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The Air Force will institute new physical fitness standards on Jan. 1.

Airmen must achieve a minimum score of 75 out of 100 possible points twice each year to pass. The new test generally has tougher standards, and places greater emphasis on the 1.5-mile run and less on abdominal circumference measurements.

The age categories also have changed, going from five-year increments to 10-year increments.

Under the current standards, there is no minimum passing score in each category. In theory, a person could fail two of the categories and still past the PT test.

The new standards include minimum scores, and airmen whose PT test totals at least 75, but who do not meet minimal standards in each category, will still fail. Airmen also will fail if they earn only minimum passing marks in all four categories.

Guidelines on how the Air Force will deal with airmen who fail the test have not been released. In the past, airmen who scored poorly on their PT test were required to attend a fitness improvement program until they were able to achieve a passing score.

An Air Force audit last year found that unit commanders were not properly managing fitness programs, and unit-based fitness programs did not effectively promote a healthy lifestyle. So the service decided to institute the more stringent standards.

The Air Force is hiring civilians to conduct the tests, instead of fellow airmen, who were faulted in the audit with inaccurate data collection.

Some trials have indicated that the failure rate could skyrocket under the new standards.

At Aviano Air Base, Italy, for instance, a squadron of 54 airmen recently was tested using the new standards. A dozen airmen who had passed their PT test using the current standards would have failed under the new test, according Kevin Egger, an exercise physiologist and fitness program manager for the Aviano Health and Wellness Center. The squadron failure rate of 4 percent — just about the Air Force norm — would have jumped to 26 percent.

Egger said the failure rate may be alarmingly high when the new standards kick in next year, but it doesn’t have to be. “If you focus and get ready in the next 16 weeks, you’re probably going to be OK,” he said.

Below are the current and new standards for each category. The total number of points possible for each test is shown in parentheses.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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