MEPS (Day 1: Testing)

The Day of Reckoning. When all your dreams either come true or are crushed forever. Or in my case, postponed until further notice.

MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. It is where you go to do testing, get your physical done, and be sworn into the military. It’s what all the paperwork and interviewing is leading up to. For people in the Reserve like myself, once you are sworn into the military, you are already a soldier from that moment on.

Wednesday morning, I arrived bright and early at my recruiter’s office to take a shuttle to my nearest MEPS. Two hours later… the shuttle showed up. There were three other people in there who were riding up with me. All of them were joining the Air Force. We chatted and got to know each other on the long drive to MEPS.

That evening when we arrived, we went straight into MEPS. To get in, you have to go through security like at an airport. If you have anything sharp like nail files or nail clippers in your bag, make sure to tell it a heartfelt goodbye, because you will never see it again.

Once we got inside, there was a big front desk where we had to check in. They took our fingerprints there, which we had to scan every time we checked in or out of the building, and took our picture for ID purposes. Then they asked us to lock up all of our things, including our phones and watches, in a room that was locked with a security keypad.

Next, I was led into a computer lab to take my verification ASVAB test, since I had taken the PiCAT (a non-proctored version of the ASVAB) at my recruiter’s office. It only takes about half an hour to answer 30 questions from the ASVAB, just to verify that you are the same person who took the PiCAT. (Although, 1 in 5 people are drawn from a lottery to retake the full ASVAB, and you won’t know if it’s you until you’re already in the test.) If most of your answers match up (even if they’re wrong), you get to keep your original score. If not, you will retake the entire ASVAB and keep your lower score.

After the ASVAB verification, I was directly started on a personality test. It is what they call an adaptive personality test, so the questions you get depend on how you answered the previous question. You choose which statement best describes you between two statements that don’t describe you at all, like “I would kill a cat," and, "I would kill a dog." ß Not real example statements. But it feels like sometimes you are choosing between two statements that either don’t apply to you at all, or they both do. Real example statements: “People tell me I am disorganized.” vs. “I’m not lazy, I just don’t put in more effort than is required.” Interesting fact: The test is designed to be able to tell if you are trying to portray yourself in a certain way, and it accounts for that.

After that test, I was directed into another test that was like one of those job preference tests you have to take in high school. I guess it is to see if I am a good fit for the job I’m applying for. I had to rate on a scale how important to me different aspects of a job are.

What tests we had to take that first day depended on what we were applying for. For example, a girl who came with me didn’t have to take any tests except for a technology knowledge test. (Although she wasn’t applying for a technology job, so who actually knows what the system behind the tests is.)

By the time I got done with all of my tests, the waiting room was empty, and I spent a solid three hours waiting (which as I would find out the next day, was nothing) for a shuttle to take me to the hotel. Apparently no one had told the shuttle I was there. (Again.) I am getting good at this whole waiting thing.

The hotel we stayed at was nice, at least for my standards. The nicest part of it, of course, was that it was paid for by the military. We were given two meal vouchers, one for dinner and one for breakfast the next morning. (FREE STEAK, people!!! Even if you don’t pass MEPS and it all ends up being a waste of time, at least there’s that.) Each of us had a roommate. We spent the night getting to know each other, attending a short orientation, and stressing about the next day.

I’ll write tomorrow about the next day, when the real fun began.


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