ASVAB Test: 18 Important Facts to Know

By | July 18, 2023
The ASVAB Test helps the U.S. military to find and recruit men and women of good quality, health, and intelligence.

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test is a multiple-choice test used by the military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force) to assess an applicant’s fitness for recruitment.

General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information, Automotive and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Assembling Objects, and Verbal Expression are several sections that the exam is made up of.

Each test has a time limit of 10 to 36 minutes and the whole exam takes 3 hours. The military is always looking for men and women of good character, health, and intelligence to serve the United States in the armed forces.

The first step to enlisting in the military is to contact a recruiter who will interview you to decide whether they think you are a good candidate for service.

18 Important Facts about ASVAB Test

Here are important facts about the ASVAB test that you need to know to be successful:

  1. ASVAB is for the Military

The military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force) is always seeking men and women of good quality, health, and intelligence to serve the country in the armed forces.

The first step you should take is to contact a recruiter who will interview you to determine whether they think you are a good candidate for service.

You will be required to take a physical exam and sit for the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test.

Through the testing, your recruiter knows whether you have the skills and intelligence required to perform well in various roles in the military, and a good score helps you maintain a stable career path.

  1. What ASVAB Test Consists Of

The ASVAB exam was developed by the Department of Defense as a way to determine whether military recruits possess what it takes to be a member of the armed forces.

Your grade in the test will be determined by your performance in four basic areas including Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Word Knowledge (WK).

The all-important “AFQT” (Armed Forces Qualifying Test) score that recruiters use to see if you are eligible to serve will be merged with your scores in the AR, MK, and Verbal Composite (VE, which is WK+PC).

As soon as you’ve qualified to enlist by attaining a passing AFQT score, your performance on the other areas of the exam can help jump-start your military career by increasing the likelihood of landing the assignment you desire.

  1. ASVAB Test is Offered Only in English

The exam is administered in English because all documents you will have to reference and work with during your military career are in English.

You should be able to make the cut as long as you study enough even if English is not your native language.

To make sure that you can read and follow instructions given in English if it is not your native language, you may need to take another test, the ECL (English Comprehension Level).

  1. ASVAB Test Questions

All questions on the ASVAB test are multiple-choice, each having a maximum time limit for you to complete the questions in the section.

Depending on whether you are taking the computerized CAT-ASVAB or the pencil and paper P&P-ASVAB, the number of ASVAB test questions in each section and how easy or difficult the questions are may differ.

  1. The CAT-ASVAB Versus the P&P-ASVAB

The CAT-ASVAB will require you to answer one question at a time and cannot go back and modify your answers once you’ve submitted them.

If you answer a question correctly, you get a harder one, but if you are not correct, you are asked to take an easier question to answer.

This is called “adaptive” testing. You can go on to the next section at your own pace once you complete a section.

On the P&P-ASVAB, you’ll be given a set of questions to answer within a particular time limit. If you complete a section before your time runs out, you may go back and review your answers and change them if you want to.

It’s better to answer all of the questions on the P&P-ASVAB – there is no penalty for guessing because only correct answers are inserted to make up your final score.

  1. Mathematics Knowledge (MK)

The MK segment of the test consists of basic high school-level mathematics rules, terms, and concepts. The P&P-ASVAB comprises 25 questions with a 24-minute time limit to complete the segment, while the CAT-ASVAB covers 16 questions with a time limit of 20 minutes.

In this part of the test, the questions are in the form of math problems. Knowing your basic math concepts and how they work is the key to studying for this section!

You will need to have a good understanding of topics normally covered in high-school algebra courses, such as exponents, Factorials, order of operations, fractions, simple geometry (circles, triangles, rectangles), different types of numbers (real numbers, integers, rational numbers, prime numbers, etc.), as well as percentages and interest.

  1. Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)

The AR segment measures your ability to put your math skills to work by solving some basic word problems.

In this section, you are given 39 minutes to answer the 16 questions that CAT-ASVAB covers, while you have 36 minutes to complete 30 questions of the P&P-ASVAB.

