Help make Marine officer MOS assignments better!

India Company Marines await the start of their swearing-in ceremony conducted at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Va., Feb. 6, 2014. The newly appointed Officer's will begin training at TBS in the month of February until May 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christina O'Neil/Released)
May 31, 2019

In World War II (WWII), officials needed a way to classify incoming servicemembers. They developed the General Classification Test (GCT) that was used for enlisted and officer candidates to test the individual’s knowledge and mental skills. After WWII, the military replaced the GCT with the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The Marine Corps however kept the GCT for officers at The Basic School (TBS) because it was believed at the time to better predict their capabilities.

Recent analysis of the GCT determined more and more officers would not match the requirements WWII era officers had met, but that does not necessarily mean that current officers are inferior leaders when compared to their predecessors. The Operations Research Analyst Team with Manpower and Reserve Affairs (M&MR) determined that the GCT gives little insight on how capable current Marine officers really are.

“Unfortunately, the GCT is outdated and we do not use its results for anything other than a pseudo indication of intelligence,” said Dr. Michael R. Strobl, Deputy Director, Manpower Plans and Policies. “We don’t use it for [Military Occupational Specialties] selection, promotion, billet assignments, or talent management at large.”

With this problem at hand, M&MR researched several modern tests measuring talent or cognitive skills to replace the GCT. Many private sector employers use the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) for job placement, particularly for individuals seeking positions requiring a bachelor’s degree. The CCAT examines the tester’s logic, spatial reasoning and verbal ability. M&MR hypothesizes that these factors correlate strongly with skills needed to effectively lead Marines. This test may aid in better Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) assignment by identifying mental traits that correlate with certain tasks required of that MOS.

From June to July of 2019, M&MR is conducting a pilot study of officers using the CCAT across the Marine Corps. Approximately 1500 volunteers from all commissioned officer ranks are needed to take the approximately 15-minute test. The test will be taken different installation’s education centers and volunteers can expect the whole process to take roughly 30 minutes. These tests are anonymous and will not go into any personal military record.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton will be holding the test from 17 – 18 June 2019 at the Base Education Center. Tests will be conducted from 0800 to 1630 and volunteers are asked to show up every half hour from the top of the hour. Details on how to sign up for the test will be passed through individual command’s administrative offices.

If the M&MR can collect enough data these tests should be able to help shape Marine Corps officer MOS assignment in the future, leading to increased performance and ultimately combat effectiveness. In order to do this, Marine officers need to take time out of their day to take the test and help build a better Marine Corps.

More information, to include a testing schedule, can be found here: