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The single most important thing that you must do to prepare for the rank of SGT and SSG is to Read and understand AR 600-8-19 Chapter 3. This Chapter will list the many different areas that will allow you to earn Promotion Points. The next two most important things that you must be familiar with are your ERB and your PPW (Promotion Point Worksheet). The PPW user guide can be found at the following address: https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/Active/select/PPW_User_Manual_Version_4.pdf it is very important that you become familiar with how the PPW works and that you do NOT rely on someone from the S1 shop to take care of your ERB and PPW for you. Only you can ensure that your information is correct. Not all of the personnel in the S1 truly know how to do their job effectively and after all it is YOUR promotion and as a Leader you should take this Responsibility on. If you do not make the points because of a mistake by someone else, it will NOT make a difference and they will not always treat your PPW like it is their own. You can access your PPW through the AKO site then clicking on "Enlisted Promotions".
One thing that you must also know is how you stack up against others with the same MOS as yourself. The Army keeps track of this data and releases it on the following web site: https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/Enlisted%20Promotions you will need to scroll down to the "Sergeant/Staff Sergeant Eligables Trend Report". This report tracks the last 12 months of data for each MOS in the Army. It will explain the average amount of promotion points that all the Soldiers have that are promotable for each MOS. It will also list exactly how many Soldiers are promotable for each MOS both in the Primary and Secondary zones. A very good way to use this tool is prior to your board appearance and as you prepare for both SGT and SSG promotions as a gauge and a goal. Because this report will also list how many Soldiers are above 700 promotion points. If you target and make a goal of ensuring that you are in the top category of points, then you will not be like hundreds of Soldiers every month that are "Waiting on Points to Drop". I have created a button at the bottom of the page for you to access the most recent report.
Military Training points are points that a Solider can work on adding and building up. Granted the 2 points per month for deployments aren't going to come easily especially with Deployments winding down. However, if you are weak in certain areas of PT, then you can always work on and do extra PT. After all, the PT card for your promotion points is good for 1 year. Of course, your 1SG will always expect you to take a PT test twice a year and this will be expected of you. The thing about it is that this is something that you should "Plan for" and should expect. Unless your Orderly room forgets to turn in the most recent PT test to the S1 or the S1 forgets to upload that PT test to IPERMS. Also, if you have a permanent Profile for the Run, IAW AR 600-8-19 CH 3-42 states that you should divide the sit-ups and push-ups score and get the average for the alternate event for promotion points purposes. However, Most Soldiers always complain that there aren't many ways to improve on weapons. However, there are several ways to improve your weapons to get Expert. First you have to realize that not all the Army units are the same and if your unit is still equipped with M16's and that is what you are assigned then you should attempt to be assigned an M4 with an ACOG. Your Leadership should support this as it does not seem very fair that just because you are assigned to a unit that does not issue everyone an ACOG that you do not have the ability to qualify with one. Especially when one Soldier of the same MOS is assigned to a unit that has that ability. You should NEVER attempt to qualify with a CCO 68. These are only for Close Quarters Combat and are for quick target acquisition only. They are NOT designed for qualification. During my years I have seen several Leaders and units attempt to have Soldiers Qualify using these because they believed them to be "Optics". So what else can you do?? You can "Invest" in your career. By purchasing your own Rifle. Either a high quality Air Rifle or a good Quality .22 Long Rifle with a descent scope. This will give you time sending rounds down range and get you in the habit of getting good habits with a fire arm. If the only time you pick up a weapon is once a year to go and qualify then do not expect to go and get expert. But if you spend $100-$200 you can get a descent rifle of your own to spend enough time at a civilian range and get better to add these needed points.
Military Awards, believe it or not this could be the easiest one that you can Max out on. With COA's worth 5 points each and a total of 20 points. Every Soldier should easily have that many COA's by the time they are competing for SGT. The next thing to do is to Compete in and win Battalion Month and Quarter Boards. Each Battalion Quarter Board Win should land you one AAM worth 10 points and then lead to a competition in a BDE level Board. Winning at the BDE level in most BDE's will earn an ARCOM and IAW AR 600-8-19 CH 3-43 an extra 10 points for Awards for a BDE level Board win. So just for a BN and BDE Quarter Board wins this is a total of 40 promotion points for these two boards. If "Planned" and timed right, you can then compete in both the Battalion and BDE year boards and therefore win both of those as well and therefore double the points. Giving a Total of 80 Promotion Points just from four boards. Add these points with the 4 COA's and you have a total of 120 promotion points in awards in less than 1 year. Of course if you win at the BDE level, then you will have the opportunity to compete at the next level that gives even more points than at the BDE level. So Competing in Boards can lead to maxing in a rather quick time if you prepare and if you plan and set a goal.
Military Education: one of the fastest way to earn points for military education is through Correspondence, ALMS, JKO courses or Skill port courses. You can earn a total of 78 promotion points for SGT and 84 for SSG through online courses and hands down is the fastest and easiest of any way to gain any points. After that you will have to earn them through completing resident/in class courses. The Points system changes regularly by what the Army's goal is to attempt to get Soldiers to complete and they will entice the completion of these courses by giving more points for completion of certain courses. For example there was a recent problem with Soldiers not completing WLC, so now a large amount of the promotion points are given to WLC graduation for this area. Generally you will receive 4 points for each 40 hour course that you complete with a DA form 87 certifying completion. The list to the right is the a small exception to this rule as 10 points are given for these courses by the Army as they are trying to get more people certified and trained in these areas. The main thing here is to Volunteer for these Extra Duties and to take these Extra Duties and these Jobs and that you will be rewarded. This is the message that the Army is sending with the new promotion system.
Civilian Education: By Far the Fastest and Easiest of the areas to add and increase points is through Civilian Education. There are several methods to accomplish this. Some people already have some college and can just add their Transcripts. You can also take CLEP exams at the education center which will only take a couple hours of your day. Spending a couple hours to get 3 promotion points is a lot easier than spending 40 hours in a week long course trust me. But the ABSOLUTE easiest and best hands down is to have your Military Training Evaluated by a Civilian College for College Credits. This for me was the best bang for the buck and for my time by far. All you will need is an AARTS Transcript and a College that transfers military Training to Civilian Credits and a small enrollment fee and transcript fee. This fee is the Best investment that you will ever make and you will make this back the first month of your promotion. The College that I chose only took a couple of weeks after I sent them my AARTS Transcript and I was then sent an Official Transcript with 57 College Credits that I was able to add. I did not have to wait until I completed four classes with them or anything. I just sent in the Transcript and the money and they sent the Official Transcript and everything was completed in a couple of weeks. This is hands down the best way for any Soldier to add promotion points to their PPW to get promoted. If you contact me I can refer you to the school that I used. email me at email@example.com
Leadership Resources: A great resource that I used many times was http://www.ncoleadersbook.com/ I recommend that even prior to you going to the board that you become familiar with this site. It will assist you in becoming a great Leader and offers many sources of information and Leadership tools that you MUST have. If you are preparing to attend the board, then you must step up and have a great Leaders book to ensure that you are taking care of Soldiers. This will show the BN CSM and 1SG's that you are ready and prepared to be a Leader in their unit.