Army Promotion Points – A Comprehensive Guide

The Army Promotion Point System

Army promotion points are something of a mystery. Nothing is clearly spelled out and there always seems to be loop holes and shortcuts that no one bothered to tell you. To get promoted to Sergeant (SGT) or Staff Sergeant (SSG), you need to gain promotion points. Getting promoted isn’t just about finding out what is worth Army promotion points and doing it. You need to know how many points you have, how many points your need, what is worth points, where to get them and how to get them.

Getting Promotable StatusArmy Ranks from E2 to E6

Before you dive into learning all there is to know about Army promotion points; there are a few things to cover first. It won’t matter how many points you have if you haven’t satisfied the other requirements to get to promotable status.

  • Satisfy TIG/TIS requirements
  • Complete SSD1
  • Graduate from the appropriate NCO school
  • Pass the Promotion Board

To get promoted in the Army, you must have been in the previous rank (Time in Grade) and in the Army (Time in Service) for a minimum length of time. However, there is also something called Primary Zone and Secondary zone that must be considered as well. Primary Zone is the standard for all soldiers. Secondary Zone is intended for soldiers who have proven to be exemplary, and gives them a chance to get promoted sooner. This is the equivalent to a waiver for the lower enlisted ranks.

Primary Zone

SGT (E-5): Time in Service = 3 years. Time in Grade = 8 months.

SSG (E-6): Time in Service = 7 years. Time in Grade = 10 months.

Secondary Zone

SGT (E-5): Time in Service = 18 months. Time in Grade = 4 months.

SSG (E-6): Time in Service =  4 years. Time in Grade = 5 months.

Army Promotion Points Breakdown


Army Promotion Points breakdown chart

The first thing you need to know about Army Promotion Points is the point breakdown by category. Then, you can figure out where you have a good amount of points and where you could gain the most. Keep in mind that there are a different amount of points possible in each category. The points possible are also based on which rank you are being recommended for. However, the maximum amount of points possible is 800 for both Sergeant and Staff Sergeant. Below is a breakdown of the major categories of Army promotion points.

Army Promotion Points Breakdown list


Military Training

apft score to promotion point conversion

This category is only based on months of deployments, your APFT score and your weapons qualification. The way the points are broken down; 340 out of the total 800 are in this category for soldiers recommended for SGT. The points for SSG are not nearly as much. So, for the SPC trying to make SGT, this category could make or break you.


Every month you are deployed will get you 2 Army promotion points, for a maximum of 30/60 for SGT/SSG. This means that if you have been deployed, it can be a nice addition to your total points. But, if you have not been deployed, it is not going to cause you to miss out on promotion. If you look at the picture to the right, you can see that the subcategories in the military training section add up to more than the maximum points for the category as a whole. This means you have some wiggle room.

Army Physical Fitness Test

The APFT in not the easiest category to max out but it is the fastest. It is a one time thing. Kill yourself that one day and you can carry that score with you for the next year as far as promotion points. There is a huge difference between the amount of Army promotion points you get if you only pass and if you max out. Doing badly on your APFT test can ruin your attempts at promotion.

Be sure you keep your weight under control. If you can not pass weight or tape, it will be considered a fail for your APFT.  You do not want to find out you are overweight by only a pound the day of the test. Check your height and weight now and start working on losing weight if you need to.

Weapons Qualification

Your weapons qualification score is going to be a lot like your APFT score. If you do badly, it could cost you your promotion. If you do amazing, it gives you a huge chunk of Army promotion points that could get you promoted.

The issue with the APFT score and weapons qualification is that they expire. You have to maintain your ability in these categories or get to a high level and get promoted before they expire. Military training should be the base you work off of when it comes to Army promotion points. Focus on maxing out these categories and making them  your platform. Once you have tackled these, then you can begin “adding” points from the other categories until you make cutoff.

Awards & Decorations

This category is not one you have much control of. You can’t really do anything to ensure you gain awards and decorations other than simply being an outstanding soldier. However, you can ensure that any awards, decorations or badges you have are recorded accurately on your Enlisted Record Brief (ERB). One medal that most people don’t realize they have even earned is the Army Good Conduct Medal. This award is achieved by simply being in the Army for 3 years and is worth 10 Army promotion points.

