ASTB-E Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ASTB?
The Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) is the primary test used by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in the selection of officer aviation program applicants. The newest version of the ASTB is series E, and features several technical advances over previous versions of the test.
What subtests are included in the ASTB-E?
The ASTB-E is made up of seven subtests. Three of those subtests comprise the Officer Aptitude Rating (OAR), which is used for certain non-aviation officer programs. The table below graphically explains the breakdown of tests present within the ASTB-E.
Math Skills Test (MST)
|Reading Comprehension Test (RCT)
|Mechanical Comprehension Test (MCT)
|Aviation and Nautical Information Test (ANIT)
|Naval Aviation Trait Facet Inventory (NATFI)
|Performance Based Measures Battery (PBM)
|Biographical Inventory with Response Validation (BI-RV)
What does the ASTB-E measure?
The ASTB-E assesses multiple aptitudes and personal characteristics across multiple cognitive abilities- math skills and aptitude, the ability to extract meaning from written material, and familiarity with mechanical concepts and simple machines. The ASTB-E also features questions that assess an individual’s knowledge of aviation and nautical terminology, familiarity with aircraft components and function, knowledge of basic aerodynamic principles, and a grasp of basic flight rules and regulations. Performance on these parts of the battery can be improved by study, and examinees with aviation and shipboard experience will typically do well.
The ASTB-E now includes the Performance Based Measures (PBM) Battery, which assesses the examinee’s ability to think in three dimensions, physical dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and ability to divide attention among different tasks.
In addition, the ASTB-E also includes an assessment of personality traits relevant to success in aviation, the Naval Aviation Trait Facet Inventory (NATFI), and a self-proctored evaluation of relevant background experiences called the Biographical Inventory with Response Verification (BI-RV).
All components of the ASTB-E have proven to be excellent predictors of training performance. That is, examinees entering the flight program with high levels of cognitive aptitude and psychomotor ability, background knowledge of aviation and nautical concepts, and who have certain personal characteristics are more likely to both achieve higher grades in aviation training and successfully complete the aviation training program.
How long does the ASTB-E take to administer?
Total time required to take the ASTB-E may vary from individual to individual. The BI-RV portion of the ASTB-E can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to complete in total, and does not have to be completed in one administration session. It is recommended that the examinee take the BI-RV first, before arriving at the testing location as it can be completed on any web-based computer. Time to complete the remainder of the ASTB-E (minus the BI-RV) can take anywhere from 2 hours up to 3 hours and 15 minutes. The OAR can take anywhere from 1.5 up to 2 hours to complete the OAR in APEX (the paper version of the OAR may take slightly longer to complete).
I have seen study guides for military aviation tests in bookstores. Would these guides help me study for the ASTB-E?
NMOTC does not officially endorse any commercial study guides. There are several resources which may be helpful for examinees who want to acquire testing strategies, review and practice math principles and problems, familiarize themselves with military history and aviation terminology, and practice pacing on timed tests. Examinees should make every effort to prepare on all dimensions on which they will be tested.
Where is the nearest ASTB-E testing location?
There are over 250 registered locations worldwide that can administer the ASTB-E. Locations that commonly administer the ASTB-E include:
- Naval Officer Recruiting Stations
- NROTC units at many major universities
- Marine Corps Officer Selection Offices (OSO’s)
- Military Institutes
You will need to schedule to take the ASTB-E at the location at which you intend to test. If your local office does not administer the ASTB-E, contact our office and we will attempt to provide the nearest testing location.
Is the ASTB-E offered in any language other than English?
No. At present, the ASTB-E is administered in English only.
How much does it cost to take the ASTB-E?
There is no charge to take the ASTB-E.
Can I use a calculator on the test?
No, the math problems on the exam are designed to be completed without the use of a calculator, but a few formulas are provided. Each examinee is provided scrap paper to compute problems.
What should I bring with me on the day of the test?
You will need to bring some form of photo identification (i.e., driver's license, military ID card, passport) and verification of your social security number (i.e., social security card).
Electronic devices (e.g., smart phones, watches with calculators, cameras, etc.) are not permitted in the testing room. Examinees must stow these items in their automobiles or leave them with the exam proctor before proceeding into the testing room.
In addition, personal belongings (e.g., book bags) should not be brought into the testing room.
Paper and pencils will be supplied for you at the testing facility.
