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How to Pass the ASVAB

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Aptitude Tests Open the Door to Military Careers

Are you considering enlistment in one of the armed forces? One of your first steps is to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a series of tests that will help measure your strengths and weaknesses. When making a big decision that affects the future of your family, whether it's a military career, a job in the civilian workforce or a return to school, you'll want to know what options give you the greatest opportunities for success. Test-taking can be scary. Here are some tips to help you do your best.

What's on the ASVAB?

Knowing what to expect can help you prepare. The ASVAB consists of 10 short tests administered over a three-hour period. The ASVAB is not an I.Q. test but is meant to assess your abilities, including general mathematics and science reasoning, vocabulary and reading comprehension. It also assesses your knowledge of more specialized skills such as coding, auto mechanics and electronics. Don't worry about the specialized skills if you don't have them. Scoring well on the other parts of the test opens the door to a variety of interesting jobs in the military. The purpose of the test is to determine which jobs you are best suited for.

How Do I Sign Up to Take the ASVAB?

The ASVAB is free, but you must register to take it. If you're a high school student, your guidance counselor can help you with registration. Otherwise, visit a military recruiter. At the present time, the ASVAB is only available in English.

Taking the test does not obligate you to join the military, so you might want to use it to help you make decisions about a career or further your education. You can take the ASVAB as early as your sophomore year in high school, although the test results will not be valid if you decide later to enlist. Test results are good for two years. If more time elapses, you will need to take the ASVAB again if you want to join the military.

The Night Before the Test

There's no way to study for the ASVAB, since it is designed to measure aptitude rather than specific knowledge. The best thing you can do for yourself is get a good night's sleep. That may mean going to bed earlier than usual.

The Day of the Test

Eat a good breakfast and arrive on time. Be sure to use the bathroom, as you will not be allowed to leave the test site once the exam begins. You'll need to bring a picture ID, such as a driver's license or student ID. You don't need pencils or scratch paper, as these will be provided for you. Calculators are not allowed. You will not be able to bring your phone into the testing room.

What If I Flunk?

You can't! Test scores are used to find the best fit for your military occupational specialty (MOS). You'll receive your scores within a few days of the test, and, if you're planning to join the military, you can talk over the results with your recruiter. Your ASVAB score does not affect your high school grades and will not be placed in your academic record.


Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.

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