The Service Aptitude Battery is used as a major part of the enlistment process into all branches of the United States Military. This exam measures the skills, knowledge, abilities that will be required of you during your military career. While the ASVAB is used to determine if you meet certain qualifications for the military in general, it is also instrumental in determining your specific placement in the branch of your choosing based on your strengths and weaknesses.
Who is Eligible?
Those who apply to take the ASVAB are typically interested in enlisting in a branch of the U.S. military. This exam is part of the enlistment process and required by all military applicants, no matter the branch.
During your meeting with a recruiter for your chosen branch, you will be given an assessment of sorts that they use to determine if you are qualified thus far to enlist. This includes questions about your marital status, education, drug use, arrest record, and health. These questions must be answered truthfully.
once it has been determined that you meet all standards up to that point in the enlistment process, your recruiter will schedule you for a physical exam and to take the ASVAB. This is usually done on the same day, at the same location.
The ASVAB is also offered to high school and post-secondary students throughout the country as part of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program. This is meant to assist those students in exploring and choosing possible careers in both the military and civilian workforce. To take part in this program, you will need to contact your teacher or counselor to understand what actions need to be taken.
If you already serve in a branch of the military, it is possible to retake the ASVAB so that you may be reclassified for on-the-job training. In this case, you will need to contact your base education office for more information.
When and Where is Taken?
The ASVAB is taken at one of 65 MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Stations) throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. If you do not live near one of these sites, it may be possible for the ASVAB to be administered at satellite location called a Military Entrance Test (MET) site. These are often found within Federal government office buildings, Reserve centers, or National Guard armories.
Almost all testing sites are equipped for you to take the ASVAB via computer. However, there are a few sites that will require you to take the exam using a pencil and paper. You will be notified as to the type of exam administration that will be available to you by your recruiter.
What Should I Bring?
It is important that you do not arrive late to the MEPS or MET site. If you do show up late, you will not be allowed to take the exam and will have to reschedule.
You will be required to present a current and valid form of personal identification. This must include your full legal name as it appears on your enlistment information, your signature, and a recent and recognizable photo.
As this exam is most often taken on a computer, you will not be required to bring any personal items such as a calculator, pencils, or study materials with you into the testing area. An on-screen calculator will be provided for you. Any other personal items, including cell phones, are not allowed with you during the test.
It is important to note that, most generally, you will also be given a physical exam either before or after your ASVAB exam at the MEPS.
What Does it Cover?
The structure of your ASVAB will be determined by its administration. Both the computer and the paper and pencil versions cover the same subjects and topic and are made up of all multiple-choice questions. However, the structure, number of questions, time allowed for each section, and even the questions asked may differ.
Below you will find a brief outline of each version that includes the number of questions and time allowed for each section.
Computerized or CAT-ASVAB
The CAT-ASVAB is an adaptive test. This means the test measures your skill in each section and adapts to your ability level. Based on your responses, the next question will be either more difficult if you answered correctly or easier if you got it wrong.
This version also allows you to take the test at your own pace. While you are given a time limit for each, you can continue on to the next section when you are ready without waiting for other students or instructions. This also means that you may finish the exam much quicker than the total time you are given, 154 minutes.
- General Science (GS) – Knowledge of physical and biological sciences (16 questions/8 minutes)
- Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – Ability to solve arithmetic word problems (16 questions/39 minutes)
- Word Knowledge (WK) – Ability to select the correct meaning of a word presented in context and to identify the best synonym for a given word (16 questions/8 minutes)
- Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – Ability to obtain information from written passages (11 questions/22 minutes)
- Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – Knowledge of high school mathematics principles (16 questions/20 minutes)
- Electronics Information (EI) – Knowledge of electricity and electronics (16 questions/8 minutes)
- Auto Information (AI)* – Knowledge of automobile technology (11 questions/7 minutes)
- Shop Information (SI)* – Knowledge of tools and shop terminology and practices (11 questions/6 minutes)
- Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – Knowledge of mechanical and physical principles (16 questions/20 minutes)
- Assembling Objects (AO) – Ability to determine how an object will look when its parts are put together (16 questions/16 minutes)
*It is important to note that the AI and SI sections are placed separately during the test, however, they are combined into one score on your score report.
If you are running short on time, try to answer as best as you can. There are penalties for guessing.
There may be as many as 15 try out or pretest questions included in this version. These will be located throughout 2-4 test sections and unidentified as such. Your scores will not reflect these but you will be given extra time to complete them.
Paper and Pencil or P&P ASVAB
The P&P version is taken as a traditional test. Everyone is issued the same test with the same questions and each section is completed at the same pace. You must wait for instruction before you can move on to another section.
If you are running short on time, you are advised to guess as there is no penalty for doing so. You are given 149 minutes total to complete it.
P&P ASVAB Content
- General Science (GS) – Knowledge of physical and biological sciences (25 questions/11 minutes)
- Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – Ability to solve arithmetic word problems (30 questions/36 minutes)
- Word Knowledge (WK) – Ability to select the correct meaning of a word presented in context and to identify the best synonym for a given word (35 questions/11 minutes)
- Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – Ability to obtain information from written passages (15 questions/13 minutes)
- Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – Knowledge of high school mathematics principles (25 questions/24 minutes)
- Electronics Information (EI) – Knowledge of electricity and electronics (20 questions/9 minutes)
- Auto and Shop (AS)* – Knowledge of automobile technology, tools, and shop terminology and practices (25 questions/11 minutes)
- Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – Knowledge of mechanical and physical principles (25 questions/19 minutes)
- Assembling Objects (AO) – Ability to determine how an object will look when its parts are put together (25 questions/15 minutes)
*The AI and SI sections are combined into one test section on this version. It is both taken and scored as one section.
How is it Scored?
Your exam scores will be made available to you immediately following its completion at the testing site if you have taken the ASVAB on a computer.
However, if you have taken a paper and pencil form, your completed answer sheets will need to be sent to a MEPS site to scanned and scored. Your recruiter will be notified when your score reports have been calculated and are available. This usually takes a few days.
If your scores meet the qualifications of the branch of military you are enlisting in, you will then be able to continue with the enlistment process. Your recruiter will let you know what this entails and if there are more qualifications that must be met before you are sent off for training.