How do I know if I should take the entire ASTB-E or only the OAR portion?
Individuals applying for aviation programs should take the entire ASTB-E battery. Individuals applying for other programs (e.g., Navy OCS) may only be required to take the OAR portion, but individuals should talk to their recruiters or program administrators for more information.
How well does the ASTB-E predict training performance and attrition?
ASTB-E scores are highly predictive of aviation training outcomes, such as grades that are obtained from tests during training in classroom settings (academic grades) and ratings that are derived from performance in aircraft (flight grades).
An important outcome predicted by the ASTB-E is training attrition. Approximately 15-20% of naval flight students attrite from aviation training each year, which incurs steep losses for the naval services due to the high costs associated with training each student. The training attrition avoidance yielded by the ASTB-E has been estimated to save the Navy and Marine Corps upwards of $32 million per year.
The broad range of dimensions assessed by the ASTB-E provides a multi-faceted estimation of how well an individual is likely to perform in the aviation training environment.
Some of the ASTB-E subtests are now administered in computer adaptive testing (CAT) format. What does this mean?
The MST, RCT, MCT, ANIT, and NATFI are administered in computer adaptive format on the ASTB-E online via a system called APEX. Computer adaptive testing means that the test adapts to the examinee as they answer questions. Test items presented are based on the examinee’s performance on previous items. Correct responses are typically followed by more difficult items, and incorrect responses are typically followed by items of a lesser difficulty.
This serves to increase the accuracy of test scores, reduce the length of each test, and enhance test security as virtually no two tests are alike. It is important to note that the adaptive nature of these tests prevents examinees from skipping items, or revisiting or changing previous answers on these subtests.
What if I don’t answer all of the questions on the test before time expires?
The recommended strategies vary between the adaptive form of the ASTB-E subtests and the paper forms of the OAR.
ASTB-E Strategy: Work Quickly but Don’t Guess. Due to the nature of CATs, the number and difficulty of questions presented to different examinees may vary. Scores generated by examinees who fail to complete a sufficient number of items on any ASTB-E adaptive subtest before time expires may have a penalty applied to their scores. Therefore, examinees are expected to work as briskly as possible without losing accuracy. The severity of the score penalty will increase as the number of questions answered decreases. This penalty will never be applied to scores on adaptive subtests that automatically terminate before time has expired.
On the adaptive subtests, examinees are advised against randomly guessing as time is about to expire. The current time limits for each subtest have been established to allow as many examinees as possible to finish the test without time expiring. If an examinee has worked diligently and quickly on a given subtest, random guessing will, in most cases, be more detrimental to scores than the penalty received for not completing the entire test.
OAR Paper Test Strategy: Work quickly and make educated guesses if time is about to expire. The paper OAR has a fixed number and sequence of questions for each subtest. On this test, any items left blank will be scored as incorrect answers. It is therefore to the examinee’s advantage to rule out poor answer choices on remaining questions and make educated guesses if time is about to expire. Please note the following time limits and number of questions for the paper version of the OAR:
- Math Skills Test – 30 Questions, 40 Minutes
- Reading Comprehension Test – 20 Questions, 30 Minutes
- Mechanical Comprehension Test – 30 Questions, 15 Minutes
Is there any advantage to taking a paper form instead of the adaptive test of the OAR, or vice-versa?
Analyses have shown that there is no significant difference in scores or pass rates between the paper and computer-adaptive versions of the test. Because of the computer adaptive nature of the ASTB-E, it is only available online via the APEX System.
Those who need to take the OAR may choose between a paper version and the online version. Scores are determined based solely on how well they perform on the OAR in comparison to their peer group within that given form only. Therefore, if you take one of the three versions of the paper OAR (Form 6,7,8) your score is computed based on how well you perform in comparison to others on that version only. The same holds true for the online version of the OAR. By scoring these versions in such a manner, any possible advantage conferred by one form or another is eliminated. Note also that all test forms are constructed to ensure psychometric equivalence across forms, and to guarantee balanced test content coverage across forms.
If no two tests are alike, how can individuals be compared?
Each adaptive test is generated from an item library featuring several hundred potential items for each subtest. These questions are all scaled based on difficulty level and how much diagnostic value each has. This information is taken into account when final scores on each subtest are calculated. This in turn facilitates psychometrically equivalent scoring comparisons between individuals who may have taken entirely different sets of items.
