What is the PiCAT test?

Many veterans and many currently serving, entered military service after having taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which is an armed forces qualification test, that scores recruits in a group of ten areas for the best-suited job. This is open to those who are interested in joining and serving under any branch of the military.

The ASVAB is a proctored, timed, three-hour test that must be administered under a specific set of conditions as defined by the United States Department of Defense policy and the recruiting standards in each branch of military service. The test PiCAT and the ASVAB are for anyone who wishes to serve in the Army, Air force, Navy or Marine Corps.

The Emergence Of The PiCAT Test

During the 21st century, the ASVAB began to supplement its test with the PiCAT, a new technological approach that contained the same kinds of questions in a similar testing format; up until 2018 the PiCAT test had been used in beta mode to test the PiCAT the, however, it is now considered an official test. Recruits are able to either take the ASVAB test or the PiCAT depending on their own preference.

PiCAT Test Conditions

The PiCAT, which stands for Pre-screening internet-delivered Computer Adaptive Test or Pending Internet Computerized Adaptive Test, is completed on the test taker’s own time at home or on any computer where the test-taker can work without interruptions – unlike the ASVAB test which is timed (3-4 hours are given to complete the test) and takes place at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS).

Due to these differences, many consider the PiCAT test to be of significantly less pressure than the ASVAB test. But, these are the only differences. Content-wise, the ASVAB test and the PiCAT test are of the same intensity.

Verification test

The recruiter reviews the results of the test, and should the test-taker decide to enlist, a brief follow-up exam (see below) is administered to verify the results of the first test. The test is a short 20 to 30 minute proctored test which can be taken at home or at a military entrance facility. After this, the PiCAT score can be counted as the official ASVAB score.

How Is the PiCAT Test Different to the ASVAB Test?

The PiCAT is identical to the ASVAB, with the exception that it is not proctored or timed. You take this test at home without supervision, which may be beneficial to those who struggle with exam stress and anxiety.

Cheating on the PiCAT test is a common question. How does the military prevent cheating in such cases where there is no direct monitoring for at-home testing?

While there are no extraordinary measures taken to prevent people from cheating, there are test rules which state clearly that no outside assistance may be used to solve problems during the test such as internet resources or reference materials.

But taking the PiCAT exam at home does not entirely rely on the honour system. Your recruiter will administer a 20-minute exam to verify the results of the PiCAT test. That follow-up exam is proctored and supervised.

If the results of the follow-up test support the results of the PiCAT test, your at-home scores will replace the official ASVAB results.

PiCAT makes such a big difference for many recruits who may suffer from test anxiety, and who would prefer to endure a three-hour long exam in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

Eligibility Requirements

Some recruits may not be allowed to use PiCAT if they have taken the test in other ways. If you have taken the ASVAB at a Military Entrance Processing Station, or if you have taken the Student ASVAB, you are not eligible for PiCAT. You must choose ,before completing any of the tests, which you would prefer.

If you sat for ASVAB previously and were not happy with your scores, you will need to discuss retesting options with your recruiter, but you will not have access to PiCAT under DoD policy effective at the time of this writing.

Preparing to Take PiCAT

If you aren’t sure how to prepare for PiCAT testing, it’s best to discuss your questions with a recruiter. There are many online prep guides for both ASVAB and PiCAT, and it is never a bad idea to review such study guides.

Some “Ace the ASVAB” type third-party sellers (and those offering PiCAT equivalents) want you to believe that simply reading the study guides can help you get higher scores. Don’t forget to review algebra, geometry, or mathematical story problems, known subject areas some recruits struggle to solve.

You will want to practice solving sample problems in any area you don’t feel confident in, especially math and reading comprehension.

Where You May Take The PiCAT Verification Test

As mentioned above, PiCAT testing is available anywhere there is a reliable internet connection. You can take the PiCAT from home, or you can complete it at your nearest military recruitment centre.

However access to test materials is controlled, so you will need your recruiter to tell you how to log on, where to log on, and provide any general information and required passwords about account setup.

Test Subjects And Knowledge Areas

The PiCAT test is made up of 145 questions split into 10 sections. The PiCAT is essentially a take-home ASVAB that is not timed but still may take hours to complete. It evaluates the test taker in 10 different areas.

The Ten PiCAT Test Subjects

General science
  • measures your understanding of different areas of the sciences, including health, biology, human biology, Earth science, chemistry and more.
  • 16 questions
Arithmetic reasoning
  • 16 questions
  • reading and understanding word problems
  • solving equations
Word knowledge
  • 16 questions
  • identifying word definitions used in sentences
  • identifying word synonyms
Paragraph comprehension
  • 11 questions
  • reading paragraphs and identifying their meaning
Numerical operations
  • speed test to assess the ability to carry out simple mathematical questions in a set time
Coding speed
  • assesses the ability to view numbers and associate that information with graphs.
Auto information
  • 11 questions
  • assess knowledge of basic automotive systems
  • assess knowledge of automotive repairs
Mathematics knowledge
  • 16 questions
  • proficiency in Algebra
  • Proficiency in Geometry
Mechanical comprehension
  • 16 questions
  • knowledge of mechanical devices
  • knowledge of mechanical device processes
  • ability to understand diagrams
Electronics information
  • 16 questions
  • knowledge of currents
  • understanding of electricity
  • ability to understand circuits
  • knowledge of the structure and function of televisions
  • an understanding of the functioning of radios
Shop Information
  • 11 questions
  • assesses understanding of common shop tools
  • assesses understanding of common shop practises
Assembly of objects
  • 16 questions
  • measures spatial relationship skills on activities which include:
  • interpreting maps
  • reading technical drawings
  • reading graphs

The results of the PiCAT and ASVAB are interpreted in different ways depending on the branch of service. The Army breaks down the scores into a set of skill areas that help recruiters determine the new enlistee’s career field. Those skill areas include, as described on the U.S. Army official site: 

  • General Science.
  • Arithmetic reasoning.
  • Word knowledge.
  • Paragraph comprehension.
  • Numerical operations.
  • Coding speed.
  • Auto and shop information.
  • Mathematics knowledge

Deadlines For Testing And Completion

Under the rules in effect at the time of this writing, once your recruiter has provided you with your access code, you will be required to begin your PiCAT test within 72 hours, and you will have 24 hours from the time the test starts to complete it. If you are unable to take the test for whatever reason, you should contact your recruiter who may be able to assist you to see if you can retake the PiCAT.

