The Pending Internet Computerized Adaptive Test, or PiCAT, is a military assessment test that is used to screen military recruits. If you are interested in joining any of the divisions of the US Military, the PiCAT is a low-pressure version of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. 

The PiCAT, which was in beta testing before becoming an official test in 2018, is also known as the army PiCAT, the PiCAT Exam, and the PiCAT Military test. It is an untimed, non-proctored test taken that can be taken either at home or at a military recruiting center. 

Did you know?

The PiCAT test is an untimed 145-question ASVAB alternative established in 2018. There are ten sections you will be tested on while taking the PiCAT. Your scores in these are combined into various composite scores that yield your fit score to serve in the army, air force, navy, and marine corps. If you prepare and successfully pass the PiCAT, you will need to pass the PiCAT validation test to confirm your scores.

The test covers ten different areas, and the results of your test guides military evaluators in assigning you to your career field. Your performance on the test can be the difference between a career doing manual labor or working on cutting-edge STEM roles. Your PiCAT results can count as your official (ASVAB) score after you pass the PiCAT verification test, assuming you aren’t randomly selected to take the full ASVAB test.  


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Icon Questions Explained White PiCAT Question Types Explained

There are ten subsections on the test. If you fail word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, math knowledge, and arithmetic reasoning the test will automatically end. The additional six sections, which are general science, mechanical comprehension, auto/shop information, electronics, assembly of objects, and automobile knowledge information are used to determine your capabilities and skills. 

There is a total of 145 questions on the PiCAT.

SubjectNumber of questions
Word knowledge16 questions
Paragraph comprehension11 questions
Math knowledge16 questions
Arithmetic reasoning16 questions
General science16 questions
Mechanical comprehension16 questions
Shop information11 questions
Electronics16 questions
Assembly of objects16 questions
Auto information11 questions

The test is given in multiple choice format, and each question has four possible answers to choose from. 

Word Knowledge

There are 16 questions in this section. You will be asked to:

  • Identify the definition of the word presented in a sentence
  • Identify word synonyms 

Winning Tip for Word Knowledge Questions 

If the word in question has a positive connotation attached to it, choose another word that also has a positive connotation.

Try a Word Knowledge Sample Question

Paragraph Comprehension

There are 11 questions in this section. You will be asked to:

  • Read paragraphs
  • Identify meaning

Winning Tip for Paragraph Comprehension Questions

Read the question before reading the paragraph, so you know what to look for. Before submitting your answer, double check to make sure you read the question correctly. 

Try a Paragraph Comprehension Sample Question

Math Knowledge

There are 16 questions in this section. You will be tested on your knowledge of:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry

Winning Tip for Math Knowledge

For algebra questions, plug in the different answer options until you find the answer that makes the operation correct.

Try a Math Knowledge Sample Question

Arithmetic Reasoning

There are 16 questions in this section. You will be asked to:

  • Read and understand word problems
  • Solve the equation being asked

Winning Tip for Arithmetic Reasoning

Using scratch paper, write out the elements of the question in a math equation. This will make it easier to understand what is being asked of you. 

Try an Arithmetic Reasoning Sample Question

General Science

There are 16 questions in this section. You will be asked questions covering:

  • Health
  • Biology
  • Earth science
  • Chemistry

Winning Tip for General Science

To do well in this section, you will need a broad understanding of biology, geology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and meteorology. Remember, this section isn’t used to determine whether you are qualified to serve, but to help determine your eligibility for different military jobs.

Try a General Science Sample Question

Mechanical Comprehension

There are 16 questions in this section. You will be tested on your knowledge of:

  • Mechanical devices
  • Mechanical device processes

Be prepared for answering questions relating to diagrams. 

Winning Tip for Mechanical Comprehension

Be prepared for questions relating to pulleys, levers, gears, and other physical and mechanical principles. These questions aren’t designed to trick you but to assess your basic understanding of the principles. Remember, this section isn’t used to determine whether you are qualified to serve, but to help determine your eligibility for different military jobs.

