ASVAB or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, is a multiple-choice exam given by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command. It was first introduced in 1968 and is now the most widely-used standardized aptitude test in the world.
The test must be completed if you wish to serve in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. The test can also be taken as a career-exploration tool if you are a high school sophomore, junior, or senior. It takes approximately three hours to complete. If you take the computerized version of the test, results are given immediately. If you complete a paper and pencil test, you’ll get results within two weeks.
There are nine individual tests on the exam:
- Electronics Information
- Auto and Shop Information
- Mechanical Comprehension
- General Science
- Arithmetic Reasoning
- Word Knowledge
- Paragraph Comprehension
- Mathematics Knowledge
- Assembling Objects (This section is only on the computer version and is not part of the paper and pencil test taken by high school students.)
About The Test
General Science Test
Assembling Objects Test
Word Knowledge Test
Paragraph Comprehension Test
Arithmetic Reasoning Test
Mechanical Comprehension Test
Auto and Shop Information Test
Electronics Information Test
Mathematics Knowledge Test
Exam Day Information
When taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery for career exploration, it’s important to remember that there is no passing or failing score for this test. It is an aptitude test designed to measure a person’s individual strengths and weaknesses. It is normal to score higher on some areas and lower in others.
High school students completing the exam will receive career-exploration composite scores in the areas of Verbal Skills, Math Skills, and Science/Technical Skills. Score reports include grade-specific, gender-specific, and percentile-based scores for each of the test sections as well as the career-exploration areas.
If you are interested in using your test scores for military service, you will receive an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. This score is calculated using the scores from the Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK) portions of the exam. AFQT scores are expressed as percentile scores in order to better compare results among all potential military recruits.
There are different minimum AFQT score requirements for enlisting in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, although requirements will vary depending upon whether you have a high school diploma or a GED. Minimum score requirements change on a fairly regular basis, with higher scores being required during times of above-average enlistment levels. Enlistment bonuses, which are determined by your choice of military occupation, may also be influenced by AFQT scores.
Again, we must stress that there is no passing or failing score on the exam. The test is a measure of aptitude and provides percentile rankings to indicate your performance compared to other test takers. However, different branches of the military do have minimum score requirements for enlistment. This means that it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for test day, and that’s where a practice test will prove valuable.
Obviously, the most important way to prepare to take the test is to spend plenty of time reviewing practice test questions. Look at questions from all sections of the test, but pay special attention to questions on the Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge sections, which will be used to calculate your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score for enlistment.
If you’re taking the exam at a location that is unfamiliar, make sure you understand how to get to the test site. You may even want to use online mapping services to plan an alternate route, just in case traffic is heavier than expected on testing day.
Go to bed at a reasonable time the night before the test; do not attempt to stay up late for extra studying. The morning of the test, remember to eat a good breakfast. A mixture of protein and carbohydrates, such as scrambled eggs and toast, is better than grabbing a donut and a cup of coffee.
You’re not going to be graded on what you wear to the exam, but it’s a good idea to dress in layers. You don’t want to be distracted by a room that is too hot or too cold for you. Dressing in layers of clothing that can be removed if necessary ensures that you will be comfortable regardless of the temperature.
If you’re planning on using your scores for military enlistment, you may be hoping to achieve a score that is high enough for a specific signing bonus. While it’s natural to want to do your best, putting extra pressure on yourself can cause unnecessary anxiety. Take a few deep breaths, relax, and remember that taking the test is only part of the entire recruitment process.
Is the ASVAB for You?
The majority of people who complete the exam have little intention of entering the military. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the United States military is actually one of the nation’s largest employers. If you’re undecided about your future after high school graduation, taking the test can give you a better picture of your options in both civilian and military life.
There are many misconceptions about what it’s like to serve in the U.S. military. If you don’t know any soldiers personally, you might think of the military as a place for infantry, trudging though rough terrain and loading giant artillery. Although that may have been true in the past, today’s military offers many opportunities that aren’t readily apparent to the typical high school graduate. For example, there are jobs in aviation mechanics, medicine, and accounting. There are also peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts by the United States military that require skills in verbal and written communication. Taking the exam can help you determine if you would be well-suited to one of these occupations.
High school students can take the test in their sophomore, junior, or senior years, although scores from sophomore tests can’t be used for enlistment purposes. There is no charge to sit for the exam, and the results will have no impact on your high school academic record or your college application. This is a risk-free way to better evaluate your opportunities for the future after high school graduation.