What is the ASTB-E test?
Candidates applying to the US Navy and Marine Corps for officer, flight officer, and pilot roles are required to sit the ASTB-E test (Aviation Standard Test Battery - E).
This test objectively assesses whether applicants demonstrate the core skills and aptitudes needed for success in the role. The test is split into eight subtests, each assessing a different skill or ability:
- Math ability
- Mechanical comprehension
- Reading comprehension
- Aviation and nautical information (ANIT)
- Naval aviation trait facet inventory (NATFI)
- Performance-based measures (PBM)
- Biographical Inventory with Response Verification (BI-RV)
Upon completion of the test, candidates are given a percentile score that equates to a composite score on a scale from 1-9. Each role that requires completion of the ATSB-E test has a minimum score determining whether a candidate has successfully passed the test.
ASTM-E Test Format
The ATSB-E test is a multiple choice test taking between 2 - 3 hours to complete. The test is generally taken in a computerised format with individuals sitting the test at a designated test centre.
Each of the subtests in the test battery focuses on evaluating a specific skill or attribute, with the first five tests being adaptive. That is, the difficulty level of the following question changes depending on whether the previous question is answered correctly.
Math skills test (MST)
This test assesses an individual's numerical ability. Candidates need to use their knowledge of basic math principles to solve numerical problems and select which of the multiple choice answers is correct.
Questions may draw on an individual's aptitude to calculate fractions, ratios, area, angles, roots, or perimeters. Or, they may be asked to determine and estimate probabilities, time, or distance.
Questions in the math skills test can be presented in numerical or word format, requiring the test taker to use geometry, algebra, or simple math calculations to reach the correct answer. As the test is an adaptive test individuals can fully demonstrate their numerical ability.
Reading comprehension test (RCT)
The reading comprehension test is an adaptive test designed to determine an individual's ability to read and comprehend informational text.
Applicants are presented with questions in the form of short passages of text. They must read the information, evaluate this and then determine which of the statements that follow is relevant, true, or can be supported based on the text they have read. This test is also a test of understanding words and expressions within a text and making relevant inferences.
The questions are multiple-choice, and it is worth noting that there is only one correct answer for each question.
Mechanical comprehension test (MCT)
This test evaluates an individual's working knowledge and application of basic mechanical principles such as those taught in high school physics or mechanics.
Topics in the test can vary but include the application of theories such as those relating to pressure, or, the calculation of force or volume to solve problems to determine the best outcome in a specific situation.
Questions also cover mechanical principles such as weight distribution, electricity, engines, and the operation of simple machinery using levers, fulcrums, or pulley systems.
The questions in this subset are adaptive, with questions getting progressively more difficult if individuals have answered the previous question correctly.
Aviation and nautical information (ANIT)
The Aviation and nautical information test evaluates an individual's knowledge of aviation history and processes. Specifically, individuals are assessed on their familiarity with all aspects of aviation, such as an aircraft's components or the principles of aerodynamics.
Candidates are also evaluated on their general aviation knowledge, for example, whether they understand and are aware of the procedures used in the aviation industry, such as accepted regulations in aviation, flight rules, general aviation terminology, or aviation instrumentation.
This test is different from the other sub-sets in the ASTB-E test battery as it assesses an individual's knowledge instead of their inherent aptitudes.
Naval aviation trait facet inventory (NATFI)
The Naval aviation trait facet inventory is a personality questionnaire designed to determine a candidate's preferences in a workplace environment.
The assessment looks at an individual's characteristics, traits, and behaviours about those required for success when on the job.
Questions are given as a series of statements presented in pairs. Each statement describes a specific situation or scenario. Individuals need to select the statement that best describes how they would feel or prefer to behave or react in that given situation.
The test results are then used to determine whether the individual demonstrates the characteristics needed for a successful career in the Naval aviation industry.
Performance-based measures (PBM)
This practical test uses maps in addition to a live flight simulation requiring the use of a headset and throttle equipment.
Candidates need to first determine locations on a map, then participate in a simulation requiring them to track airplanes on a screen in a mock environment, for example being aware of sounds relayed through the headset.
The assessment enables the evaluation of an individual's selective focus in addition to their organisational abilities. As this is a simulation assessment, individuals have the option to take part in a practice session before starting the actually scored assessment.
Biographical Inventory with Response Verification (BI-RV)
The BI-RAV evaluates the likelihood of an applicant completing the aviation training programme. The inventory asks 110 questions that collect information on an individual's background, history, and experiences in relation to a career in aviation.
The BI-RV can be completed from an individual's home in their own time, as the questions are focused on information gathering there are no right or wrong answers.
This part of the ASTB-E is generally sat before the assessed and timed sub-sets of the ASTB-E.
How to prepare and pass the ASTB-E test
While the ASTB-E test battery may first appear daunting to sit, there are many ways that you can ensure that you perform to the best of your ability in the tests.
Before sitting the ASTB-E test, it is essential to practice each of the subtests. Practicing enables you to become familiar with the format and the style of questions, so you are clear on what the questioning is asking. When practicing, ensure that you do so under timed conditions to simulate the time pressure you will feel when taking the test.
Get plenty of rest
Positively approaching the test with focus means you can perform to the best of your ability. To do this, try and get plenty of rest before the test. This means getting a good night's sleep and ensuring you have eaten and are well hydrated before sitting the test.
Keeping calm when working under pressure ensures that you can fully focus on each question and lets your natural ability shine through. If you feel that one part of the test hasn't gone as well as you would have liked, don't dwell on it; move on, don't panic, and approach each question positively.
Read the questions carefully
The ASTB-E is made up of seven timed subtests. Each of the questions in a subtest can be presented in a different format. When sitting the test, it is vital to read the question carefully so that you understand what the question is asking and can select the multiple-choice answer you believe to be correct.
How is the ASTB-E test scored?
The ASTB-E is scored as a percentile score. A candidate's performance in the ASTB-E is compared against the scores of candidates who are successful in the role.
This percentile score then equates to a composite score on a scale of 1-9, with each naval area having a minimum composite score requirement.
How many times can you take the ASTB-E test?
Candidates who are unsuccessful at their first sitting of the ATSB-E can retake the test two more times.
There must be at least 31 days between testing dates. It is worth noting that only the most recent test score will be taken, not the highest score if an individual has taken the test multiple times.
Is the ASTB-E test difficult?
The ASTB-E test is designed to be challenging and objectively assess an individual's abilities and knowledge.
To do well in the test and ensure that you perform to the best of your abilities, it is advisable to practice each of the subtests before sitting the actual test itself.
What is a good score on the ASTB-E test?
A good score on the ASTB-E test depends on the area an individual is applying for. As the minimum requirements for each area differ, individuals should focus on performing to the best of their ability to attain their best score.