ASVAB Overview: Taking The Computer-Adaptive Version
Anyone going into the military is familiar with the ASVAB test, but after years of being given strictly as a paper-based test, the option now exists to take it as a CAT (or Computer-Adaptive Test). What this means is that the test will reconfigure the questions it decides to ask you based on your correct and incorrect responses. CATs are designed to find the questions that you’re especially good at as well as the areas where you struggle. The ASVAB isn’t the first test to utilize this algorithm, and as testing continues to head online, it won’t be the last. For our purposes, we’re going to tell you what you can expect from the CAT-ASVAB and share a few tips for taking this particular style of test. Let’s get started.
The CAT-ASVAB Features the Following Sections.
This section deals with general principles of biological and physical sciences, according to the team at dummies.com. It contains 16 questions and has a time allotment of only 8 minutes or around 30 seconds per question.
With the AR section, you will be working simple word problems that do not require advanced mathematical skills. There are 16 questions in all and 39 minutes to properly answer each one.
Word Knowledge deals directly with the meanings (and anti-meanings) of words. In other words, if you have a firm grasp on synonyms and antonyms, this section shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s eight minutes in length, 16 questions total.
This section tests you on your reading comprehension ability for small sections of text (usually in the 300 to 500 word window). Read the passage, answer the questions. You’ll have 22 minutes to answer 11 questions in all.
Algebra and geometry are the two primary subjects featured in the MK section. Here you will be presented with 16 questions with a total of 20 minutes to answer.
If the arts were never your thing, you’ll enjoy this section which deals primarily with electrical principles, basic electronic circuitry, and electronic terminology. The subtest gives you eight minutes to answer 16 questions in all.
Grow up with a family member, who always let you help him/her work on cars? You could excel at this section, which deals directly with knowledge of automobiles and proper tool use. This subtest gives you 7 minutes to answer 11 questions.
Prefer shop classes? This subtest will give you the chance to show your strengths in a 6-minute, 11 question mini-section.
MC offers questions on basic mechanical and physical principles, giving you 20 minutes to answer 16 questions in all.
You’ll get a minute per question on this 16-minute-long subtest that deals primarily with spatial awareness.
Altogether, the CAT-ASVAB offers 10 subtests for a total of 145 questions over the course of 154 minutes (approximately 2.5 hours). As you answer the questions, the computer algorithm will hone in on areas where you perform your best. If you do poorly on questions related to arts, it’s likely to tip the scale back toward mechanical or mathematical endeavors, but you should do your best on each subtest to give yourself more flexibility later on. Here are some tips for how to do well on the CAT-ASVAB.
Firstly, study for each individual section.
We recommend purchasing multiple training materials to get an overview of what different sets of experts advise. As well, you will not want to neglect 4Tests’ own version of the ASVAB, available for free at this link.
Secondly, start studying at least four weeks in advance, preferably six.
The more time that you can give yourself to prepare for the test, the better off you will be. You will probably have some idea ahead of time regarding where your strengths lie. Still, do not neglect individual sections just because you assume they will be your strong points.
Thirdly, start taking practice tests as soon as possible.
Each full administration of the ASVAB will take around two and a half hours to complete. We recommend that halfway through your studies, you start alternating days and taking a full, uninterrupted practice test on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; or whichever combination works best with your schedule.
Fourthly, when it comes to the actual test, don’t be afraid to guess.
Be confident in your answers, especially when you are dealing with sections that fall in your wheelhouse. But try not to be intimidated by questions that challenge you. Remember that you have a specific time limit to answer each question, and that works out to a little more than a minute per question. If you feel like you’re spending too long on one, and you’re no closer to getting it right, make your best guess. Chances are likely that you will get at least some of them correct.
Finally, study your scores.
If your goal is to improve across the board, really study the score report that you receive and make note of areas where you lagged behind. Taking the ASVAB a second time could end up being much easier as a result.
Can you take the ASVAB more than once?
Some people labor under the mistaken notion that the ASVAB is a test they can only take once because it provides a clear snapshot of where their natural proficiencies lie. This is not true. You can take the ASVAB more than once, though you have to wait “one calendar month to retake the test” and “an additional calendar month to retest a second time,” according to the official ASVAB website. “After that, you must wait six calendar months to retake the ASVAB. Your scores may be used for enlistment for up to two years from the date of testing.”
The ASVAB — in both CAT and PBT forms — is a great way of gauging where your strengths lie. Before you take the exam, study the details, know what you’re up against, and utilize the tips featured here. Good luck!
[Image via ASVAB Test Review]