What is the Occupational Physical Assessment?

The Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) aids the US Army predict each recruit’s ability to successfully perform physically demanding tasks in the most physically challenging occupations.

It will aid the Army match prospective soldiers to careers in which they are most likely to succeed physically.

What Does OPAT Involve?

OPAT has four events:

  • Standing long jump;
  • Seated power throw;
  • Strength deadlift; and
  • An interval aerobic run.

These events assess both upper and lower body power, muscular strength and aerobic fitness needed to complete tasks required by certain military occupational specialties (MOS).

History

The US Army Centre for Initial Military Training (CIMT) in collaboration with the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) developed OPAT.

USARIEM researchers worked with different units across the Army to accurately replicate physically demanding tasks for the various MOS’s.

This was based on scientific studies of the human body’s endurance to complete the tasks.

USARIEM and CIMT utilised over 2,000 test subjects in the development of OPAT.

Teams of experts continue to conduct evaluations of volunteers at select locations using basic combat trainees and advanced individual training Soldiers.

The US Army began using OPAT in April 2016, with candidates beginning to ‘physically qualify’ for their jobs from June 2016.

It is used in conjunction with the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and medical standards.

What is the Purpose of OPAT?

In conjunction with the above tests/standards, the role of OPAT is to more effectively place candidates in jobs based on intellectual and physical aptitude.

Reasons for using OPAT include:

  • It enables the Army to better predict a candidate’s ability to meet the physical standards of their MOS.
  • Helps to reduce attrition;
  • Helps to reduce the risk of injuries prior to the first unit of assignment;
  • Improve retention;
  • Helping to increase a candidate’s focus on physical fitness prior to entry; and
  • Helps to improve readiness across the force.

When Do Candidates Undertake OPAT?

All candidates for the Regular Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard undertake OPAT prior to entry.

It is administered by accessions personnel and is conducted prior to ‘shipping’ candidates to basic training.

Reference

TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command). (2016) Occupational Physical Assessment Test. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.army.mil/standto/archive_2016-03-28. [Accessed: 17 January, 2020].

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