9
Army Alpha to CAT-ASVAB: Four-Score Years of Military Personnel Selection and Classification Testing

Brian K. Waters


BACKGROUND

The United States military presents a massive personnel management challenge. Since the buildup for World War I, it has had to select, train, assign, lead, and manage millions of young men and women, most of whom have never held prior full-time employment. The challenge of selecting and assigning eligible recruits fairly, efficiently, and accurately has been met by military cognitive testing experts, primarily by the service research laboratories and their contractors.

The instruments and procedures that the U.S. military has developed over the past seven decades have become models for cognitive ability testing for education, job selection and promotion, and ability measurement throughout the world. This chapter provides a brief history of personnel selection and classification testing in the military over those seven decades, primarily focused on the enlisted force but touching on officer selection and assignment in the final sections.


Military Personnel Selection Testing

The demand for new enlisted recruits by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force is great, running from about a quarter of a million young men and women annually during peacetime to several million during mobilizations. The pool from which the military draws its recruits is young (generally ranging in age from 18 to the early 20s). Most often they arrive without advanced education

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