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NEWS | March 18, 2014

Whipping Airmen into WAPS testing shape

By Airman 1st Class Victoria H. Taylor 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For Airmen in the hunt for the next stripe, the Weighted Airman Promotion System lays the groundwork for accessions. The system is used by the U.S. Air Force to select Airmen for promotion to the grades of staff sergeant, technical sergeant and master sergeant.

As the 2014 testing cycle approaches, Airmen at Langley Air Force Base are buckling down to get some serious study time in before test day.

The system is comprised of six factors that measure an Airman's potential, which include the Specialty Knowledge Test, Promotion Fitness Examination, decorations and Enlisted Performance Report, time in service and time in grade. Each section is weighted objectively in relation of its importance of advancement. These values, measured in points, are totaled, resulting in an Airman's WAPS score.

The PFE and SKT together are accomplished by promotion hopefuls each year. Each 100-question exam tests Airmen on Air Force knowledge and career field information.

"Every person studies and comprehends differently; I simply had to read and re-read the Professional Development Guide seven times to get it to stick," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Samantha Lyman, 633rd Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. "WAPS studying is all about what works for you. There are many different methods, but what may work for some does not always work for others."

There are multiple resources available that cover the material needed to succeed, such as electronic flashcards, mobile applications, audio books and free testing websites.

"Every Airmen should be familiar with the Air Force Instructions and the evaluation systems," said Master Sgt. Liesbeth Bowen, 633rd Air Base Wing Staff Agencies first sergeant. "But once you understand the promotion process, you will be more confident and successful at improving your WAPS score."

Senior Airman Trevor Harenza, 1st Maintenance Squadron munitions technician and current Airman Leadership School student, said a lot of what is tested on can only come from hands on training and being involved with the organization.

"I always made an effort to learn something new at work which applied to my Career Development Courses," said Harenza. "By actively learning and keeping track of your progress, you will acquire all the skills you need to do the job efficiently, which in turn could help you score well on the test."

Going over past performance reports with previous evaluators or a supervisor will help you to recognize the areas that you are weak in and should devote extra attention to, said Harenza.
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