First, you need to understand what NSS is.

NSS creates a standard bell curve from grade data of the last 6 months of completers from your squadron. If you know some statistics, it is called a T-score. 50 is ALWAYS average. 1.5 standard deviations from 50 is 35 and 65, which encompasses about 88% of everyone that completes. About 6% of the completers will have an NSS below 35. About 2% will have an NSS below 30. Theoretically, you could have someone below 20 or above 80, but that would statistically only be 0.1% each. So, 1 in 1000 will be below 20 or above 80.

So, NSS is simply a ranking of students in a specific population. It is NOT a measure of the performance of those students. To illustrate, if you had 100 Chuck Yeagers ranked against each other, 6-7 would have an NSS below 35, 6-7 would have an NSS above 65.

Ok, not everyone who completed in the last six months was a Chuck Yeager. So, here’s a more realistic illustration. You are taking a Pass/Fail statistics course. Why? It was either that or a stick in the eye and you made the wrong choice. There are 111 students in the lecture hall on the first day. The professor says that to pass the class, you must score a minimum of 60 on every quiz and test. If you get below a 60 on any one quiz or test, then you fail the course. Doesn’t matter how well you do on all the other quizzes and tests. Fast forward to the end of the semester. 11 students got below a 60 on at least one quiz or test. They failed. Now there’s 100 students remaining, all of whom passed. Now, just for the fun of doing the statistics, the professor will rank all the passing students using a T-score. You averaged an 80 on everything, but it turns out you were at the bottom of your class. You have a T-score (read NSS) of something below 35.

And there’s more. It turns out there was an identical class being taught by another professor. but using the exact same quizzes and tests. Your roommate was in that class and he averaged an 80 just like you. But he was the top of his class, making his NSS somewhere above 65. If you compared your NSS to your roommate’s, you might come to the conclusion that he is a statistics god while you couldn’t sharpen a pencil when, in fact, you both performed exactly the same. Again, NSS is a ranking in a class and says nothing about performance.

Now, let’s dispel some myths.

1. There is no way to calculate a valid NSS until you have completed the syllabus. Why? The key to this is it based on COMPLETERS. If you just finished the Contact Stage, calculated your Score (defined below) and tried to calculate your NSS using ANY formula, you’d get it wrong. That would be like taking a split off your first 100 meters while running a marathon and using that time compared to last year’s finish times to figure out where you placed at the 100 meter point in this marathon. You’ll get a number, but the odds of it being right are pretty close to nil.

Now, if you are within something like 10 events or less of completing, it is possible to come up with a rough approximation. But what is the point of calculating it then? You’re just about done. You’re time will be much better spent either in the books or in a bar.

2. Under the Multi-Service Pilot Training Program (MPTS), there is no such thing as a marginal completer. You either complete or you don’t. As I said, the only thing NSS does is rack and stack completers against each other. It doesn’t say anything about how well each completer performed against Navy performance standards. So, just because you have a low NSS doesn’t mean you suck as an aviator. You’re just at the bottom of those who completed from your squadron in the last six months. If you pass the syllabus, then you have met the Navy requirements towards becoming a Naval Aviator. Those who didn’t meet Navy standards did not complete and did not get an NSS.

Here's a riddle. What do they call a flight student who is at the bottom of his winging class? Answer: A Naval Aviator.

There is one caveat to my last statement. MPTS requires students to actually exceed some performance standards. Much like when you take the PRT, if you meet the minimum in each category, then you still fail the PRT. The same thing works with MPTS. If all you do is just meet MIF at the end of each block, then you really haven’t met the minimum Navy standards. I quote, “Students who consistently perform at the absolute minimum standard through multiple stages may not possess the skills required to complete follow-on training. MIF is designed to allow for minimum performance in a specific area with the understanding that performance above the minimum MIF will offset the weak area.” To ensure you have met the minimum standards, if you complete with less than a 35 NSS, you will be looked at a second time by your command just to make sure that you really do have what it takes to be a Naval aviator.

