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ASVAB Test

ASVAB Test

Updated May 18, 2022

By Amy Dawson
Amy Dawson

To join the US military, you must pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

This is a crucial standardized test that checks your competencies against various criteria to confirm that you have the right skills and capabilities to join the US army.

The Department of Defense administers the ASVAB test.

It is designed to predict your academic or occupational success.

Many high schools are now using the ASVAB test to help young people plan their careers.

If you are keen to join the military, you will likely be asked to sit the test at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or a Military Entrance Test (MET) site.

You may be asked to complete the ASVAB test on a computer, or you may be required to participate in the traditional pencil and paper exam.

Both tests are broadly similar, although the timings differ.

You can expect to have up to four hours for the pencil and paper test or up to 90 minutes for the computer test.

You may be confused about the time discrepancy. However, this is because the computer exam will automatically move forward following your answers.

As you input correct answers, the exam will automatically increase the difficulty factor.

In contrast, if you participate in a pencil and paper ASVAB test, you will only be allowed to move onto the next section once the exam invigilator has given their approval.

What Does the ASVAB Test Cover?

The ASVAB test focuses on four key domains. These include:

  • Verbal
  • Math
  • Science and technical
  • Spatial

The purpose of the test is to establish your aptitudes and capabilities and predict which branch of the military you are most ideally suited to.

The four domains are divided into further subsections.

Applicants will note that the tests are delivered in the following order:

General Science (GS) Science and Technical
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) Math
Word Knowledge (WK) Verbal
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) Verbal
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) Math
Electronics Information (EI) Science and Technical
Auto Information (AI) Science and Technical
Shop Information (SI) Science and Technical
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) Science and Technical
Assembling Objects (AO) Spatial

The ASVAB Test Also Incorporates the AFQT Test

When you take the ASVAB test, you will simultaneously take the Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT).

It is not an additional test.

However, your AFQT score will be calculated through your combined scores within the word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and mathematics knowledge sections of the ASVAB test.

These four sections are critical to your future military success.

You will need to pass a minimum score on your AFQT to be eligible to enlist in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.

Each branch will have its minimum score requirements.

The total score from the entirety of the ASVAB will determine the best job for you within the military branch.

What Format Are the Questions on the Army ASVAB Test?

Within the ASVAB test, you can expect that most questions will be multiple-choice.

This is because it is a standardized test, ensuring that all applicants from across the United States take the same test.

Your test questions will look at your scientific knowledge and your ability to understand and interpret instructions.

The exam will check your comprehension and communication skills and ensure that all recruits have the same baseline capabilities.

Looking at Each Section of the ASVAB Test

To guarantee success in your ASVAB test, we recommended that you practice as much as possible before test day.

You need to be aware that you can only submit your answer once: there are no opportunities to go back and reassess your answers.

Therefore, you need to be 100% confident in your answer choice before moving onto the next question.

This is where advanced preparation, comprehensive study, and practice ASVAB tests can be hugely beneficial.

General Science (GS)

Domain: Science and Technical
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/25 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 10 minutes (computerised test)/11 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: Your knowledge of earth, space, physical and life sciences

The questions will be focusing on basic common knowledge, so make sure you use your preparation and study time wisely.

By focusing on the basic premises of science, you will have a better chance of success.

Example test question:

The temperature is 122 degrees Fahrenheit. What is this temperature in Celsius?

a) 50 degrees
b) 37 degrees
c) 80 degrees
d) 62 degrees

Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)

Domain: Math
Part of the AFQT: Yes
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/30 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 55 minutes (computerised test)/36 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: Your arithmetic skills

You will not be allowed to use a calculator within the exam room, so you need to be confident in making basic calculations quickly and easily.

It would help if you also were aware of terminology and phrasing.

For example, if the question uses the phrase 'in all', you can deduce that it's an additional question.

Similarly, if it uses the term 'find the difference', you can expect to use subtraction.

