The Pentagon is preparing to implement a major change in the military’s entrance exam, which will soon allow applicants to use calculators amid an ongoing recruitment crisis.
The announcement of the Pentagon’s plan was made recently by three defense officials to Military.com. The proposed change would represent a significant shift in the way applicants are tested academically to determine a potential recruit’s eligibility for jobs in the U.S. military.
The proposed change in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is expected to help mitigate the military recruitment shortage partially believed to be caused by many Americans not scoring high enough on the test to qualify for enlistment in the U.S. military.
According to Military.com, the potential change to the ASVAB would also be consistent with changes to traditional test-taking in the United States, with calculators being permitted in many mathematics classes around the country, as well as the SAT and ACT college entrance tests.
“The department is carefully considering the use of calculators for the ASVAB,” a Department of Defense official told The Daily Caller. “We are taking a systematic approach, which will assess the impact of calculator use, and we are developing a way forward for calculator inclusion based on best practices in test development and psychometric theory.”
According to Military.com, the timeline for the implementation of the ASVAB calculator change is currently unknown. However, one Defense Department official noted that the change could face backlash due to concerns that federal lawmakers will view the Pentagon’s change as a way of lowering the military’s standards.
In addition to the Pentagon’s anticipated shift in academic testing, the U.S. Army launched the Future Soldier Preparatory Course last year to “help America’s youth overcome academic and physical fitness barriers to service and meet or exceed the Army’s accession standards.”
By the end of last year, 3,206 students had attended the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, with 2,965 graduating and moving on to basic combat training.
For the academic track of the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, the Army found that 95% of students increased their testing capability under at least one test category within their first two attempts. The students’ test scores also increased by an average of 17 points.
The U.S. military has continued its struggle to meet its recruitment goals in 2023, following the Army’s failure to meet its recruitment goal last year. Projections for this year have indicated that the Air Force could experience a recruit deficit of 27,000, while the Air National Guard is anticipating a recruit deficit of 4,000.