As of Oct. 1, the Army Combat Fitness Test is now the standard bearer as the mark of physical fitness used to test Soldiers Army-wide.

Soldiers like Pvt. Maya Frazier, signal support systems specialist with Signal Intelligence Sustainment Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, III Corps, have been preparing for the ACFT with the intent to achieve results that are beyond the Army required scoring standard for their specific military occupational specialty.

“I feel that some people work to score the minimum and to me that defeats the whole purpose of PT tests,” Frazier said. “My fitness goal is to push myself to exceed the level of fitness expected of me.”

The ACFT is comprised of six events: the hand-release push-up, a standing power throw (which is a backward overhead throw of a 10-pound medicine ball), a three repetition maximum deadlift, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck and a two mile run. The test is designed to be a better assessment of Soldier’s mental and physical endurance by simulating physical demands that Soldiers may face in combat situations. It’s also designed to improve overall readiness. Units across Fort Hood have begun to implement exercises from the test into their morning physical training sessions, but Frazier feels that’s not enough preparation for the six-event test.

“I make sure to go to Applied (Fitness gym) and Burba gym and use the equipment they have that can help me prepare for the events,” Frazier said. “Even though during PT, we can run and use the pull-up bars to do leg tucks, we do not have sleds or bars for a deadlift. I did not want the test to be the first time I did any of those exercises.”

The current Army Physical Fitness Test has separate expectations for men and women that lay out different required scores for every event. The ACFT, however, is gender-neutral, and scoring is based on the physical requirements of a Soldier’s job. Unlike the previous test, the ACFT also does not make different scoring exceptions by age, making the scoring same across the board even for older Soldiers. Frazier expressed concerns about the test’s gender-neutral assessment and felt that female Soldiers were the ‘underdogs’ for event scoring.

“In some categories like the 2-mile (run), I feel it’s fair game for all Soldiers,” Frazier said. “But I just know there’s no way that I can lift or throw as much weight as a male Soldier. That is why I’m doing what I can to (prepare) for my first official ACFT. I know I have to do more to do as well, if not better, than other Soldiers in my company.”

By keeping her goals in mind and constantly conditioning, when it came time to take a practice AFCT with her battalion, she performed better than she had anticipated.

“We took a practice ACFT in July,” Frazier said. “I did really well. As a female Soldier, it’s extremely important to me. I came in thinking I was only going to get the minimum score, but I was able to knock out 32 hand-release push-ups and could dead lift more than the minimum required weight while others struggled. It felt good to see my work is paying off. Now I see it as a way to keep pushing myself and keep improving.”

Soldiers can find more information on the exercises and recommended equipment to prepare for the ACFT on the Army’s website, army.mil/acft.