The ASVAB test is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, which is a series of multiple-choice tests. The army uses your ASVAB scores, which are valid for two years, to decide whether you have the mental aptitude to enlist. The ASVAB also determines what Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) you qualify for.

Taking the ASVAB

Typically, federal government test administrators give the ASVAB in schools. However, it can be taken at other locations and in other formats, such as a computerized version at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or a paper version at various Military Entrance Test (MET) sites nationwide. Additionally, you may take the Pending Internet Computerized Adaptive Test (PiCAT), an unproctored, full version of the test, at home.

You must register for the PiCAT via a local recruiter, who will provide you with an access code. After taking the test, the recruiter will reveal your score. If you choose to enlist at a later stage, your PiCAT score will be validated at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) with a proctored verification test that lasts 25 to 30 minutes.

You have three hours to complete the ASVAB, which consists of ten short tests in the following areas:

  • General Science
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Word Knowledge
  • Paragraph Comprehension
  • Numerical Operations
  • Coding Speed
  • Auto and Shop Information
  • Mathematics Knowledge
  • Mechanical Comprehension
  • Electronics Information

Before you begin, an ASVAB test administrator will provide instructions and tell you how long you have to complete each test. You will also have a chance to answer some practice questions and ask any questions you have about taking the test. No preparation is required at home prior to taking the test.

ASVAB Summary Results

The ASVAB is not an IQ test, and you can't "fail" it, but you do need to achieve a score of 31 or more to be considered for a military service career. You will receive your ASVB scores on a report called the ASVAB Student Results Sheet. This comes with additional information to help you understand your score.

The most important ASVAB score is the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score, as this decides whether you can enlist in the armed forces. This score is made up of your results in Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge, Mathematics Knowledge and Arithmetic Reasoning. The army also converts the ASVAB test scores into 10 composite scores called "line scores." The line scores establish what MOS you may qualify for after enlisting.

ASVAB Line Scores

Each of the 10 lines scores is derived from your scores in certain tests:

  • Clerical (CL) – Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge
  • Combat (CO) - Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Auto & Shop and Mechanical Comprehension
  • Electronics (EL) – General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronic Information
  • Field Artillery (FA) - Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Mechanical Comprehension
  • General Maintenance (GM) – General Science, Auto & Shop, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronics Information
  • General Technical (GT) - Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Mechanical Maintenance (MM) – Auto & Shop, Mechanical Comprehension and Electronic Information
  • Operators and Food (OF) - Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Auto & Shop and Mechanical Comprehension
  • Surveillance and Communications (SC) - Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Auto & Shop and Mechanical Comprehension
  • Skilled Technical (ST) - Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge

When you have your line scores, visit the official website of the U.S. army at goarmy.com, click on "Learn How to Join" and input each of your 10 line scores in the correct field. Click "Search" to see what military jobs you may qualify for and explore the options.

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About the Author

Claire Gillespie has been writing and editing for 18 years. She has written about high school and higher education for private clients and various websites, including SheKnows and Reader's Digest.