So your child decided to join… What next?


First things first: ASVAB

First thing they will need to do is take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). There are essentially 3 very different ways to take the test. First is the ASVAB-CEP ( Career Exploration Program) commonly know as the student ASVAB or SASVAB. This is the version of the test that can be taken at high school or a trade school. There is the standard ASVAB taken at the military entrance processing station (MEPS). The last one is the newest version which is the PiCat (pronounced pie cat).

The versions are important. Typically in ease of order it goes PiCat, SASVAB, MEPS. It is important to know what version and where your child took the test.


They are only able to take the PiCat if they have NEVER tested before anywhere else, even then not all stations or services are currently using this option. Your mileage may vary. The biggest advantage to the PiCat is it can be taken anywhere with a computer and Internet. Once a code is created the code is good for 31 days, if the test isn’t taken in that period it expires and the applicant is not eligible to do the PiCat anymore. Once opened the test must be completed in 24 hours. When completed the recruiter has immediate access to their scores. It is important to state, don’t cheat. The applicant will need to take a 30 question proctored test at MEPS called a confirmation test to verify their score. They will either verify or not verify their score. If they verify it that will be their score, if they don’t they will be routed to take a full ASVAB again immediately. There is also the possibility they get randomly selected to take a full ASVAB even if they verify, although it doesn’t happen very often.


The SASVAB is given on paper proctored by a MEPS test administrator. The advantage to the SASVAB is they can go back and review their answers and make changes if necessary. To use a test score from the SASVAB the applicant has to declare they want to use the score on MEPCOM form 680-AE. Scores are given to recruiters (if allowed by the school) and students 30-45 days after the test.

Testing at MEPS requires extra planning for travel, the form and time. When testing at MEPS the applicant is subject to all of MEPS’s rules and regulations. The test is given on the computer and there is no ability to go back to a question. They will have their scores immediately.


The ASVAB score is the most important thing when it comes to jobs, bonus money and options. For the Army 31 is passing, anything below that is currently unqualified. 50 or better is required for bonus money and additional options (if available). The ASVAB breaks down into individual components (line scores) that determine jobs. If a job needs a 90 in CL but your child has an 89 he is not qualified for that job without an exception, if he has a 91 he is good to go. You can use the website to put in line scores to see what jobs your child is qualified for. Please understand this is a tool, not the be all end all. Just because your kid qualified to be a firefighter doesn’t mean that training currently exists for the job.


TAPAS: No matter what version of the test they take they will need to take the Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment Series. The TAPAS measures the can do of an applicant and the will do of the applicant. If the applicant has a GED they must pass the TAPAS to be qualified. If they have a high school diploma they must take it but are not required to pass it.

Once the ASVAB and TAPAS are complete the applicant will move on to the physical. Part 3 will come soon.