There are nine sections on the exam: General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information, Automotive and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Assembling Objects, and Verbal Expression. The time limits for each section range from 10 – 36 minutes; the entire exam takes three hours.
The ASVAB is a timed test that measures your skills in a number of different areas. You complete questions that reveal your skills in paragraph comprehension, word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning and mathematics knowledge. These are basic skills that you will need as a member of the U.S. military. The score you receive on the ASVAB is factored into your Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) score. This score is used to figure out whether you qualify to enlist in the armed services.
Achieving the minimum required AFQT score established by an individual branch gets your foot in the door, but the higher you score, the better. For example, if you need a medical or criminal history waiver in order to enlist, the military personnel who make those decisions are more likely to take a chance on you if they think you’re a pretty smart cookie.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is the most widely used multiple-aptitude test battery in the world. As an aptitude test, the ASVAB measures your strengths, weaknesses, and potential for future success. The ASVAB also provides you with career information for various civilian and military occupations and is an indicator for success in future endeavors whether you choose to go to college, vocational school, or a military career.
The best way to answer questions in this section is to read each paragraph twice before you answer. First, read it quickly to get the main idea. Next, read it again, paying more attention to the details that relate to the main point. Then, read all of the questions and refer back to the paragraph to help you choose the best answer. If you take this approach, you will be more relaxed and efficient, and less likely to get thrown off the track by being nervous.
The test is part of the larger ASVAB Career Exploration Program. The Program uses the test to help students identify both their interests as well as their strengths in three skills areas (verbal, math, and science and technical skills). Based on a student's skill levels, information is provided about more than 400 occupations in order to enable students and parents to judge their potential success in areas that interest them the most. Schools that may be facing budget cuts or finding themselves with limited resources devoted to career counseling are encouraged to find out whether using the ASVAB Program would be useful, as the testing and career development services are free of charge.
The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is used by all of the Services to determine if an applicant is eligible for the military. Four of the ASVAB subtests are combined to form the AFQT. It measures general cognitive ability and is composed of verbal and mathematics subtests. AFQT scores are grouped into categories for reporting purposes. The table below shows the AFQT categories and the percentile score ranges corresponding to the categories. Applicants that score in AFQT category IIIA or higher may qualify for enlistment incentives.