Aviation Selection Test Battery
The Aviation-Selection Test Battery is used by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard as one criterion used in making selection determinations for officer aviation program applicants. The most recent complete revision of the ASTB was completed by the Naval Operational Medicine Institute (NOMI) in cooperation with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey in 1992. In 2004, three new parallel forms of this ASTB version were released by NOMI, and Forms 1 and 2, which had been in circulation from 1992 to 2004, were suspended.
The ASTB is used by the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to select candidates for the Navy and Marine Corps pilot and flight officer programs. Portions of the test are also used by the Navy for selection into Officer Candidate School (OCS). The Coast Guard currently uses the ASTB to select pilot candidates for training, and uses a subcomponent score from the ASTB for its nonaviation officer commissioning program.
The ASTB is administered at Navy Recruiting Districts (NRDs), NROTC units, Marine Corps Officer Selection Offices (OSOs), and at numerous other permanent custody sites. The test is administered in a paper format, but at many sites it can be administered on a computer through a web-based system called APEX.NET. There are three versions of the test—Form 3, Form 4, and Form 5. Each version of the test contains different questions, but all three versions have the same format, subtests, and number of questions. The complete test battery requires approximately 2½ hours to administer.
The current version of the ASTB was constructed and validated to predict both performance and attrition through the primary phases of aviation training for Student Naval Aviators (SNAs) and Student Naval Flight Officers (SNFOs). The entire test battery consists of 6 subtests:
- Math Skills Test (MST), 30 items, 25 min - The math skills assessed by the Math Skills subtest include arithmetic and algebra, with some geometry. The assessments include both equations and word problems. Some items require solving for variables, others are time and distance problems, and some require the estimation of simple probabilities. Skills assessed include basic arithmetic operations, solving for variables, fractions, roots, exponentiation, and the calculation of angles, area, and perimeter of geometric shapes.
- Reading Skills Test (RST), 27 items, 25 min - Reading comprehension items require ASTB examinees to extract meaning from text passages. Each item requires the examinee to determine which of the response options can be inferred from the passage itself. This is pretty straightforward, although it is very important that examinees remember that incorrect response options may still appear to be ‘true’ – only one answer to each item can be derived solely from the information in the passage.
- Mechanical Comprehension Test (MCT), 30 items, 15 min - Items contained within the mechanical comprehension portion of the ASTB include topics that would typically be found in an introductory high school physics course and the application of these topics within a variety of situations. The questions in this portion of the test gauge examinees’ knowledge of principles related to gases and liquids, and their understanding of the ways in which these properties affect pressure, volume, and velocity. The subtest also includes questions that relate to the components and performance of engines, principles of electricity, gears, weight distribution, and the operation of simple machines, such as pulleys and fulcrums.
- Spatial Apperception Test (SAT), 25 items, 10 min - These items evaluate an examinee’s aptitude and ability to match external and internal views of an aircraft based on visual cues regarding its direction and orientation relative to the ground. Each item consists of a view from inside the cockpit, which the examinee must match to one of five external views. These items capture the ability to visualize the orientation of objects in three-dimensional space.
- Aviation and Nautical Information Test (ANIT), 30 items, 15 min - This section subtest assesses an examinee’s familiarity with aviation history, nautical terminology and procedures, and aviation related concepts such as aircraft components, aerodynamic principles, and flight rules and regulations. Of all the ASTB subtests, ANI scores are the most easily improved by study because it is largely a test of knowledge, rather than aptitude. Examinees can prepare for this subtest by reviewing general reference materials, such as encyclopedias, FAA and civilian aviation books, and handbooks and manuals that provide an overview of basic piloting, navigation, and seamanship. In addition to these sources, some examinees have used commercially available study guides. Even though NOMI does not endorse a particular study guide, books that are designed to prepare individuals for military aptitude flight tests and officer candidate tests often provide a good introduction to aviation and nautical related subjects.
- Aviation Supplemental Test (AST), 34 items, 25 min (may be less than 34; actual number of items depends on the form given) - the final subtest of the ASTB, it will typically contain a variety of items that are similar in format and content to the items in the preceding subtests.
Examinees that would like to improve their scores on the ASTB must wait until the 31st day following their initial attempts before taking different versions of the test. For example, an individual that takes Form 3 during their first administration must take Form 4 or Form 5 during their second testing session. A third and final attempt at Form 3, 4, or 5 is authorized on the 91st day following the first retest. These test interval requirements cannot be waived, so it is important that examinees are aware of the forms taken during previous administrations and the amount of time that has passed between administrations.
Three-test lifetime limit
A major change regarding the administration of the ASTB was the establishment of a three test lifetime limit in July 2004. An examinee may only take each version of the test (Form 3, Form 4, and Form 5) once, which means that an individual will only be allowed to take the ASTB three times during his or her lifetime. Examinees must take a different form during each retest, but the forms can be taken in any order. This limit only applies to Forms 3, 4, and 5. Therefore, if individuals took a previous version of the test (Forms 1 and 2, which are no longer in use), it is not counted in this limit.
An examinee that retests too early or retests using a form that he or she has already taken will generate an illegal test. An illegal test means that the individual will not receive valid scores for the testing administration. On the other hand, the illegal test will still be counted against the individual’s lifetime limit.