Military ASVAB

Military jobs and ASVAB

ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This test is administered by the Department of Defenses for those candidates who want to join the U.S. Military Services. This test analyses the candidate's aptitude in four domains (Science and Technology, Mathematics, Spatial and Verbal) and helps one identify his/her strengths and weaknesses.

All the wings of the U.S. Military Services, the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and the Marines, use the ASVAB to select the candidates for their services.

The ASVAB Test

To know about the military ASVAB, one must know about the subtests in the test, the versions of the test, the question types and duration of the test and the scoring pattern in the test. All of these aspects are explained in detail below:

Subtests in the Test

The military ASVAB has 10 subtests which fall under one of the four domains mentioned above. The subtests are:

  • 1. Science & Technology Domain
    1. General Science (GS)
    2. Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
    3. Electronics Information (EI)
    4. Auto Information (AI)
    5. Shop Information (SI)
  • 2. Math Domain
    1. Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
    2. Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • 3. Verbal Domain
    1. Word Knowledge (WK)
    2. Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • 4. Spatial Domain
    1. Assembling Objects (AO)

Versions of the Test

There are two versions of the test available, the CAT-ASVAB and the P&P-ASVAB.

CAT-ASVAB- This version is a computer adaptive version of the test. This version has 10 subtests as mentioned above. The questions in this version of the military ASVAB are adapted to the candidates' capability.

P&P-ASVAB- This is the traditional, paper and pencil version of the test. Unlike the CAT-ASVAB, all the candidates get the same set of questions in this version. It has nine subtests as the Auto Information and Shop Information subtests are merged to form one subtest- Auto & Shop Information.

Question Types and Duration of the Test

For both the versions of the military ASVAB, all the questions are multiple-choice questions. The test lasts for around 3hours for both CAT-ASVAB and P&P-ASVAB but in CAT-ASVAB, the candidates can pace their responses and can leave the exam hall once they finish all the subtests. On the contrary, in P&P-ASVAB, candidates can leave the exam hall only after the stipulated time.

The table below gives the details of the number of questions and duration for each of the subtests for both the versions of the military ASVAB.

Subtest Description No. of Questions Time Duration (minutes)
General Science (GS) Knowledge of physical and biological science 16 25 8 11
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) Ability to solve Arithmetic word problems 16 30 39 36
Word Knowledge (WK) Ability to identify the right meaning of the given word 16 35 8 11
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) Ability to collect information from the given passage 11 15 22 13
Math Knowledge (MK) Knowledge of high school math principles 16 25 20 24
Electronics Information (EI) Electricity and electronics knowledge 16 20 8 9
Auto Information (AI) Automobile knowledge 11 25 (AS) 7 11(AS)
Shop Information (SI) Tools and shop technology terminology and practices 11 6
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) Mechanical and physical principles knowledge 16 25 20 19
Assembling Objects (AO) Ability to understand how an object will look when its different parts are put together 16 25 16 15
Total 145 225 154 149

The Scoring Pattern

ASVAB scores determine whether a candidate has qualified for the U.S. Military Services or not. There are 3 formats of the score:

I. The Standard Score- This is the score that a candidate gets in each of the subtest after equating. Equating is a process where the scores are statistically linked across the various administration modes and forms. Due to this equating process, the ASVAB scores remain the same irrespective of the mode of administration.

II. The AFQT Score- The Armed Forces Qualification Test score or the AFQT score decides whether a candidate gets enlisted in the U.S. Military Services or not. For each of the military wings there is a minimum AFQT score which qualifies for selection. The scores in Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension are used for the AFQT score calculation.

The minimum AFQT scores that the candidates have to score to get enlisted in the different wings of the U.S. Military Services are given in this table.

Branch of Service Minimum AFQT for enlistment
Air Force 36
Army 31
Marine Corps 32
Navy 35
Coast Guard 40

III. The Composite Score- The scores of the different subtests are used for the composite score calculation. This is also called the Line Score. These scores decide the candidate's job options in the U.S. Military. This score throws light on the aptitude of the candidate for the different jobs available in the U.S. Military Services.

Military Jobs

As said earlier ASVAB scores are very important to get enlisted in the U.S. Military Services. Once the candidates get enlisted in the military services, getting the right job is the next step in realizing their dreams. For this, the composite scores are used. The official website of the ASVAB, gives information pertaining to the different jobs available and the composite scores that are used for job selection.


The military ASVAB is the most important test in the lives of military aspirants. With a good score in the ASVAB, one can get enlisted and get the job he/she desires in the preferred wing of the U.S. Military Services.

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