5 Tips to Max Out Your Army Enlisted Promotion Points

When counseling young Soldiers (E-4s) the focus is usually in preparing them for the next level…being an NCO.  Part of that is setting them up for success with respect to ensuring they are completing their schools, developing as professionals and of course, providing them with some tips on how to increase their promotion points.   Even your junior NCOs are looking for all the ways possible to ensure that they are a cut above the rest by the time “the list” rolls around.

Now, most Soldiers already know what they have to do to get there, but for those who don’t, or are just looking for some tips to get there faster, here are my 5 Tips to Max Out Your Army Enlisted Promotion Points. 

1. Understand the Breakdown: Everyone knows that you can achieve a maximum of 800 points for promotion.  However, some Soldiers don’t often realize that the breakdown for these points is different from rank to rank. So, if you are an E-4 trying to make E-5 or and E-5 trying to make E-6, you better understand the breakdown to know which areas to focus on to get the max points.  For example:

Military Training (E-5 is 340, E-6 is 255)                                     

Military Awards & Decorations (E-5 is 125, E-6 is 165)

Military Education (E-5 is 260, E-6 is 280)                             

Civilian Education (E-5 is 75, E-6 is 100)                                

 So, you can see that if I were going for E-5 I would want to focus on my military training and education. Next step is understanding what makes up each category.  For example, the Military Training category is made up of your APFT, deployments & weapons qualification. 

2. Focus on your APFT and Weapons Qualification Efforts: Deployments won’t get you many points (I think it is 2 points/month or something like that), but the APFT can add up quick.  In fact, always shoot to score above a 180.  For every point over 180 it will help max you out.  One example is if you get 180 points…that is worth 40 points.  However, if you get a 250 you get 40 plus the difference of 180 from 250 (i.e. 250-180=70) for a total of 110 points! Also, stay within height & weight regulations!  For weapons qualification, every trigger squeeze counts!  You can go from 33 points for just qualifying or obtain up to 160 points for a perfect score.  Work to stay proficient! 

3. Volunteer for Schools: This is one of those times where you want to volunteer for anything and everything.  One thing I see is Soldiers not attending their schools on time.  For example, as an E-4 they will wait until after they make E-5 to go to WLC…why!? WLC itself is worth 80 points alone.  If you bust your hump at schools and make the Commandant’s list there’s some more points right there!  Additionally, you have correspondence courses on AKO (every 5 hours equals 1 point for a max of 78 possible).  Lastly, those schools that seem “lame” may be worth 10 points!  Courses like Unit Level Logistics System Course, Fuel Handlers Course, Bus Driver Course, etc. 

4. Go to School! In the National Guard and Reserves, you have it better than Active Duty.  You have the ability to use the same benefits for education but have much more time to complete your degree.  Just completing your degree is worth 10 points.  There’s no excuse for not working to complete your degree while in the Guard.  Additionally, work on ATTRS to transfer your military experience into college credits.  College credits are worth 1 point per credit hour!  

5. Meet the Minimum Criteria: Look I know this sounds silly, but you won’t believe how many Soldiers I see busting ass to get promotion points but don’t meet the bare minimum requirements.  Usually it is not TIS/TIG or passing a promotion board…no it is ALWAYS their required schools!  I do not know why, but it is usually 99 times out of 100.  Now, with SSD (Structured Self Development) requirements, it is becoming more and more difficult to convince Soldiers to complete their pre-reqs and they are passed up for promotion by someone who probably has a lot less points than they do.  It is sad… So, work to make sure your Soldiers are set up for success and are enrolled and completing their NCOES courses! 

Final Thoughts

These are my best tips to max out your Army Enlisted Promotion Points.  If you have some advice that you would like to share with the rest of our community, please leave a comment below.  Share any secret tips you know about to help Soldiers max out their Promotion Points.

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10 thoughts on “5 Tips to Max Out Your Army Enlisted Promotion Points”

  1. I think going to school is one of the most important investments to be made during life. Having an education is invaluable, and the ten points just for completing your degree while serving part-time is extremely attractive. Why would one not want to gain an education AND get some promotion points at the same time?

  2. Hey Sir,
    This is great information. I would just like to add that a lot of junior soldiers miss out on promotion because they are lacking military education. It’s time consuming and no one wants to waste their free time. I have an entire blog dedicated to walking soldiers through the process of Skillport, ALMS, ACCP, etc. If you would share this with your soldiers and other leaders, who can share with their soldiers, I would greatly appreciate it.

    -Harvison
    Owner and write of EZ Army Points

  3. To not use school to the absolute maximum benefit is bizarre to me. Being a soldier in the Reserves, you actually have the ability to go full-time, so why wouldn’t you? And the more schools you attend and training the better, not just for the points you get but they broaden your capabilities and increase your civilian options as well. If you can learn something new, do it! You might stumble onto something you are actually better at than you thought and it could open up a whole new world! Bigger the promotion, higher the pay, the more the retirement…..no brainer!

  4. I am in total agreement with Chuck here; there are no excuses. The “I wasn’t told” line just doesn’t pass the mustard. Laziness will get you what you have coming: no promotion. Taking the proper classes is really very simple if you understand what the reward is. Set goals and follow through. Good things come to those who meet the goals they set.

    1. Good point, Greg. Very few people will ever get promoted my accident. If you want to max out your enlisted promotion points you need a game plan, and then you need to roll up your sleeves and do the work. If you are willing to do that, the sky really is the limit. And if you aren’t willing to do that, not much will happen!

  5. I agree with your point about Officer promotions. It is a very political game when it comes to Officer promotions. So many times I see senior Officers filling the ranks when others should be in their shoes. Quite frankly, it is a “good ol’ boy system” and nobody will call it that. The enlisted promotions make sense. Here are the categories we think are important as a Soldier and as an NCO…Here is how many points you can get. Now work your ass off and get those points to be #1 and get promoted. Take a slot because you have EARNED it, not because of who you know. I have even seen Officers stay stagnant in one BTN for YEARS because the BC has complete control of where his Officers go. It needs some improving I think…

  6. When I was an officer, I was often jealous of the enlisted promotion process. In the ARNG anyway, Soldiers know EXACTLY how many promotion points everyone else in their MOS and rank has. Therefore, they know what they must get for promotion points to get promoted. I wish it would have worked the same way with officers!

    I often hear Soldiers complain that no one tells them what they need to do to get promoted. To be honest with you, I’m really tired of hearing that. I think it’s really just an excuse to blame their lack of promotion on someone else.

    Ultimately, it’s an individual responsibility to manage your own career. If you want to get promoted you need to educate yourself about the process and be proactive. Don’t leave it up to your first line leader to make it happen. By all means, get their help if you need it, but you have to be the tip of the spear and ensure your packet is done, and is accurate.

    Also, there’s really no excuse not to get promotion points. Anyone can go to one school a year and do one correspondence course a month. Anyone can spend some time on ADOS, take a college class, and increase their promotion points. It’s not rocket science.

    What Soldiers need to do is set a goal, find out how many promotion points they need, and then create a game plan (by setting goals) to get there.

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