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Paperless enlisted promotion tests to roll out in February

Say goodbye to those Scantrons.

The Air Force is ready to begin rolling out online promotion tests for mid-level enlisted airmen in February, the service announced Tuesday.

The long-awaited upgrade to a digital Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS) exam — a gauntlet of 100 multiple-choice questions that vet airmen’s knowledge of their career field and the Air Force at large — is expected to cut the cost of testing and expedite grading, the service said.

The Air Force administers about 120,000 of the tests annually. Airmen must pass the exam to be selected as a rising staff sergeant or technical sergeant.

“This initiative, along with others such as the myFSS applications, is just one of many human resources transformation efforts,” said Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller, the Air Force’s uniformed personnel chief. “Transforming HR information technology is one of my five priorities and underpins the entire HR enterprise.”

Airmen eligible for promotion to the ranks of technical and staff sergeant can expect to receive emails later in February prompting them to establish online accounts with PearsonVUE, an educational testing company.

Promotion-eligible airmen will receive invitations to go to their base education and testing center to sign up for an assigned test date and review the testing instructions, the Air Force said. Troops can sit for the exams at their on-base testing site or at a PearsonVUE center.

Airmen are expected to arrive at their exam in uniform and with their Common Access Card in hand, as well as their username and password for the PearsonVUE website. The Air Force warned that lack of preparation, including failing to bring the correct username and password, could result in an airman being marked as a no-show.

Test scores will affect the 2024 E-5 and E-6 promotion cycle, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said on Facebook Tuesday.

Bringing the WAPS test into the digital age has been among Bass’s highest priorities as she prepares to leave the top enlisted post in March.

“By aligning with industry standards, e-testing ensures a secure and innovative platform for a fair and equitable opportunity in promotion and career advancement,” Bass said in a statement. “It also streamlines the process by allowing test responses to be submitted directly to the Air Force Personnel Center, eliminating the need for traditional mailing of answer sheets. This advancement not only instills total confidence in our airmen but also provides unhindered access, empowering them to reach goals with greater efficiency and effectiveness.”

Though airmen had hoped that online testing would lead to immediate scores, Bass said on Facebook that the grading timeline will remain the same “to allow time for the faulty question query process.”

“With promotion cut-off scores being so close, a tenth of a point can make the difference,” she wrote. “The current timeline ensures fidelity in the results.”

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