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The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Test

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Test

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If you’re interested in joining the US Army, you will need to complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

This is a timed, multi-aptitude test which is used to determine if you have met the entry criteria as determined by the US Military.

Those who achieve high scores will have a greater chance of success when it comes to military occupational specialties. You may also find that high scorers are provided with enlistment bonuses.

Who Takes the ASVAB Test?

The ASVAB test is often taken by juniors and seniors at high school as well as those who are interested in joining the US Military.

Your ASVAB score will remain valid for up to two years, making it a popular test for those taking time to consider their future career options.

Not only is the ASVAB test an indicator of whether you meet the entrance criteria set out by the Department of Defense, but your score can make accurate suggestions for what military job roles may be suitable for you.

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test

What Is Assessed Within the ASVAB Test?

Like many other academic tests, the ASVAB test is separated into four key areas:

  • Verbal
  • Math
  • Science & technical
  • Spatial

These four areas are broken down into ten individual subtests and each element is designed to establish whether you have the mental aptitude to enlist in the Military.

Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown:

Key areaReference codeSubtest
Science + TechnicalGSGeneral Science (including knowledge of physical and biological sciences such as life science or earth and space science)
MathARArithmetic Reasoning (can you solve basic arithmetic word problems)
VerbalWKWord Knowledge (understanding the context of works and identifying synonyms)
VerbalPCParagraph Comprehension (learning how to obtain information)
MathMKMath Knowledge (based on high-school math education)
Science + TechnicalEIElectronics Information (testing your knowledge of electricity/electronics)
Science + TechnicalAIAuto Information (focusing on automobile technology)
Science + TechnicalSIShop Information (knowledge of tools and common terminology)
Science + TechnicalMCMechanical Comprehension (understanding of mechanical and physical principles)
SpatialAOAssembling Objects (can you understand how an item will look when it is fully assembled?)

ASVAB Example Questions

If you are interested in enlisting in the Military, it’s wise to spend time preparing for your upcoming ASVAB test.

There are numerous practice ASVAB questions available online and taking the time to study and prepare for your test will help you to identify your likely ASVAB test score.

To help you understand what you may be looking at when it comes to ASVAB practice tests, here are a few examples of the types of multiple-choice questions that could appear on the exam paper.

General Science (GS)

Example Question

What is 50 degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit?

a) 122
b) 10
c) 85
d) 100

Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)

Example Question

If a car costs $10,000 when brand new, and depreciates by 15% each year, how much will the car be worth after one year?

a) $9,000
b) $8,500
c) $7,225
d) $8,250

Word Knowledge (WK)

Example Question

What is a synonym for ‘dismantle’?

a) Demolish
b) Change
c) Create
d) Assemble

What to Expect When Taking the ASVAB Test

When it comes to recruitment for the US armed forces, standards are understandably high.

To help you understand what to expect, here is a short overview ahead of test day:

Checking Your Eligibility

Before you are considered eligible to take the ASVAB test, you will be questioned by a Military recruiter on a range of personal details such as marital status, health, education and arrest record.

Once you are deemed suitable to take the ASVAB test, you may also undertake a thorough physical examination.

Where Will Your ASVAB Test Take Place?

ASVAB tests primarily take place across the United States at Military Entrance Processing Stations, (also widely known as MEPS).

They can also take place within the Military Entrance Test (MET) sites.

These sites can be found within government buildings or reserve centers. Your army recruiter will be available to help you identify your nearest ASVAB test center.

What Should You Bring With You for Your ASVAB Test?

When you arrive, you need to make sure that you’ve brought along a valid form of identification.

Without this, you may not be allowed entrance into the testing room.

You will be required to arrive on schedule and be aware that you will be conducting your ASVAB test under strict exam conditions.

Is the ASVAB Test a Computerized Test or Pencil/Paper?

Generally, you should expect to participate in a computerized test. A paper and pencil variation is available at some MET sites, but the usual practice is to participate in the computerized test.

A benefit of completing the test online is that the questions will adapt to your ability level which is recognized through the answers that you provide.

You can also complete the test much more quickly. This is because you can instantly move onto the next test paper without having to wait for other people in the room to finish.

You will have up to three hours to complete the AVASB test – most participants using a computer will finish the test in as little as two hours.

When Should I Expect to Receive My ASVAB Test Scores?

If you have completed the computerized test, your ASVAB test scores will be available immediately.

If you have participated in a pencil and paper test, you may have to wait a few days for your exam to be scored and verified.


How Are ASVAB Tests Scored?

It can be confusing to know what score you have achieved within the ASVAB test. This is because the test will provide you with multiple scores. You should receive a standard score, an AFQT score and a composite score.

