No-show for promotion test; no excuse

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- With the New Year upon us, tens of thousands of enlisted promotion hopefuls across the Air Force will sharpen their focus on the upcoming testing cycle. 

For 2007, the Weighted Airman Promotion System testing window has been adjusted slightly; for technical and master sergeant, testing will be held Feb. 1 through Mar. 31, and testing for staff sergeant will be held May 1 through June 15. Even with these modified testing cycles, most eligibles will be ready when their day for testing arrives. You notice I say most! 

It's startling the number of individuals who will fail to test as scheduled. Literally hundreds of members who spend months studying, who adjust their work and leave schedules to prepare for this important date, will fail to make the appointment. As a result, they have to wait another full year to try again - ouch! 

For the majority, it's usually just a matter of poor planning. Hard to imagine, but it's true. Thankfully, making sure it doesn't happen to you is a relatively simple matter. 

For the member, the process begins when unit WAPS monitors notify individuals to stop in to sign for their test date. By signing the AF Form 1566 or RIP 1566, the member acknowledges receipt of the scheduled testing appointment and verifies access to current WAPS study materials. Scheduling conflicts are addressed at this time, and members are also advised that failure to show or late arrival will render them ineligible for promotion for that cycle - with very few exceptions. 

How members keep track of this important event is a matter of personal preference. 

Some will mark calendars at work or at home, others will make an entry into Outlook. 

Many will hang stripes in their work center (a motivation tool) with the date attached. 

Some will place a note on the dashboard of their car - right next to the gas gauge - so they see it every day. 

Still others will tape a motivational mantra on their television set or home computer to remind them of this most important date. 

The truly paranoid will do all of the above - I fell into this category because for me the opportunity was just too important to miss. 

Whatever the method, it is still the member's responsibility to arrive for testing on the right date and time. Each and every year, able and promising troops manage to miss this important date. So what happens when the unthinkable occurs?

If members fail to show, they had better have a darn good excuse if they hope to be rescheduled. Air Force Instruction 36-2605, Air Force Military Personnel Testing, clearly states, "The unit commander may request rescheduling of members who did not report for testing as specified on the AF Form 1566 or RIP 1566 if they are convinced the member did everything in his or her power to make the appointment." 

It's important to note that commanders are merely requesting an opportunity to reschedule a test date - the actual approval authority is the commander of the Military Personnel Flight. 

"There's very little leeway for those who miss their test date" said Capt. Marcos Baca, Commander, 341st Military Personnel Flight. "Per AFI, units screen each case and then forward their request to the MPF for final review. Excuses that warrant rescheduling a test date are usually of a critical nature such as vehicle accidents and medical emergencies." 

Chapter 9 of AFI 36-2605 states very clearly that "reasons such as oversleeping, marking the wrong date on the calendar, reporting to the wrong building or room, failure to show in military uniform, failure to bring military identification card, or simply being late are not valid reasons for missing a test date and rescheduling should not be authorized." Even the "flat tire excuse" will be carefully scrutinized in order to maintain the integrity of the testing program. 

Some may think this a bit extreme, but when you're talking about a test that can result in promotion to the next higher grade, does it pass the "common sense test" to reschedule testing due to reasons which appear to be in the member's control? Of course not! Promotion testing is a serious topic and one of the most important appointments a member will ever accept. 

Plan to arrive early and well-rested when the date finally arrives for you to put pencil to paper.  

Don't be among the hundreds of troops that miss out on this important opportunity each year - not this year, not EVER!
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