Try a Mechanical Comprehension Sample Question

Shop Information

There are 11 questions in this section. Questions will cover:

  • Common shop tools
  • Common shop practices

Winning Tip for Shop Information

Be prepared for questions relating to shop tools. Remember, this section isn’t used to determine whether you are qualified to serve, but to help determine your eligibility for different military jobs. 

Try a Shop Information Sample Question

Electronics Knowledge

There are 16 questions in this section. You will be tested on your knowledge of:

  • Electricity
  • Currents
  • Circuits
  • Radio
  • Television

Winning Tip for Electronics Knowledge

Be prepared for questions relating to electricity, electrical components, circuits, and electric formulas. Remember, this section isn’t used to determine whether you are qualified to serve, but to help determine your eligibility for different military jobs. 

Try an Electronics Knowledge Sample Question

Assembly of Objects

There are 16 questions in this section. This section measures your spatial relationship skills on items that include:

  • Interpreting maps
  • Reading technical drawings
  • Graphs 

These questions show different pieces and shapes, and ask you which of the options shown best display how the pieces fit together.

Winning Tip for Assembly of Objects

Find unique shapes, and check the answers to see if they are portrayed correctly. This should allow you to eliminate some answer options fairly easily. Remember, this section isn’t used to determine whether you are qualified to serve but to help determine your eligibility for different military jobs. 

Try an Assembly of Objects Sample Question

Auto Information

There are 11 questions in this section. Questions will cover:

  • Basic automotive systems
  • Automotive repairs

Winning Tip for Auto Information

Be prepared for questions relating to automotive systems. Remember, this section isn’t used to determine whether you are qualified to serve, but to help determine your eligibility for different military jobs. 

Try an Auto Information Sample Question

Icon Preparation Strategies White PiCAT Preparation Strategies

While there are ten sections in the PiCAT, they fall into two different categories. The Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Match Knowledge, and Arithmetic Reasoning questions make up the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). If you fail these sections, your PiCAT will automatically end and you will not be allowed to continue. 

Therefore, your preparation strategy should place a heavy emphasis on these sections. If you have been out of the classroom for a while, you will want to brush up on these subjects. 

1. Focus Your Studies on Your Area of Interest

The military can provide you with training that you will use in your post-military career. However, your assignment will largely be determined by your scores in the PiCAT. Therefore, you should identify the test section or sections that correlate with the role you are interested in, and focus on those topics. 

See the Result Scale and Interpretation section of this page below for information on how the different sections of the test are used to determine the roles you are eligible for within each branch of the service.  

2. Try Practice Tests and Online Prep Courses

Prep courses and practice tests help you identify areas of weakness, and can help guide your studying so you focus on areas where you need to work. These tests also prepare you for test day, so you are familiar with the type of questions you are going to see on the test. You can find these courses and tests on a number of websites, including iPrep. 

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PiCAT Test Fact Facts (tl;dr)

  • Total of 145 questions
  • The test is untimed
  • 10 sections, ranging from 11-16 questions
  • The first four sections make up the AFQT
  • The test may not be taken after the ASVAB
  • The test may only be taken once every two years
  • The test is not proctored
    • You may not cheat
    • You may not use calculators
    • Your results will be verified (see below)

An Alternative to the ASVAB Test

The PiCAT is identical in structure to the ASVAB test. Unlike the ASVAB, the PiCAT is taken online at home, without a time limit or a proctor. If you pass the PiCAT and your results are verified, you will not need to take the ASVAB test. 

PiCATASVAB
Number of Questions145Computer test – 145; Paper test – 225 
LocationAny internet connectionA MEPS or MET center
Time LimitUnlimited, but must be taken within a certain timeframe2:34 on computer; 2:29 when using paper
Verification TestYesNo
Test FormatOnlineOn computer or paper
ProctorNoYes
Retests AvailableOnce every two yearsYes. First retest after 30 days, additional retests every 6 months
Score ValidityUp to 5 yearsUp to 2 years
EligibilityAll recruits except those who have taken the ASVAB or the Student ASVABAll recruits

Passing the PiCAT Validation

After completing the PiCAT test, you will need to verify your score. Your recruiter will administer a 20-30-minute proctored test, with questions that are similar to the ones on the PiCAT. If results of the follow-up test are consistent with the results of the PiCAT, your PiCAT scores will become your official ASVAB results. 

