Exam Overview for McGraw-Hill's ASVAB (page 3)
What is the ASVAB?
You learned in the preceding chapter that everyone seeking to enlist in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The education level of military personnel is a major concern, and the military does not take just anyone who wants to join. The ASVAB is one tool that the military uses to measure the abilities of potential recruits. The ASVAB is also given to high school students to help them explore their aptitudes for different careers. Results from the high school assessment can be used for military entrance.
The ASVAB is actually a group of individual aptitude tests. The tests are listed in the following charts. Each test measures something that is important for military entrance or for acceptance into training programs for certain military jobs.
Once you are accepted into the military, your ASVAB scores are used to qualify you for various military occupations. The higher your scores, the more choices you will have for training in different occupations.
Different Formats of the ASVAB
The ASVAB comes in two formats. Persons who take the ASVAB in schools and in certain other locations in the country are given a paper-and-pencil test battery. This format of the test has 200 items and takes a little over two hours to complete. The test taker reads the questions in a test booklet and answers them by filling in bubbles on a machine-readable answer sheet. The sheets are taken to a scoring location, and the results are returned to the school and to recruiters. There are four separate forms of the paper-and-pencil version of the test. The chart on page 16 shows the subtests that make up the paper-and-pencil ASVAB.
In recent years, the Department of Defense has implemented a computer format of the test. Individuals who take this form of the ASVAB sit in a room with computers and answer the questions using the keyboard. One of the special characteristics of the computer format is that the test is adapted to the ability level of each individual. The feature is called computer adaptive testing (CAT), so this version of the ASVAB is called CAT-ASVAB.
The CAT-ASVAB uses fewer items than the paper-and-pencil version and takes less time. Because the items are tailored to your ability level, you will not receive many easy items or many items that are way too difficult for you. Items are selected based on whether or not you got the previous answers correct. The items that are given to you are drawn from a very large pool of items, and no two people get the exact same test.
It doesn't matter which format of the ASVAB you take because you will end up with the same military enlistment score.
Who Takes the ASVAB?
About 1.3 million people take the ASVAB each year, making it the most popular aptitude test in this country. The ASVAB can be taken by students in grades 10, 11, and 12 and those in postsecondary schools. It is used in about 14,000 schools across the country. Many students take the ASVAB in order to help them identify their strengths and weakness and to help them seek out and explore careers and jobs.
Scores of students in grade 11 and beyond can be used for enlistment purposes. Also, if you have never taken the ASVAB in school, you can contact a recruiter or visit a local recruiting station to request the test.
Scores are acceptable for use in the military enlistment process if the scores are no more than two years old. If you took the ASVAB more than two years ago, you must take the test again for purposes of enlisting in the military.
Hundreds of thousands of people take the ASVAB at government locations for the purpose of enlisting in the military. If you take the ASVAB at a government location, you must be 17 years of age or older for your scores to count for enlistment purposes.
Where Can You Take the ASVAB?
There are several places where you can take the ASVAB: at your school, at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), or at a mobile examining team site (MET).
About 800,000 students take the ASVAB at their school every year. If you are a student at a high school or postsecondary school, it is very likely that the ASVAB is offered at your school at least once a year. It is offered at more than 14,000 schools across the United States. There is no charge to students for taking the ASVAB.
Watch for school announcements that mention testing dates and times. Keep your eyes open for announcements on the bulletin board. Visit your career center and ask about the ASVAB testing dates scheduled for your school. Ask your school counselor when the ASVAB will be offered at your school or a nearby school. Your school counselor has received information about the ASVAB from a local representative and should be able to tell you where and when the ASVAB will be offered. If the ASVAB is not offered at your school, your counselor can arrange to include you in a testing session at a nearby school.
Unlike taking the SAT and ACT, taking the ASVAB at your school does not cost you anything except your time and effort.
The ASVAB can be taken by students in grades 10 through 12 and also by students at the postsecondary level. Scores at the tenth-grade level cannot be used for military entrance, but taking the test then is a good idea because it can give you an idea of how you will do on an ASVAB test that counts for military enlistment. It is good practice for other tests that you will take during your lifetime as well.
Scores from ASVAB tests at grades 11 and 12 and the postsecondary level can be used for military entrance for up to two years. If you took the test in eleventh or twelfth grade and you think that you could score higher, you may wish to retake the ASVAB at a MEPS to see if you can exceed your high school scores. Following the advice in this book will help you score higher.
If you take the ASVAB at a school, you will probably take it with a group of students. The administration procedures should be professionally delivered by competent government test administrators. This is important because you need to perform your very best on this test and any other test you may take.
You can take the ASVAB test at a local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). There are 65 MEPS located all across the United States. At the MEPS, you will take a computer version of the test. This test will seem different from the paper-and-pencil version, as it will have fewer items, but those items will be tailored by the computer to your level of ability. This ASVAB test is called CAT-ASVAB. CAT means computer adaptive test. The word adaptive means that the test is tailored to or adapts to your particular ability level.
Don't worry about taking the CAT-ASVAB, as it will give you the same scores as the paper-and-pencil version.
There are approximately 500 mobile examining team (MET) sites across the country. They have been set up to qualify military applicants at locations that may be remote or distant from MEPS. If you live a long way away from the nearest MEPS, you can take the ASVAB at a MET site. That way, you and the recruiter can determine whether you are qualified by aptitude to enter the military without spending the time and money it would take you to travel to a MEPS.
At a MET site, you will receive a paper-and-pencil version of the test that is like the student form, not the CAT-ASVAB. However, this may change in the future. The test will include assembling objects.
Who Administers the ASVAB?
The answer to this question depends on where you take the test battery. If you take the ASVAB at a school or at a MET site, you will have a trained civilian test administrator from the Office of Personnel Management. These are individuals who are contracted by the federal government to adhere to the strict timing and directions of ASVAB administration.
If you take the ASVAB at a MEPS, you will have a military administrator who will help you get started on the CAT-ASVAB. The directions will be self-explanatory, and you will determine the pace of the test. It is likely that you will finish the CAT-ASVAB in less time than it would take you to finish the paper-and-pencil instrument.
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