If you’re taking (or thinking of taking) the ASVAB, you’re likely in one of two camps: you’re a high schooler who is juggling a ton of homework, possibly a job, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, or a high school graduate who is looking for a military career and who hasn’t thought about test-taking in quite some time. No matter what your situation, you’ve likely already got a lot on your plate, and the thought of taking a test that covers everything from Arithmetic Reasoning to General Science to something called Assembling Objects (huh?) is daunting, and probably not something you want to spend your Friday night studying for. So why bother studying for the ASVAB at all? Simply put, studying for the ASVAB is important because your ASVAB score helps determine which jobs you qualify when you enter the military- and if you can even enter the military at all.
First, some background. To enter any branch of the military, you must take the ASVAB, which is short for Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. The test measures your knowledge and ability in ten different subjects, which you can read about in more detail. Within these ten subjects, four count towards your AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test)- Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge, Mathematics Knowledge, and Arithmetic Reasoning. Your AFQT score is used to determine if you can enter the military, and every branch has a different requirement. Beyond the AFQT, the military also uses a method called “line scores” to help determine which jobs you qualify for. Every branch of the military offers different jobs, and these jobs are referred to by different names depending on the branch you are serving in. If you are in the Army, Navy, or Marines your job is your “Military Occupational Specialty,” or MOS for short. If you’re in the Navy or Coast Guard, your job is calling a “rating” or “rate.” In the Air Force, your job is you “Air Force Specialty Code,” or ASFC. Line scores are different combinations of the ten subjects of the ASVAB. For example, in the Army if you would like a General Maintenance (GM) job, your line scores will look at how you did on the General Science, Auto & Shop, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronics Information sections. If you were hoping for a Clerical job (CL), your line scores would focus on your results in the Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge sections. So while you can not technically pass or fail the ASVAB, your score helps determine which jobs you qualify to apply for.
So why is it important to take an ASVAB practice test if it’s not a pass or fail? The answer is simple: you don’t want to limit your opportunities. While you may have no idea which jobs you would find interesting, wouldn’t you rather have as many options on the table as possible when it’s time to decide? And while it’s impossible to study for every concept for every subject on the test, it is important to brush up on the basics for those that you struggle with, especially on the sections that make up the AFQT. If you already know that you’re interested in a certain line of work- say Field Artillery- double check which sections are included on that line score and pay special attention to those as you start to study. Taking ASVAB practice tests like those on found on Union Test Prep, reviewing flashcards, and reading study guides will help give you a feel for the type and difficulty of questions you’ll see on the actual ASVAB and help you feel more prepared for test day. Before test day, it is also a good idea to talk with your recruiter about jobs you may be interested in or the fears and concerns you have about the test. They have worked with hundreds of recruits and are a great resource for your specific concern or situation.