If the results on the verification test are inconsistent with the PiCAT results, the verification test will turn into an ASVAB test, and you will have to complete the remainder of the test within the time limit. Additionally, be aware that 5% of PiCAT verification test takers are randomly chosen to complete the full online ASVAB. 


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Process to take PiCAT

To take the PiCAT, speak with a military recruiter. They will provide you with an access code that is valid for thirty days. Once you log into the PiCAT system, you will have 48 hours to complete the PiCAT. While the test isn’t timed, if you start your test 47 hours after initially logging in, you will need to complete the test within one hour. 

After you have completed the PiCAT, you have 45 days to complete the verification test. There are 30 questions on the verification test, and they are selected based on the questions you answered correctly.  

Icon Results Scale & Interpretations White Results Scale and Interpretations

Scores on the PiCAT are percentiles. A score of 80, for example, means that you scored higher than 80% of the people who took the test. 

Each branch of the military uses its own standards for its roles. The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is based on the first four sections of the PiCAT. The following table shows standard minimum AFQT scores for each branch of the military. 

BranchArmyMarine CorpNavyAir ForceCoast Guard
Standard minimum score – high-school graduate3132353640
Minimum score – GED3150506550

Score Report

Your recruiter can give you access to your score report. 

As you can see in the report, your top line of scores shows the percentile that you scored in each section. The following lines show your composite scores, based on the different military units. At the bottom of the results page is your overall AFQT score.

The following table shows each category that is measured on the test. 

Standard ScoresArmyAir ForceNavy/Coast GuardMarine
GS – General ScienceGT – General technicalM – MechanicalGT – General technicalMM – Mechanical maintenance
AR – Arithmetic ReasoningCL – ClericalA – AdministrativeEL – ElectronicsGT – General technical
WK – Word KnowledgeCO – Combat operationsG – GeneralBEE – Basic electricity and electronicsEL – Electronics
PC – Paragraph ComprehensionEL – Electronics E- ElectricalENG – EngineeringCL – Clerical
MK – Mathematics KnowledgeFA – Field artilleryMEC – Mechanical maintenance
EI – Electronics InformationGM – General maintenanceMECs – Mechanical maintenance 2
AS – Auto ShopMM – Mechanical maintenanceNUC – Nuclear field
MC – Mechanical ComprehensionOF – Operators and foodOPS – Operations specialist
AO – Assembling ObjectsSC – Surveillance and communicationsHM – Hospital corpsman
VE – VerbalST – Skilled technicalADM – Administrative

NOTES:

Your VE score is not a separate section of the test. It is based on your WK and PC scores.

In the PiCAT, Auto Information (AI) and Shop Information (SI) are two separate sections on the test. On this score sheet, which comes from the paper version of the ASVAB, they are combined (AS). 

Understanding Composite Scores

Each branch of the military has many different jobs, and it uses the results from the PiCAT to determine the likelihood that you will succeed in the role. Your test results that appear on the Standard Scores line on the results sheet are used to create the composite scores. 

Here are some examples:

Army

Combat Operations (CO) = VE+AS+MC

A Calvary Scout in the army requires a CO=87, meaning your scores in VE, AS, and MC need to equal 87 to qualify for that role. A parachute rigger is GM=90 and CO=90, meaning your VE, AS, and MC scores need to total 90 and you’d need a 90 on your GM score. 

Skilled Technical (ST) = VE+GS+MC+MK

A Field Artillery Surveyor in the army requires an ST=95, meaning your scores in VE, GS, MC, and MK need to equal 95 to qualify for that role. A military working dog handler is ST=91, meaning your VE, GS, MC, and MK scores need to total 91 or higher for that role. 