Military Education

Military Education consists of the Non Commissioned Officer Education System (NCOES), Computer based courses, and Resident Military Education for a total maximum of 260/280 Army promotion points for SGT/SSG.

Non Commissioned Officer Education System

This sub-category only contains one thing, your designated NCO Academy or school. For those recommended for SGT, you must complete Warrior Leader Course (WLC). To get promoted to SSG, you must complete Advances Leader Course (ALC). These are worth a maximum of 102 and 112 Army promotion point respectively. However, you do not get the maximum just for completing the course. For course completion, WLC is worth 80 Army promotion points and ALC is worth 90. The extra points are for those designated as Commandants List, Distinguished Honor Graduate, or Distinguished Leadership Graduate.

Computer Based Military Education

The new Army Promotion Point system has been designed to ensure that soldiers can not rack up a ton of points in this subcategory alone. It used to be possible to max out the entire military education category with Army Correspondence Courses alone. This is no longer possible due to the maximum number of points allowed for distance learning courses. Although the maximum number of points for military education is 260/280 for SGT/SSG, the maximum for computer based courses is 78/84 for SGT/SSG. Computer based military education courses include Army Skillport, Army Learning Management System (ALMS), FEMA, Structured Self Development (SSD), and any other qualifying courses your may do online.

Resident Military Education

Resident based courses, that are worth Army promotion points, are any courses you must physically attend that do not result in a badge. To qualify, these courses must be a minimum of 1 week/40 hours. Some examples of courses are the Fuel Handlers Course, Generator Operator Course, Bus Driver Courses, and many more listed in the ATRRS Course Catalog. These courses are awarded 1 promotion point for every 4 resident course hours.

Many of the courses you will take for Military Education promotion points can also be used for Civilian Education promotion points. You simply need to convert your military training into college credits.

Civilian Education

Civilian education is, in my opinion, the easiest category to max out. If you followed the link above about converting your training to college credits, you can see that a big chunk of points can be added to this category without doing any extra work. You can basically double dip for promotion points. The maximum promotion points for civilian education is 75/100 for SGT/SSG. Out of all the subcategories below, only one has it’s own maximum point level. The technical certificates portion has a maximum of 50 points.

College Credits

If you have already completed some college, you simply need to turn in your official college transcripts to S1 for these courses to be added to your ERB and PPW. Every semester hour of college credit is worth one promotion point. The Army also offers tuition assistance to pay for college classes while you are Active Duty; why not got to college on the Army’s dime and gain promotion points at the same time.

CLEP and DANTES tests count for this category as well. These are college level tests that you can use to prove competency in a subject area. If you pass, you are awarded college credits based on the course difficulty. Most tests are worth 3 college credits; which means they are worth 3 Army promotion points. If you are Active Duty, you can schedule these tests at your education center on post for free. What have you got to lose? Sign up to take the tests that sound easy to you. If you pass – great! If you fail – oh well. It wont hurt you to try.

Technical Certificates

There are a ton of different certificates you can earn, that are relevant to your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), that are worth Army promotion points. For example, if you are a Medic in the Army and get certified in Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), you can get 10 promotion points. Each technical certificate is worth 10 points for a maximum of 50 points. These certificates are relevant and useful when/if you get out of the Army and want to continue doing the same kind of work in a civilian world. There is a complete list of the eligible technical certificates by MOS at Civilian Education Promotion Points.

Defense Language Proficiency Tests

If you are fluent in a language other than English, I highly suggest you take the proficiency test for that language. You must achieve a passing score of 1/1 in reading/speaking or listening to receive promotion points. You will receive 10 Army promotion points for each DLPT you successfully complete. These points are valid for 1 year from the month and year you earn them.

Degree Completion

The Degree Completion program offers 10 Army Promotion points to any Soldier who completes a degree while on active duty. If recommended for promotion to SGT, the Soldier must have completed the degree since joining the Army to receive these points. If recommended for promotion to SSG, the Soldier must have completed the degree while in the next lower rank to receive these points.

Points Submission Deadline

To be considered eligible, your Army promotion points must be submitted by the 8th of the month before. For example, all soldiers trying to make points for promotion on March 1st must have all of their points turned in by the 8th of February. This means that any supporting documentation must be turned in to your S1 so they can enter the points into your Army Promotion Point Worksheet (PPW).

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.