An airline pilot standing on the tarmac under the wing of a plane.
An airline pilot standing on the tarmac under the wing of a plane.

The U.S. Air Force designed its five-week Airman Leadership School (ALS) to teach airmen how to be front-line supervisors. ALS is offered at Air Force bases around the country. It is the first professional military education an enlisted member of the Air Force can take, and it focuses on the development of leadership abilities, building effective communication and the profession of arms. Tests cover these same areas. To graduate, a student must meet minimum academic and professional standards.

Who Can Enroll

Senior airmen and staff sergeant selects who have served for at least four years and who have at least six months left in their enrollment can attend ALS. To qualify, you also must have a passing physical score. You cannot be on the control roster, under investigation or charged with an offense punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Evaluation Requirements

ALS instruction covers supervising airmen, communicating as a supervisor, expeditionary airmen, professional airmen and course foundation. Students take two multiple-choice summation evaluations at the end of a unit. Before taking this summation evaluation, students must take a formative evaluation to identity their lack of knowledge in certain areas. Students must earn at least a 70 percent on both of these exams for each of the five units in order to graduate. Students must also earn at least a 70 percent on each of four writing and speaking summative performance evaluations. There are also formative writing and speaking exercises prior to these summative evaluations. In addition, students must meet exemplary personal appearance and conduct standards.

Communication-Related Test Questions

Tests will measure your knowledge of effective communication methods, such as how to be an effective listener, how to remove barriers to understanding, how to organize communication, how to be an effective written and oral communicator and causes of language barriers. Sample test questions are as follows: Which communication barrier do supervisors create when they don't consider their subordinates' inputs? What could the results be of a managerial barrier? List and describe the elements of organizing communication. Name the standard sentence mechanics you should be aware of when writing. What are the three critical attributes of effective listening?

Leadership-Related Test Questions

Tests will measure how effective you are as a leader and can cover a supervisor's responsibilities, encouraging behavioral changes, assigning duties and responsibilities, and identifying an individual's needs. Sample test questions include: When a team experiences a problem while in the performing stage of team development, how should you best handle the situation? How do you improve one or more processes? How do you develop improvement targets? How do you identify and respond to changes in an airman's behavior?

U.S. Air Force-Related Test Questions

To measure how well you know your profession, you might have to answer questions about roles and responsibilities within the U.S. Air Force, the history of the Air Force, using proper terms of address, the importance of practice drills and ceremony, and proper behavior. Sample test questions include: What are the benefits of practicing customs and courtesies? Why should we continue to practice drill and ceremony? What are the three purposes of dress/personal appearance standards? What are seven habits for a healthier wellness? What are a Chief Master Sergeant's Responsibilities?

Distance Learning

Instead of attending the in-resident ALS, Air National Guard members can take an Airman Leadership distance-learning course through the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. This course includes two sub-courses, and students take a closed-book exam at a test-control facility after completing each sub-course. Students have 12 months to complete the course and can request a four-month extension prior to the end of the initial 12 months. The Operations Directorate at the Barnes Center must approve a subsequent extension. Students who fail the exam can retake it after 72 hours.