Navy

Engineering (ENG) = AL+EI+MK

Nuclear Field (NUC) = AR+MC+MK+VE

Air Force

Mechanical (M) = GS+MC+AS 

Administrative (A) = VE

Marines

Clerical (CL) = VE+AR+MK

Mechanical Maintenance (MM) = NO+AS+MC+EI

Icon Frequently Asked Questions White PiCAT FAQs

What is the PiCAT test?

The PiCAT is a military screening test that recruits take before entering the service. Results are used to ensure that you are qualified to serve, and determine in which jobs you are most likely to succeed while serving your country. 

What is on the PiCAT test?

The PiCAT has 10 different sections covering word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, math knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, general science, mechanical comprehension, shop information, electronics, assembly of objects, and auto information.

Is the PiCAT test hard?

If you haven’t been in a classroom in a while, you will want to study up on high school math and English. Other sections test you on basic knowledge. They don’t try to trick you, but you may not be familiar with the content. Studying for the test can prepare you and help improve your scores. 

Does PiCAT count as ASVAB?

If you pass the test and pass the verification test, your score will count as the ASVAB score. 

Is PiCAT harder than ASVAB?

The tests are basically the same.

Can I take the PiCAT instead of the ASVAB?

If you have never taken an ASVAB before, you can take the PiCAT.

How many questions are on the PiCAT test?

There are 145 questions on the PiCAT test. 

How many questions are on the PiCAT verification test?

There are 30 questions on the PiCAT verification test. They will be similar to questions you answered correctly during your PiCAT, and are asked to verify that you did not have outside help or cheat on the test. 

What is a good score on PiCAT test?

The higher your score, the more opportunities you will have during your service. You’ll want to aim for at least a 50. 

How long is my PiCAT score valid?

A PiCat score is valid for five years. 

What is the military PiCAT?

The PiCat is a test used by the US Military to screen recruits and help them find the right roles during their service.

What is the PiCAT Verification Test?

The PiCAT test is taken at home without a proctor. The PiCAT verification test is a short, 30 question test that you take at the recruitment center following your PiCAT with questions that are similar to questions you answered correctly on the test. If your PiCAT verification test is aligned with your PiCAT results, most of the time your PiCAT results will stand as your ASVAB score.

What happens if I fail the PICAT test?

Officially, you can’t fail the PiCAT. However, if your score is too low to qualify you for the military, you will need to take the ASVAB. Your military recruiter may allow you to take a PiCAT a second time, but that is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Can I retake the PiCAT?

Recruits can take a PiCAT every 2 years. 

Icon Tips White PiCAT Test Tips

1. Find a quiet place to take the test

The PiCAT can be taken wherever you like. Find a quiet location, where you will have time to think and work out the answers. 

2. Use an Internet connection you can trust

The test is online, so find a reliable internet connection that won’t disconnect while you are in the middle of your test.

3. Take care of yourself

Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before taking the test, and eat a healthy meal. You want your brain operating at its peak. 

4. Take a prep course and practice test

Even if you think you know the material, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the style and content of the test beforehand. That way you will feel comfortable as you move through the ten sections in the test. 

Icon Administration White Administration

  • Test Location: The PiCAT is not proctored and taken online at home 
  • Test Schedule: The test is given as part of your recruitment
  • Test Format: Multiple choice on computer
  • Test Materials: Test must be taken on either Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. It is recommended that your screen size be at least 15 inches diagonally.
  • Cost: Covered by the recruiter
  • Retake Policy: Every two years

Free PiCAT Practice


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The test was developed and is administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM). The PiCAT verification test is taken at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or a Mobile Examination Test (MET) site.

Disclaimer – All the information and prep materials on iPrep are genuine and were created for tutoring purposes. iPrep is not affiliated with the US military, which is the owner of the trademarks PiCAT, ASVAB, or any companies or trademarks that were mentioned above.

Get to know what the PiCAT will be like by practicing with these sample questions: