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Strength Testing in the Air Force

Strength Testing in the Air Force: Current Processes and Suggestions for Improvements

Carra S. Sims
Chaitra M. Hardison
Maria C. Lytell
Abby Robyn
Eunice C. Wong
Erin N. Gerbec
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 132
  • Book Info
    Strength Testing in the Air Force
    Book Description:

    Since 1987, the Air Force has used the Strength Aptitude Test (SAT), a test of physical strength, to screen and classify enlisted personnel into career specialties. In this study, RAND evaluated the usefulness, validity, and fairness of the SAT, focusing on implementation of the SAT at military entrance processing stations and the process for setting strength requirements for career fields.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8995-3
    Subjects: History, Management & Organizational Behavior, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    Since 1987, the Strength Aptitude Test (SAT), a test of physical strength, has been used by the Air Force to screen and classify enlisted personnel to their career specialties. The decision to institute the test was the culmination of several years of research on physical skills testing. However, over the past 20 years, the Air Force has not reevaluated the test as a screening and classification tool. RAND was therefore asked to evaluate the current status of the SAT regarding its usefulness, validity, and fairness for classifying enlisted airmen. This report provides the results of our study.

    Our evaluation began...

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  9. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The Strength Aptitude Test (SAT) is used to screen and classify personnel for the strength requirements in enlisted Air Force career fields. Although the Army was initially investigating the SAT’s usefulness as a formal classification tool and also used it for career counseling, it was first introduced in its current form in the late 1980s after studies suggested it would be a useful screening tool. However, relatively little research has been conducted on the Air Force’s strength test in the three intervening decades. The test has stood “as is” with little reevaluation, while jobs have changed over time.

    As a...

  10. 2. Background and Research on the Strength Aptitude Test
    (pp. 5-26)

    In 1976, the Air Force instituted its first strength test, to measure what it calledFactor X. This first Factor X test was considered experimental, and from 1977 to 1982 various types of strength tests were explored and studied empirically. Based on the results of those studies, the Air Force revised the Factor X test to involve a nine-step incremental lift process, renamed it the “Strength Aptitude Test,” and began screening people using the new test in 1987. The SAT is a specific protocol using a specific type of incremental lift machine (ILM). We use the term “SAT” to refer...

  11. 3. Observations and Interviews at the Military Entrance Processing Stations
    (pp. 27-34)

    There are 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations located primarily within the continental United States where recruits of all branches of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—are processed for enlistment. At the MEPS, recruits are screened on a number of criteria including scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB); the results of a medical examination; and physical, strength, and/or endurance tests (such as the SAT).

    To better understand the operational use of the SAT, we traveled to four medium- to large-sized MEPS locations to observe the SAT administration process, interviewed applicants taking the...

  12. 4. Strength Requirements Survey: Sample and Screener
    (pp. 35-42)

    This chapter describes the web-based survey developed by RAND for defining strength requirements in career fields and how the survey was administered, as well as the results for the item included as a screener to identify jobs with some minimal physical demands. The survey asked respondents in eight AFSs to describe aspects of the job’s physical requirements that are vital for defining strength requirements. They are the following:

    Thetypesof physical actions (lifting, pushing, throwing, etc.). Different actions require different types of strength. For example, lifting an object over one’s head requires greater upper body strength than lifting an...

  13. 5. Survey Results: Actions and Movement Type
    (pp. 43-64)

    This chapter presents the results obtained from two sections of the survey: the Action Section and the Movement Type Section. For each we describe the survey questions particular to that part of the survey and present a portion of the results. Because of the large amount of data collected, it is not feasible to present all available results, but we do provide a sample that is illustrative of the value of the survey as well as areas that need further modification.30Overall, we find that the survey could become a viable tool in defining strength requirements of relevant career fields....

  14. 6. Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 65-72)

    Over the course of this project, we closely examined the procedures that were used to develop the SAT, that are currently used to administer the SAT, and that are used to establish minimum cut points for entry into various AFSs. From that examination, we have a number of recommendations regarding the Air Force’s use of strength tests going forward.

    It is clear from job descriptions and from the confirmatory information provided by our survey that there are AFSs in the Air Force that require high levels of strength. For those AFSs, failure to screen for strength capability could have negative...

  15. Appendix A. AFSC Codes and Career Field Specialty Names
    (pp. 73-76)
  16. Appendix B. Additional Details on the Process Currently Used to Establish SAT Cut Scores
    (pp. 77-84)
  17. Appendix C. LNCO and Recruit Interview Questions
    (pp. 85-86)
  18. Appendix D. Tabular Overview of Survey
    (pp. 87-94)
  19. Appendix E. Responses to Open-Ended Survey Questions
    (pp. 95-104)
  20. Appendix F. Population and Sample Characteristics for Strength Requirements Survey
    (pp. 105-108)
  21. References
    (pp. 109-112)