What's on the ASVAB Technical Subtests?


General Science ASVAB Technical Subtest

The General Science section of the ASVAB covers a grab bag of topics that you may or may not have studied in high school or elsewhere. This subtest covers a wide variety of material, but you’ll never be expected to know too much about a single topic. Seek first to develop a broad overview of the subject matter, learning the broad outlines of anything that’s completely unfamiliar and refreshing your memory about topics that seem familiar. Then, if you have time before Test Day, you can dig deeper into these topics.
ASVAB science topics fall into three broad categories: life science, Earth and space science, and physical science. You’ll be answering 25 questions in 11 minutes on the paper-and-pencil version, and you are given 8 minutes for 16 questions on the CAT-ASVAB. That means you need to be able to answer ASVAB science questions in roughly half a minute.

Electronics ASVAB Technical Subtest

The discovery of electricity and its use in transferring energy has been the foundation of modern technology. It’s hard to imagine a world without automobiles, computers, or even flashlights. Though they have vastly different functions, all electrical and electronic devices operate due to the movement of subatomic particles called electrons (hence the word electronics).
For the Electronics subtest, you should be familiar with the basic principles of electricity and electronic components and be able to identify major circuit components and their functions, perform calculations to determine circuit properties, and understand some of the safety devices used in modern household wiring.
On the CAT-ASVAB, you will have 8 minutes to complete 16 Electronics Information (EI) questions. If you take the paper-and-pencil ASVAB, you will have 9 minutes to complete 20 EI questions.

Automotive Information ASVAB Technical Subtest

On the CAT-ASVAB, you are given 7 minutes to answer 11 Automotive Information (AI) questions. On the paper-and-pencil test, the Automotive Information and Shop Information subtests are combined into one, with 11 minutes to answer 25 questions about both topics.
Remember that there are many, many minute details involved in the makeup of automotive systems. The test maker cannot possibly ask about all of them. Your best approach to studying is to develop a thorough understanding of automotive systems, their major parts, and how those systems work together. This high-level understanding will likely equip you to make solid inferences about details when you need to.

Shop Information ASVAB Technical Subtest

In order to work effectively in any industrial or technical environment, a technician must be able to identify tools correctly and use them safely. Hand tools are the foundation of industry; very little work would get done without them. Even the largest and most complex piece of equipment would not run for very long if hand tools were not available for its maintenance and repair.
The ASVAB Shop Information (SI) test will assess your familiarity with common tools and their uses. You are given six minutes to answer 11 Shop Information questions on the CAT-ASVAB. On the paper-and-pencil test, the Automotive Information and Shop Information subtests are combined into one, with 11 minutes to answer 25 questions about both topics.

Mechanical Comprehension ASVAB Technical Subtest

In order to understand how machines work, it is important to have a good grasp of applied physics. The study of applied physics is the study of the practical application of the laws of physics. Engineering, architecture, and heavy equipment operation depend upon applied physics.
On the CAT-ASVAB, you will have 20 minutes to answer 16 questions in the Mechanical Comprehension subtest. If you are taking the paper-and-pencil test, you will have 19 minutes to answer 25 questions.

Assembling Objects ASVAB Technical Subtest

The ASVAB analyzes your abilities and aptitude to help you discover what military careers would be the best match for you. For example, pilots, mechanics, machine operators, and engineers need to develop good spatial relationship skills—that is, the ability to see how parts will look when assembled into a whole. The Assembling Objects (AO) subtest examines your spatial relationship skills, so it gives you an opportunity to show that you are good at putting things together. As always, we recommend checking with your recruiter or career counselor to learn more about which subtests will be important to you in reaching your goals.
The skills required for the AO test are learnable. Even test takers who struggle to visualize how shapes fit together can greatly improve their spatial relationship skills by learning strategies and practicing.
The CAT-ASVAB test includes 16 AO questions, with a time limit of 16 minutes. Remember, unlike the paper-and-pencil ASVAB, you will not be able to review or change an answer once you submit it. The paper-and-pencil ASVAB includes 25 AO questions, with a 15-minute time limit.
The Assembling Objects subtest contains two types of test items. We’re going to call these:

  • Jigsaw-Puzzle-Type Problems, which test your ability to choose how an object will look when its parts are put together into a larger shape.
  • Connector-Type Problems, which test your ability to correctly connect two objects with a line at the indicated points.

In both types of AO items, you are offered five boxes. The leftmost or first box contains drawings of unconnected parts. The four answer-choice boxes hold drawings of shapes, only one of which shows the shape that would result when all the parts are correctly assembled.

Want more tips like this? Check out Kaplan’s ASVAB Prep Plus!