Taking the ASVAB

Taking the ASVAB - A brief overview

Introduction to ASVAB

Anyone who wants to get enlisted in the U.S. Military Services has to take up the ASVAB test. ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This test is developed and maintained by the Department of Defenses. It is a multi-aptitude test with 10 subtests. The aptitude of candidates in four different domains is tested in this test. These domains are Verbal, Math, Science and Technology and Spatial.

Requirements to take up the test

For taking the ASVAB, one has to be a U.S. citizen. There is no minimum age for taking the ASVAB, but generally students above the age of 17 take up the test. The ASVAB scores are valid for 2 years. If one wants to retake the test, he/she can do after 30 days. If one has taken the ASVAB in the sophomore year, the scores will not be considered for getting enlisted in the U.S. Military Services.


One needs to contact his/her educational counselor first to take up the ASVAB. A military recruiter can be contacted next to verify the candidate's eligibility and check for any disqualifying factors like criminal background, failed drug screening, number of dependents or problems with medical history. There is no registration fee for taking the ASVAB. If a 17-year old wants to get enlisted in the U.S. Military Services, he/she needs to get parental consent. However, if one is 18 years or above, parental consent is not required.

Versions of ASVAB

There are 3 versions of ASVAB,

  2. P&P-ASVAB
  3. Student-ASVAB


Computer Adaptive Test-ASVAB or the CAT-ASVAB is taken up by many military aspirants. This test is an automated test administration system and in it, the difficulty of the succeeding questions is determined by the answer given to the previous question. This means that if the wrong answer is given, the next question will be easier and if the correct answer is selected, the next question will be harder. Moreover, one cannot change the answer once it has been selected. This test is administered at the Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS). On an average, the test takes about one and a half hours. One can leave the hall once he/she completes the tests and it allows flexible start times and self-paced answers. There are 10 subtests in this version. These are General Science (GS), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Auto Information (AI), Shop Information (SI), Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Electronics Information (EI) and Assembling Objects (AO).


The Paper & Pencil ASVAB is a traditional form of administration. As the name suggests, the answers have to be given in a separate sheet. This test takes around 3 hours. Examinees are not allowed to leave the hall till the end of the exam time. All examinees get the same questions. This version has 9 subtests. All the subtests are the same as it is in CAT-ASVAB, except that the two subtests, Shop Information and Auto Information are combined to form 1 subtest. This subtest is called Auto and Shop Information (AS).

One can review the answers again in this version of the test. However, there is no penalty for incorrect answers. This version of the test is administered at Military Entrance Test (MET) sites.

Student ASVAB

This version of the ASVAB is used for career exploration. High school and college students can take up this test and understand and identify occupations that are best suited for you. This is a paper and pen type of test. There are 8 subtests in this version. The subtests are similar to P&P-ASVAB version but the Assembling Objects subtest is not administered. The time duration for this version of the test is approximately 3 hours. These test results are sent to the school, where the counselor will help the students to explore the various career options available to them. An interest inventory called the "Find Your Interest" will also be given. This helps one to identify his/her personality and the best-suited career prospects.

This test will be conducted in the schools along with other tests like SAT or ACT.

Test Dates

Test dates for ASVAB differ from center to center. Therefore, it is best to contact the MEPS site for the correct test date.


Taking the ASVAB is the only way of joining the U.S. Military Services. Taking the ASVAB will also show one his/her aptitude and the best suited careers. One can take up the test and identify the areas he/she is good in.

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