The CAT-ASVAB and Computer Based Testing Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's ASVAB (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Jun 25, 2011

What Happens Next?

After the briefing by the test administrator, you will be brought into the testing room and assigned a seat.

The CAT-ASVAB is designed so that individuals with very little or no computer experience can take the exam. It is recommended that you practice using a computer before taking the CAT-ASVAB. A recruiter may be able to give you some of this practice. The bottom line is to be prepared-well prepared.

The keyboard has been modified to make it easy for you to find the keys. The computer program will give you directions on how to answer the items. It will also tell you about time limits and give you the chance to do some practice items to be sure that you know how to navigate the keyboard.

The directions are quite simple. If you need help during the session, you need only press the HELP key. The administrator will come by to assist you. You should do this only if you are experiencing technical problems with the test, or if you are in need of more scratch paper or another pencil to use for your calculation. When you press the HELP key, the clock on the test will stop. It will restart when you restart the test.

You will answer each item by pressing the key that represents your answer. To register your response, hit the ENTER key, which is the space bar. The next item will then be presented to you.

Recent Changes

Recently, the Department of Defense began a roll-out of a new Windows-based version of the CAT-ASVAB. It has a Windows look and feel, and you can use a mouse instead of the keyboard to record your answers. The modified keyboard described earlier can be used as well if that is more comfortable for you.

Changes have been made in the look of the on-screen items, and the graphics have been improved. You can mark buttons for the various answer choices, or you can type the letter of the response.

This new system should be in place before you take the CAT-ASVAB.

No electronic devices are allowed in the testing room. It is best not to take cellphones into the MEPS because the phones will not be secured while you are testing. In addition, coats, jackets, and bags will be left in the CAT-ASVAB waiting room.

Special Strategies for Taking the CAT-ASVAB

Except where noted, the strategies for taking the CAT-ASVAB are the same as for the paper-and-pencil test. Here are some special things to keep in mind.

To raise your scores, try your very best to answer every item correctly. Take your time, especially with the early items in each test. If you get the early items correct, the computer will give you more difficult questions, and these carry more value. If you get the early items wrong, the computer will give you easier items, and even if you answer these correctly, your score will be lower than if you answered the same number of difficult items. Unlike on the paper-and-pencil tests, guessing is not necessarily a good strategy.

Focus hard and give the test your full attention.

Pay attention to the directions. Directions will not be given to you verbally. They will only be on the computer screen to be read.

Try hard to finish all the items. For every item you do not finish, there is a penalty. The more unfinished the items, the higher the penalty. Also, the penalty is high if you answer the last few items on each test incorrectly.


Myth: The CAT-ASVAB is harder than the paper-and-pencil ASVAB.

Reality: The CAT-ASVAB may seem harder to many people because the items are selected based on a person's previous answers. For example, a person with high ability will be able to skip over the easier questions that would be found on the paper-and-pencil version of the test.

A lot of research has been done to assure that the score you would get on the paper-and-pencil or computer adaptive versions will be the same.

Myth: The paper-and-pencil ASVAB is easier than the CAT-ASVAB.

Reality: For persons of lower ability, the paper-and-pencil version may seem easier because the questions are generally arranged from easy to hard within each subtest. As a result, you will receive many easier items to answer before you are challenged with the more difficult ones.

On the CAT-ASVAB, once your general ability level is determined, you will be getting more difficult items to answer to see how well you do. The easier items are skipped.

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