Standardized tests can be tedious and dull, but those wishing to join the military can't afford to overlook their importance.
To enlist, any future soldier must achieve a qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a test developed by the Defense Department to determine recruits' suitability for the military and the service and jobs that might be the best matches. That's where the Army's March2Success program comes in.
"It was catered to you,'' said Dylan Trowbridge, who is turning 18 in May 2021 -- the same month he graduated from Otsego High School in Ohio. "It broke down what I needed to learn to a specific level for me, not anybody else. It taught me in a way that I understood.''
Since it was started in the mid-1990s, March2Success has proved to be a beneficial resource for the military, said Larane Guthrie-Clarkson, chief of the U.S. Army Recruiting education program.
Some key points:
- March2Success is a free online and mobile platform with a variety of apps.
- It offers interactive learning, practice questions, timed practice tests and STEM material.
- Because it is tailored for students in grades 8-12, it includes high school and college prep content.
- In addition to those interested in the military, March2Success also is suitable for those attempting to achieve a good score on the ACT or SAT, attain their GED certificate or are interested in performing well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or the Dental Admission Test (DAT).
- Besides students, parents, educators, schools and districts can register for March2Success, and they are. In 2020, new registrations numbered 114,876, and 50,090 have signed up so far in 2021, according to Army Recruiting Command data.
“They have these pretests, which will tell them where they are in certain areas, and then the system will recommend a learning path that they can use,’’ Guthrie-Clarkson said.
Sgt. 1st Class Zackary Bonner, recruiting station commander for Bowling Green, Ohio, said March2Success has produced many success stories. Trowbridge is one.
To enlist in the Army, a qualifying score of 31 out of a possible 99 on the ASVAB is required. When Trowbridge took a practice test, he scored a 22.
Related: Take an ASVAB practice test
Bonner and Trowbridge went to work. After helping Trowbridge sign up for the program -- Bonner said anyone who scores below a 50 on a trial test is registered for March2Success -- they developed a strategic plan. For six days, Trowbridge made his way through the program's structured modules.
Bonner signed on as a proctor so he could ensure that the teen was making daily progress. On the seventh day, Trowbridge took the ASVAB again. He scored a 54.
"Just from our station and company alone, we have used March2Success religiously for the past two years with our applicants ... we're actually taking the quality market of applicants -- or, I should say, a majority of -- compared to any other branch,'' Bonner said. "That's held true for the past two years."
Bonner said anyone who scores a 50 or above on the ASVAB is considered a quality candidate, and the proportion of those has increased markedly with the implementation of March2Success.
Trowbridge was surprised that his score jumped by nearly 150%.
"I didn't expect to score as high as I did,'' he said. "It allowed me to get a bonus.''
As Trowbridge prepares for basic training in July at Fort Benning, Georgia, more recruits are coming through the pipeline. Students usually need assistance preparing for standardized tests, and for those aiming for the military, they just don't just want a minimum passing score.
Their standards are higher.
"It took me back to the basics, so I could relearn some of the things I've forgotten from previous years of high school,'' Trowbridge said. "It allowed me to succeed and excel when I got to the ASVAB.''
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