How can I find out my ASTB-E scores? Is there any way to find out my scores immediately?
Individuals will receive immediate scores on the ASTB-E as soon as all 7 subtests are complete. If they are taking the OAR through APEX, scores will be generated upon completion. Those taking the paper version of the OAR must send their tests to NMOTC to be scored. Recruiters and other test administrators are not able to provide unofficial scores for paper tests.
In order to obtain scores for the any tests already taken, individuals can call our office at 850-452-2379 or 850-452-4349 and we will be able to provide you with an official score letter. Scores can also be requested by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure all requests include the individual’s full name and last four of their social security number, as well as the address, fax number, or e-mail address where they would like to receive the score letter. *Please note: Score letters can ONLY be e-mailed to addresses that end in '.mil,' '.gov,' or '.edu' suffixes.
Note: If an examinee wishes to complete the paper version of the OAR, they may not complete the remaining portions of the ASTB-E until NMOTC has processed the answer sheet. Only an OAR score may be generated from the paper OAR test.
If an examinee completes the paper OAR and later requires a full set of ASTB-E scores, they MUST complete the remaining subtests at an APEX-enabled testing location within 30 days of completing the paper test.
What is the Biographical Inventory with Response Verification (BI-RV)?
The BI-RV evaluates background experiences, such as academic achievements and extracurricular involvement in high school and college, relevant to success in the fast-paced and demanding aviation program. The BI-RV is a powerful predictor of attrition, and may be completed by an examinee on any web-enabled computer, provided the examinee has obtained a username and password from an ASTB-E Examiner.
During BI-RV administration, examinees will be prompted to provide verification information following some responses. For example, if the examinee indicates having played on a sports team in college, he or she will be required to manually type in the sport, position played, college, and year in response blanks following that BI-RV item. Falsification of information provided on this test is grounds for disqualification from consideration for aviation service eligibility, regardless of whether aviation training has already begun or been completed.
The BI-RV is self-paced, and may be completed at any web-enabled computer either before or after completing the remaining ASTB-E subtests. The BI-RV need not be completed in a single session.
You can complete the BI-RV portion of the ASTB-E from any web-based computer. If you would like to complete the BI-RV before taking the ASTB-E, contact your recruiter for assistance.
What are the current ASTB-E minimum score requirements?
The minimum score requirements differ by program and service. Please refer to Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Program Authorizations 106 and 107, Marine Corps Order (MCO) 1542.1I, or talk to your recruiter for specific information regarding the program to which you are applying.
What if I scored higher the last time I took the test?
The scores received on your most recent test attempt will count as your scores-of-record and replace all existing scores- regardless of the version taken. This is true even if some or all of your scores were higher on a previous attempt.
Why were the old forms of the ASTB replaced?
There are several reasons for the introduction of new ASTB-E. The primary reason is that the inclusion of the new subtests gives the ASTB-E even more predictive power than previous versions of the test had, yielding even more accuracy in selecting aviation candidates likely to perform well in training.
Why are there additional subtests on the new ASTB-E?
Each subtest on the ASTB-E is a useful predictor of training outcomes, but no one subtest tells us enough information about an aviation candidate’s ability on its own. In addition, the new portions of the ASTB-E (NATFI, PBM, BI-RV) assess facets of performance not currently measured by cognitive abilities and aviation knowledge testing, providing incremental validity over the previous version of the ASTB-E. By including additional subtests that measure different constructs shown to predict success in aviation training, NMOTC can account for the more variance in training outcomes and help ensure that aviation programs make more efficient and accurate selection decisions. The figure below demonstrates how each ASTB-E component predicts additional, unique amounts of training performance not assessed by other portions of the test (not to scale).
Which subtests make the greatest contribution to my overall score?
The formulas that are utilized to compute final ASTB-E score components are proprietary information and will not be released by NMOTC. These formulas are compensatory, meaning that poor performance on a given subtest may often be offset by high performance on another. Examinees are encouraged, however, to perform as well as possible on all subtests.
Where can I find additional information about the ASTB-E?
For additional information about the ASTB-E, please see the ASTB-E Overview Page.
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Point of Contact Information
For any additional questions about the ASTB-E, please contact the NMOTC Operational Psychology Department at 850-452-2379 or 850-452-2435. Department hours are 07:30AM to 4:00PM CST Mon-Fri. Alternatively, you may email your questions to email@example.com