What is the PiCAT Test?
The pre-screening internet-based computer adaptive test (PiCAT) is an untimed low-pressure version of the full ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test. The PiCAT is designed to assess a candidate not only for their suitability for a military career, but also to test their competencies and aptitudes for specific roles throughout all branches of the military.
The test is scored as a percentile, which means that if your PiCAT score is 76, you will have performed better than 76% of the people that have taken the test. If you pass your PiCAT test, you will move forward with the enlistment process to the physical examination phase.
The test contents, question types, and sections are all the same as the ASVAB.
What is the PiCAT Verification Test?
As the PiCAT is a take-home test without being proctored and with no supervision, applicants will have to take a verification test. This takes place at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or a Military Entrance Test (MET) site, and you have to complete it within 30 days of the PiCAT completion.
This is a selection of 30 questions, usually ones that were correct in the full assessment, and these are completed under time pressure, with supervision. They usually take 25-30 minutes.
If you pass the PiCAT Verification Test, your PiCAT score will then be used to determine your progression into the military, and the score is kept on record for five years.
If you do not pass the PiCAT Verification Test, you will automatically have to complete the full ASVAB test, and 5% of PiCAT takers are randomly selected to take the ASVAB anyway.
How does the PiCAT differ from the ASVAB?
The content and the question difficulty are the same on both the PiCAT and the ASVAB.
The main difference is that the PiCAT online exam is taken at home, in an applicant's own time, and there is no supervision. It can be said that PiCAT is a take-home ASVAB.
The ASVAB is taken at either a MEPS or MET site and takes about three hours. The ASVAB is proctored and supervised, and it can be completed on a computer or paper.
The other significant difference is that the first four sections on both the PiCAT and the ASVAB form the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), and if you don't get enough marks on the PiCAT for these sections then the test will automatically finish, whereas on the ASVAB you will continue the test even if your scores are too low.
The PiCAT test does require a shorter verification test for the results of the take-home test to count as official ASVAB scores. The verification test questions are the same level and picked to confirm your original test score.
What is on the PiCAT?
The PiCAT comprises 145 questions. These are the same as the questions on the ASVAB, except that they need to be answered online, and there is no time limit.
PiCAT questions explained
PiCAT questions are separated into ten categories. The first four sections are geared towards assessing whether a candidate has the required skills and aptitudes in language and numbers to be successful in the military, while the following six sections look at specific aptitudes to decide on the right branch and even roles in the armed forces that will be most suitable.
|Subject||Number of questions|
|Word knowledge||16 questions|
|Paragraph comprehension||11 questions|
|Math knowledge||16 questions|
|Arithmetic reasoning||16 questions|
|General science||16 questions|
|Mechanical comprehension||16 questions|
|Shop information||11 questions|
|Assembly of objects||16 questions|
|Auto information||11 questions|
In the Word Knowledge section, you will have to answer 16 questions based on your knowledge of words and written language.
You will be asked to find the right definition of a word in a sentence or to find a synonym of a word.
Each question is multiple-choice, so you will have several potential answers to consider.
In the paragraph comprehension section, you will be presented with a short piece of text and will need to identify the meaning of the paragraph.
There are 11 questions in this section, and the answers are multiple-choice.
As this test is not timed, a thorough reading of the information and possible answers is needed to be successful so take your time to ensure you understand the text.
This is an assessment of your knowledge of basic mathematical operations and contains questions based on algebra and geometry.
There are 16 questions to test the mathematics knowledge in this section, and again the answer is multiple choice. No calculators are allowed, but you can use scrap paper to help you work out the answers.
This is an assessment of how well you can read, understand and manipulate numbers that are presented in unfamiliar formats.
There are 16 questions, all with multiple-choice answers. The questions are posed as word problems, and you will need to solve the problem using an equation. Scrap paper will come in handy here to keep the calculations in order.
Scientific knowledge is not a prerequisite for admission into the military, but some roles will require an understanding of general scientific principles.
Questions in this section will relate to subjects taught in high schools such as biology, chemistry, and earth science.
There are 16 questions in this section and the answers are multiple-choice.
In the mechanical comprehension section, you are being assessed on your understanding of mechanical devices and the physics behind mechanical processes, such as gravity, friction, force, and acceleration.
There are 16 questions in this section, with multiple-choice answers.
