Tests taken in schools, as well as college entrance exams, are achievement tests, which assess what you have already learned. So, using a calculator may be appropriate when taking these types of tests. The ASVAB, however, is an employment test, whose goal is to assess, not what you have learned, but whether you can correctly apply principals to solve problems you might have to do in your job. In other words, the primary goal of the ASVAB is to assess not what you have learned, but what you can do. Knowledge of basic math and the ability to do hand calculations (without a calculator) may be required on the job, so it’s important that the ability to do math without a calculator is assessed on the ASVAB. The video below has more information about calculators and the ASVAB.
No, there is only one exam, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB for short. The ASVAB has 10 tests. Your scores from four of the tests—Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK)—are combined to compute your score on what is referred to as the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Scores on the AFQT are used to determine your eligibility for enlistment in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps. Scores on all of the ASVAB tests are used to determine the best job for you in the military.
AFQT scores are reported as percentiles between 1-99. An AFQT percentile score indicates the percentage of examinees in a reference group who scored at or below that particular score. For current AFQT scores, the reference group is a sample of 18 to 23 year old youth who took the ASVAB as part of a national norming study conducted in 1997. Thus, your AFQT score of 62 indicates that you scored as well as or better than 62% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year old youth.
After you take your initial ASVAB, you must wait one calendar month to retake the test. You must wait an additional calendar month to retest a second time. After that, you must wait six calendar months to retake the ASVAB. Your scores may be used for enlistment for up to two years from the date of testing.
The CAT-ASVAB may seem harder or easier than the paper and pencil (P&P) ASVAB because the CAT-ASVAB is tailored to your specific ability level. The P&P-ASVAB contains some very easy and very hard questions, but most are of average difficulty. The CAT-ASVAB software adjusts to your ability level and administers questions that are best suited for you. If you are above average ability, you will receive questions that are above average difficulty. Hence, the CAT-ASVAB may appear more difficult than the P&P-ASVAB. If you are below average ability, you will receive questions that are below average difficulty. Hence, the CAT-ASVAB may appear easier than the P&P-ASVAB. Even though the questions differ in difficulty across the CAT-ASVAB and P&P-ASVAB, the reported scores are statistically linked across the two methods of administration. Thus, you would be expected to receive a similar score regardless of whether you take the CAT-ASVAB or the P&P-ASVAB.
A recruiter’s primary job is to ensure that applicants meet all necessary qualifications. Before an applicant is allowed to test, the recruiter will conduct an interview looking for disqualifying factors such as too young or old, too many dependents, a medical problem, drug usage, or criminal history. If a recruiter has determined that you are not qualified to enlist, they will not send you to be tested. Sometimes, recruiters have applicants take a short pre-screening test to get an estimate of how they would perform on the AFQT portion of the ASVAB. Based on these results, the recruiter may choose not to spend time and resources to send you for full ASVAB testing. The only way to know for sure is to ask your recruiter.
The ASVAB is given in schools as part of the Career Exploration Program (also called the Student Testing Program). The ASVAB is given at MEPS or MET sites as part of the Enlistment Testing Program. The contents of the ASVAB are the same across the Student and Enlistment Testing Programs, except that the Assembling Objects test is given in the Enlistment Testing Program but not the Student Testing Program. Different composite scores are reported across the Student and Enlistment Testing Programs. The composite scores are formed from different combinations of scores on the individual ASVAB tests. In the Student Testing Program, examinees receive three composite scores called Verbal Skills, Math Skills, and Science and Technical Skills. In the Enlistment Testing Program, examinees receive an AFQT score and Service composite scores, used for military job assignment.
There are many reasons why the ASVAB is given only in English. First, all military members need to be able to speak English. A Spanish version of the ASVAB would allow applicants that are learning English to show their general aptitude, but would not give any evidence of their ability to perform the same tasks in English. Also, there are many different dialects of Spanish spoken. If a Spanish ASVAB were given to native Spanish speakers, applicants speaking a different dialect of Spanish than the one used in the test might still have difficulty understanding the test. Finally, it is unlikely that Spanish and English versions of the ASVAB would measure exactly the same thing. Scores would likely not have the same meaning across the Spanish and English versions, and different evaluation standards would need to be used across the two different versions. Under such conditions, it would be difficult to make sure that all applicants are held to the same standards.
The ASVAB is designed for a different purpose than the ACT and SAT. The ASVAB is designed to predict success in the military, while the ACT and SAT are designed to predict success in college. As a result, the content of the ASVAB is different from the content of the ACT and SAT, and different examinee populations take the ASVAB and ACT and SAT tests. Therefore, performance on the ACT or SAT is not necessarily a very good substitute for performance on the ASVAB, or vice versa. In order to make sure that all applicants are held to the same evaluation standards, it is necessary for everyone to take the ASVAB.