Important Facts

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1960s. The test has undergone several revisions since then, but remains an important part of the process of military enlistment.

Number of Test Takers

About 1.3 million people take the ASVAB test each year. This is comparable to both the ACT and SAT. Approximately 1.2 million students take the ACT each year, while 1.4 million take the SAT. However, many high school students are surprised to learn that you can’t use results from the ACT or SAT to enlist in the military. While the ACT and SAT are designed to predict success in college, this exam is specifically created to measure the types of skills you need in the military environment.

ESL Applicants

As the general population becomes more diverse, many people find themselves wondering if it’s possible to take the test in another language. While the United States government does offer many official forms in multiple languages, this policy does not apply to military testing. Currently, the exam is only offered in English. In order to join the military, you must be able to read, write, and speak English effectively. Therefore, offering the test in other languages would not result in an accurate prediction of a test-taker’s military performance.

If English is not your native language, your recruiter will give you an English Comprehension Level (ECL) test after taking the exam. This test will be used to determine if you have the language skills necessary for further training.

Controversies

In addition to being used as a tool for military recruitment, the ASVAB is also offered to high school students as a free career exploration resource. However, this practice is controversial. Some schools do not allow students to opt out of the test or provide restrictions as to who will be able to access the test results. Many parents believe recruiters can be overly aggressive in speaking with students who are still under the legal age.