So, you’re thinking about becoming a commissioned officer? One of the first things you’ll need to do is take the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT). The AFOQT is another standardized aptitude test, similar to the SAT or the ASVAB.
The AFOQT can be taken a maximum of two times, with a required six month waiting period in between. I contacted the education and training office for my wing, and made arrangements to take it on their next monthly administration. My office administers it once monthly, during a week day. If you’re not already in the Air Force, contact your nearest AF officer recruiter, who should be able to assist you with testing information and registration.
After setting up my appointment, I began preparing by taking a practice test online. If you’re already connected to the military, you can set up an account through Military OneSource. Under their Career & Education section, there is a link to the DoD MWR Library Resources. One of those resources is access to Peterson’s, a testing prep company for nearly every standardized test out there. This is the site I’ve been using for my CLEPs, DSSTs, and now my AFOQT. You can take a timed practice test online or download a copy to print out. I’d recommend the online test because it’ll help you understand just how blazingly fast you’ll be expected to work. After you take each section, you’ll be able to go through and review your incorrect (and correct) answers and read a brief rationale behind the correct answer. There’s other test prep options out there for you, so check out your local bookstore or get to Googlin’ if you’re looking for something else.
There are eleven sections to the test, followed by a twelfth section of personal survey questions, for a total of 470 questions. Yes, you read that correctly, 470 questions. Plan for this test to take a good three hours, with only a ten minute break in between sections six and seven. Make sure you use the bathroom before you begin testing – there’s no leaving! The sections are listed below, along with the number of questions and the time limit. Don’t quote me on that order, although it’s pretty close to what I remember.
1. Verbal Analogies – 25 questions, 8 minutes
2. Arithmetic Reasoning – 25 questions, 29 minutes
3. Word Knowledge – 25 questions, 5 minutes
4. Math Knowledge – 25 questions, 22 minutes
5. Instrument Comprehension – 20 questions, 6 minutes
6. Block Counting – 20 questions, 3 minutes
7. Table Reading – 40 questions, 7 minutes
8. Aviation Information – 20 questions, 8 minutes
9. Rotated Blocks – 15 questions, 13 minutes
10. General Science – 20 questions, 10 minutes
11. Hidden Figures – 15 questions, 8 minutes
12. Personal Description Inventory – 220 questions, 40 minutes (Likert-type scale responses)
I’m thankful that I studied online prior to taking this for real. The aviation and instrument comprehension sections are really intimidating, especially when you’re seeing them for the first time and don’t know a thing about flying. As a 31 year old Airman, I’m too old to be a pilot or a navigator. You have to commission and enter training before the age of thirty. If your goal is to be a pilot, jump on it! Don’t waste any time! I’m okay with not being one of those, but I still had to take those sections of the test.
The test goes extremely fast. Did I mention that already? It’s worth mentioning again. FAST! Think stimulant-induced speed. There’s really not a lot of time to think about answers or to go back and check over your work. It’s all about that first, gut instinct. I didn’t even have time to fill in the bubbles completely on the Table Reading section; I had to go back and do it later. If you have testing anxiety, you’re definitely going to want to try a practice test so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Know that little yelp that Homer Simpson makes? I’m pretty sure I almost burst out with that at the end of one of the first few sections.
I felt really strong during my math sections [naturally, as a math teacher I should] and during the Hidden Figures section (especially in comparison to my practice test). You’re not allowed to use a calculator, just scratch paper. Get comfortable doing two-digit multiplication, as well as two- and three-digit long division. The problems are much more difficult than just that, but that’s a necessary skill. I set up quite a few proportions as well.
The Hidden Figures, Block Counting, and Rotated Blocks sections are designed to gauge your visual-spatial skills. It can be challenging under the time constraint. I had to guess at the end of the Counting Blocks section. The Table Reading challenges your visual processing speed. You have to find a square/value given a specified X column and Y row. You can’t use a straight edge or write on the chart to help yourself out, but you can use your fingers.
I usually do well on Verbal Analogies and Word Knowledge, but I had to guess near the end. Hoping I didn’t do too poorly on those sections. I felt okay on the General Science section, which covers some basics in Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Astronomy. I probably should’ve done better as the daughter of a science teacher. 😉
Knowing next to nothing about aviation, I felt better about the Instrument Comprehension portion thanks to a quick review of the practice test. As for the Aviation Information, that was a complete wash. The only question I remember definitely know was the four forces that act upon an airplane in flight [lift, weight, thrust, and drag].
The personal survey questions are interesting. Many questions that you’d expect from something like that, that’s trying to gauge if you’re not cut out to be an officer – a team player, a collaborator, a leader, etc. There were questions like, “Most people consider me a loner,” and “I always put forth my best effort on school assignments.” You’ll rate yourself as strongly disagreeing, disagreeing, neither agreeing/disagreeing, agreeing, or strongly agreeing.
My scores are supposed to be available in approximately two weeks. I took it good ol’ pencil and Scantron style, so I know it’ll be a while. I’m not entirely sure how the composite scores are assembled and what is considered a “good” score, but I’ll find out soon enough! In the meantime, these sites seem very helpful:
- Angelo State University – Easy to read description of minimum scores needed to be a Pilot or Navigator.
- WantsCheck.com – Improve Your AFOQT Scores.
- WantsCheck.com – Get an Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) Slot From AF OTS.
These were the result of a quickie Google search, and I’m sure I could find more if I kept looking.