There are a variety of ways to pay for college: savings, scholarships, and financial aid. But many in the armed forces have found that joining the military is actually a great way to pay for school
and build their resume.
But how do you know if joining the military is right for you?
Just like there are standardized tests to determine your college readiness (the SAT and ACT), there is an exam that can determine if joining the military is the right next step for you. It’s official name is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, but it’s known more commonly as the ASVAB.
Before you sign up, it’s important for you to get to know the exam a little better.
What is the ASVAB?
According to the ASVAB site
, the exam is used to see if you qualify to join the military as well as to assign you to an appropriate job within the armed forces. These tests are conducted at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). If you do not live near a Station, you can take the exam at a satellite location called a Military Entrance Test (MET) site.
The exam can be taken on the computer or by using pen and paper. The ASVAB site
reports that your scores will be roughly the same no matter which avenue you have access to, based on your location.
Unlike the SAT or ACT, the ASVAB is an adaptive test that responds to your previous answers with like questions. Essentially, it is designed to be targeted toward your ability level. The test covers Verbal, Math, Science and Technical, and Spatial reasoning.
Do I need to prepare for the ASVAB?
Absolutely. Sarah Blansett, Vice President of Military.com
, states that, “It’s an incredibly important piece of the recruiting process and the test covers many subjects so it’s important to practice just like someone would practice for the SAT or ACT if they are interested in going to college.”
Just like the SAT or ACT, there are a variety of platforms that provide ASVAB practice tests for students. Blansett suggests that students wait until later in their high school career to begin taking practice tests, but they can technically begin at any time.
Practice tests are available on Military.com
. Students will see a detailed review of their score for each section, which will provide guidance on what to work on before taking the real exam. There are two practice tests listed on Military.com. The “short” version takes roughly 30 – 45 minutes and the “long” test will take between 1 – 2 hours, which is just as long as the actual exam.
Find out how you score by taking a free practice ASVAB test
What is a good score on the ASVAB test?
Blansett says that, “A “good” ASVAB score is hard to easily define.” Each branch of the military has certain ASVAB score requirements, just as every job does. When you take the practice tests, you’ll get more of a picture of how you will score on the real exam and what that score means. The maximum score on the ASVAB is 99.
Will a good ASVAB score help me pay for college?
No – and yes. Technically, all members of the military that are currently serving or were honorably discharged are eligible to claim their GI Bill Benefits
in order to pay for college. The GI Bill education benefits cover tuition and fees, monthly housing, and a stipend for textbooks and supplies.
However, a good ASVAB score may qualify you for jobs within the military that include additional special pay. This extra pay could go toward any other extra education expenses or continuing degrees.
What comes after the ASVAB?
After you take the ASVAB and complete your physical, depending on your results, you will be able to be sworn into the military. You will also be led through a final interview, fingerprint, and background check. Finally, you’ll work with a counselor to guide you through the transition of getting your test results, being sworn in, and planning for basic training.
For students considering military service, it’s important to talk to a recruiter and go over options. They will very likely recommend taking the ASVAB and can help you with navigating the prep work and scheduling the exam. Be sure to check out Military.com
for information about ASVAB scores and practice tests.
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