Information About the ASVAB

Why Should You Appear for ASVAB?

Every year, thousands of school students as well military aspirants take up the ASVAB as a career exploration and self assessment tool, as well as a part of the military enlisting process. The test is a battery of varied subtests that evaluate and measure the candidates' abilities, skills, and aptitudes in various areas, and help choose the best possible career options for them in military or civilian domains. Read on to find out why and how the test is important...

The ASVAB Exam - Its History and Importance Today

Though the beginning of military enlisting tests can be traced back to the World War I times, it was in 1968, that the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) exam was first introduced as part of the Student Testing Program. By 1976, all the US armed forces accepted this test as part of their enlistment processes. Today, though the test is used both as a career exploration tool and an aid to military enlisting and classification process, the test pattern and content are the same for all purposes. However, different wings of the US military services have different score requirements for enlistment and classification purposes. That is, based on the scores, a candidate's eligibility for enlistment to specific wings and appropriate job roles within those are decided.

For more information on the test, refer to the official ASVAB websites:

The ASVAB Exam - Content, Subtests and the Purpose

In general, the ASVAB is administered in two different formats - the traditional paper and pencil-based version (P&P-ASVAB) and the computerized, adaptive version (CAT-ASVAB). However, the test content is the same across both the versions, with multiple subtests that evaluate the candidates' skills and knowledge in the following core areas:

  • Mathematical
  • Science and Technical
  • Spatial
  • Verbal

The number of subtests, however varies, in both the formats - ten subtests as follows are administered in the CAT-ASVAB, while in the P&P-ASVAB, the AI and SI subtests are clubbed into one single subtest Auto and Shop Information (AS):

  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Assembling Objects (AO)
  • Auto Information (AI)
  • Electronic Information (EI)
  • General Science (GS)
  • Math Knowledge (MK)
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Shop Information (SI)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)

It should also be noted that the test content remains the same across all the branches of US military services. The multiple subtests in various core areas ensure that the candidates are tested in all the relevant areas that provide clues to their eligibility to military careers. Also, based on the standard scores that a candidate gets in each of these subtests, it becomes possible to grade their abilities and aptitudes and accordingly, to predict their potential success in relevant career fields.

For more details on the test content, duration, and question types, you may refer to the official ASVAB website:

The ASVAB Exam - Test Duration

All the questions in all the subtests are of multiple-choice type; however, each subtest is of varying duration. The number of questions in each of the subtests also differ. The total time for the paper and pencil version of is approximately three hours, while the CAT-ASVAB takes upto one and a half hours on an average to complete. The CAT-ASVAB being an adaptive test that adjusts question levels according to the candidates' performance levels, it becomes possible for candidates to finish off the test well within the time frames, as per their own pace. You can find the time limits for individual subtests and the corresponding number of questions in each at:

The ASVAB Scores and Recruitment Process

The scores of the exam are used both for enlisting to appropriate branches of service and for classifying candidates into the best suitable job roles within the branches. For enlisting, the scores of only four subtests are used (AFQT scores); while for classification, the standard scores of individual subtests are grouped further into different lines or clusters, and the line scores are used. The minimum AFQT scores required for enlisting and the line score criteria differ for the various branches of services. For example, an AFQT score of 31 is enough for US Army enlisting, while a score of 45 is essential for enlisting into the US Coast Guard (,,ASVAB_MOS.html).

Accordingly, this examination is one of the most important steps to military recruitment in the US. Based on the candidate's aspirations, interest areas, skills, and the wing of service they are interested in, they need to prepare for the exam and target their scores. If aspiring for a military career, the ASVAB is, thus, a must!