Test Review

‘Instant review’ of the PiCAT test results by the scoring authority (which may be your recruiter) is possible. If you are anxious to see the results of PiCAT quickly, it’s best not to complete the test on a weekend day when your scores may not be available to you until the next duty day.

PiCAT Re-test Policy

Traditionally, retesting to improve ASVAB scores has been permitted, but this is administered on a case-by-case basis with your recruiter.

It’s possible to score lower in some areas on the test and higher in others in such a way that eligibility for specific career fields may be questionable without retaking the test to get a higher score in a needed skill area.

Retaking PiCAT may be permitted for technical reasons, test compromise, or other issues. You shouldn’t expect a one-size-fits-all policy in this area. It’s best to arrive for your PiCAT test prepared to move forward with the enlistment process rather than expecting to retake the test “just in case.”

PiCAT Test Scores

A ‘good’ or passing score on the PiCAT will be dependent upon what career you are looking to go into, and what branch of the military you plan to enter. All branches accept a score of between 31 and 40 but, it is advisable that you aim for an AFQT score of 50, which is the minimum score required to enter with a High school diploma or GED.

Standard Minimum Scores

Each branch of the military has its own standard minimum scores for its roles. You can receive your score report, outlining the percentile you scored in for each topic, from your recruiter. The standard minimum AFQT scores are as followed:

High School Graduate

  • 31
Marine Corps
  • 32
  • 35
Air Force
  • 36
Coast Guard
  • 40

GED Graduate

  • 31
Marine Corps
  • 50
  • 50
Air Force
  • 65
Coast Guard
  • 50

When PiCAT Scores Are Low

Recruits have the option of rejecting the scores they earned on the PiCAT test in favour of scores received from the full, proctored ASVAB. You will need to discuss this option with your recruiter to learn what is possible with that branch of service, and what is currently allowed under the most recent regulatory updates.

After PiCAT, What Next?

As mentioned at the start of this article, PiCAT testing does require a shorter verification test for the results of the take-home test to count as official ASVAB scores.

This verification is a short, proctored test that lasts 20 minutes to half an hour. Depending on circumstances, recruits may be required to take this verification test at a Military Entrance Processing Station.

Follow Up Tests

Some recruits may have a 30-day deadline to take the follow-up test, usually in the case of delayed enlistment or other circumstances that keep the recruit from going to a Military Entrance Processing Station soon.

Those who do not take the verification test are required to take the full, proctored ASVAB. Additionally, those who do not pass the verification test are also required to take a full ASVAB test.

Validity of Your Test Scores

Once you take PiCAT, your score is official for five years.

PiCAT Test Language Options

There are no foreign-language options for PiCAT. The test is administered in English.

PiCAT Test Availability

To take the Pre-screening internet-delivered Computer Adaptive Test, you will need to coordinate with a military recruiter, who will provide you with the necessary access codes and other instructions.

Studying for the PiCAT

No potential recruit should schedule testing without proper study and test prep time. The secret to getting good PiCAT results is to practice practice practice.

Your recruiter may be able to recommend study resources, and there are third-party ASVAB/PiCAT test prep materials for sale online.

Useful resources

Resources for studying for the PiCAT and increasing your chances of achieving a good score include guides and self-administered practice tests online located on websites such as:

  • Iprep.online
  • asvabbootcamp.com
  • jobtestprep.com
  • psychometric-success.com
  • TheMilitaryWallet.com

Practice tests

Practice tests are great to do if you need practice in specific areas such as knowledge arithmetic reasoning, mechanical maintenance and electronics information, etc. Studying this way and keeping track of your score on the PiCAT practice tests can help you to target your weak areas -practice tests are available as mini-tests for each particular section, or as full-length tests.

Additional tips that may help you achieve high scores on the PiCAT

Online Prep Courses

Many online prep courses are free to use and are great if you are just starting to study for your PiCAT. Resources can easily be found online, and contain features such as question banks that come with fully explained answers for each question in every section.

Similarly to practice tests, online prep courses are extremely useful in identifying key areas for improvement and can be used to determine what PiCAT or ASVAB score you make achieve.

Prep material is available for all tested topics from mathematics knowledge and electronics, to paragraph comprehension word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning and mechanical comprehension.

Focus on your area of interest

The military assignment you receive is largely dependent on your PiCAT score. It may be beneficial to you to ask your recruiter, or do your own research, to find out which sections of the PiCAT test you should be focusing on more/ sections that correlate most with your desired career.

Catagories measured on each test


  • general technical
  • clerical
  • combat operations
  • electronics
  • field artillery
  • general maintenance
  • mechanical maintenance
  • operations and food
  • surveillance and communications
  • skilled technical

Air Force

  • Mechanical
  • administrative
  • general
  • electrical

Navy/Coast Guard

  • general technical
  • electronics
  • basic electricity and electronics
  • engineering
  • mechanical maintenance
  • mechanical maintenance 2
  • Nuclear Field
  • Operations Specialist
  • Hospital Corpsman
  • Administrative


  • mechanical maintenance
  • general technical
  • electronics
  • clerical

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