Do you have what it takes to join the military? It requires more than just physical fitness. The military looks for dedicated people who can reach their given goals.
Servicemembers will tell you preparation is a critical component of success, whether it’s completing push-ups or safely securing a plane landing. Passing the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test is no different.
“How long is the ASVAB?” and “How many questions are on the ASVAB?” are key questions to help you prepare. We answer these questions and more so you can master the ASVAB test with complete confidence.
The ASVAB test is one of the most commonly used tests in the world. The Department of Defense (DoD) developed it in the late 1960s as a screening tool to help select potential recruits and sort them into appropriate military job fields.
Along with potential recruits, nearly 1 million students take the ASVAB test each year. The ASVAB still provides guidance about the test taker’s skills and potential career choices, even if the student doesn’t want to join the military.
Most people are familiar with the standardized testing used in grade schools. Those tests typically measure achievement: how much you’ve learned and what benchmarks (reading level, math level, etc.) you’ve reached.
The ASVAB is an aptitude assessment. It looks at what skills you have and your potential for learning other abilities.
For example, aptitude tests can help determine your current or potential capability for mechanical work by testing your spatial reasoning and math skills.
The ASVAB test version depends on where you take the test, and which test format you’re given. There are two main methods for taking the test: the pencil and paper format (traditional ASVAB) and the computer format (CAT-ASVAB).
Both methods use almost exactly the same test. If you’re prepared for one, you’re prepared for the other.
There are important formatting differences between the two, however. You may find one format works better for you based on time, location, and/or your test-taking strategies.
There are nine main sections to the ASVAB test. Each section will cover certain subjects, and have its own timer for a set number of questions. The sections are:
General Science (GS)
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
Word Knowledge (WK)
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
Electronics Information (EI)
Auto and Shop Information (AS)
Auto Information (AI)
Shop Information (SI)
Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
Assembling Objects (AO)
The traditional ASVAB combines the Auto and Shop Information (AS) sections. The CAT-ASVAB separates the Auto and Shop Information Sections. Some older versions may omit the AO section.
The total number of ASVAB test questions depends on your test format:
Traditional ASVAB: 225 questions total
CAT-ASVAB: 135-150 questions depending on the version
The questions are divided according to their sections. You will complete all the questions relating to General Science in one section, for example, before moving on to Arithmetic Reasoning.
The subject sections will also be given in a set order. You may not skip around the sections on either test format.
The ASVAB test length depends on which format you’re given. The CAT-ASVAB test length can also be slightly different depending on where you take it.
Average test time: Around 3 hours
The traditional pencil and paper format gives you 149 minutes to answer the 225 questions. The number of questions and their time limits are broken down as follows:
GS: 25 questions in 11 minutes
AR: 30 questions in 36 minutes
WK: 35 questions in 11 minutes
PC:15 questions in 13 minutes
MK: 25 questions in 24 minutes
EI: 20 questions in 9 minutes
AS: 25 questions in 11 minutes
MC: 25 questions in 19 minutes
AO: 25 questions in 15 minutes
The pencil and paper format is mostly given to students. Some MET stations may also use it.
You only have about 2 1/2 hours to answer all the questions. However, the actual test-taking averages longer, because this format is generally not self-paced.
In a group test-taking session, everyone must start and stop each section at the same time. You may not leave until the entire test session is completed, even if you finish early.
The traditional format is more flexible for answering questions, though. You can skip questions in a section to complete them in an order that suits you. You can also go back and change your answers in the time allotted.
Average test time: Around 1 1/2 hours
The CAT-ASVAB is currently the most widely used format. It’s available at MEPs, most MET stations, and for testing at home. The test versions may vary slightly depending on where you take them.
For example, the PiCAT (Pending Internet Computerized Adaptive Test) is the version used for home test-takers. It’s not actually timed, but you have 48 hours to complete the test once you use your access code.
Some versions also include tryout questions for certain sections, which lengthens both the number of questions and the time allotted for the applicable section.
