The Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a combination of aptitude tests used by the Department of Defense to help determine the potential success of a military candidate. The scores from your ASVAB test predict your future in the Military. This screening tool is given to over a million applicants looking to join the U.S. Military each year.
About the Test
The ASVAB is made up of either nine or ten sub-tests depending on which version of the test you take. There are two versions of the ASVAB a pen and paper version and a computerized (CAT) version. On the pen and paper version, the Auto Information and Shop Information sections are separated into two sections, on the computerized version they are presented together in one section. The test must be completed within three hours. On the day of the test the proctor will tell you more detailed instructions, which will include how long each of the sub-tests will be. Even though there are 10 subtests, your scores from only four of the tests make up your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). These four sections are the: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge. The AFQT scores are the ones used to determine your eligibility for enlistment in the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps. The good news is that your scores can be used for up to two years after you take the test for enlistment. The bad news is, you need to wait one calendar month after your first test date to retake them, and an additional calendar month to take them again a second time, and after that you must wait six calendar months to retake them again.
ASVAB Test Tips
1. Pen and Paper vs Computerized Test
Make sure you are aware of the differences between the pen and paper (P & P) exam and the computerized exam (CAT). The CAT-ASVAB is an adaptive exam, this means that the level of difficulty of each question varies according to how well you do on the previous question. Meaning, if you answer the question correct, the next question will be harder. Conversely, if you answer incorrectly, the following question will be easier. Don’t worry; the scores are tallied with an algorithm that takes into account question difficulty and number of correct answers. Therefore, you should expect similar results on both the pen and paper exam and computerized version.
2. Should I Skip Questions?
Any unanswered questions effect your score. The effects of the unanswered questions are a bit different between the pen and paper test and computerized version:
- Pen and Paper ASVAB – Any unanswered questions are scored as incorrect, and will cause you to lose points.
- Computerized -ASVAB – Any unanswered questions will give you a penalty. The extent of the penalty is determined according to the number of unanswered questions. This means, all test takers who answer the same amount of questions in essence reaching the same difficulty level, would get the same penalty. The penalty function considers randomized guessing used to artificially increase your score.
3. Read Books
The best an easiest way to improve your vocabulary is by reading. Try to read different genres of books to diversify your vocabulary. Reading the newspaper daily is a great way to strengthen your vocabulary. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, look it up rather than glossing over it.
4. Create a Good Study Plan
I recommend starting to study any where from 1-3 months before the test. The best way to do this is to practice sample questions. Take one ASVAB practice test at the start of the study process to get a picture of how to structure you study plan. When you review sample questions you can get a clear picture of where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Spend more time practicing for sections that are more difficult for you. Create a study plan at the beginning of each week, outlining which areas you would like to focus on.
ASVAB Practice Questions
It is important to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will face on the day of the test.
Full-Length Practice Test
For a full-length practice test check out our partner JobTestPrep. There practice tests include drills in: arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, mathematics knowledge, general science, assembling objects, and mechanical comprehension. Check out their up-to-date study guides, video tutorials, and test questions with detailed explanations.
Written By: Jennifer Feldman
This article was contributed by Jennifer Feldman. She is a speech and language expert and writer at JobTestPrep. She specializes in writing about the employment hiring process. JobTestPrep is a market leader in preparation for pre-employment exams. It has helped more than 500,000 people achieve their career goals.