Is the ASVAB an IQ Test? What is the Difference?

As you may explore career choices and a possible commitment to the armed services, your research may reveal the existence of a standardized test used to qualify all those wishing to enlist in the armed services.  The test is called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB for short.  While this test does share some features with other comprehensive tests, it is unique and specifically tailored to the personnel assessment needs of the armed services. 

No, the ASVAB is not an IQ test.  The ASVAB is a specific, focused test of your current aptitude and cognitive skills in key content areas designated by the specific needs of the armed services.  An IQ test differs considerably as it measures the unlocked potential intelligence of individuals. 

When joining the armed services, their goal is to put the most capable recruits in the best career positions to continue to function and meet the demands placed on each service branch.  The ASVAB delivers on this process by giving the recruiters the tool and data to ensure that each recruit is tested and rated to allow for the best fit in the armed services career paths. 

Is the ASVAB an IQ Test? What is the Difference?

However, this does not mean that future potential is ignored.  Rather, it gives the recruit immediate placement in a system that will allow them to continue learning and improving and gives them the opportunity to switch career path as new talents and abilities are learned and perfected.  IQ tests look at maximum potential, and once placed in a suitable career, the process of unlocking a recruit’s potential begins. 

What is the ASVAB? 

In a nutshell, the ASVAB is the aptitude test relied on by all branches of the armed services used to aid in proper placement of enlisted recruits.  Those coming from ROTC or other avenues for entrance into the armed services also take it, though there is more liberty in career assignments based on experience and other factors such as degrees or existing civilian careers. 

Is the ASVAB an IQ Test? What is the Difference?

The ASVAB has 9 (or 10) sub-tests: Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word KnowledgeGeneral ScienceElectronics InformationAuto and Shop InformationMechanical Comprehension, and Assembling Objects. 

Once the test is completed, the answers are scored in each of the areas, and then collectively the data returns areas of interest that produce possible career paths within the armed services.  This result is called the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT Score.  This is the score used to look at admission into the armed services, with each branch having different acceptance scores. 

Consultation with a recruiter after the results are scored and compiled will ensure that the recruit not only is  headed down a career path suited to their existing skills and abilities, but will also improve the recruits expectation of what each option includes and allows the recruit to have a realistic expectation of how the ASVAB score will affect their time in the armed services branch they choose. 

When Can I Begin? 

The ASVAB can be administered several different ways.  Over 10,000 high schools partner with the Department of Defense (DOD) to make it available on high school campuses through a Program called the ASVAB Career Exploration Program (ASVAB CEP).  The school faculty and staff serve as proctors and make sure the test is administered properly. 

High School Students can take it as early as their sophomore year, and it can be taken multiple times throughout their time in high school.  The primary difference is that the test returns civilian careers that the test taker may be interested in or have the skills to necessary to perform. 

The armed services aspect of the ASVAB is still scored in the ASVAB CEP. So those students wishing to explore a career in the armed services can still use this version of the test to meet the ASVAB testing requirements of a recruit. 

What About After High School? 

If you miss the opportunity to take the ASVAB in high school, there are still a couple options available.  Contacting a recruiter of any branch of the service will result in your being scheduled to take the ASVAB test.  At this point, the ASVAB CEP is no longer an option, and only the normal ASVAB is available.  You may take the test without any enlistment commitment. 

Once scheduled, there are still a few options.  The ASVAB is taken at either Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or a Military Entrance Testing (MET) site unless the online version is used.  MEPS utilize computers for taking the ASVAB and MET sites may offer the computer version or the paper and pencil version of the ASVAB. 

There is also and Online version of the ASVAB that can be taken anywhere there is a computer and a reliable internet connection.  This version relies on the taker being honest and answering the questions without outside help.  The recruiter will offer a short follow up test designed to ensure the recruit took the test honestly. 

Are All These Options the Same ASVAB? 

Is the ASVAB an IQ Test? What is the Difference?

No, there are some slight differences depending on which of the 3 options you choose.  The 3 options listed above are referred to as the Paper and Pencil ASVAB (P&P-ASVAB), the Computerized Adaptive Testing ASVAB (CAT-ASVAB), and online version referred to as the pre-screening internet-delivered Computer Adaptive Test (PiCAT). 

The P&P-ASVAB is currently the most popular when factoring the ASVAB CEP Program.  However, The Computerized version is quickly catching up.  The P&P-ASVAB test has the 9 categories mentioned earlier.  It has a time limit, and much be monitored when it is taken. 

The CAT-ASVAB has a time limit and must be monitored as well.  The CAT-ASVAB splits the Auto and Shop sub-test into 2 separate sub-tests, so there are 10 sub-tests on the computerized version.  The CAT-ASVAB also uses adaptive testing, which factors in correct answers and in turn customizes the test to the taker, resulting in fewer questions and an overall shorter test period. 

