The Pros and Cons of the ASVAB Computerized Test

By Angie Papple Johnston

Military recruiters have noted that many ASVAB applicants tend to score slightly higher on the computerized version of the test than on the paper version. So does this mean you should take the computerized version? That depends.

You don’t have to be a computer guru to appreciate the advantages of the computerized version of the ASVAB:

  • It’s impossible to record your answer in the wrong space on the answer sheet. Questions and possible answers are presented on the screen, and you press the key that corresponds to your answer choice before moving on to the next question. Often, only the A, B, C, and D keys are activated when you take the test.
  • The difficulty of the test items presented depends on whether you answered the previous question correctly. On the two math subtests of the ASVAB, harder questions are worth more points than easier questions are, so this method helps maximize your AFQT score.
  • You get your scores right away. The computer automatically calculates and prints your standard scores for each subtest and your line scores for each service branch. This machine is a pretty smart cookie—it also calculates your AFQT percentile score on the spot. You usually know whether you qualify for military enlistment on the same day you take the test and, if so, which jobs you qualify for.

On the downside, you can’t skip questions or change your answers after you enter them on the CAT-ASVAB. Instead of being able to go through and immediately answer all the questions you’re sure of, you have to answer each question as it comes. This can make it difficult to judge how much time to spend on a tough question before guessing and moving on. Also, if you have a few minutes at the end of the test, you can’t go back and make sure you marked the correct answer to each question.