Military Placement Exams – An Overview of Military Placement Exams

Presently, both the ASVAB and CAT-ASVAB are given in about 14,000 schools and numerous METS (Military Entrance Testing Sites). About 900,000 students and many others take them. The better your score on any of these exams ensures the best selection of jobs to choose from for your service career.

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)

ASVAB began in 1968 as a joint military effort to standardize military entrance testing. The ASVAB is largely a pencil and paper type of exam with several categories or subtests. The ASVAB is still given in high school and at several MEPS stations nationwide.

Computerized Adaptive Testing

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (CAT-ASVAB)

CAT-ASVAB began in 1997 and is largely an automated testing system. Most of the MEPS are currently giving the CAT-ASVAB.

1. What is the difference between the ASVAB and the CAT-ASVAB?

The straightforward pencil and paper test is just that – a set list of questions that the candidate answers and then waits for military processing personnel to correct and compute. The CAT-ASVAB not only corrects the answers immediately, it is also adaptive to the candidate’s answers.

2. CAT-ASVAB: How does it work?

Students are seated in front of a computer station and terminal. The test is displayed on the screen. As the students answer the test questions, the program immediately scores and records the answers, including the subtests. When the candidates have completed the CAT-ASVAB, the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test, the math and verbal sections of the ASVAB) and composite scores for all the services are already computed.

Advantage: The CAT-ASVAB bases the next question you answer on the ability level pattern you exhibited from the previous question’s answer. In other words, if you answer the question correctly, you are given a harder question. If you answer the question incorrectly, you are then given an easier question. This process is continued for each subtest until you have completed the entire CAT-ASVAB.

Disadvantage: Unlike the ASVAB, the CAT-ASVAB does not allow candidates to go back and change answers.

3. ASVAB Scoring:

The straightforward pencil and paper test ASVAB raw score equals the total number of questions answered correctly.

The CAT-ASVAB raw scores are not equal to the total number of correct answers. The CAT-ASVAB subtest scores are computed using formulas that take into account the difficulty level of the question and the number of correct answers. Because the test is adaptive, a process called “equating” is used to compute the standard scores, AFQT, and the service composites.

ASVAB Test-Taking Tips

Although the CAT-ASVAB is designed so that individuals with no computer experience can take the exam, it is highly recommended that a candidate practice using a computer before taking the CAT-ASVAB. A well-prepared candidate will always do better than one who is not.

Tip: It is critical that you do well on either of these tests. The better your score, the more military career choices you will have. These exams are used to determine what military occupational specialties or opportunities you qualify for. They can literally limit your future in the military. This author strongly recommends that you study and practice before taking them.

Recommended Study Guides:

ASVAB-How to Prepare for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (1997)
Pass Key to the ASVAB (1997)
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