Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

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The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple choice test, administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command, used to determine qualification for enlistment in the United States Armed Forces. It is often offered to U.S. high school students when they are in the 10th, 11th and 12th grade, though anyone eligible for enlistment may take it.[2]

Trends in recruiting 1975–2001 showing total numbers of enlisted recruits in all branches of U.S. armed forces in light blue and percentage of recruiting goals met in dark blue. Percentage of recruits with at least a high school diploma is shown in gold, percentage with an above average AFQT in orange, and the percentage called "high quality", with both a diploma and above-average AFQT score, is in purple.[1]


The ASVAB was first introduced in 1968 and was adopted by all branches of the military in 1976. It underwent a major revision in 2002. In 2004, the test's percentile rank scoring system was renormalized, to ensure that a score of 50% really did represent doing better than exactly 50% of the test takers.



The ASVAB currently contains 9 sections (except the written test, which contains 8 sections). The duration of each test varies from as low as ten minutes up to 36 minutes for Arithmetic Reasoning; the entire ASVAB is three hours long. The test is typically administered in a computerized format at Military Entrance Processing Stations, known as MEPS, or at a satellite location called a Military Entrance Test (MET) site. The ASVAB is administered by computer at the MEPS, while a written version is given at most MET sites. Testing procedures vary depending on the mode of administration.[3]

Computerized test formatEdit

  • General Science (GS) – 15 questions in 8 minutes
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – 15 questions in 39 minutes
  • Word Knowledge (WK) – 15 questions in 8 minutes
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – 10 questions in 22 minutes
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – 15 questions in 20 minutes
  • Electronics Information (EI) – 15 questions in 8 minutes
  • Automotive and Shop Information (AS) – 10 questions in 7 minutes
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – 15 questions in 20 minutes
  • Assembling Objects (AO) – 15 questions in 40 minutes
  • Verbal Expression (VE)= (WK)+(PC)

Written test formatEdit

  • General Science (GS) – 45 questions in 20 minutes
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – 30 questions in 36 minutes
  • Word Knowledge (WK) – 35 questions in 11 minutes
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – 15 questions in 13 minutes
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – 25 questions in 24 minutes
  • Electronics Information (EI) – 20 questions in 9 minutes
  • Automotive and Shop Information (AS) – 25 questions in 11 minutes
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – 25 questions in 19 minutes
  • Assembling Objects (AO) – 25 questions in 15 minutes
  • Verbal Expression (VE)= (WK)+(PC)

Navy applicants also complete a Coding Speed (CS) test.


  • "Numerical Operations" (NO)
  • "Space Perception" (SP)
  • "Tool Knowledge" (TK)
  • "General Information" (GI)
  • "Attention to Detail" (AD)
  • "Coding Speed" (CS)

Armed Forces Qualification TestEdit

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is used to determine basic qualification for enlistment.

AFQT Scores are divided into the following categories

  • Category I: 93–99
  • Category II: 65–92
  • Category III A: 50–64
  • Category III B: 31–49
  • Category IV A: 21–30
  • Category IV B: 16–20
  • Category IV C: 10–15
  • Category V: 0–9

-The formula for computing an AFQT score is: AR + MK + (2 x VE).

-The VE (verbal) score is determined by adding the raw scores from the PC and WK tests and using a table to get the VE score from that combined PC and WK raw score.

-AFQT scores are not raw scores, but rather percentile scores indicating how each examinee performed compared with the base youth population. Thus, someone who receives an AFQT of 55 scored better than 55 percent of all other members of the base youth population. The highest possible percentile is 99.

-The minimum score for enlistment varies according to branch of service and whether the enlistee has a high school diploma.

