What Is MEPS, and How Do I Deal with It?

Applicants go through processing at MEPS station
Applicants collect their paperwork after confirming there identifications and taking pictures at the central command desk while in-processing at the Military Entrance Processing Station on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Oct. 7, 2014. (Sgt. Richard W. Hoppe/U.S. Army)

You may have heard friends who are joining the military discussing how they have to go to MEPS and how exciting it is. What exactly is MEPS?

MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. Once you have gone through initial questioning phases with your recruiter and have discussed your options, your recruiter will set an appointment for you to go to the nearest MEPS. Here you will take the ASVAB, have a physical, and (if you pass) -- choose your job and swear in.

Everything together should take two days, though there are some situations that may make things shorter or longer. Some people will go into their branch's delayed entry program (DEP) and go home after MEPS to wait until their ship-out date. Others will embark to basic training immediately after MEPS. Remember, you have not joined the military before going to MEPS, but by the end of it, you will be asked to.

Here are some helpful hints for before you go to MEPS:

  1. Discuss any childhood medical problems with your parents and bring documentation with you.
  2. Bring your Social Security card, birth certificate and driver's license.
  3. Remove earrings (they obstruct the headset used for the hearing test).
  4. Profanity and offensive wording or pictures on clothing is not tolerated.
  5. Hats are not permitted inside the MEPS.
  6. If you wear either eyeglasses or contacts, bring them along with your prescription and lens case.
  7. Bathe or shower the night before your examination.
  8. Wear underwear.
  9. Get a good night's sleep before taking the CAT-ASVAB.
  10. Wear neat, moderate, comfortable clothing.
  11. Don't bring stereo headphones, watches, jewelry, excessive cash or any other valuables.
  12. Ask your recruiter for a list of recommended personal items to bring to basic training.
  13. Processing starts early at the MEPS. You must report on time.

The typical process at MEPS is:

  1. ASVAB test
  2. Physical
  3. Job selection
  4. Swearing in

About MEPS

MEPS is a Defense Department joint-service organization staffed with military and civilian professionals. MEPS personnel determine applicants' physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards, as set by each branch of military service.

MEPS Testing

Each applicant for military service is required to take the CAT-ASVAB, which measures aptitude in a broad range of career fields. Each service combines the test section results to produce its own unique scores for various career fields.

You already may have taken the ASVAB in high school or for enlistment purposes. If so, tell your recruiter or your test administrator, because you may not be required to take the test.

MEPS Physical

Physical examinations are vitally important because everyone entering the armed forces must be in good health to endure the challenges of basic training and military service. You will have to remove your outer clothing during parts of the examination. Your physical examination consists of:

  • Height and weight measurements
  • Hearing and vision examinations
  • Urine and blood tests
  • Drug and alcohol tests
  • Muscle group and joint maneuvers in underwear (Not exercises and running. Just a few simple flexibility and balance tests to make sure you have proper ranges of motion.)
  • Complete physical examination and interview
  • Specialized tests if required. Examples: fat percentage test (if you're overweight)
  • Secondary vision and hearing tests; other tests if you have an unusual medical history

Remember that many conditions can be waived, but you must provide appropriate documentation! Check with your recruiter before you go: You will need to bring all documents with you, or else MEPS will disqualify you.

For Women Only

The MEPS will provide a drape or gown for you during the physical examination. Your visit with the physician will be in a private room. Underwear is required during your physical. A female attendant will accompany you when you must remove your clothing. You also will be given a pregnancy test.

Medical History

Medical technicians will give you instructions on how to complete a questionnaire on your medical history before the physical examination begins. You may find it helpful to talk with your parents about any childhood diseases or medical problems you have experienced before going to the MEPS.

Meals & Lodging

Meals and/or overnight lodging accommodations, if needed, will be arranged for you. Most applicants will share a room with another applicant and are expected to be considerate of other guests and hotel property. You will pay only for extras, such as telephone calls.


After you have met the physical and CAT-ASVAB standards of the branch of service you have selected, a service liaison counselor will tell you about job opportunities and the enlistment agreement. You are making important decisions and need to be informed. Service liaison counselors can explain each program and answer your questions. When in doubt ... ask!

A final interview, fingerprinting for a FBI check and pre-enlistment briefing will be completed before you take the oath of enlistment. Members of your family are welcome to watch you take the oath. A waiting room is available for them. Your family may take photographs of you with the military officer administering the oath.

If you are entering the DEP or not enlisting at this time, return transportation to your home will be coordinated by your recruiter. Those of you entering active duty will receive instructions on your transportation arrangements to basic training.

For the MEPS nearest you, check this list: http://www.mepcom.army.mil/meps.htm


  • Check with your parents/guardians about any medical conditions in your past.
  • Check with your recruiter about all of your medical history. Talking with your recruiter in private does not disqualify you from the service -- lying does. Remember, there are waivers for many things.
  • Bring all medical documentation with you to MEPS.
  • Get a good night's sleep. You'll be waking up early!
  • Prepare well for the ASVAB. Taking time to study can make a world of difference for your entire military career.
  • Bring a book to read during MEPS. There is a LOT of waiting.
  • Wear comfortable but presentable warm clothing.
  • Wear normal underwear. You will be sorry if you don't!
  • Listen to directions. There are lots of them!

Interested in Joining the Military?

We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.

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