This part of the test might seem a little intimidating with only a minute or two to answer each question.

However, if you know how to tackle the questions in this section, you should have no trouble at all.

It’s well worth your time to take the practice tests, using the same logical steps to solve each problem until you become accustomed to them.

You will need to identify the question you are being asked in solving these word problems, rewrite that question as a mathematical equation, list the information you will need to know to solve the problem, and then list each step you must take to solve the problem.

With adequate practice, you will automatically follow these steps and easily answer the word problems in this section.

  1. Paragraph Comprehension (PC)

This part of the ASVAB test judges your ability to understand written information and identify key points within a paragraph of text.

The CAT-ASVAB comprises 11 questions and offers you 22 minutes to answer them while the P&P-ASVAB consists of 15 questions with 13 minutes to complete them.

Don’t let the PC segment of the test kick you off balance.

Here, you will need to read a paragraph and answer several questions in a row based on that one paragraph unlike the individual multiple-choice questions in other sections.

The organizers of this section of the exam really knew how to make sure you are able to read detailed (and often boring) documents, keep the details of what you read in mind, comprehend why they’re vital, and be able to select the key concepts they exemplify.

It’s helpful to know the kinds of questions you’ll be asked at the end when you read each paragraph.

There are basically four kinds of questions to test your comprehension, including memorizing key details from what you just read, selecting which description best summarizes the paragraph, picking out the best meaning for a word “as it is used” in the paragraph, and choosing the most likely meaning of the paragraph that isn’t directly stated, but which you can be sure of giving what the paragraph stated.

Reading each paragraph twice before you answer is the best way to answer questions in this segment.

First, read it fast to get the main concept.

Next, read it again, giving more attention to the details that relate to the key point.

Then, read all of the questions and refer back to the paragraph to help you select the best answer.

If you follow this method, you will be more relaxed and efficient, and less likely to get thrown off the way by being anxious.

  1. Word Knowledge (WK)

The WK segment evaluates the strength of your word knowledge by requiring you to read a sentence and replace a word in the sentence with another word with the same meaning.

The P&P-ASVAB has 35 questions which you are required to complete in 11 minutes, while the CAT-ASVAB has 16b questions that require you to answer in 8 minutes.

Use vocabulary builders you can find on Google to gain some knowledge of vocabulary.

The software can help you read a collection of books, manuals, and magazines, and identify words that you are not sure of using practice tests.

This test is used to measure your word knowledge in several ways.

It first measures how you can identify correct and incorrect spellings of words.

For this category of question, you may want to review words that are commonly spelled incorrectly and ensure you know how to spell them.

You will also be required to recognize the definitions of words and be able to use them in a sentence.

The more you practice, the better you will be at automatically knowing the correct spelling of a word and the easier it will be to recognize its exact meaning when it’s used in a sentence.

  1. Registration and Test Dates

You can take the test as a junior or senior in high school and use the score to enlist as long as you are at least 17 years old and took the test no earlier than 2 years before you start enlistment processing.

You can take the test at a Military Processing Station (MEP) or a satellite Military Entrance Test (MET) location if you are at least 17.

Across all 52 states and in Puerto Rico, there are 65 MEP joint services locations. Your recruiter will advise you to take the test at one of the MET sites if you do not live close enough to an MEP.

These MET sites are located in many Federal government buildings, armories, and Reserve stations.

You won’t have to travel far to take this all-important first step toward a military career with multiple locations across the country to choose from.

  1. The Format of the ASVAB Test

The format varies according to the venue you take the test. The test is computer-based and is given in an adaptive format at MEP sites, implying that questions may get easier or harder based on your answers to previous questions.

The ASVAB-CT doesn’t permit you to review or modify your answers, which some recruits may find complicated, but it has some advantages over the pencil-and-paper version offered at satellite MET locations.

Generally, the exam takes only about 1 ½ hours to finish, and you can handle each section at your own pace.

You can also see your scores as soon as you finish taking the test.

