Rank Advancement

Advancing in rank is the responsibility of each individual Scout. It is important that you bring your scout handbook to all meetings and camping events.  The scout handbook is the primary reference for all rank advancement requirements and is where these requirements will be signed off on. Your Patrol Mentor or the Advancement Coordinator will periodically ask to review your handbook to reconcile it with the formal approval of requirements in Scoutbook. The current rank requirements can be found at Scouts BSA Rank Requirements.

Rank Requirements

  • The Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks involve learning new skills and facts, and then demonstrating those skills and knowledge to someone else. 
  • You may simultaneously work on requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks, but the ranks must be earned in order. For example, you may not earn First Class before you earn Second Class, but you can complete a First Class requirement while you are still a Tenderfoot.
  • Any merit badges you earn while at Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class will count towards the Merit Badge requirements of the higher ranks.
  • The Star, Life and Eagle ranks move away from basic skills and instead focus on leadership, merit badges, and community-based service. For these ranks, you will need to earn a certain number of merit badges, serve in a leadership role, and participate in a higher number of service hours.

The Steps to Advance in Rank

  1. Learn the skill or complete the item(s) described in the requirement.
  2. Demonstrate the skill as described or discuss the item(s) completed with an authorized individual and have them sign off on it in your handbook (see “Who Can Sign Off on My Rank Requirements” below).
  3. Participate in a Scoutmaster Conference. Typically, you do this when you are close to completing the requirements for a rank. When you are ready for it, let the Scoutmaster know (see “What is a Scoutmaster Conference …” below).
  4. Complete a Board of Review. After you have completed all other requirements for a rank and have gotten them signed off, then you must complete a Board of Review to earn the rank. When you are ready for this, let the Advancement Coordinator know and they will get you scheduled for one (see “What is a Board of Review …” below).
  5. Receive the rank award. If you pass the Board of Review, you will be recognized that night at the close of the troop meeting. Your actual rank badge will either be given to you that night or at the next Court of Honor.

Rank Advancement FAQ

Who can sign off on my rank requirements?

  • Most Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class requirements may be signed off by other scouts with a rank of First Class or above (or by the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster). 
  • There are certain requirements for these early ranks that can only be signed off on by the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster, notably: service hours, some aquatic requirements, some citizenship requirements, and scout spirit requirements.
  • Unlike cub scouts, your parent(s) may not sign off on your rank requirements. However, there is one exception to this rule as your parents may sign off on Scout requirement #6.
  • Star, Life & Eagle requirements can only be signed off by the Scoutmaster or the Advancement Coordinator ASM.
  • Finally, only authorized adult leaders should enter completed requirements into Scoutbook.

What is an approved Service Project for service hours and who can sign off on that requirement?

Service projects are a key element of the scouting program. Every rank other than Scout requires participation in an approved service project. An approved service project is one that has been approved by the Scoutmaster because it benefits others outside of our troop. The troop works to provide such service opportunities that you can participate in including helping with someone else’s Eagle Project. Service hours will be tracked through Scoutbook and they may only be signed off on in your handbook by the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster.

What does “Demonstrate Scout Spirit” mean and who signs off that requirement?

One of the Scout rank requirements is to understand and agree to live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. This is reinforced in each rank thereafter with the requirement to “Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”  This is one of the most important requirements, because it deals with the real fruit of Scouting in your life and shows whether your character is being developed along with outdoor and survival skills. It should not be taken lightly. You will usually complete this requirement for each rank during your Scoutmaster conference where you will discuss how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived four different points of the Scout Law (you will need to do 4 different points for each rank).

What is a “Scoutmaster Conference” and what should I expect?

This is where you visit with the Scoutmaster or a designated Assistant Scoutmaster and review and discuss your advancement progress, participation, and experience in the troop and how scouting has influenced your life.  You may also discuss topics such as ambitions, life purpose, and goals for future achievement. Typically, it is held when you have or are close to completing the requirements for a rank. When you are ready for a conference, you should request one with the Scoutmaster, who will give you a worksheet to complete and will schedule a time for the conference.

What is a “Board of Review” and what should I expect?

Your final requirement to earn a rank is to complete a Board of Review for that rank. The troop holds monthly Boards of Reviews, usually during the first troop meeting of each month. When you are ready for one, let the Advancement Coordinator know and they will schedule you for the next available Board.  Before the Board, the Advancement Coordinator will confirm that all your requirements have been signed off in your handbook.  The Board consists of three to six non-uniformed adults, who will talk to you about your scouting experiences and what you have accomplished. They will decide whether you have fulfilled the requirements for the rank. At the end of the discussion, they will ask you to leave the room. When they are ready, they will ask you to come back in and let you know whether you have earned the rank.

How do I get credit for Leadership?

Leadership is not a requirement until you reach the rank of First Class. At that point you must serve for 4 months as a leader for Star rank, 6 months for Life rank, and 6 months for Eagle rank. Approved positions are listed in your handbook. Some positions are elected by the troop or the patrols while others are appointed by the Scoutmaster. Even though it is not a requirement until Fist Class, you are encouraged to take on a leadership role before that. If you are interested in taking on a leadership role, let the Scoutmaster know.

What records should I keep?

You are responsible for keeping your own set of records documenting your advancement progress. This includes the Boy Scout Handbook with rank sign-offs, completed rank cards, completed merit badge blue cards, other award cards like the Tote ‘n Chip & Firem’n Chit, a list of outings, service projects and other activities in which you have participated. Upon joining Troop 873 you received a white three-ring binder, which is called your “white notebook”.  This is the BEST way for you save and keep this information.  If you lose your handbook but have kept your white notebook up to date, then you will have all of your advancement records available to you. Also, the white notebook will benefit you for your Eagle Board of Review.