should you consider hiring a trainer?
If you’re new to fitness or uncertain about your training approach, a professional trainer can provide guidance, ensuring you focus on relevant exercises and maintain proper form.
The Role of Mentors in Preparation:
Veterans or those already in the service can offer invaluable advice from their own experiences with the OPAT. Seek out mentors to get insights, tips, and moral support.
What are the OPAT grading standards?
The OPAT grading standards are divided into four primary categories: Black, Gray, Gold, and White. Each category represents a different level of physical demand anticipated in various Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). Black is for roles with the heaviest lifting requirements (99+ lbs), Gray is significant (41-99 lbs), Gold is moderate (40 lbs or less), and White means unqualified or unsatisfactory. Your OPAT score will determine the types of MOS roles you’re eligible for, making it crucial to aim for the best possible category.
What is the difference between ACFT and OPAT?
While both the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test) and OPAT (Occupational Physical Assessment Test) are designed to measure fitness levels, they serve different purposes within the U.S. Army. The ACFT is a comprehensive fitness evaluation meant to assess the general physical readiness of all active-duty soldiers, irrespective of their MOS. On the other hand, the OPAT is primarily targeted at new recruits or active-duty members changing their MOS, helping to categorize them into roles based on specific physical capabilities.
What is a passing OPAT score?
A passing OPAT score is essentially any category above “White.” In other words, achieving a Black, Gray, or Gold status on the OPAT test indicates that you’ve passed. However, the specific category you’ll need to pass into depends on your intended MOS. For example, combat roles may require a Black status, while less physically demanding roles may only require a Gold status. Therefore, a “passing score” is relative to your desired career path within the Army.
Is the OPAT mandatory?
Yes, the OPAT is mandatory for new Army recruits as well as for active-duty soldiers looking to change their MOS to a role with different physical demands. The test is designed to ensure that individuals are physically capable of meeting the challenges associated with their intended or new MOS. The OPAT helps minimize the risk of training-related injuries and improves the overall effectiveness of military personnel.
The OPAT is a comprehensive test designed to assess a recruit’s suitability for various MOS roles in the Army. Its rigorous standards require both physical and mental preparation.
Without adequate preparation, you risk not only underperforming but also potentially injuring yourself. The right training regimen can make the difference between achieving your desired MOS or needing to reconsider your options.
Your dedication, hard work, and perseverance will carry you through. Embrace the challenge of the OPAT as an opportunity to showcase your strengths and commitment to serving in the U.S. Army. Believe in yourself, train hard, and success will surely follow.