Taking ASVAB Prepares You for Career Planning or Military Enlistment

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If you're not sure what kind of career planning or career options you'd like to pursue, you may want to consider taking the ASVAB to get a sense of the occupations you'd be well suited for based on your abilities and skills.

Student ASVAB can help with career planning

The student ASVAB, also known as the institutional ASVAB, is sponsored by high schools and is offered to all interested students. It was created for high school students in their sophomore, junior, or senior year or in a postsecondary school to help identify their abilities. It is a great tool, and it has helped many students decide on their future educational or career path. The student ASVAB also helps the military attract well-qualified volunteers for enlistment and to place them in military occupational programs.

More than 1 million people take the student ASVAB each year as part of the military's Career Exploration Program. With this program, students, take surveys about their interests, identify personal characteristics, and use their ASVAB scores to match their background to possible careers, and get career information.

If you choose to take the student ASVAB, you will take the exam with other students at your school. More than likely, there will be one or more military recruiters present as proctors of the exam. This is their sole purpose for being there, and they are prohibited by regulations from actively recruiting during the ASVAB. However, the ASVAB answer sheet contains questions about your plans after high school. Those plans may be attending a two- or four-year college, attending a vocational (or trade) school for job training, or enlisting in the military.

If you do well on the ASVAB, military recruiters may contact you regardless of your intended plans. If you list "plans military," you are a prime candidate for enlistment and will be pursued by recruiters from all of the military services. If you do choose to enlist in the military, your student ASVAB scores can be used for qualification for enlistment. Note that your scores remain valid for two years.

Enlistment ASVAB qualifies you for military job training

Another form of the ASVAB is referred to as the enlistment ASVAB, also known as the production ASVAB. This version is given to those people pursuing enlistment in the military who either did not take the student version or want to retake the exam in the hope that they will improve their scores.

Your enlistment ASVAB scores determine your learning ability and vocational aptitude. Having an understanding of these personal characteristics can also help you decide on a career path within the military. More than 500,000 potential recruits take the ASVAB each year.

The enlistment ASVAB is given in one of two places, either at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or at a Mobile Examining Team (MET) site. In either place, you take the exam with others who have also decided to join the military. All tests given at the MEPS are computer-adaptive tests.

Note that your recruiter may arrange for you to take a pre-ASVAB test called the Entrance Screening Test (EST). This pretest is given at the recruiter's office. It gives the recruiter an idea of your potential for scoring high enough on the ASVAB to qualify, and it contains only subjects pertaining to math and English skills.

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