Information About ASVAB Test

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a battery of tests in different areas that help to make an estimate of the aptitude of candidates willing to join the US armed forces. It is administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command.

The score in ASVAB serves two purposes. Firstly, it determines if a candidate is qualified to join military services. Secondly, it helps to outline the type of military jobs that a candidate is perfectly suited to.

It is essential that you achieve high scores in the test, to be in league for the best jobs in the Armed Services. Understanding the exam is crucial for candidates seriously considering a career in armed forces. This helps them to get an idea of the expectations from prospective military personnel.

There is a predefined procedure to take the test, which requires the candidate to get in touch with a military recruiter as the first step. The recruiter conducts an interview in order to see if the candidate is qualified to take the exam. For this, he asks questions to the candidate about his educational history, track record, drug usage, physical health etc. The recruiter qualifies a candidate according to the responses given by him to these questions and provides a suitable time to take this test. At times, a qualifying test may also be conducted to make an estimate of the candidate’s worth. This is scheduled at the closest testing center for the candidate.

There are 2 types of testing centers for ASVAB. These are

  1. Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)
  2. Military Entrance Test (MET) site

In general, anyone interested in joining the US armed forces can take the ASVAB. Most commonly, the American high school students take it in their 11th grades. However, the military recruiter finally decides the eligibility.

ASVAB Content Areas
Through its different subtests and subjects, the test measures your level of knowledge in various categories. The main purpose of the subtests is to determine if you have developed the skills required for carrying out the profession’s responsibilities and obtaining academic and professional success in the profession.
The test covers four main skill areas: Verbal, Math, Science and Technical and Spatial.

  • Science and Technical:
    • General Science: This test covers the content areas of physical and biological sciences.
    • Electronics Information: It tests knowledge of electricity and electronics.
    • Auto Information: Knowledge of automobile terminology is tested in this subtest.
    • Shop Information: This subtest evaluates knowledge of tools and shop terminology and practices.
    • Mechanical Comprehension: It tests knowledge of mechanical and physical principles.
  • Math:
    • Arithmetic Reasoning: This test examines ability to solve arithmetic word problems.
    • Math Knowledge: It tests knowledge of high school mathematics principles.
  • Verbal:
    • Word Knowledge: It tests the ability to select the correct meanings of words and suitable synonyms.
    • Paragraph Comprehension: Your ability to obtain information from written passages is put to test in this subtest.
  • Spatial:
    • Assembling Objects: The ability to determine how an object will appear when its components are assembled is checked in this subtest. 

Test Formats and Corresponding Subtests
The test contains multiple-choice questions and there are two versions of ASVAB:

  • Paper-and-pencil (P&P) test
  • Computer based test

The two tests differ in terms of administration, number of questions and time limits per section.

Paper-and-Pencil Test: This is the traditional format; the questions appear in a test booklet and the answers are to be filled in answer sheets provided at the test center. Each subtest is administered one after the other and is time bound. While you can review your answers and attempt the questions randomly in each subtest, you cannot go back to a subtest once it is over. In all, there are 225 questions to be completed in 149 minutes. There are 9 subtests in the P&P format. The breakdown for the paper-based test is as follows

  • General Science (GS): 11 minutes for 25 questions
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR): 36 minutes for 30 questions
  • Word Knowledge (WK): 11 minutes for 35 questions
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC): 13 minutes for 15 questions
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK): 24 minutes for 25 questions
  • Electronics Information (EI): 9 minutes for 20 questions
  • Auto and Shop Information (AS): 11 minutes for 25 questions
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC): 19 minutes for 25 questions
  • Assembling Objects (AO): 15 minutes for 25 questions
  • Computer Adaptive Test:In this format, each candidate gets to attempt questions according to his ability level. The test pattern is such that the initial question is of medium difficulty level. Each subsequent question’s difficulty level depends on your response to the preceding question. If you are able to answer a question correctly, you shall be administered a more difficult question, else an easier question appears. This process continues until either the testing items or the testing time is over. Consequently, each test taker appears for a different set of questions. However, this does not mean that the difficulty level of the test is different for different test takers. On the other hand, each test taker appears for a test best suited to his abilities.

You cannot change an answer once it is submitted, nor can you review it. You are penalized for inability to complete the test within the time limit, in terms of scores. You shall receive guidance on how to use a computer keyboard and mouse, fill in answers, and obtain assistance. There are instructions given specifically for each subtest along with a practice question. This adaptation technique makes it possible to administer a shorter test than the paper based version. In all, there are 145 items to be completed in 154 minutes in 10 subtests. The test breakdown for the CAT-ASVAB is as follows

  • General Science (GS): 8 minutes for 16 questions
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR): 39 minutes for 16 questions
  • Word Knowledge (WK): 8 minutes for 16 questions
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC): 22 minutes for 11 questions
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK): 20 minutes for 16 questions
  • Electronics Information (EI): 8 minutes for 16 questions
  • Auto Information (AI): 7 minutes for 11 questions
  • Shop Information (SI): 6 minutes for 11 questions
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC): 20 minutes for 16 questions
  • Assembling Objects (AO): 16 minutes for 16 questions

ASVAB Testing Programs and their Scoring

There are two types of testing programs of ASVAB. The one offered at school level is called Career Exploration Program (or Student Testing Program) and the one administered at MEPS or MET sites is a part of the Enlistment Testing Program.

Student Testing Program in meant to help students in 10th, 11th, 12th grades and post-secondary schools in career exploration and planning. The Assembling Objects subtest is not administered in this program. Three composite scores, Verbal Skills, Math Skills and Science and Technical Skills are given in the Student Testing Program.

The Enlistment Testing Program is used for military employment assignment. An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score and Service composite scores are given in this program. AFQT score varies between 1 and 99 and is a percentile score obtained from four subtests: Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Word Knowledge. This percentile score is a representation of the percentage of examinees that scored below your AFQT score.It is used for enlistment in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.

Besides, each subtest is given a Standard Score. The Standard Score of 50 or above is obtained by nearly 50% of candidates whereas nearly 16% candidates obtain Standard Score of 60 or above.ASVAB scores are used for

  • Enlistment eligibility
  • Assignment of military jobs
  • Career exploration assistance

The scores of the test remain valid for two years after date of testing, for recruitment purposes.

Retaking ASVAB: You can retake this test after a month of your first attempt. Your second retest can again be taken after a month of the first. Any further retests can be taken after six months. People serving in the military can also appear for a retest for reclassification for training.

Winding up…
Success in ASVAB can change the course of your life. You could be recruited in prestigious US military services and live a life full of responsibilities and varied experiences. Fulfilling these aspirations calls for dedicated preparation, and understanding the test breakdown is the first step towards it. Hard work, determination to do well and carefully planned study shall see you through this crucial exam.