Army E-4 to E-5 Promotion Points

On its own, competing for Army E-4 to E-5 promotion points can be confusing for soldiers working toward career advancement to SGT.

Digging into Army Regulation 600-8-19 (Enlisted Promotions and Reductions) can wipe out anyone not accustom to trudging through its complicated language and red tape.

Luckily, with a little help along the way, enlisted service members in Grades E-1 to E-4, like you, can experience fast, repeatable, and dramatic promotion point gains. For success, you simply have to understand how to the Army promotion point process works, where you can earn them, and how many points are available for you to grab.

For starters, that's a lot to unpack so let's start with the basics of the promotion point system with our initial focus on what's available and possible to achieve.

Opportunities for Army E-4 to E-5 Promotion Points

So, the total promotion points available for soldiers going from E-4 to E-5 is 800.  That’s spread across five (5) different categories of “opportunity” buckets that you should, actually must, get laser focused to have a strong chance of hitting the Army promotion cutoff scores for your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).

Here is a summary of each bucket to ensure that you’re calibrated and focused on the right places, so you can achieve the maximum possible promotion points with no wasted energy. Once you have a firm grasp on these, head over to my post on the importance of using an promotion points calculator to make things super simple.

Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)

The APFT was never my personal favorite when I served in the Army, but this one never seems to go out of style or get replaced. I personally struggled to max out my points, but knowing that it is here to stay is at least predictable, if nothing else.

The APFT affords up to 180-points, or nearly 23% of the total 800 available.

Typically, the APFT requires you to successfully pass three (3) standard events, including the push-up, sit-up, and 2-mile run.  You must achieve a minimum score of 60 on each event to pass. To put it into perspective, here are some example APFT promotion points compared to the combined scores of the three events:

APFT Score = 300 | Promotion Points = 180
APFT Score = 250 | Promotion Points = 120
APFT Score = 225 | Promotion Points = 85
APFT Score = 200 | Promotion Points = 80
APFT Score = 180 | Promotion Points = 40

Above, you can see the large gap between the minimum and maximum promotion points. Your preparation and focus on Army APFT promotion points will make a significant difference in getting promoted from E-4 to E-5. Do not miss out on these promotion points that are right in front of your eyes.  Seize the opportunity!

To see how your scores stack up for promotion points, go to my APFT scoring page.


Weapons Qualification

Range qualifying with your assigned weapon is not only required for every soldier but an important contributor to amassing your promotion point haul.

Qualifying with your weapon contributes up to 160-points, or 20% of all points available.

Don’t let these points pass you by, with a bit of focus, rest, and steady hands you can grab most of these and deposit them in your promotion point bank account! With the most common M16A2/M4 assigned rifle, here is the min to max of what you can expect to add to your promotion point tally:

Targets Hit = 40 | Promotion Points = 160
Targets Hit = 35 | Promotion Points = 123
Targets Hit = 30 | Promotion Points = 85
Targets Hit = 23 | Promotion Points = 33

Awards, Decorations, and Achievements

This bucket is one of the most satisfying and memorable areas to gobble up some sweet promotion points. The memories and relationships made that resulted in many of these accolades will endure for a lifetime.

The Awards category provides up to 125-points, or nearly 16% of the 800 total promotion points available.

There are more than 60 unique awards and badges that have promotion points tied to them. With too many to list, here are a few selected examples to bring some perspective on how easy it is to stack these up and achieve the maximum available points:

Expert Infantry Badge                    | 30-Points
Army Commendation Medal        | 20-Points
Army Achievement Medal            | 10-Points
Good Conduct Medal                     | 10-Points
Air Assault Badge                            | 10-Points
Driver and Mechanic Badge         | 10-Points

With your intentional focus on performance and achievement, you can max this out and move on to other areas in no time.

Military Education (Big points bucket for Army E-4 to E-5 promotion)

Now we get into the mother load of available points!  Military Education is the one area that every soldier preparing to get promoted from E-4 to E-5 must understand and ethically exploit for every possible point available.

Want some really great news? There are huge opportunities here and most soldiers wait too late to begin the acting like Pac-Man and miss out on gobbling these points up. Don’t be left behind and miss out on a potential promotion to E-5 in the secondary zone! Be hyper-intentional and start your journey now. If you have already begun, then fantastic and congratulations! Just remember, it is never too late to get into gear.

Military Education brings a total of up to 200-points, or a whopping 25% of the total 800-point opportunity! Do not miss out on your share of the gold!

Here are a few ways you can get in the game now:

Distinguished Honor Graduate (on DA Form 1059) = 40-Points
Commandants List (on DA Form 1059) = 20-Points
Certain Resident Military Training (80-points Max) = 4-Points per week
Ranger Qualification Course = 40-Points
Correspondence Courses (must complete in full) = 1-point per 5 hours

Civilian Education (Big points bucket for Army E-4 to E-5 promotion)

Here is still another area where you can stand out and be different. Most soldiers overlook this opportunity bucket and are late to the party and delay starting college coursework.

Civilian Education offers a bounty of up to 135-points, or nearly 17% of the total 800-points available.

I recommend that all soldiers competing for Army E-4 to E-5 promotion, immediately upon arriving at their first duty station, enroll in their first college course. This allows for the process to begin, even if super slow, so that you wake up as an E-4 and have this bucket well under control.

If you have already started college courses or have earned a degree, congratulations! You are already ahead of the curve and have a distinct advantage as you get into the widow for promotion from E-4 to E-5.

Here are some specific ways to earn Civilian Education promotion points:

Each Semester Hour Completed = 2-points
Degree Completion on Active Duty = 20-points
CLEP Tests = 2-points per credit hour
Technical Certifications = 10-points each cert (Max 50-points)

All in all, there are many ways for you to build a portfolio of promotions points that will be the envy of your buddies. Here’s a quick wrap up to put it all together:

  1. APFT Up to 180 Promotion Points
  2. Weapons Qualification Up to 160 Promotion Points
  3. Awards & Decorations Up to 125 Promotion Points
  4. Military Education Up to 200 Promotion Points
  5. Civilian Education Up to 135 Promotion Points

Total Promotion Point Opportunity = 800!

You can do this, I believe in you and wish you the very best on your journey toward E-5!

To learn more about me and my Army Promotion Points Journey and Successes, visit my About Page.


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