Understanding the ASVAB (and other acronyms)
Anyone enlisting in any branch of the Armed Forces will be required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. Though students in many schools across the country take the ASVAB as a kind of “career exploration” test, it is test primarily used during the enlistment process. Now, are you ready for some acronyms?
Like other aptitude tests such as the GED and the SAT, the ASVAB is a long test with lots of questions that assesses a variety of academic skills, and generates a numerical score indicating your ability in one area or another. However, unlike those other tests, the sections of the ASVAB are relevant to different aspects of your enlistment.
Scores on four areas – Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Mathematics Knowledge – help determine whether you even qualify to enlist (using something called the AFQT…so many acronyms!) and scores on other areas help determine which Military Occupational Speciality (aka “job”) you can pursue. Oh, and you get different enlistment bonuses ($$) based on these scores as well.
So it’s a pretty important test! And let’s take a closer look at that “job” bit, yeah?
Like I said, your score on the ASVAB helps determine which Military Occupational Speciality (MOS) you can pursue. In other words, you can end up with lots of awesome choices, or a few not-as-cool choices, all depending on how you do on this test. Now, the different branches slice and dice these scores to determine how you qualify, and I’ll let you take a closer look at those equations on your own. But, for example, a high score on the Math & Reading sections can help you get a job in the Air Force as a “Airborne Cryptologic Linguist” or “Cyber Systems Operations” or even “Radio and TV Broadcasting.” A low score, and you only qualify for Pest Control or to be in a Band.
Similarly, high scores on the “Mechanical”-type sections could put you working on helicopters, while low scores only qualify you to work on “Pavements” – and did you join the Air Force to stare at the ground all day??
We’re not saying that the jobs requiring lower scores are not enjoyable or unimportant, but one thing is true: better scores = more choices = a better fit and more success in the long-term.
So: how can you succeed?
We spoke to a recruiter, who had one piece of advice: make sure you’re reading and completing math work on the 12th grade level. Not only do these sections determine if you’re eligible to enlist at all, but, as he put it, “If you struggle comprehending what you’re reading, the whole test will be a struggle.”
Luckily, you’re not alone in preparation. The Military has a number of practice tests on their ASVAB page, and you can take a pre-test at any recruiting center. Look for answers to common questions on their ASVAB FAQ. On that ASVAB page there’s a link to test-taking tips & strategies, and of course there are a number of prep books to buy.
And if you want more information direct from the military, you can contact them!
If you want real one-on-one help, the best option is to get a tutor. Tutor Delphia can help you out – just let us know.
And on testing day, make sure you try your hardest! If you’re entering the military, your future actually depends on it!!