Discover all you need to bring to MEPs and how to prepare like a pro for your MEPs with the well-explained guide in this article.
A visit to MEPS is one of the first things you will do as you prepare to join the military. You are not an enlisted member of the military when you enter the MEPS building, but you can become one before you leave. Visiting MEPS is an all-day event that requires preparation. In this article, we explain what MEPS is and what to expect.
What is MEPS?
A MEPS, or Military Entry Processing Station, is where you are selected to serve in any branch of the military. This is a joint service organization with the Department of Defense that has both civilian and military personnel. You will speak with a recruiter prior to showing up at a MEPS location and may go through some pre-screening processes.
If you pass the screenings and exams, you will also choose your job and take ownership of your MEPS visit. Depending on your enlistment process, you may visit the MEPS once or twice. Those who visit only once generally stay for two days and then go straight to basic training.
What to Bring to MEPs: The typical MEPS process
While you visit the MEPS, the army provides you with room and board. You will stay at a nearby hotel the night before, where you will receive information about what will happen the next day. You are not allowed to leave the hotel, but friends and family can visit you in the common areas.
Your visit to the MEPS center can last all day. Processing typically takes place from 5 a.m. at 9 p.m. and you will normally follow five steps:
- ASVAB test
- Physical exam
- Job selection
- Background investigation
- Oath of enlistment
#1. ASVAB test
Each applicant for military service must take the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery test. This measures your fitness in 10 areas:
- General science
- Arithmetic reasoning
- Word knowledge
- Understanding paragraphs
- Numerical operations
- Encoding speed
- Car and store information
- Mathematical knowledge
- Mechanical understanding
- Electronic information
The purpose of this test is to determine what jobs you are best suited for in the military. If you have a high school diploma, you must have an overall score of at least 31 to join the Army or National Guard. The Marine Corps requires a score of 32, the Navy requires a 35, and the Air Force requires a 36. The Coast Guard has the highest standard, with a minimum score of 40.
If you have a GED certificate instead of a high school diploma, you must score higher on your ASVAB to enter the military. For candidates with a GED, the Air Force requires a score of at least 65 and all other branches require a score of 50 or higher.
Sometimes the ASVAB is given before your MEPS visit, so you can skip this step. Federal government test administrators often offer ASVAB tests in schools. Your recruiter can also give you an access code to take the Pending Computerized Adaptive Internet Test on your own time as an alternative to the ASVAB. If you take the PiCAT, you should verify your results with a 25 to 30 minute supervised verification test on the MEPS.
#2. Physical examination
If you do not have any exemptions, your exam will include:
A complete physical examination is required for everyone entering the military. This ensures that they can withstand the challenges of basic training, as well as their subsequent military service. Some conditions on your exam may be affected with proper documentation from your doctor. Talk to your recruiter before coming to MEPS to find out what you need to bring for this.
Complete physical exam
Height and weight measurements
Blood and urine tests
Drug and alcohol test
Flexibility and balance tests
Additional testing may be required if you are overweight, have certain medical conditions, or initially fail vision and hearing tests.
The women undergo their physical exams in a private room accompanied by an assistant. In addition to the tests listed above, women should also take a pregnancy test.
3. Job selection
With your physical and ASVAB results in hand, a counselor will meet with you to discuss the job options that are available at your chosen location. What you can select is determined by your scores in each area of the ASVAB, your physical abilities, and the branch’s need to fill certain positions.
Once you have selected a position, you will go through a pre-enlistment interview with the secretary of military processing.
4. Background investigation
After selecting a position, proceed to processing. Here, she goes through fingerprints for an FBI background check.
5. Oath of enlistment
If you choose to continue with the enlistment process, you will be sworn in. This can happen the same day as your other MEPS exams, or it can come back on another day. Family and friends are welcome to witness your oath. A waiting room is provided and attendees can take pictures. Afterward, you can board a bus to your first training center.
How to prepare for the MEPs and what to bring
The MEPS process is long, but you can complete many of the steps more quickly if you are prepared and know what to bring. Talking with your recruiter is the best way to prepare for your visit to MEPS. However, there are several things you can do to optimize your experience, including:
Talk about your plans with your family. If you can, talk to your parents about your family’s medical history so that you are prepared to complete your medical questionnaire accurately.
Visit your doctor. Bring medical documentation and applicable exemptions with you. If you wear them, bring your glasses or contact lenses.
Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothing that meets the MEPS offensive materials and profanity provisions.
Gather the necessary identification documents. Take your social security card, driver’s license, and birth certificate with you.
Study for the ASVAB. Different branches of the military can provide study materials and guides to help you perform better on the exam to improve your chances of landing the job you want.
Think about what job you want. Review the military jobs in your chosen branch to get an idea of what your goals are.
Prepare for after MEPs and bring all you need. Packaging for basic training if coming directly from MEPS.