3. Under MPTS, maneuvers are not graded average, above, or below. Instead, you receive numerical grades (2-5) on each maneuver based on your performance against defined performance standards. This is important to understand and appreciate. If you want to know how you are doing, look at your grades compared to MIF. If you are meeting MIF, you are passing the program. Notice I didn’t say anything about whether you are doing better or worse than anyone else in your class. That doesn’t matter. In that Pass/Fail statistics course, if you were getting 95% on every quiz and test, you’d be thrilled. You wouldn’t care if everyone else was getting 100% and you were the bottom of the class. You’re still passing the course. If you were getting 60% on every quiz and test, then you should be worried, even if you were #1 in your class.

Rather than worry about how you are doing against your classmates, you should worry about how you are doing against those defined performance standards. If you only make MIF on the last flight of every block, then you are barely getting by. Seek out help from IPs and other students.

Perhaps you’re the guy who is obsessed with getting jets and you need to know every second how you rank. Sorry, I’ve got no help for you and neither does the Navy. You’ll never know your NSS until you’re done. And, honestly, it won’t really matter anyway. As someone mentioned, selection is more about timing than grades. If the Navy doesn’t need another jet student, then you won’t go jets. The first criteria in selection is needs of the Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard/Air Force. Get used to it. You’re life is controlled by that phrase as long as you wear the uniform.

4. There is no squadron multiplier that adjusts NSS. No one has points taken off or added to their NSS because of the squadron they are in or for any other reason, for that matter. As I mentioned, NSS uses the previous 6 months of completers from your squadron. While in my statistics class example, there was a wide variation between your roommate's and your classes, the variation between Primary VT squadrons is very small. It is certainly likely, though, that two students from different squadrons completing at the same time could have the same score (score is defined below) but a slightly different NSS. This is because there may be a slight variation in grade standardization between IPs in each squadron.

5. The formula that was provided (NSS=400*(ratio)-400) isn’t even close to how NSS is calculated. It is possible that it will work to some degree for some people who are done or close to done. It probably works pretty well for those near average (50 NSS) but not so much as you get further away from average. And for those people it will probably only work for a little while, maybe a year. Until you get your official NSS, though, you won’t know if it worked right for you.

More importantly, as I mentioned at the top of this thread, the formula has no basis in validity for anyone who has not completed the syllabus. You will have as much accuracy using a random number generator.

The true formula is no secret. For those in a Navy command (not at Vance or Randolf) it is part of the training curriculum guide handed out to every student. Sorry, I don’t know the USAF formula. In the syllabus guide, it is called PAS, which is NSS. The formula is:

PAS=.9[50+10(S-M1)/S1] + .1[50+10(M2-TGI)/S2]

S - Student’s Score: Sum of student’s grades for gradable maneuvers in the aircraft and simulator divided by the sum of the MIF for those maneuvers.

M1 – Average Score

M2 – Average Total Graded Items (TGI)

S1 – Standard Deviation Score

S2 – Standard Deviation of TGI

Average Score, Average TGI, and the standard deviation of each are calculated each month. It uses a minimum of 60 previous completers or the last 6 months of completers, whichever is more.

So, if you really want to compute your own NSS, you need to know M1, M2, S1, and S2 for your squadron during the month you select since those numbers change every month. Notice I said the month you select, not the month you complete. Do you really want to spend that much time on this?

6. Lastly, there a rumor that a lower TGI will boost your Score. Not necessarily true. In some cases it will. In some cases it won't. Generally speaking, getting no grade is better than getting below MIF while getting above MIF is better than getting no grade. BUT, be careful when you ask to not fly maneuvers in order to keep your TGI lower. Flying is a perishable skill. If you don't practice a maneuver, you have a more likely chance of boning it up when it counts most. Better to practice and get good at it than not practice in order to attempt some mythical grade manipulation.

Those are the facts for those who care.