Example test question:

A car is traveling at a constant speed. The tires of the vehicle are rotating 500 times per minute. How many times will the tires rotate in half an hour?

a) 15,000
b) 13,500
c) 16,000
d) 30,000

Word Knowledge (WK)

Domain: Verbal
Part of the AFQT: Yes
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/35 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: nine minutes (computerised test)/11 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: Communication is key to military work, which is why you will be tested on your word knowledge.

You will be tested on your knowledge of specific words and their context when written in a sentence.

You should be aware of the synonyms of different terms and any standard abbreviations or common phrasings.

Example test question:

The word 'monitor' most nearly means:

a) Feel
b) Listen
c) Watch
d) Touch

Paragraph Comprehension (PC)

Domain: Verbal
Part of the AFQT: Yes
Test length: 10 questions (computerised test)/15 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 27 minutes (computerised test)/13 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: This is a crucial element of the ASVAB test. It is about understanding and interpreting information provided to you.

You will be presented with a passage of information, and you need to deduce your answer from that information (without considering any external knowledge that you may have).

As you practice and prepare for the ASVAB test, you should stick with passages and paragraphs that are a similar length to what you could expect to find on test day.

Example test question:

Police data shows that over a quarter of all home robberies result from homeowners leaving their windows open or leaving a key in an easily accessible place.

Burglars are tempted because they spot an opportunity, and they may have a longing. To protect their home, individual homeowners should:

a) Provide an opportunity
b) Provide a longing
c) Prevent an opportunity
d) Prevent a longing

The Three P's of Passing Your ASVAB Test in 2021
The Three P's of Passing Your ASVAB Test in 2021

Mathematics Knowledge (MK)

Domain: Math
Part of the AFQT: Yes
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/25 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 23 minutes (computerised test)/24 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: The math section of the test will encompass basic calculations that you should know, as well as a general overview of the basics of topics such as algebra or geometry.

You may be asked to find the square root of a number, or you may need to identify common math symbols.

As the math section is an essential element of your AFQT score, you should ensure that you have allocated enough time to your study.

Example test question:

If 75% of x is 122.25, then x =

a) 168
b) 163
c) 155
d) 149

Electronics Information (EI)

Domain: Science and Technical
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/20 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 10 minutes (computerised test)/nine minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: You will be asked a series of questions about your knowledge of electronics and their components. You may be asked about circuits, batteries, currents or resistors.

You could also be asked about electrical symbols, tools or different types of electrical systems.

The questions will require a basic knowledge of how electronics work, and as such, you should use practice ASVAB tests to make sure you are aware of the types of questions that could be asked.

Example test question:

How is current measured?

a) Voltage
b) Ampere
c) Wattage
d) Power

Auto Information (AI)

Domain: Science and Technical
Test length: 10 questions (computerized test only)
Test time: Seven minutes (computerized test only)
What is being assessed?: Your knowledge of automobile technology

Although it is considered part of a separate test within the computerized version of the ASVAB test, the AI score will be combined with your Shop Information (SI) score to create a cumulative Automotive Shop (AS) score.

For further information about the AI section of the ASVAB test, please see the Automotive and Shop section below.

Shop Information (SI)

Domain: Science and Technical
Test length: 10 questions (computerized test only)
Test time: Six minutes (computerized test only)
What is being assessed?: Your knowledge of shop tools and terminology

Although it is considered part of a separate test within the computerized version of the ASVAB test, the SI score will be combined with your Auto Information (AI) score to create a cumulative Automotive Shop (AS) score.

For further information about the SI section of the ASVAB test, please see the Automotive and Shop section below.

Auto and Shop (AS)

Domain: Science and Technical
Test length: 25 questions (pencil and paper test only)
Test time: 11 minutes (pencil and paper test only)
What is being assessed?: Within the pencil and paper ASVAB test, you will be given one cumulative test based on auto and shop knowledge.

This differs from the computerized ASVAB test, which breaks this into two subsections, and then combines the results to create one cumulative AS score.

You will be tested on your knowledge of automotive vehicles and your understanding of workshop tools and terminology.

You could also expect to be asked about basic repairs or maintenance.

