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National Longitudinal Surveys

Profile of American Youth (The ASVAB)

Profiles is the term used to describe the study called the Profile of American Youth that was conducted with the NLSY:79 sample from July to October 1980. In that study, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was administerd to a total of 11,914 NLSY:79 respondents, representing a completion rate of approximately 94 percent. The study was sponsored by the Department of Defense and the Military Services in cooperation with the Department of Labor.

The purpose of the Profile of American Youth was to obtain data on the vocational aptitudes of current youth and to establish current national norms for the ASVAB. Previously, military recruits had been compared statistically to adult males who were extensively tested during World War II.

NLSY:79 respondents were selected because they comprised an already existing nationally representative sample of young people ages 16 to 23. The test was administered by NORC representatives according to strict guidelines conforming to standard ASVAB procedures. Groups of five to ten persons were tested at more than 400 test sites that included hotels, community centers and libraries throughout the U.S. and abroad.

The ASVAB consists of a battery of ten tests that measure knowledge and skill in the following areas:

  • general science
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • word knowledge
  • paragraph comprehension
  • numercial operations
  • coding speed
  • auto and shop information
  • mathematics knowledge
  • mechanical comprehension
  • electronics information

The NLSY:79 tapes contain thrity-three Profiles variables, which include individual number scores, scale score, and standard errors for each of the ten sections, along with sampling weight, test disposition, and high school graduate status and the profiles testing.


Last Modified Date: May 20, 2019