What A Difference 17 Months Makes

Today’s topic is the WSTB — the Work Sample Test Battery — the standard physical agility test that anyone and everyone must pass in order to graduate from the public safety training program in which I’m currently enrolled. A non-pass/fail benchmark version was administered last Saturday to show each of us in the class where we each were at individually. Not coincidentally it’s the same exact test I took 17 months ago when applying to the institution.

The WSTB is comprised of five events, each one timed:

  • 99-Yard Obstacle Course
  • 6-Foot Solid Fence Climb (finished with 25-yard run)
  • 6-Foot Chain Link Fence Climb (finished with 25-yard run)
  • Body Drag (165-pound dummy dragged 32 feet)
  • 500-Yard Run

Readers of this blog with exceptional memories might remember that I wrote about my “triumph” at getting over the solid fence after I took that first test back in August 2011. The rest of you can refresh yourself with that post here, if you wish.

We were given our results from Saturday’s test last night and because I’m a comparison geek and very proud of the across-the-board improvements I’ve made between the two administrations of the WSTB separated by almost 1.5 years, I thought I’d lay down my results side by side:

 Event  August 26, 2011  January 26, 2013
 99-Yard Obstacle Course  19.4 seconds (179 points)  18.3 seconds (193 points)
 Solid Fence Climb  13.6 seconds (87 points)  7.3 seconds (177 points)
 Chain Link Fence Climb  8.2 seconds (75 points)  7.7 seconds (80 points)
 Body Drag  5.2 seconds (55 points)  4.5 seconds (57 points)
 500-Yard Run  129 seconds (25 points)  103 seconds (33 points)

Points are awarded based on an individual’s finishing time in each event, with those points obtained from the obstacle course and the two fence climbs comprising the largest percentage. Minimum passing score is 384 points, and if you happen to be blessed with super human speed and strength, you can actually get all those points from the obstacle course and the solid fence climb. For the rest of us mere mortals, the chain link fence and body drag and 500-yard run are needed to fill in the shortfall.

On August 26, 2011, I rumbled and bumbled (rather humbled) across the finish line with a total of 421 points. On January 26, 2013, I comparatively cruised to a score of 540. Though the differences in times are minimal in several cases, I’m hugely pleased to have shaved a full second off the obstacle course and 26 seconds in the run. But clearly the greatest gain both in time and points came from the success I had in getting over the solid fence.

But we’re just getting started. This initial test was basically a status update. We do it all over with a mid-term in March and then a final in April (and “final” is the operative word: pass and continue on, fail and be dismissed entirely from the program). Rather than rest on what I was able to achieve this past weekend, you can bet in the time between now and then I’ll be taking opportunities that will allow me to increase my individual and overall scores.