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Military's Aptitude Test Goes High-Tech

By Maj. Donna Miles, USAR
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 17, 1997 – The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery has gone high-tech.

All enlisted members remember those long tests they took while passing through the military entrance processing station. The results can have a big impact on a service member's career: The Defense Department uses them to judge how well potential recruits are likely to do in the military and what jobs they're best suited for.

By July, personal computers are expected to be up and running at all 65 entrance stations. They're making big changes in the old, stubby pencil enlistment tests.

"The tests are easier to administer," Jane Arabian, assistant director for enlistment standards for DoD's accession policy office, told the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. "They're more accurate, and they take much less time."

Arabian said the new equipment individualizes the tests, based on how well each applicant answers the questions.

"If an individual gets the item correct, then the next item they'll receive is harder than the last," she said. "If they get it wrong, the next item is easier. And that way we can zero in on an individual's abilities much faster."

Military Entrance Processing Command officials said applicants work through the 10-part computerized test battery at their own pace. Most finish the test faster.

"If they've completed one subtest before another applicant, they can move on," said Capt. Lisa Monteleone, a test control officer at the entrance station in Baltimore. "They don't have to sit around and wait for everyone to be finished in a certain amount of time."

Officials said that can cut the time required to take the test from more than three hours to as little as 90 minutes.

Monteleone said the new system makes life easier for test officials, too, because it offers more security than the hard-copy tests. "It reduces the number of test-loss compromises and really cuts down on cheating," she said.

The new equipment speeds up the time it takes to grade the enlistment tests, too. Career counselors at the stations can now get the test results in minutes rather than the days it took with the old tests.

Monteleone said that means applicants can get out of the testing room and on with their military careers a whole lot quicker.

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