The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple choice test, administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPS), used to determine qualification for enlistment in the United States Armed Forces. In addition to determining eligibility, the test also determines jobs available to you in each service and enlistment bonus incentives, so you will want to do your best when taking the ASVAB, and before you enlist.
There are two versions of the test:
- The student ASVAB, referred to as the ASVAB Career Exploration Program (ASVAB CEP), is used for career exploration and is given in high schools and community colleges.
- The enlistment version of the ASVAB is primarily given at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) and is used for recruiting purposes only.
The ASVAB Career Exploration Program (CEP) , takes approximately three hours, covers eight subjects and is composed of 200 questions. The ASVAB CEP is currently a pen and paper test. If it is offered by their school, high school students can take the ASVAB CEP test in grades 10, 11 and 12. They can only take it at the high school they attend, unless special arrangements are made.
The ASVAB CEP also incorporates an interest self-assessment which can help young adults identify potential careers. If the self-assessment is completed online, students also have access to the OCCU-Find, which outlines over 1,000 occupations for students to explore based on their interest codes.
ASVAB CEP test results are sent to students’ schools so they can explore career options with counselors. The scores show how well the student did on each subject, and how they compare with others who took the test. There are three composite scores in Verbal, Math, and Science and Technical skills, and the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is also reported.
The AFQT is the only score reported in both the ASVAB CEP and the enlistment ASVAB. If a student who participates in the ASVAB CEP wants to enlist in the Military, the AFQT score is the score military recruiters will use.
ASVAB AT MEPS
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. Entitled the CAT-ASVAB, the test is adaptive – meaning it adapts to your ability level.
Those who do not live near a MEPS may take the test (usually paper and pencil) at a satellite location called a Military Entrance Test (MET) site. All military recruits must take the ASVAB, even if they previously took the ASVAB CEP in high school. The MEPS ASVAB adds an Assembling Objects section, for a total of nine subjects.
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 and align applicants to military jobs. Keep in mind that recruits may not 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.