The U.S. Armed Forces have high standards for enlistment.

An important part of a recruiter’s job is to screen applicants to ensure they measure up. Even before a recruiter sends you to take the ASVAB, he/she will ask about your marital status, health, education, drug use, and arrest record. It’s very important that you answer these questions openly and honestly. Once the recruiter has determined that you are qualified for further processing, you will be scheduled to take the ASVAB. A physical exam may also be conducted at that time.

For more information about military entrance processing, visit the Military Entrance Processing Command website at http://www.mepcom.army.mil/.

ASVAB testing for applicants is conducted at Military Entrance Processing Stations, known as MEPS. The MEPS are a Department of Defense joint-service organization staffed with military and civilian professionals. There are 65 MEPS located across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Locations for MEPs

If you do not live near a MEPS, the ASVAB can be administered at a satellite location called a Military Entrance Test (MET) site. MET sites are often located in federal government office buildings, National Guard armories, or Reserve centers.

You’ll need to bring valid identification to be admitted into the testing room. Don’t be late—you’ll be turned away and required to reschedule if you are. Your recruiter may give you a ride to and from the session, but he/she is not permitted in the testing room.

ASVAB test questions are treated as controlled testing materials. You should neither accept nor give information about specific test questions to other individuals. Applicants who either give or receive information about test questions are subject to severe penalties.

The ASVAB is administered by computer at the MEPS and at most MET sites. The paper-and-pencil version is given at a handful of MET sites. Testing procedures will vary depending on the mode of administration. You cannot use a calculator when taking the ASVAB.

ASVAB Subtests

The ASVAB subtests are designed to measure aptitudes in four domains: Verbal, Math, Science and Technical, and Spatial. The table below describes the content of the ASVAB subtests. The subtests are presented in the order in which they are administered.

Subtest Description Domain
General Science (GS) Knowledge of physical and biological sciences Science/
Technical
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) Ability to solve Arithmetic word problems Math
Word Knowledge (WK) Ability to select the correct meaning of words presented in context and to identify the best synonym for a given word Verbal
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) Ability to obtain information from written passages Verbal
Math Knowledge (MK) Knowledge of high school mathematics principles Math
Electronics Information (EI) Knowledge of electricity and electronics Science/
Technical
* Auto Information (AI) Knowledge of automobile technology Science/
Technical
* Shop Information (SI) Knowledge of tools and shop terminology and practices Science/
Technical
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) Knowledge of mechanical and physical principles Science/
Technical
Assembling Objects (AO) Ability to determine how an object will look when its parts are put together Spatial

* The ASVAB is administered via both paper-and-pencil and computer formats in the Enlistment Testing Program. AI and SI are administered as separate subtests in the computer administration but combined into one single score (labeled AS). AI and SI are combined into one single subtest (AS) in the paper-and-pencil administration. Scores on the combined subtest (AS) are reported for both the computer and paper-and-pencil administration.

Computer Administration

The computer version of the ASVAB, called the CAT-ASVAB, is an adaptive test. This means that the test adapts to the ability level of each individual examinee. Thus, it is possible to administer a shorter test than is used in the paper-and-pencil administration.

Each examinee completes the CAT-ASVAB at his/her own pace. That is, when you complete a subtest, you can immediately move on to the next subtest without waiting for everyone else in the testing room to finish. There are time limits imposed on each subtest in the CAT-ASVAB, but almost all examinees complete the individual subtests before the time expires. As you take each subtest, the amount of time and number of questions remaining for that subtest is displayed in the lower right-hand corner. On average, it takes about 2 hours to complete the CAT-ASVAB. Your test scores will be available immediately following your testing session at the MEPS or MET site.

The number of questions and time limits for the subtests on the CAT-ASVAB vary depending upon whether “tryout” questions are administered. Tryout questions are new questions that do not count toward your score. Tryout questions are evaluated to make sure they are performing as expected and in a fair manner prior to future use in determining applicant scores. They are also used to make sure that scores of future applicants can be compared to scores of current applicants. Each examinee receives tryout questions in 2 to 4 of the ASVAB subtests, with 15 tryout questions randomly dispersed throughout each of the selected subtests. Extra time is given to complete a subtest when tryout questions are administered.

Subtest Time Limit (in minutes) With or Without Tryout Questions
Subtest Number of Scored Questions Number of Possible Tryout Questions Subtest Time Limit Without Tryout Questions Subtest Time Limit With Tryout Questions
General Science (GS) 15 15 10 20
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 15 15 55 113
Word Knowledge (WK) 15 15  9 18
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 10 15 27 75
Mathematics Knowledge (WK) 15 15 23 47
Electronics Information (EI) 15 15  10 21
Auto Information (AI) 10 15   7 18
Shop Information (SI) 10 15   6 17
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) 15 15 22 42
Assembling Objects (AO) 15 15 17 36

Paper-and-Pencil Administration

As soon as all examinees are checked in and seated, the test administrator will provide some general instructions and pass out the test booklets and answer sheets. You will need to listen carefully to all instructions and will not be able to proceed until instructed to do so.

Once you complete the questions in a subtest, you will be able to review your answers. However, you will not be able to go back to an earlier subtest or proceed to the next subtest until instructed. The total time required, including administrative tasks and instructions, is 3 to 4 hours. Each subtest has a fixed number of questions and time limit.

After the test session, completed answer sheets are sent to the MEPS to be scanned and scored. This process usually takes a few days. Your recruiter will be notified when your test scores are verified and available.

Subtest Number of
Questions
Time Limit
(in minutes)
General Science (GS) 25 11
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 30 36
Word Knowledge (WK) 35 11
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 15 13
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) 25 24
Electronics Information (EI) 20  9
Auto & Shop Information (AS) 25 11
Mechanical Comprehension 25 19
Assembling Objects (AO) 25 15
Total 225 149