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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2022

88th RD educator helps develop new Basic Skills Education Program course

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division

Last year more than 75 Soldiers in the 88th Readiness Division’s 19-state region geared up to raise their GT score by taking the AFCT, or Armed Forces Classification Test. Improving the General Technical number can lead the way to additional career opportunities.

Possibly one of the best ways to increase your GT score is to take the Basic Skills Education Program course first, offered through the 88th RD Education Center here.

The BSEP course prepares Soldiers for the AFCT to help them raise their GT score. The GT score is the most important number on the AFCT because it’s what qualifies a Soldier for reclassification, Warrant Officer Candidate School or Officer Candidate School.

The GT score is a combination of the Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension subtests. Here’s how it’s computed: AR + (WK+PC)/2= GT score. Course attendance enables Soldiers to focus on improving the skills needed to improve their scores in those specific areas while in a classroom environment.

Connie Schauer, education services specialist and test control officer, at the 88th RD Education Center, participated in a Human Resources Command committee that developed the pilot BSEP course that she currently offers here. She worked with other committee members to write the standardized curriculum that will eventually be launched Army wide. She wrote the Reading portion and part of the Vocabulary unit.

“Because of my interest in developing a BSEP course for Soldiers in the Army Reserve and Soldiers assigned to the Fort McCoy area, Dr. Irina Radar, the Army personnel testing program manager and the BSEP manager, at HRC contacted me and asked if I would like to be part of a committee that was writing a standardized BSEP curriculum,” Schauer said.

Radar wanted to have Schauer on the committee because of her vast experience. “In the past five years, I’ve retired both from teaching high school and from the Army Reserve. I’m a Wisconsin state-certified reading teacher and have taught reading at both the secondary and post-secondary levels,” Schauer said. “I have a master’s degree in Technical and Professional Communication and a master’s degree in Education. I’ve always had an interest in instructional design and course development.”

“The [BSEP] course has three major components: Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Mathematics. Because I’d taught Introduction to College Reading at the technical college level, I volunteered to write the Reading portion. The Reading Comprehension unit consists of six modules and is geared towards improving Soldiers’ reading skills. I also wrote the first module for the Vocabulary unit.”

Prior to launching the pilot, each Army installation that offered BSEP ran its program differently. “One goal of standardization is to implement the best practices of the courses being taught throughout the Army. Another goal is to provide a ready-made curriculum that education centers wanting to start a program can use,” Schauer said.

The BSEP course is piloted through fiscal year 2022 “so that we can make both revisions and improvements. After the pilot is completed, we’ll release the curriculum for use Army wide,” Schauer said.

Schauer encourages Soldiers to take the course. “Enroll! Students who take the BSEP course tend to perform better on the AFCT than Soldiers who self-study or don’t prepare for it,” she said. “You have nothing to lose.”

Sgt. 1st Class Marco Joseph, with the 416th Theater Engineer Command, took the BSEP course here in January 2022. At the conclusion, he took the AFCT.

“My GT score had been a thorn at my side for so many years. The BESP course presented an opportunity for me to plan, get away and focus solely on improving my score. I successfully earned a 114 GT score and this course definitely opened the door for more career opportunities moving forward,” Joseph said. He plans to submit a packet to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School.

If you’re interested in taking the BSEP course or investigating other services offered through the 88th Readiness Division Education Center here, call (608) 388-7311 or 7274. The Education Center is located in Building 50, Room 123. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and also weekends by appointment.

Historically, the numbers of Soldiers taking the AFCT are higher than the last few years because of the impact of COVID.

If you’re interested in taking the AFCT, contact the text examiner at one of the 88th RD’s three Education Centers: Fort McCoy, (608) 388-3967; Fort Snelling, Minn., (719) 516-2856; or Fort Douglas, Utah, (719) 366-1239.