Channel NewsAsia

The revised IPPT format: What you need to know

What you already knew: Three stations, not five. No more pull-ups, standing broad jump and shuttle run. The Chief of Army and other top officials met with the media to give more details on the proposed changes, which they said will kick in by April 1, 2015.

SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (July 23), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced on Facebook that the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will be revised to three stations from the current five. This was followed by a media briefing in which Chief of Army, Major-General Perry Lim; Colonel Ng Ying Thong, Assistant Chief of General Staff (Training); and Director, National Service Affairs, Brigadier-General (NS) Tung Yui Fai, took questions on the changes.

“The main aim was really to have a simpler format that they can train for. That is the main aim,” said the Chief of Army.

WHAT WILL THE NEW IPPT CONSIST OF?

Just three stations: A 2.4km run, sit-ups, and a new discipline that will be familiar to all National Servicemen: Push-ups. Gone are the standing broad jump, pull-ups and the shuttle run, in the first change of IPPT format since 1982.

HOW DOES SCORING WORK?

Participants will be allocated points for their performance in each of the three stations, with a maximum of 50 points awarded for the 2.4km run and 25 points each for the push-up and sit-up stations – for a maximum score of 100 points.

The total points that an individual scores in each of the three stations will determine whether he passes or fails, and whether he gets a monetary award. For example, an NSman will need a total of more than 50 points for a pass, and more than 80 points for a Gold award. Commandos, divers and guardsmen will need at least 85 points to score Gold.


Scoring will also be divided into more age categories, based on smaller age bands of three years each, rather than five. Goodbye, Cat Z.

WILL THIS MEAN IT’LL BE EASIER TO PASS THE IPPT?

Defence Minister Ng said on Wednesday that “this new format will make it simpler for NSmen to train for IPPT – and for more to pass”. But as for scoring well …

Said MG Lim: “In designing the new IPPT format and scoring system, it was very important that we uphold the standards of physical fitness that we require of our soldiers. So, in order to achieve the Gold and Silver standards, it will be just as challenging as before.

“As to why it seems easier for people who are less fit to get points: This new system is to motivate those who are very fit to excel. We designed it such that for those who really want to score 25 for push-ups or sit-ups, or to score 50 for the run, it becomes more and more difficult.

“I think that servicemen should give this IPPT format a try first before they come to any conclusions.”

CAN I FAIL A STATION?

Yes, if you score zero points. “At the least, NSmen must achieve one point for each of the stations,” said Col Ng.

WHEN WILL THE CHANGES TAKE EFFECT?

The new IPPT format will be implemented SAF-wide, for regulars and NSFs as well as NSmen, from April 1, 2015. The Ministry of Home Affairs said on Wednesday the Home Team, consisting of the police and Singapore Civil Defence Forces, will adopt the new format in 2015.

“A pilot implementation of the new IPPT format will take place from September to November this year. We are looking at around 10 to 12 active units and up to eight NS units who are returning to camp for their In-Camp Training during this period. So we will try to cover servicemen from across all age bands, vocations and gender,” said MG Lim.

He added that they are prepared to adjust the scoring table after the pilot this year, if needed.

WHY THE CHANGES?

First, the combat readiness of soldiers is now being tested in other ways.

“Over the last few years, we have implemented a revised combat fitness training and test regime for our soldiers and this is in the form of the new standard obstacle course (SOC), vocation obstacle course (VOC) and vocation-related exercises (VRE). Our soldiers also continue to build their combat fitness through route marches as well as participation in field exercises,” said MG Lim. “Having implemented an effective combat fitness regime, we are now able to simplify the IPPT format to one that is still an effective measure of basic physical fitness of our soldiers.”

Second, it’s a move to make fitness less of a burden, and more of a lifestyle.

“We want to change the perception of IPPT: From being an imposition on the lives of our NSmen to one that encourages them to make physical fitness and physical training a part of their lifestyles. The format has been simplified such that NSmen can train in their own time without the need for specialised equipment. I think the best outcome for the army is that our NSmen can adopt these three stations as part of their regular exercise regime, such that IPPT is just testing what they do on a regular basis,” said MG Lim.

WHY PUSH-UPS? WHY WERE THE PREVIOUS THREE STATIONS SCRAPPED?

“In designing the IPPT format, we wanted to focus on three groups – one is the upper body muscular strength and endurance (push-ups); the second is the core body strength and endurance (sit-ups); and of course, the 2.4km run,” said MG Lim.

“As for the push-ups station which is new, we take reference from the US Army. And I think you will also have done your research I am sure, that some of the conscript militaries like Korea has also adopted these three stations.”

“In terms of pull-ups, in our combat fitness training regime, like the SOC and the VOCs, our soldiers are required to execute movements that require them to also manage or carry their body weight. So in that sense chin-ups are taken care of. Also, although it is not tested as part of the three stations, our soldiers in active units and leadership schools will still be doing chin-ups as part of their daily routine.”

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE HARDWARE FOR THE DROPPED STATIONS?

“We’re going to leave the chin up bars there, obviously, because it is still an excellent exercise,” said MG Lim. As for the others – “I don’t see the harm of leaving them there,’ said BG Tung.

CAN I TAKE THE OLD IPPT STATIONS IF I WANT?

Yes, for one to two years from April 1, 2015.

“We’re prepared to give our NSmen an option to do either the existing IPPT format which is the five-station format, or the new IPPT format for another … one to two years after 1 April next year. So they will have an option, depending on which format they are prepared and comfortable with at that point in time,” said MG Lim.

WHY EXTEND THE IPPT WINDOW TO 12 MONTHS?

Under the proposed changes, an NSman’s window to take and pass his IPPT is up to a full year from the current nine months, with a further 12 months to complete remedial training. The reason: Flexibility of scheduling, said MG Lim.

“When we give our NSmen up to 12 months to train for their IPPT and up to 12 months to complete their RT sessions, we also encourage them that they need to do it regularly. That means that you don’t space out all your sessions across all 12 months, but we do tell them that you need to do it within a certain period. It’s just that giving them 12 months will give them some flexibility. They still need to exercise regularly, at least twice a week,” said the Chief of Army.

WHAT ABOUT IPT AND RT? ANY CHANGES?

No. "We think that some of our NSmen will still need help as we move to a three-station IPPT format, so we will retain the IPT (IPPT Preparatory Training) as well as the RT (Remedial Training) sessions and conduct them in our Fitness Conditioning Centres. So that will still remain," said MG Lim.

WILL THIS AFFECT THE PHYSICAL TESTING SYSTEM IN SCHOOLS?

At the tertiary levels, yes, but it’s not yet clear to what extent. And not so much at Primary and Secondary School. 

Said MG Lim: “In terms of the actual details, we’re still working out with the Ministry of Education.”

SO, LET'S SEE THE NEW SCORING SYSTEM ...