The ASVAB can help you determine your career path in the Armed Forces.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Test Battery (ASVAB) is an approximately three-hour-long series of tests given to individuals interested in joining the military. Traditionally offered to high school seniors, results are used by military recruiters to judge a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. The test, which is divided into eight subject areas, is available at more than 14,000 schools, and is also offered at military entrance processing sites. Knowing ahead of time what kinds of questions are on the test can help an applicant better prepare for the ASVAB.
Applicants will find the ASVAB divided into eight areas, or sub-tests. Each of these sub-tests is timed and consists of between 15 and 35 questions. All tests are in a multiple choice format. The ASVAB has a shelf life of two years, so students who take the test as sophomores will be required to take it again before they are accepted into the military.
Science and Math
The general science sub-test assesses knowledge of both physical and biological science. The test contains 25 questions and applicants have 11 minutes to complete it. Questions cover life sciences, such as biology and human nutrition; physical science, such as general chemistry; and earth sciences, such as geology and astronomy.
The arithmetic reasoning test consists of 30 questions, and the applicant has 36 minutes to answer them. The questions in this sub-test are structured as word problems and cover a variety of concepts including averaging, converting fractions to percentages, elapsed time, discounts and ratios.
The mathematics knowledge test contains 25 questions and has 24 minutes allotted to it. This sub-test assesses the knowledge of mathematics principles taught in high school. It can include problems involving adding and subtracting fractions, factoring, multiplication and division, percentages and powers and exponents.
Vocabulary and Reading
The vocabulary, or word knowledge, test records the ability to correctly define words and identify synonyms. The test consists of 35 underlined words, presented in context, and the applicant must choose which of the four offered definitions is correct. Applicants have 11 minutes to answer these questions.
The reading comprehension portion of the ASVAB presents the applicant with written passages of one or more paragraphs, followed by a series of incomplete statements. Applicants read the passage, then choose which of the lettered answers would best complete each statement. There is a 13-minute time limit to answer 15 questions.
The auto and shop sub-test measures how well the applicant knows his way around vehicles and workshops, including knowledge of tools and terminology. The test consists of 25 questions, with an 11-minute time period. The test measures knowledge of engines and drive trains and how the various systems of a vehicle, like electrical and suspension, operate.
The mechanical comprehension sub-test includes 25 questions. Applicants are given 19 minutes for this sub-test. The test assesses the applicant’s general understanding of mechanical and physical properties and how well he is able to visualize the workings of various objects. Test questions can include drawings used to illustrate specific principles.
Electronics information testing consists of 20 questions in 9 minutes and covers the basic principles of electricity and electronics. Test questions can cover areas such as Ohm’s Law, circuitry, electrical generators and motors, types of current and basic theory.
While the applicant receives an overall score on the test, the five branches of the service–Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard–each look at a set of core qualifications to determine whether that applicant meets basic enlistment requirements. This composite score, known as the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) is derived from scores in arithmetic reasoning, math knowledge, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Results from the remainder of the sub-tests are used to assess an applicant’s aptitude for a variety of military occupations.
To qualify for the military, applicants need to score between 31 and 45 on the AFQT portion of the ASVAB. Each branch of the armed forces has established its own minimum score, with the Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force requiring the highest scores.