No matter what pathway you’re choosing to initially enter the Army: Reserve or Active, Enlisted or Officer. They want you to take aptitude tests to see what jobs you qualify for. I want to break down the differences between them .

PICAT

The PICAT is one I had never heard of until my recruiter called me same day and told me I was taking one, but boy am I glad I did! This test is a self paced, self monitored, online test that you take from the comfort of your home, or school, or wherever you have internet.

It has 10 sections, same as the ASVAB and they range in length from a minimum of 10 questions and the longest I remember was 15. You are not to use outside resources or a calculator but you may take as long as you want on each section. It’s not timed and you have a full 48 hours to finish the exam so you can do it in pieces too. It is essentially a predictor test that is suppose to figure out what you would score on each section. If you do not pass the first four sections it will kick you out and you’ll have to take the normal ASVAB. If you pass the first four it will give you access to the last five. Afterwards you will take what is called a verification test to take keep your scores.

The verification test is timed you have 45 minutes to answer 30 questions. You will take it in a testing center just like the ASVAB. Some of your questions will come from the test you already took (answer them with the same answer you put) others will be new to verify knowledge. I would say it was probably 60% old, 40% new.  If you don’t pass the verification test you will be rolled into the ASVAB. If you do pass, you have a 95% chance of keeping your scores, an unlucky random 5% gets rolled into the ASVAB so they can continue to verify the system. You may only take the PICAT once. I was explained once that the PICAT is for those they expect to do very well or very poorly but there easily could be no merit to that statement.

I was lucky, I passed my PICAT. This means I got to keep my prediction scores for the ASVAB: a 98 as an overall score and a 140 GT score (I needed a 110 for an officer packet)

ASVAB

This is the general test most people are familiar with and I will go into less detail because there is tons of information out there on it. This is a timed, monitored, ten section test that is typically given on a computer nowadays. You may request a paper pencil copy but it it is a longer test and you don’t get scores immediately. Either way, no calculators are allowed or outside resources.

The test isn’t terribly hard. I took it once in high school (mandatory for all students at my high school) If you have basic math, reading, and word knowledge you’ll score well. If you’re worried brush up on how to do long division and multiplication as it is essential to answer many questions. Plus side to the ASVAB if you score low you can always retake it, however they will always take your most recent score. If it doesn’t increase your job selection or you aren’t gunning for something specific keep decent scores.

The science, shop, electrical, etc sections help make up other scores that are randomly combined. The GOARMY site does a great job at explaining how the scores are combined.

TAPAS

This is the other test take you take before enlisting into the Army. It isn’t hard it is just weird. It is a personality test that is forced choice. Meaning you must select one statement over another despite if you hate both of them or like both of them but you pick the one that sounds most like you. Some will have two good choices, some two bad, others one good one bad. It is suppose to determine if you have willingness to serve and lead. You can’t really study for this one, and just answer honestly I suppose. I finished this test and still passed at MEPS so I am not sure. Examples of what questions are like are below:

(Two Good)

-Your friends believe you are a dependable person and would call if you’re in trouble.

-You are a hardworking individual who would strive to do their best in all things.

(Two Bad)

-You tend to insult people.

-You have a hard time controlling your anger and avoid negative situations.

****UPDATE on May 15th after being emailed a question! *****

Q: Can you raise your score taking the PICAT verification test?

Once you finish taking the PICAT at home your recruiter will be notified on their end of the system and be able to tell you what you scored. The verification test does what it says it verifies your scores. Which means whatever your recruiter saw that day you keep if you pass your verification test, if you fail verification you get rolled into the ASVAB. If you do not like your scores on the PICAT you do not have to take the verification test and opt to take the ASVAB instead.

 

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