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The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a pretty important test. A kind of entrance exam for the U.S. military, it tests applicants on a number of academic and vocational skills.

Performing well on the ASVAB is crucial if you have your heart set on a specific military career, say drone operator or cybersecurity specialist. The ASVAB can also point you in the right direction if you want to join the military but haven’t settled on a career path. Last but not least, your ASVAB score determines whether or not you’ll even be allowed to join the military, so it’s definitely a test to take seriously.

With so much at stake, it’s understandable you’d feel stressed. But you can reduce that stress by studying hard and working to address your testing weaknesses. Below are some free or low-cost ASVAB test-prep resources that should help.

Key Takeaways

  • This could be one of your first acts as a member of the military, so don’t sleepwalk through it! Be prepared. Preparation will only improve your score and it could be the difference in qualifying for your dream job.
  • Arrive at the test site early. You’ll be turned away if you show up late or if you don’t have valid identification.
  • The ASVAB is given in two formats—computer and pen-and-paper. Be sure to practice the ASVAB in the format you intend to use on the big day, either the CAT-ASVAB or the P&P-ASVAB.

What Is the ASVAB?

The ASVAB is a timed military qualification exam first administered in 1968. Everyone who hopes to join the U.S. military must take and pass the ASVAB. The ASVAB is a multiple-choice test used to determine whether you qualify to join the military as well as assign you to an appropriate position. Each year, more than a million high school and post-secondary students take the ASVAB at more than 14,000 locations.

The ASVAB contains sections on nine subjects related to math, science and language. The test is administered annually at different dates depending on the location. The ASVAB is only given in English. It’s free to take though test-prep courses often cost a fee.

What To Expect on ASVAB Test Day

The ASVAB is administered by computer at locations called Military Entrance Processing Stations. If you don’t live near one, you might have to take a written version of the ASVAB at a satellite location such as a federal government building or a National Guard armory. The tests are slightly different but are designed to produce similar scores.

When you arrive at your test location, you’ll be asked to provide valid identification. If you’re late, you won’t be allowed to take the test. After you arrive, you’ll check in and receive instructions from an administrator, along with a test booklet and answer sheets. Subtests have a fixed number of questions and a time limit. The total time required to take the test is three to four hours. Tests are scored within a few days.

What Are the ASVAB Subtests?

The ASVAB measures aptitude in nine subjects in subtests related to verbal skills, spatial skills, math and science.

  • General science: Knowledge of the physical and biological sciences
  • Arithmetic reasoning: The ability to solve math word problems
  • Word knowledge: The ability to select the correct meaning of a word based on context and to identify the best synonym for a word
  • Paragraph comprehension: The ability to obtain information from written passages
  • Math knowledge: Knowledge of high school math principles
  • Electronics information: Knowledge of electricity and electronics
  • Auto information: Knowledge of automobile technology
  • Shop information: Knowledge of tools and shop terminology and practices
  • Mechanical comprehension: Knowledge of mechanical and physical principles
  • Assembling objects: Determining how an object will look when its parts are put together

The CAT-ASVAB

The CAT-ASVAB is the computer version of the ASVAB. It’s an adaptive test, meaning it reacts to the test-taker’s abilities. When examinees finish a subtest on the CAT-ASVAB, they can immediately move on to the next section without waiting for fellow test-takers to finish. Because examinees complete the CAT-ASVAB at their own pace, it can be finished faster than the P&P (paper-and-pencil). The subtests have time limits but most people who take it finish before time runs out.

The CAT-ASVAB takes on average two hours to complete. Scores are available immediately upon finishing.

How Is the ASVAB Scored?

Your overall ASVAB score will fall somewhere between 0 and 99. Percentages are normalized, meaning if you score 50, you scored higher than 50% of test-takers and lower than 49%. Your overall ASVAB score is used to determine your career specialties, or what jobs the military thinks you’d be good at. In general, a higher overall score increases your chance of qualifying for a position you want, though there are few guarantees.

In addition to an overall score, test-takers receive an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score, which is used to determine if an applicant is eligible to serve in the military. The AFQT is computed using verbal and math subtests. AFQT is also scored 1 to 99. Minimum qualification scores vary across service branches. An especially high AFQT may qualify an applicant for enlistment incentives.

What Is a Good ASVAB Score?

While an overall ASVAB score determines your occupational qualifications, your AFQT is even more important in that it determines whether you are even eligible to join the military. The minimum AFQT to join depends on the branch. For example, the Army requires an AFQT of 30 while the Air Force requires 31.

Keep in mind, the higher your score, the more options you’ll have.

ASVAB Study Resources

Check out these tools to help you prepare for the ASVAB.

Study.com

Cost: Free for 30 days
Overview: This online resource offers a well-rounded study plan with more than 2,300 practice tests and hundreds of videos, lessons and flash cards. The test-aligned practice questions feature explanations for each answer.

You can try the program for free for 30 days before you have to pay. Your Study.com account allows you to set goals and track your progress. Take a practice test, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and practice until you’re ready for the ASVAB. Study.com boasts an ASVAB-passage rate above 90%.

National Guard

Cost: Free
Overview: The National Guard, the state-based reserve force, offers a 12-question online ASVAB practice test to help gauge your chances with the military entrance exam. Questions cover general science, arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, word knowledge and other subtest subjects. At the end, you’ll be provided with feedback including areas to study and career possibilities.

Military.com

Cost: Free
Overview: This resource offers a free online ASVAB practice test. The site helps you develop a detailed study plan and stick to it. It also provides career advice and feedback based on your practice test results. And if you’re still interested after that, it can connect you with a recruiter.

Union Test Prep

Cost: Free
Overview: Union Test Prep offers a number of tools to help you crush the ASVAB, from cram courses to flash cards to practice tests. The site offers free overviews and detailed study guides on all nine subtest areas. This resource intends to help reduce your stress level through thorough preparation.

An upgrade to the Premium product provides hundreds more practice questions as well as an exam simulator, a “pass guarantee” and other features.

Official ASVAB website

Cost: Free
Overview: The ASVAB doesn’t endorse an official test prep program but it does offer a number of free tips and tools on its website. The site offers info on subtest areas and what to expect on test day as well as sample questions. You can familiarize yourself with both the P&P-ASVAB and the CAT-ASVAB and strategies for acing both.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the ASVAB

The ASVAB isn’t pass-or-fail and it isn’t as difficult as other aptitude or proficiency tests but that doesn’t mean you should shrug it off. How well you perform in certain areas can determine whether you qualify to work certain jobs in the military. The ASVAB can be especially important if you have your heart set on a specific military career.

What is a good score on the ASVAB?

The highest you can score on the ASVAB is 99 and the lowest is 0. To qualify to serve in the military, you need to score around 30. Higher scores typically increase your chance of securing a desired position though there are few guarantees.

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Last Update: June 14, 2024

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