Shaking out their legs and stretching their arms, ROTC cadets gathered in the lobby of the kinesiology building Monday morning, preparing to complete their final physical fitness test of the year.
The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is held once a semester in order to assess the fitness of cadets.
Cadets are scored on three events: push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run.
Scores that cadets earn comprise of a major part of their placement on the order of merit list, a grading scale that the Army uses to assign cadets to a position in the Army when they commission after graduation.
“All of the PT tests in total weigh 15 percent of the Order of Merit list, which is the second heaviest weighting,” said Brian McNeilly, 21, a biblical studies and theology major at Biola and a senior cadet in the Cal State Fullerton Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.
Comparatively, school comprises of 40 percent of the rating.
Abe Rodas, 22, a kinesiology major and public affairs officer with the Titan Battalion, said that PT scores can play a major role if cadets are looking to join one of the Army’s more competitive branches such as aviation, engineering and infantry.
In order to prepare for what McNeilly calls the record test, cadets complete three hour and a half PT sessions per week. During training, cadets complete a variety of cardio, strength and circuit training exercises.
McNeilly, who is the master of fitness for bravo company, designs workouts in order to prepare cadets and ensure that they are improving past the army standards.
The Titan Battalion also conducts two diagnostics tests per semester in order to ensure cadets are prepared. Cadets who do not pass these practice tests are required to go to remedial PT sessions.
For grading, cadets are given a range of repetitions to complete for each exercise based on their.
If cadets complete the lowest amount of reps in the range they are given a score of 60 points. If they complete or exceed the highest amount of required repetitions, they receive a perfect score of 100.
In order to earn a perfect score in their physical fitness test, cadets must complete the highest amount of pushups and situps and finish a two-mile run with a time equivalent to or faster than the lowest required time.
McNeilly said that only around 5 percent of cadets earn a perfect score. While it does not factor into their rating on the order of merit list, CSUF’s program provides incentives for receiving a perfect score.
“We have this thing called the ‘300 Club,’ and in order to be a part of that club, you not only have to score a 300 on the APFT, but you have to also conduct events like 15 pull-ups, bench your bodyweight 15 times … and do the stadiums, both sides and then run to the other side and then run back to where you started in eight minutes and 30 seconds,” Rodas said.
Cadets who successfully complete these extra events are granted a place on the 300 Club plaque. Rodas said that cadets value membership for bragging rights and pride within the Titan Battalion.
Brian Lee, 26, a political science major at Chapman and junior cadet with the Titan Battalion, was confident that he would receive a perfect score after he completed 87 push ups in two minutes. The amount required for a perfect score in his age group was 75.
“I’m a little older so I have to do a little more,” said Lee.
Like many cadets, Lee trains more than the three days of PT required by the Titan Battalion program. A CrossFit competitor, Lee does far more than is required.
Other cadets attend remedial PT sessions by choice to ensure they are prepared.
Due to different body types and talents, cadets all have different opinions on which event is the most challenging. For Lee, the sit ups and run are the more difficult of the three.
“I weigh 195 pounds, so it takes a lot of energy for me to lug my butt down a two-mile track and throwing up my upper body to do sit ups,” Lee said.
While most cadets may not receive perfect score, Rodas said most experience drastic improvements after training with the battalion.
“Some of these cadets, when they first came to the battalion, they were doing about one to two and now at the end of the semester they are doing about 42 and pretty much maxing their event,” he said. “They have come a long way.”