Videos: Today's Military

    MEPS: ASVAB Testing and Career Counseling(02:31)

    The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery of tests, commonly called the ASVAB, is administered to all military applicants, either at a MEPS, in high school or in official testing centers. It is similar to standardized tests like the SAT, but it measures an individual’s potential rather than accumulated knowledge.

    The ASVAB tests eight subject areas:

    • General Science
    • Arithmetic Reasoning
    • Word Knowledge
    • Paragraph Comprehension
    • Mathematics Knowledge
    • Electronics Information
    • Auto and Shop Information
    • Mechanical Comprehension

    In the Military, an applicant’s Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) score is used to determine which careers might be the best fit for that individual. With an AFQT score at hand, each applicant meets with a career counselor to discuss jobs. The counselor will work with the applicant to find an available position that matches the needs of the Service as well as the applicant’s score and preferences.

    The ASVAB test is also administered in high schools as part of a career exploration program. Results, along with a companion interest inventory, enable students to evaluate their skills, estimate performance in academic and vocational endeavors and identify potentially satisfying careers. Military service is not required for students to take advantage of this free exam.

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Speaker 1: My name is Dennis Boston. I'm the test control officer here at the Boston MEPS. Every applicant entering into the Military has to take an ASVAB test, and chances are that's the first contact the applicant has had with the MEPS is coming to the testing section.

Speaker 2: My name is Chuck Shaw, and I'm the education services specialist here at the Boston MEPS. My goal is to market the ASVAB Career Exploration program out to the 419 schools that we have in our area. The ASVAB itself is similar to the standardized test in that it is timed. It is a set of timed tests. But it is, in fact, an aptitude test rather than an achievement test, and it measures potential to learn rather than what you've learned up until this point. What they're looking for is to match individuals in the Service with the right kind of occupations that's going to make them more efficient and provide the best person for the Service, and we're doing much the same thing with the career exploration.

Speaker 3: When I was looking at most of the jobs that were available with the scores that I got on my ASVABs, that would seem like a good job to go along with what I've learned.

Speaker 4: It is. It's a very interesting job. Okay, Mr. Wood, could I have you read each one of these statements? Print your name. "Yes" or "no" by each statement.

Speaker 1: The ultimate goal of the ASVAB is to get an AFQT score for that applicant. Each individual service will take that score, and they have criteria, which an applicant has to meet to qualify for a specific job.

Speaker 5: When you're done with that, you're going to click "next," and the test will begin. You have scratch paper. You have a piece of — you have a pencil. If you need any help or more paper at all, you're going to hit that red "help" button, then raise your hand, okay?

Speaker 2: When we take the program out in the schools, it isn't just to try and get everybody to enlist in the Services, that we're providing a product of Services that go well beyond that. That when we talk to the counselors and the administrators, a lot of them don't realize that the program is free.

Speaker 1: The test administrators that work here at the Boston MEPS Center are instructed to almost put the applicant at ease to try to get them to relax, to do the best that they can do on the particular test.

Speaker 2: We talk to them about work values, what's important to them, what they want to get in return from choosing a particular occupation. And then we bring that all together and then use that to help them plan their career and show them how to work with in terms of the money and the time that it's going to take to complete their education. I think the ASVAB program because of the aptitude element that we have with it is — it stands head and shoulders above most of the other stuff that I've seen out there.

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