The pencil-and-paper version of the test is not adaptive and takes longer time of 3 to 4 hours to complete. There is also a time limit to complete each subtest.

Before moving on to the next one, you are allowed to change your answers for each subtest, but only before the time limit can be reached for that subtest.

Scores must be processed manually in addition, so they are not available for a few days. Once you have completed the test, a preliminary AFQT score will be calculated and given to your recruiter.

  1. ASVAB Test Scores

The ASVAB test is neither a pass nor fail exam; what you score in each part of the test only shows what your unique abilities are.

Obviously, you will want to study with the aim of proving your best so that you can qualify for a job that suits your skills and career interests.

In order to see how your potential measures up, your score on AFQT is compared to the scores of other recruits in the 18-23 year age bracket.

For deciding who qualifies to enlist, each branch of the armed forces sets its own cut-off point (minimum AFQT score).

A percentile ranking between 1 and 99 is an AFQT score that shows where your score is placed when related to others.

For instance, scoring a 54 on the AFQT implies that you scored as well as or better than 54% of other recruits.

You must wait a month before taking the test again if you are not satisfied with your score and wish to retake the test to improve your chances at getting selected.

You are free to retake the test as many times as you want, however, you will have to wait for 6 months to take it again if you have attempted it thrice.

  1. The Minimum ASVAB Scores Vary by Branch of Service

The minimum ASVAB scores you need to have to be selected for general and specialty jobs vary by branch of service (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, or Air Force).

Individual branch is responsible for setting a minimum AFQT score that candidates must get to be recruited into its service.

Apart from that, specialty jobs have their own requirements for skills and knowledge.

There are minimum scores you will need to qualify for each branch of service.

  1. Is the Use of Calculator Allowed on the ASVAB?

You don’t need any additional assistance while taking the ASVAB, including the math sections of the test. Therefore, you don’t have to use a calculator to take the ASVAB.

The ASVAB will include up to 55 questions on math concepts depending on which version you are taking.

  1. Air Force Minimum ASVAB Test Scores

In the Air Force ASVAB test, you must have an AFQT score of 36 or above to enlist if you are a high school senior or have graduated from high school.

However, you must have an AFQT score of 65 or more to be considered if you have a GED instead of a high school diploma.

To qualify for an Air Force job which is an “AFSC” (Air Force Specialty Code), you must make the minimum score in Verbal Expression (WK + PC) and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR).

  1. Army Minimum ASVAB Test Scores

In the Army ASVAB test, the minimum AFQT score required to enlist in the Army job, which is “MOS” (Military Occupational Specialty), is 31.

You are required to score well on one or more of the ASVAB specialty subtests for the all specialty MOS.

  1. Marine Corps Minimum ASVAB Test Scores

To enlist in the Marine Corps jobs, you will need a high school education and take the Marine Corps ASVAB test, having a minimum AFQT score of 32.

For recruiters with a GED, a few exceptions are made and an AFQT score of 50 or more is required.

You are required to score well on one or more of the specialty subtests for a Marine Corps job, which is MOS (Military Occupational Specialty).

  1. Navy Minimum ASVAB Test Scores

In the Navy ASVAB test, an AFQT score of 35 or more is needed to enlist if you are a high school graduate.

However, you will need to score 50 or better to enlist if you have a GED.

“Ratings’ or “Rate” for short is the second name of Navy and Coast Guard jobs. With a few exceptions, most Navy ratings require you to pass one or more specialty subtests.

The exclusion here is the Master at Arms that requires a minimum WK score of 45 and a minimum combined WK + AR score of 100.


ASVAB is a timed, multi-aptitude test that is developed and maintained by the Defense Department (DoD), which is offered at more than 14,000 schools and Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) nationwide.

ASVAB helps the DoD to decide whether you are a good fit to join the service and which service branch you might be most suitable for and even what military jobs you can hold after you complete basic training or boot camp.

How improved you are with your ASVAB score determines how wider your options could be.

>> Learn how to make a great score in ASVAB Test; prepare effectively for the test with Practice Tests consisting of detailed explanations of answers.