Introduction The purpose of this Fact Sheet is to provide you with information about the military enlistment test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).  ASVAB scores are used to determine if you are qualified to enlist in the military and to assign you to an appropriate job in the military.  The information provided here will help you prepare to take the ASVAB. 

Most ASVAB testing is conducted at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).  If you do not live near a MEPS, you may take the ASVAB at a satellite location called a   Military Entrance Test (MET) site.  The ASVAB is administered by computer at all MEPS, and by paper and pencil at most MET sites.  Regardless of whether you take the ASVAB by computer or paper and pencil, your scores should be very similar.

The Computerized ASVAB  The computerized ASVAB (called the CAT-ASVAB) is an adaptive test, which means that the test adapts to your ability level.  The computer software selects items that are suitable for you, based on your responses to earlier items in the test. Because the  CAT-ASVAB is targeted toward your ability level, it is possible to administer a shorter test than is used in the paper and pencil administration.  More details on how the  CAT-ASVAB works are given on page 3. 

You are allowed to complete the CAT-ASVAB at your own pace.  That is, when you complete a test in the battery, you can immediately move on to the next section without waiting for everyone else to move on.  You may leave the test room as soon as you are finished with all of the tests. Although each test has a fixed number of questions and a time limit (see page 3), most examinees finish the test before the time limit is reached.  The average examinee takes about 1 1/2 hours to complete the CAT-ASVAB. 

You are not able to review or change your answers once you have submitted an answer on the CAT-ASVAB.  If you are running out of time, it is best to continue trying to  answer as best as you can, rather than filling in random guesses for the remaining items, as the CAT-ASVAB has a penalty for guessing.
Inside this fact sheet:

The ASVAB is  administered via both computer and paper and pencil. 
Roughly 70% of  military applicants take the test via  computer.
The Paper and Pencil ASVAB
The paper and pencil ASVAB (called the P&P-ASVAB) is a traditional test, which means that everyone takes the same set of questions at the same pace.  The number of test questions and time limits for each test are shown on page 3.  In all, it takes about 3 hours to complete the P&P-ASVAB.   

You are allowed to review your answers on the P&P-ASVAB.  However, you cannot go back to an earlier test section, or proceed to the next test until instructed to do so.  If you run out of time on the P&P-ASVAB, it is to your advantage to fill in random guesses for the remaining items, as there is no penalty for guessing.

Preparing For The ASVAB

The ASVAB Testing Program does not endorse any particular method of test preparation beyond recommending that examinees take a solid core of courses in mathematics, English, and science in high school and/or college. Such academic preparation will help with performance on the Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge, and General Science subtests. Taking technical courses will also help with performance on the Auto Information, Shop Information, Electronics Information, and Mechanical Comprehension subtests.

The following are general tips to help students perform their best on the ASVAB.

Steps to Take In Advance of the Actual Test Day

  • Prepare well in advance of the day of the test.
  • Know what to expect on test day.
  • Familiarize oneself with the contents of the ASVAB subtests.
    [To learn more about the content of the ASVAB subtests, click here.]
  • Take sample questions and review content areas that need refreshing.
    [To see sample questions, click here.]
  • Get plenty of rest the night before the test.

Strategies For Taking the ASVAB

  • Read the directions for each test carefully before beginning the test.
  • Read each question carefully before selecting the answer.
  • Pay attention to the time — don’t spend too much time on one individual question, if that means there won’t be enough time to answer later questions.
  • When the answer to a question is unknown, try to rule out as many incorrect choices as possible, and then make an educated guess from the remaining answers.
  • Don’t get hung up trying to answer the difficult questions — answer the easy questions first and then return to the more difficult questions.
  • Answer every question. If time runs short, it is to one's advantage to fill in random guesses for the remaining items, as there is no penalty for guessing.
  • Review answers if there is time remaining.
  • Make sure only one response per question is selected on the answer sheet, and erase completely if an answer is changed.
ASVAB Sample Questions

ASVAB Official Website