History of the Exam

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, more commonly known as the ASVAB test, is an aptitude test administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command. It consists of a series of multiple choice questions and is designed to be used as a career-exploration tool or as part of the enlistment process for military service. Today, it is considered to be the most widely used standardized aptitude test in the world.

Over the years, there have been many changes to the testing process used by the military.

  • 1917 – The Army Alpha and Army Beta tests were developed to allow the military to measure the ability level of soldiers. The Army Alpha test measured verbal ability, numerical ability, general knowledge, and the ability to accurately follow directions. The Army Beta test was designed to test the skills of illiterate or non-English speaking soldiers.
  • 1940 – The Army General Classification Test (AGCT) and the Navy General Classification Test (NGCT) replaced the Army Alpha and Army Beta tests as tools for evaluating soldiers. Additional tests for evaluating factors such as mechanical aptitude and administrative skills were also developed.
  • 1950 – The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), modeled after the AGCT, was introduced as a screening device. It was supplemented by job-specific tests such as the Army Classification Battery, the Airman Qualification Examination, and the Navy Basic Test Battery.
  • 1968 – The ASVAB was introduced.
  • 1973 – The Air Force began using the test.
  • 1974 – The Marine Corps began using the exam.
  • 1976 – It was formally adopted as part of the military recruitment process.
  • 1979 – The military began researching the possibility of a computerized version of the test.
  • 1996 – Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) locations began using the computer assisted version instead of the traditional paper and pencil test. Computerized, adaptive testing improved the accuracy of scoring and allowed for faster processing of test results.
  • 2002 – A significant revision of test content was completed in 2002 in order to better reflect changing educational standards and the needs of military recruitment.
  • 2004 – Percentile rankings were recalculated to make sure that they accurately reflected current test results.