Understanding the Different Officer Candidate Tests

By Jane R. Burstein, Carolyn C. Wheater, LTC Richard Dahoney

Part of Officer Candidate Tests For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Your preparation for taking an officer candidate test largely depends on which test you’re planning to take. All branches of the U.S. military use the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) for enlistment, but applicants for officer training take different tests for different branches of the military. Here’s a rundown of the tests that each branch uses:

  • Army: If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, the Army uses ASVAB, SAT, or ACT scores to assess your qualifications for Officer Candidate School (OCS).

  • Air Force: The Air Force uses the AFOQT.

  • Navy: The Navy, like the Air Force, has its own test for aspiring officers: the ASTB. Many of the subtests assess overall aptitude, including ability in math, reading, and word knowledge. Some subtests are used only for those who are interested in becoming aviators.

  • Marines: If you’re striving to become an officer in the Marine Corps, you have the option of qualifying with SAT or ACT scores or with scores from portions of the ASVAB. If you’re interested in becoming an aviator in the Marines, you also need to take the ASTB.

  • Coast Guard: To join the Coast Guard, you must have a minimum qualifying score on portions of the ASVAB and on the SAT and ACT. If you want to be an aviator, you also must take the ASTB. The Coast Guard currently uses the ASTB score to select pilot candidates for training and uses a subcomponent score for its nonaviation officer commissioning program. Each service and program requires a different minimum score.

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) General Technical (GT)

The ASVAB is a placement test that allows the military to place enlistees on career paths that they’re best suited for based on their knowledge and skills in eight distinct areas. The following table presents the subtests for these eight areas. General Technical (GT) refers to a composite score of Verbal Expression (Word Knowledge + Paragraph Comprehension) + Arithmetic Reasoning.

ASVAB Subtests
Subtest # of Questions Minutes Allotted Seconds for Each Question
General Science 25 11 26
Arithmetic Reasoning 30 36 50
Word Knowledge 35 11 19
Paragraph Comprehension 15 13 52
Auto and Shop Information 25 11 26
Mathematics Knowledge 25 24 58
Mechanical Comprehension 25 19 46
Electronics Information 20 9 27

Air Force Officer Qualifying Aptitude Test (AFOQT)

The AFOQT consists of 12 subtests, including a Self-Description Inventory that doesn’t really qualify as a bona fide test. The following table lists the 12 subtests including the number of questions and time allotted for each. All examinees must complete all subtests regardless of the program they want to pursue.

AFOQT Subtests
Subtest # of Questions Minutes Allotted Seconds for Each Question
1. Verbal Analogies 25 8 19
2. Arithmetic Reasoning 25 29 70
3. Word Knowledge 25 5 12
4. Mathematics Knowledge 25 22 53
5. Instrument Comprehension 20 6 18
6. Block Counting 20 3 9
7. Table Reading 40 7 10
8. Aviation Information 20 8 24
9. General Science 20 10 30
10. Rotated Blocks 15 13 52
11. Hidden Figures 15 8 32
12. Self-Description Inventory 220 40 11

Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) Officer Aptitude Rating (OAR)

The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard all use the ASTB as one measure of readiness for applicants to the officer aviation program. These branches of the military use the battery to predict performance and attrition. The ASTB measures math knowledge and skills, the ability to understand written material, mechanical knowledge, spatial perception, and knowledge of fundamental aviation and nautical concepts. The entire battery consists of the six subtests listed in the following table.

ASTB Subtests
Subtest # of Questions Minutes Allotted Seconds for Each Question
1. Math Skills 30 25 50
2. Reading Skills 27 25 55
3. Mechanical Comprehension 30 15 30
4. Spatial Apperception 25 10 24
5. Aviation and Nautical Information 30 15 30
6. Aviation Supplemental 34 25 44