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The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a heavily researched and well-respected aptitude test developed by the Department of Defense. It measures a young adult’s strengths and potential for success in military training.
Testing and education specialists at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) explain the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) testing process and how it sets the foundation for a recruit’s career counseling.View Transcript
Dennis Boston: My name is Dennis Boston. I'm the test control officer here at the Boston MEPS. Every applicant entering into the Military has to take an ASVAB test, and chances are that's the first contact the applicant has had with the MEPS is coming to the testing section.
Chuck Shaw: My name is Chuck Shaw, and I'm the education services specialist here at the Boston MEPS. My goal is to market the ASVAB Career Exploration program out to the 419 schools that we have in our area. The ASVAB itself is similar to the standardized test in that it is timed. It is a set of timed tests. But it is, in fact, an aptitude test rather than an achievement test, and it measures potential to learn rather than what you've learned up to this point. What they're looking for is to match individuals in the Service with the right kind of occupations that's going to make them more efficient and provide the best person for the Service, and we're doing much the same thing with the career exploration.
Speaker 3: When I was looking at most of the jobs that were available with the scores that I got on my ASVABs, that would seem like a good job to go along with what I've learned.
Speaker 4: It is. It's a very interesting job. OK, Mr. Wood, could I have you read now each one of these statements? Print your name. "Yes" or "no" by each statement.
Dennis Boston: The ultimate goal of the ASVAB is to get an AFQT score for that applicant. Each individual Service will take that score, and they have criteria, which an applicant has to meet to qualify for a specific job.
Speaker 5: When you're done with that, you're going to click "next," and the test will begin. You have scratch paper. You have a piece of — you have a pencil. If you need any help or any more paper at all, you're going to hit that red "help" button, then raise your hand, OK?
Chuck Shaw: When we take the program out in the schools, it isn't just to try and get everybody to enlist in the Services, that we're providing a product of services that go well beyond that. That when we talk to the counselors and the administrators, a lot of them don't realize that the program is free.
Dennis Boston: The test administrators that work here at the Boston MEPS are instructed to almost put the applicant at ease to try to get them to relax, to do the best that they can do on the particular test.
Chuck Shaw: We talk to them about work values, what's important to them, what they want to get in return from choosing a particular occupation. And then we bring all of that together and use that to help them plan their career and show them how to work with, in terms of, the money and the time that it's going to take to complete their education. I think the ASVAB program, because of the aptitude element that we have with it is — it stands head and shoulders above most of the other stuff that I've seen out there.
Taking the ASVAB at MEPS
There are two versions of the test:
- The enlistment version of the ASVAB is given at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) and is used for recruiting purposes only.
- The student testing program, also known as the ASVAB Career Exploration Program (CEP), is used for career exploration and is given in high schools and community colleges, at job corps centers and at correctional facilities.
View some ASVAB sample questions and know what to expect on test day.
In order to take the ASVAB at a MEPS for enlistment purposes, an individual will need to speak with a recruiter and schedule a time to take the test. ASVAB testing at a MEPS is self-paced and taken on a computer, and it may be retaken after a one-month waiting period. Those who do not live near a MEPS may take the test at a satellite location called a Military Entrance Test (MET) site.
The enlistment test, sometimes referred to as iCAT, or CAT-ASVAB, is adaptive, meaning it adapts to your ability level.
In addition to the individual standard scores, recruits receive an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. AFQT scores are calculated from four ASVAB subtests: arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, paragraph comprehension and word knowledge.
AFQT scores are used to determine enlistment eligibility. The Services use all parts of the ASVAB for classification into different jobs. Keep in mind that recruits may not always be assigned their first choice for a career — each Service branch places recruits based on a combination of need and the individual’s knowledge and area of strength.
The ASVAB CEP is a complete career planning program. Students are given the opportunity to take the ASVAB at no cost and no commitment to military service. The ASVAB CEP also provides an interest assessment and planning tools to help young adults explore career field entry requirements and various career paths, both military and civilian.
High school students in grades 10, 11 and 12 and those enrolled at post-secondary institutions can participate in the ASVAB CEP. Students in 11th grade and beyond receive valid scores for enlistment. The ASVAB may be given in paper and pencil or computer adaptive forms. There are different strategies for taking the ASVAB, depending on which one your school offers.
ASVAB CEP test results are sent to schools so participants can explore career options with counselors. The scores report how the student performed on each subtest area, and how their scores compare with others who took the test. Participants receive three composite scores in verbal, math and science/technical skills used for career exploration, and the AFQT score is also reported.