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Brushing up on Basic Skills


You’ve been in the military for a bit; enlisted with decent ASVAB scores and have moved up the ranks through diligence and hard work. Now you’ve encountered a stumbling block; while functional in reading and mathematics, you’re not great, and that’s the problem. To move forward in your career, you need to get better in your speed, application, and comprehension levels. And Uncle Sam can help with this through multiple skills improvement training programs to help you get where you want to be.

All branches of the armed services can use the Online Academic Skills Course (OASC). It’s available to both active duty personnel and their families. Each individual’s course is tailor-made; by taking a pretest, the program is able to focus on what you need to improve on, not waste your time with a generic “one-size-fits-all” approach. This course usually costs $195 through Peterson’s, but is available at no charge to military members and their dependents. Sign up online.

The Army currently offers Functional Academic Skills Training (FAST). This is sometimes called the Basic Skills Education Program (BSEP). Part of the Army Continuing Education System (ACES), these courses focus not only on language arts and math skills but sometimes offer computer training. Available for active duty personnel, it is an on-duty program that requires commander permission. This program is open-entry and open-exit; as long as there is an opening in the program, you can apply to participate. After completion you are able to retake personnel tests that can qualify you for other training and military occupation specialty (MOS) opportunities. Check with your base’s Education Center to sign up.

The Marine Corps offers the Military Academic Skills Program (MASP). These classes are often held in conjunction with local college’s developmental educational coursework at the participating institution, or offered directly on base for ease of attendance. After completing the coursework, students are able to retake the Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT). Check with your base’s Lifelong Learning Center to join.

The Navy offers a wide variety of coursework, both developmental and otherwise, through the Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) website. Through NKO you can access the Academic Online Skills Course as well as the Navy E-Leaning and Navy College Programs, among many others. And because the Marine Corps is under the jurisdiction of the Navy, Marines are also eligible to use these resources.

Whatever branch of the service you are in, take advantage of these programs. Using the same work ethic that brought you initial success, take it to the next level. And if that isn’t enough, think of it this way; would the Department of Defense spend the money on you if it thought you couldn’t succeed? Investing in yourself is always a good idea.


Contributed by S.E. Davidson Parker

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