Official-ASVAB.com gives 173 minutes to answer 135 questions, and lists the following times and number of questions:
GS: 15 questions in 10 minutes
AR: 15 questions in 55 minutes
WK: 15 questions in 9 minutes
PC: 10 questions in 27 minutes
MK: 15 questions in 23 minutes
EI: 15 questions in 10 minutes
AI: 10 questions in 7 minutes
SI: 10 questions in 6 minutes
MC: 15 questions in 22 minutes
AO: 15 questions in 17 minutes
Most test-takers complete the CAT-ASVAB in the time allotted because this format is self-paced. Once you complete a section, you can immediately move on to the next section.
You cannot skip questions or go back and change your answers, however. The test is dynamic, so your next questions are based on how well you scored on your previous answers.
If you answer a question correctly, the difficulty for the next question is increased. If you get a question wrong, the difficulty is lowered for the next question.
The best way to prepare for the ASVAB is through thorough studying. There are a variety of tools to help you:
If you’re a visual or auditory learner, there are also instructional videos and audio guides. Study sites will also offer discussion forums, FAQs, and expert advice in case you get confused or need help with a tricky subject.
A study guide gives you a comprehensive overview of a test. ASVAB test study guides will help you learn what subjects are covered under each section. That way you won’t study up on fields like soil chemistry, only to discover there are no questions about it under General Science.
A lesson plan helps you focus on areas where you need more instruction and learning. Lessons give you a dynamic question format similar to the CAT-ASVAB. New lessons are generated based on what you got right or wrong. Analyzation tools help you measure your learning and mastery progress so you can study more efficiently.
Using flashcards is a tried-and-true study method. Repetition is a key factor for learning, according to education experts.
Flashcards also aid in active recall. This refers to knowing an answer or solution from memory, instead of recognizing it from audio and visual cues and/or selection choices.
An ASVAB practice test is helpful in many ways. You can determine if you’re prepared to take the actual test and discover your best test-taking strategies. It can also help lower test stress and anxiety.
Passing the ASVAB test doesn’t guarantee enlistment. You still have to meet certain eligibility requirements. Your ASVAB score also affects your enlistment career choices.
Public high school students in grades 10-12 can take the ASVAB according to their school administration. Most schools don’t require students to commit to the military or share their test results with the DoD as a prerequisite to taking the test.
If you take the ASVAB as part of the military recruitment process, your test-taking eligibility is generally the same as your enlistment eligibility. These include:
Mental and physical health standards
Academic qualifications (high school diploma or GED for enlisted, college for officers)
Number of dependents
Legal disqualifications (DUIs, felony convictions, etc.)
Some branches allow waivers for certain requirements on a case-by-case basis and passing the ASVAB with a high score may help your case. Your local recruiter(s) can help you with this process.
The ASVAB test is widely administered throughout the U.S. Testing places include:
Public high schools
Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)
Military Entrance Test (MET) sites
Participating community colleges
The ASVAB is administered differently by state laws and school districts. Some schools include it as part of a graduation pathway, while other schools may not include it all. ASVAB test scores from grades 11 and 12 can count towards enlistment.
Both MEPS and MET testing are available as part of the military enlistment process. If you take the PiCAT ASVAB test at home, you still have to complete a timed and monitored validation test afterward to be enlistment eligible.
Enlisted service members must pass the ASVAB to join any military branch. Officers candidates seeking to join the Army, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard in select programs are also required to take it.
The ASVAB test affects your military enlistment in two important ways: Initial eligibility Career field choices
Each branch has a minimum ASVAB score you must meet, called the Armed Services Qualification Test (AFQT) score. AFQT minimums are subject to change as the military raises or lowers enlistment standards based on their manning requirements.
The ASVAB test also includes line scores, or composite scores, that help determine what career fields you’ll be offered. These scores are based on formulas from your section scores.
For example, the Navy requires a certain composite score in arithmetic reasoning, math, electronics, and science to offer you a job as an Electronics Technician (ET). But to be a Master-At-Arms (MA), you only need to score high enough in math and word skills.
The military offers many educational, career, and personal rewards. Knowing “How many questions are on the ASVAB?” and other important facts will help you master the ASVAB.
Mastering the ASVAB is key to enlistment eligibility and unlocking the career fields of your choice. Are you ready to get started? Check out our free ASVAB learning resources today!
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