The PiCAT allows at home testing for people who may have testing anxiety, live too far from a testing station, or otherwise qualify to take the test at home.  Worth noting is that the PiCat is not available to you if you have ever taken the P&P-ASVAB or the CAT-ASVAB in the past. 

While the differences in the types of ASVAB tests seem substantial, scores across all mediums remain similar, revealing that the test itself is indeed an accurate representation of the aptitude and cognitive ability of the test taker, regardless of the delivery method. 

The Interpretation of the Scores 

Once the test is over and your scores are in hand, the results reveal a lot of information.  The score ranges from 0 to 100, with 50 being average.  This is the AFQT Score mentioned earlier.  The scores in each su-test are accumulated, and then the results of each sub-test are categorized against careers in the armed services.  The sub-tests that you score highest in steer your recommendations. 

Is the ASVAB an IQ Test? What is the Difference?

For example, if your highest scores are in Auto and Shop Comprehension and Mechanical  Comprehension, your career path would lean toward being a mechanic or similar trade, while if your scores were highest in Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension, an administrative or office job may be more in your future. 

And you can retake the ASVAB while you are serving in the armed services.  Retaking the ASVAB after you have a bit of experience and awareness of the armed services may reveal other areas you can function well in.  There is also a process for transferring and continuing education which can also result in new job assignments once your service begins. 

The afore mentioned AFQT Score helps to determine which branch you may be accepted into.  Each branch has its own minimum acceptance score.  They are as follows for high school graduates: Army-31, Marines-32Navy-35, Air Force-36, and Coast Guard-40.  For GED holders, a minimum score of at least 50 is required for the test to join any branch.

What is the IQ Test? 

The IQ Test, or Intelligence Quotient Test, is a test administered to, as the name suggests, test the intelligence level of the test taker.  This is accomplished several ways, including testing recall, puzzle solving, predictive reasoning, and long and short-term memory, as well as the speed at which these things happen. 

There are numerous types of IQ Tests that have been developed over the years, however, they all serve a similar function.  The questions are designed in a way to challenge the intelligence of the IQ test taker.  This is accomplished regardless of the actual level of knowledge or experience of the IQ Test taker, which is why young children can score much higher than some adults. 

The IQ Test is usually administered to younger, elementary aged children.  While it can be used and taken when a person is older, its purpose is best served when utilized on younger children.  There are not many schools that automatically offer IQ tests, and at times it may need to be prescribed by a doctor. 

The reason a doctor would prescribe an IQ test is because it ia an excellent measure of development for young children, and it can help diagnose learning disabilities or medical conditions using the result of the scores.  It can also highlight children on the opposite end who have advanced intelligence and can benefit from alternative forms of advanced education. 

IQ Test scores can fluctuate a bit overtime as education and environmental factors change.  But generally, those that scored high at a young age will still score the high later in life.  There are changes that occur based on medical and educational interventions, but eventually scores will level off until late in life, when changes due to age cause drops in IQ Test scores. 

Curious about other exams? Read this article: 

Major Differences Between the Two

 Is the ASVAB an IQ Test? What is the Difference?

The differences between the ASVAB and the IQ Test become apparent when the two of them are compared side by side.  A quick recap reveals IQ Tests are best suited for younger children while they are still developing, and the ASVAB is designed for teenagers and adults. 

The IQ Test serves as a diagnostic tool to help access learning disabilities and potential medical related diagnosis related to intellectual development, and the ASVAB tests current knowledge and abilities for the purpose of skill recognition and career placement. 

Basicallythe goal of the IQ Test is to recognize future potential and accomplishments, while the ASVAB takes a deliberate look at current skills and abilities.  This is reinforced by the fact that the ASVAB must be taken within the last 2 years to be considered valid. 

Related Questions

Does the Military Factor in a recruits IQ score during the recruitment or enlistment phase? 

No, the armed services do not factor in your IQ score when they are recruiting you.  Their goal is to utilize a new recruit immediately in an area they are competent in.  That being said, factors such as a high IQ may lend itself to successful career in the military and open up other opportunities during the time of service. 

Most branches of service have their own systems in place for unlocking potential and maximizing the contribution of its members.  A person with a high IQ score may find it easier to navigate that process and naturally accomplish more of the challenges placed before them. 

Will a high IQ score help raise the score on the ASVAB? 

There is no guarantee a high IQ score will raise the score on the ASVAB.   While it is true that most people with higher IQ scores are generally more knowledgeable, that is not always the case.  The ASVAB is an aptitude test that looks deeper at learned knowledge and being apply to apply it to real world situations. 

There are certain areas of both tests that could overlap, but that is purely coincidental. Both tests are designed specifically with entirely different goals in mind, and they both function well for their design and to achieve their end goals. 

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.