What are Army Cutoff Scores?
Once a soldier has attained promotable status as a current E-4 or E-5, they must achieve a certain amount of promotion points. This number is the Army Promotion Point Cutoff Score. This is where the Army draws the line. Anyone above the line is promoted and anyone below is not. Army cutoff scores are released every month around the 22nd. If a soldier does not meet or exceed the cutoff score; they are still eligible for promotion but must wait for next month’s Army cutoff scores for another chance.
The Promotable List
Army promotion points are basically used to put promotable soldiers in a ranked promotable list. The more promotion points you have, the higher you are on the list. The list determined who gets promoted. Your best shot at promotion is to get the most promotion points and get to the top of the list. This hypothetical promotable list is based on your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and your recommended rank (E-5 or E-6). So, all soldiers who are 68W and eligible for promotion to SSG are placed on one list. This means that it doesn’t matter if you only have 400 promotion points and your friend in a different MOS has 600; you may get promoted before him or her.
How the Army Decides on the Cutoff Score
If you have ever looked at the Army cutoff scores, you will notice that there is a different point value depending on the MOS and recommended rank. It seems like the Army just started randomly picking numbers. However, those numbers are very specific and calculated. It is not by luck that you “make points” or do not. The Army sets the cutoff scores at the specific number that will promote the exact number of soldiers needed. This is why you will sometimes see points set at 798. What the Army is really telling you with that is they do not want to promote anyone that month.
The Army does all of the necessary calculating and determines how many slots they have to fill at each rank and within each MOS. They estimate how many soldiers with be leaving the Army, leaving a specific MOS, or getting promoted. They compare those numbers to how many soldiers recently joined the specific MOS at that rank or got demoted, etc. When those numbers are balanced, they come up with a certain number of slots that will be made available.
Once the Army has decided how many promotions are available for each MOS, they look at the number of promotable soldiers and how many promotion points each of them have. This is where the hypothetical ranked list comes into play. If the Army has decided to promote 30 soldiers recommended for SGT in the MOS of 25U, they go down the list from the most promotion points to the least. Once they get to the 30th person, a line is drawn. Regardless of how many points that person has, the cutoff score is set to that number of points. This ensures that the Army will receive the 30 new SGTs in the MOS of 25U that month.
Your Promotion Points Don’t Determine Anything
Everyone who has ever tried to get promoted knows that everything revolved around promotion points. This whole site revolves around promotion points. But, if the Army doesn’t want to promote anyone, you are not getting promoted, no matter how high your promotion points are. So, it doesn’t matter how hard you work to get those points. In fact, you could get promoted without trying to earn a single point if no one else tried either. You don’t have to stress out about getting a ton of points as long as you have more than the other soldiers trying to get that spot.
Where Do You Stand?
With all of this crazy talk, you may be wondering where you stand on your hypothetical, ranked, promotable list. There is a way to find out. It is called the trend report. The Trend Report shows you the how many promotable soldiers are in each promotion point range based on their MOS and recommended rank. It comes out every month a few days before the Army cutoff scores are released. You can even use the Trend Report to predict your cutoff score before it is released. If you know how many promotion points you have, you can compare where you are to others you are competing against.
If you take a look at the clip above, you will see a piece of the trend report with a box around the information specifically for the MOS 11B. This is how you can compare yourself to others. You can see here that the biggest group of soldiers recommended for SGT have between 400 and 449 promotion points. You can also see that there are no soldiers recommended for SSG who have more than 649 promotion points. Looking at this specific trend report, I know that if I am recommended for SGT and I have 750 promotion points; I am somewhere in the top ten soldiers on the list. This means if 10 soldiers are needed, I would get promoted.