Example test question:

Why would you commonly use a chisel?

a) Hammering
b) Cutting wood/metal
c) Drilling
d) Scraping

Mechanical Comprehension (MC)

Domain: Science and Technical
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/25 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 22 minutes (computerised test)/19 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: Similar to the Auto and Shop elements of the ASVAB test, mechanical comprehension is seeking to establish your knowledge of basic mechanics.

This is not about being a certified mechanical engineer. Instead, it is about knowing how simple mechanics work.

You could be asked about mechanical principles or about how mechanisms work.

Assembling Objects (AO)

Domain: Spatial
Test length: 15 questions (computerised test)/25 questions (pencil and paper test)
Test time: 17 minutes (computerised test)/15 minutes (pencil and paper test)
What is being assessed?: A crucial part of any military work is knowing how items fix together.

In this part of the exam, you will be assessed to see if you can identify how components of an object can fit together correctly.

You will be presented with an illustration of various items and images of the final finished article. You will need to choose which finished item matches the individual components.

This subtest will check that you can visualize and imagine how a final item may look when completed.

What are the Three Ps for Passing the ASVAB?

To ensure success in your ASVAB test, you should Practice, Practice and Practice.

Although there are opportunities to resit the ASVAB if you wish, you should endeavor to get the best possible score.

It is not just about securing the minimum requirements needed to enlist in the military. Your score could determine which branch of the military you are eligible for, as well as which job opportunities suit your skills and knowledge.

Competition is fierce; therefore, you need to show the Department of Defense that you possess the skills and knowledge to enlist.

Practice Your Timings

You must remember that the ASVAB test is timed. There are no opportunities to go back and rectify any mistakes.

You should make the most of online practice ASVAB tests to check that you know what to expect from each question and practice your timings.

Earlier in this article, we broke down each sub-test into the length of time and number of questions.

Use this information to help you prepare. Use a clock to check your abilities.

The more you practice, the faster you will be, resulting in a better score.

Understand What You Are Being Asked

As you study, make sure you are well aware of the concepts behind each question.

If you are sure of what you are being asked about, you may find it easier to establish an answer, even if it is a guess.

Be clear on what each subsection is looking for and use that to form the basis of your study.

Remember, the test is not just about knowing the answers to the questions. It is about checking whether you are suitable for the job tasks that could emerge from your test success.

There is much to consider; therefore, you need to spend ample time ensuring that you understand each element, whether it is electrical systems, general science or automotive components.

Take Your Time to Study Slowly

Although practice ASVAB tests are readily available, you should wait until you are sure of a section before taking a practice test.

Keep your confidence high. If you begin taking the tests before you are ready, you could feel overwhelmed.

Think about the variety of study aids available.

You should not just rely on practice tests. You may find that flashcards, visual aids, video notes or study guides could help you understand the subject area.

If it has been a while since you were in formal education, you may wish to reacquaint yourself with academic stylings such as logical and numerical reasoning.

You may be out of practice, so using practice tests will help you get used to the question formats.

If you are ready to take a practice test, arm yourself with your study materials for the first few tests to build your confidence before replicating test conditions.

You should practice individual subtests as well as take practice ASVAB tests in their entirety.

Remember, the more practice you have, the more comfortable you will feel when test day arrives.

Conclusion

By now, you should be clear on what to expect from your ASVAB test. It is an essential exam if you wish to enlist in the military.

Each division (army, navy, air force, marine corps) has its entrance requirements, so your ASVAB test score could determine your eligibility to enlist.

If you prefer a specific division, make sure you are well aware of its entrance requirements.

Use your practice and pre-test study to make sure that you can meet those criteria.

Getting a great ASVAB test score is not just about securing the minimum requirements to enlist in the military. It is about finding out what you could be great at and helping you to achieve your ambitions.

The military will use your ASVAB score to determine what job opportunities are open to you once you have enlisted. Therefore, the career potential (and pay grade) is much higher if you have a better score.

This is why it is so important to practice, practice, and practice some more.

Finally, when it comes to your ASVAB test day, make sure you arrive in plenty of time, with a valid form of personal identification (such as a passport or driver's license).

You may wish to take a practice run to your nearest test center so you can make sure that you arrive on time, feeling calm and collected and ready to achieve your highest possible score.