Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery; A Journey from Alpha and Beta Tests to Modern Methods

If you look back in history, practically ever army had its heroes. They weren’t there by accident though. They were there as a result of their ability. They had the required aptitude to be a good soldier. There were different physical as well as intelligent tests in which they needed to be successful to be a soldier or a leader. Definitely these tests were not like modern aptitude tests like armed services vocational aptitude battery (ASVAB) but we can’t deny a system of recruitment of soldiers.

Today your aptitude will be assessed with modern technology but the purpose would be same; select the best from the available candidates.

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The early days of aptitude tests and the armed services

armed services vocational aptitude battery

The first appearance of an aptitude test for the armed services was early in the 20th century. Two tests were specifically designed. These were the Army Alpha test and the Army Beta test. The Alpha test was for competent English speakers. The Beta test was for those whose English was poor.

The Alpha test comprised ten scales, the Beta test 7. Both tests were specifically aimed at testing mental agility. The tests remained relatively constant until 1968. Then the first armed services vocational battery was introduced. This test is a multiple choice format exam. It is, and always has been administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command.

The ASVAB is also made up of a smaller section which has to be passed by all recruits.  A pass mark is set according to the branch of the services it is for. This part of the ASVAB is called the Armed Services Qualification Test (ASQT).  It can be taken by anyone of any age looking to enlist. It is mainly presented to students in the US to take between 10th and 12th grade. The test is used as a formal qualification necessary to join the Unites States military service.

The ASQT comprises four of the nine individual sections in the AVSAB: Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Math Knowledge MK) and two tests covering Verbal Reasoning. These two tests comprise Word Knowledge (WK) and Paragraph Comprehension (PC).

More recently, the test method has been altered. Now a score of 50 is representative of the average for that group taking the test. For the army, navy and marines, the score to enlist is appreciably lower than the air force. With a college diploma, a score of between 31 and 35 is all that is required. It is 45 for the air force. Without a college diploma, the scores differ. The United States Military Entrance Processing Command demands a minimum of 50. For the air force you will need a score of 65.

The more up-to-date and established testing

Originally, five aptitudes were covered by the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. These included numerical operations (NO), attention to detail (AD), and tool knowledge (TK).  General information (GI), and space perception (SP) were also included.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery today

As mentioned, the battery was more recently updated. The last change was in 2004 when the pass mark was set at 50. This meant that you were better than 50% of the others who took the exam. However, the maximum score is only 99. This is because you can’t beat yourself!

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery has changed considerably in what is tested when compared to 1976. Back then there were only 5 aptitudes being tested. Today there are 10 aptitudes which in the test. Today’s test takes up to three hours to complete.

The full Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery includes a section covering General Science (GS). It comprises 25 questions and takes 11 minutes to complete. The section on paragraph comprehension (PC) has 15 questions and you are allowed 13 minutes. Word knowledge has 35 questions and should be completed within 11 minutes

Mechanical Comprehension (MC) includes questions with a time allowance of 19 minutes. Electronics information (EI) consists of 20 questions to be done in 9 minutes. Mathematic knowledge comprises 25 questions and 254 minutes are allowed. Separate to mathematical knowledge there is Arithmetic reasoning. Thirty questions on this topic last for 36 minutes.

Finally, there are the two topics. Verbal expression (VE), and assembling objects (AO). Those wanting to join the navy also have to take a coding speed (CS) test. Without an HSD A 50 pass in the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) does not guarantee entry in to the armed services. The test only forms part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

The testing is administered and overseen by the United States Department of Defense. Your results for other sections of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery will let you know where your skills lie best. If your score is high it may increase your chances of landing a chosen vocation.

If you fail the Armed Services Qualification Test you can retake it. The first time you can do this is after a month. If you have to retake it a second time, you have to wait six months.

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