Knowledge about common shop tools and how they work is not an entrance requirement to the military as a whole, but it is necessary for some branches and roles. If you are looking for some engineering or mechanical job in the Army, Navy, or even in the Air Force, recognizing the way basic shop tools work is a necessity.
There are 11 questions in this section. Answers are multiple-choice.
For some roles, a basic understanding of the way electricity works and how it can be manipulated is an important prerequisite.
In this section of the assessment, you will need to demonstrate an understanding of basic electrical principles like currents and circuits as well as how equipment like radios and TVs work.
The answers are multiple-choice and there are 16 questions in this section.
Spatial awareness and the manipulation of 3D shapes in space is a basic knowledge used in many military roles, and to test this the PiCAT and the ASVAB ask questions about graphs, technical drawings, and interpreting maps.
In this section, you can expect 16 questions and multiple choice answers.
For roles where mechanical knowledge about automotive is important, the PiCAT asks 11 questions that are based on automotive repairs and basic automotive systems.
The answers are multiple-choice.
How to Pass the PiCAT Test: Top Tips
If you have been out of the classroom for a while, your general mathematical knowledge and English might need to be honed - and with a range of practice tests and courses available online, you can improve your chances for a better score. Practice tests can help you see where you might need more time in revision, and help you realize where your strengths already are.
2. Focus on Your Areas of Interest
While you might want to nail the entire test - and that is a great idea - remember that your scores will determine which roles you will be eligible for across the military branches. In practice, this means that you want to ensure your best results come from the areas that are most important in the role you have applied for.
3. Set Up Your Test Area
This assessment is online, and it can be taken wherever you feel most comfortable. You will be sent a link and have 24 hours to complete the test once you have started. To give yourself the best chance, make sure you have an area set aside where there are no distractions, you have a good internet connection, and can work undisturbed. Keep a drink handy and some scrap paper so you can jot down any notes that you need to take.
4. Don't Cheat
The unsupervised nature of the PiCAT and the fact that it is untimed might make it tempting to seek outside help - and quite aside from the dishonorable action this would be, it will not benefit you in the long run as you will have to take a PiCAT verification test under proctored, timed, and supervised test conditions. Honesty is the best policy, so make sure you practice and study to perform at your best.
What happens if you fail the PiCAT?
While you cannot fail the PiCAT, you can fail the first section if you do not get the right score. This is set by each branch and ranges from 31 - 65. Aside from the first section, your score on the assessment will guide the military recruiters as to whether you have the right vocational aptitude to be successful in your chosen role.
If you want to retake the PiCAT unless there are extenuating circumstances you have to wait for two years.
Is the PiCAT easier than the ASVAB?
In terms of the difficulty of the questions, the PiCAT and the ASVAB are the same. However, the PiCAT could be considered easier because it is taken without time pressure, but you will have to sit a verification test to get the score used in your military application.
Remember that 5% of PiCAT takers are randomly selected to take the ASVAB anyway, and if you fail the PiCAT verification test you will automatically have to take the ASVAB.
What is a good score on the PiCAT?
Scores on the PiCAT are created as a composite made up of the scores in particular sections, and represented as a percentile.
The scores from the first four sections are presented as a percentile and must achieve a minimum of 31 to be accepted into training for the army. If you have a GED, the top minimum score for Air Force careers is 65.
Each role has a composite minimum score; if it is not achieved, then your application will not be taken forward. The best way to guarantee your pick of roles is to perform at your best throughout.
How many sections and questions are on the PiCAT?
There are ten sections on the PiCAT, and each section has either 11 or 16 questions for a total of 145 questions. The assessment is not timed and the answers are multiple-choice.
How long is the PiCAT test?
The PiCAT test is self-administered, which means there is no time limit for the test. However, the PiCAT Verification Test is timed and takes around 25-30 minutes.
How many questions are on the PiCAT Verification Test?
The PiCAT Verification Test consists of 30 questions, which will be similar to the ones you answered in the initial test.
How many times can you take the PiCAT?
There is no limit to the number of times you can take the PiCAT, however, you will need to wait two or more years after the test to retake it.
What Happens if you Fail the PiCAT Verification Test?
If you fail the 25-30 minute proctored verification test you will be required to take the full-length ASVAB test after the Verification Test is finished.