Paper and Pencil Test vs. Computer Version

If you are interested in taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, you may be wondering which version of the test you should take. It is offered as a traditional paper-and pencil-test, as well as a computerized exam. (Keep in mind that you should also plan on taking an ASVAB practice test, which is always a pencil and paper test.)

The paper-and-pencil test is the version of the exam that is most commonly given to high school students. Juniors and seniors have the option of using their scores from this exam for military enlistment, but most students opt to simply use the test as a career-exploration tool. You can also complete a paper and pencil test through a Mobile Examination Test (MET) site. The MET-site version is only used for enlistment purposes and may be the best option if you live in a rural area with no nearby military recruitment office.

The computer aided version of the exam is a digital, adaptive test. This version is given at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) location. Unlike the paper-and-pencil version, the computer test is used exclusively for enlistment purposes.

If you want to use the test for career exploration, you must complete the paper and pencil version of the test. If you are a high school student interested in military enlistment, you will likely have your choice of versions to take. However, the majority of military recruits decide to take the exam on a computer.

Advantages of the computer aided test include:

  • Scores can be processed immediately, while you need to wait two or three weeks to receive results from the paper and pencil test.
  • The computer test gives you the option of self-paced responses and flexible start times, while the paper and pencil administration of the test is more standardized.
  • You do not have to answer every question on the computer version, since the program adjusts questions to accommodate your ability level. This means the test can be completed in less than two hours, versus the three hour period that is required for the paper and pencil test.
  • Scoring on the CAT-ASVAB is extremely accurate, so you don’t need to worry about grading errors due to misplaced or smudged pencil marks.