Here is a quick breakdown of what each ASVAB test score means:

Standard Score

You will be given a standard score for each of the subtests that we detailed earlier. Your score will be based on an average test response – notably, the ‘mean’ average.

The ASVAB test scores are based on a ranking of 1 to 100, and a standard deviation of 10.

The ‘mean’ of this score is 50 – this is because it is in the middle.

Your standard score will look at how far you have deviated from the ‘mean’. Therefore, if you achieve a score of 70, you will have achieved two standard deviations above the mean.

Similarly, if you achieve a score of 40, your ASVAB test score will be one standard deviation below the mean.

The purpose of the standard score is to see how your marks compare to everyone else who has taken the test. It is used as a comparative assessment tool.

AFQT Score

Your AFQT score will determine what job you are eligible for within the US Military.

Each branch of the military has a benchmark score that you will need to achieve if you wish to enlist.

If you have your heart set on a specific job role, you should make sure that you know what score you need and use AVASB practice tests to confirm your capabilities before taking the test.

The AFQT is calculated by combining the standard scores of the following subject tests:

  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)

The required AFQT scores may differ depending on whether you have a High School Diploma or a GED.

Your recruiter will be able to confirm the specific scores that you need but, in general, you will need to achieve the following as minimum scores to enlist in the various branches of the US Military:

BranchRequired Score
Air Force36
Marine Corp32
Coast Guard40

Composite Score/Line Scores

Composite scores (which are also known as line scores) will look beyond your mental aptitude and will determine which specific job roles you could be eligible for, based on your ASVAB test scores.

Each branch of the military has its own criteria and requires specific capabilities to perform well.

This is then broken down even further into specific job roles.

Composite scores are created by combining the standard scores of different variations of subtests.

Once you have these scores, your recruiter will be able to identify the most suitable jobs based on your assessed capabilities.

You will receive ten composite scores in total. These are listed below:

Composite Score CategoryAcronymCombines Standard Scores From the Following Subtests
ClericalCLWord Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
CombatCOWord Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
Auto Information (AI)
Electronic Information (EI)
ElectronicsEIGeneral Science (GS)
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
Electronic Information (EI)
Field ArtilleryFAArithmetic Reasoning (AR)
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
General MaintenanceGMGeneral Science (GS)
Auto Information (AI)
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
Electronic Information (EI)
General TechnicalGTWord Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
Mechanical MaintenanceMMAuto Information (AI)
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
Electronic Information (EI)
Operators and FoodOFWord Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
Auto Information (AI)
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
Surveillance and CommunicationsSCWord Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
Auto Information (AI)
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
Skilled TechnicalSTWord Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
General Science (GS)
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)

How to Prepare for and Practice Your ASVAB Test

If you know that you want to work in a specific job role, you must spend time preparing for your ASVAB test.

There are numerous practice tests online which will allow you to track your progress. We recommend that you take the time to study, ensuring that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses.

In some instances, you may find that enlistment bonuses are granted to those who achieve high scores.

What better incentive to study than a potential financial bonus on completion of your ASVAB test?

Here are a few final tips on how you can ensure you are achieving your best AVASB test score:

  • Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t leave your study until the last minute. Plan to start studying at least 2 to 3 months before taking the test. The majority of the questions will be based on things you have already learned at High School, but it’s worth giving yourself enough time to prepare so that you don’t become overstressed or suffer from study fatigue.

  • Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Like any test, it’s important to spend time on the areas where you feel less confident. We would recommend that you put more emphasis on the areas that will be tested within the AFQT scoring – this is because it will have the biggest impact on your eligibility.

  • Create a study schedule. With ten subtests to prepare for, it can be difficult to ensure that you’ve covered everything that you need to learn. Creating a schedule can help you to stay on track – not only will it help you to manage your time, but you can feel confident that you’ve spent adequate time on each area of the test.

  • Take advantage of ASVAB practice tests. There are many practice tests online, and it’s highly valuable to spend time working through some of these practice test papers. It will help you to understand what to expect when test day comes and could also give you some insights into your capabilities and your predicted ASVAB test score.

Final Thoughts

The AVASB test is a vital part of the entrance criteria if you are looking to enlist in the US Military.

As your test results will remain valid for up to two years, taking the test doesn’t mean that you have to enlist. Instead, it means you will have options open to you whilst you take the time to consider what you want from your career.

You should also have learned that your ASVAB test score can have an enormous impact on what type of job role you may be allocated.

Those with higher test scores will be allowed to work in more senior job roles. Therefore, it’s imperative that, if you have your heart set on working in a specific branch of the military or a certain job role, that you are aware of the required scores and you are prepared to do the work to achieve this ambition.

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