The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is used by the U.S. Armed Forces to determine three important factors: your eligibility to enlist, the type of job you'll be assigned, and the type of military career you should pursue. It's free to take the ASVAB, and you can take it at any time. Your recruiter will help you set up a time and a place.

The ASVAB is administered at any one of 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS), and it's the test you'll be required to take if you want to join any branch of the Armed Forces.

If your closest MEPS is still too far from home, you can elect to take the test at a satellite Military Entrance Test (MET) Site. These are typically located inside federal buildings or National Guard armories.

ASVAB Basics

The first step in taking the ASVAB is to meet with a recruiter. Your recruiter will conduct an official interview and possibly a physical exam before referring you to test. It's possible that you may not be eligible to take the ASVAB. If so, it's your recruiter who will make that determination. Possible eliminating factors may include your age, a history of criminal activity or drug use, having too many dependents, or having medical issues.

The ASVAB can be taken in paper form or on a computer. Total test time usually runs between 3 and 4 hours, depending upon the number of breaks given.

There really isn't any official way to prepare or cram for the ASVAB, other than taking plenty of classes in science, math and English, and showing up in prime test-taking form -- well-rested and comfortable.

What Is On the ASVAB

The ASVAB measures a participant's skills in four areas: Verbal, Science, Technical, and Mathematical. Each area is broken down into sub-categories that are timed. Times to complete each sub-category range from 9 to 36 minutes on the written test, and between 8 and 39 minutes for the computer version.

Scores for the paper version will be made available to your recruiter, who will contact you, within 3 to 4 days. Those who elect to take the test by computer will receive their score immediately upon test completion.

How the ASVAB Is Scored

The ASVAB uses standard scoring and percentile ranks. Ranks are based upon the scores of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24. An average score on the ASVAB is 50. There is no penalty for guessing wrong, so it's to your advantage not to leave blank answers.

If you elect to take the computerized version, or the CAT-ASVAB, the computer will adjust your questions to your ability level based upon previous answers. Because of this, it may take less time to complete the CAT-ASVAB.

Taking the ASVAB also nets you an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score which is computed using your scores in Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension.

AFQT scores are reported as percentile ranks, meaning someone who scores an 80 did better than 80 percent of the people who took the test.

Retaking the ASVAB

You can retake the ASVAB as many times as you wish. After your first session, you'll need to wait one month before re-testing. The same goes for your third attempt. After the third attempt, you'll be required to wait six months before testing again.

If you elect to retake the ASVAB, each new score will be the one used to define your entrance into the military.


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