ASVAB Test Format

There are several versions of the ASVAB and the version you take depends on where and why the test was administered:

  • Institutional Version
    Taken in high school, this version can be used for military enlistment purposes if taken within two years of enlistment but its primary purpose is to assist school guidance counselors in identifying possible civilian career areas.
  • Production Version
    Taken through a military recruiter and used for enlistment qualification and to determine which military jobs an applicant can potentially be trained in.  This test is available in paper (ASVAB) and computerized (CAT-ASVAB) versions and is typically administered through a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
  • Enlistment Screening Test (EST)
    A smaller version of the full ASVAB test taken in a recruiter’s office to estimate the applicant’s chances of earning a qualifying score on the full version of the ASVAB.  Also used to identify areas of weakness to guide applicant study time.
  • Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT)
    Given to active military personnel who are considering retraining for another job.  If a higher score is needed for the new job the ASVAB must be retaken.

Test Format

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) contains eight (paper version) or nine (computerized version) separately timed subtests.  (The Assembling Objects (AO) subtest isn’t on the paper version of the ASVAB.)

Subtest Questions Time (Minutes) Content
General Science (GS) 25 11 Knowledge of general principles of physical and biological sciences.
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 30 36 Ability to solve arithmetic word problems that require simple calculations.
Word Knowledge (WK) 35 11 Ability to select the correct meaning of a word and identify synonyms and antonyms.
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 15 13 Ability to comprehend information from several paragraphs that you read (a few hundred words).
Auto & Shop Information (AS) 25 11 Knowledge of automobiles, shop terminology and practices, and tools.
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) 25 24 Knowledge of high school math including algebra and geometry.
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) 25 19 Knowledge of basic mechanical and physical principles including the
ability to visualize how illustrated objects work
Electronics Information (EI) 20 9 Knowledge of electrical principles, basic electronic circuitry, and electronic terminology.
Assembling Objects (AO) 16 15 Measures spatial orientation.

Of these subtests, four (Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge) are used to compute your AFQT score while the remaining five serve only to determine qualifications for certain types of jobs within your branch of the military.

So, if you know that the job you want in the military doesn’t require Electronics or Auto & Shop knowledge you can save a lot of time studying by simply ignoring those areas. Doing poorly in areas unrelated to your potential job won’t hurt your overall qualifications.

Remember that the AFQT subtests are important for all job types so be sure to devote enough study time to mastering them.