Minimum AFQT[4]
Tier I Tier II
Branch ≥ HS Diploma = GED
Army 31 50
Marines 32 50
Air Force 36 65
Navy 31 50
Coast Guard 36 50 with 15 college credits
*Army National Guard 50 50
*Air National Guard 50 50

GED holders who earn 15 college credits 100 level or greater are considered equivalent with those holding high school diplomas, so that they need only the Tier I score to enlist. Eligibility is not determined by score alone. Certain recruiting goal practices may require an applicant to achieve a higher score than the required minimum AFQT score in order to be considered for enlistment. Rules and regulations are subject to change; applicants should call their local recruiting center for up to date qualification information.[4][5]

Law prohibits applicants in Category V from enlisting.[6] In addition, there are constraints placed on Category IV recruits; recruits in Category IV must be high school diploma graduates but cannot be denied enlistment solely on this criteria if the recruit is needed to satisfy established strength requirements. Furthermore, the law constrains the percentage of accessions who can fall between Categories IV-V (currently, the limit is 20% of all persons originally enlisted in a given armed force in a given fiscal year).[6]

Composite scoresEdit

In addition to the ASVAB's AFQT, each branch has military occupational specialty, or MOS, scores. Combinations of scores from the nine tests are used to determine qualification for a MOS. These combinations are called "aptitude area scores", "composite scores", or "line scores". Each of the five armed services has its own aptitude area scores and sets its own minimum composite scores for each MOS.

Army/Army National Guard Composite Scores
CL Clerical VE+AR+MK
CO Combat Operations VE+AS+MC
EL Electronics GS+AR+MK+EI
FA Field Artillery AR+MK+MC
GM General Maintenance GS+AS+MK+EI
GT General Technical WK+PC+AR
MM Mechanical Maintenance AS+MC+EI
OF Operators and Food VE+AS+MC
SC Surveillance and Communications VE+AR+AS+MC
ST Skilled Technical VE+GS+MC+MK
* SF Special Forces GT≥110 CO≥100
Navy Line Scores
GT General Technical AR+VE
EL Electronics AR+EI+GS+MK
BEE Basic Electricity and Electronics AR+GS+2*MK
ENG Engineering AI+EI+MK
MEC Mechanical Maintenance AR+AI+SI+MC
MEC2 Mechanical Maintenance 2 AO+AR+MC
NUC Nuclear Field AR+MC+MK+VE
OPS Operations Specialist WK, PC, AR, MK, AO
HM Hospital Corpsman (medical) GS+MK+VE
ADM Administrative MK+VE
* SEALs Special Operations GS+MC+EI≥165 or VE+MK+MC+CS≥220 (minimum for BUD/S)
Coast Guard Line Scores
AET Aviation Electrical Technician MK+EI+GS≥172 & AR≥52 or AFQT≥65
AMT Aviation Maintenance Technician AR+MC+AS+EI≥220 & AR≥52 or AFQT≥65
AST Aviation Survival Technician VE+MC+AS≥162 & AR≥52 or AFQT≥65
BM Boatswain's Mate VE+AR≥100
DC Damage Controlman VE+MC+AS≥155
EM Electrician's Mate MK+EI+GS≥153 & AR≥52
ET Electronics Technician MK+EI+GS≥172 & AR≥52 or AFQT≥65
FS Food Service Specialist VE+AR≥105
GM Gunner's Mate AR+MK+EI+GS≥209
HS Health Services Technician VE+MK+GS+AR≥207 & AR≥50
IS Intelligence Specialist VE+AR≥109
IT Information Systems Technician MK+EI+GS≥172 & AR≥52 or AFQT≥65
ME Maritime Enforcement Specialist VE+AR≥100
MK Machinery Technician AR+MC+AS≥154 or VE+AR≥105
MST Marine Science Technician VE+AR≥114 & MK≥56
OS Operational Specialist VE+AR≥105
PA Public Affairs Specialist VE+AR≥109 & VE≥54
SK Storekeeper VE+AR≥105 & VE≥51
YN Yeoman VE+AR≥105

Air Force/Air National Guard Composite Scores (Standard AFQT score AR + MK + (2 x VE))[7]

M Mechanical GS + MC + AS
A Administrative VE
G General VE + AR
E Electrical AR + MK + EI + GS
Marine Corps Line Score:
CL Clerical VE+AR+MK
EL Electronics GS+AR+MK+EI
GT General Technical VE+AR
MM Mechanical Maintenance NO+AS+MC+EI
ST Skilled Technical GS+VE+MK+MC
* MARSOC Special Operations GT=105

Test validityEdit

The AFQT has been used in non-military settings as a proxy measure of intelligence, for example, in Herrnstein & Murray's book The Bell Curve. Because of the test's significance both inside and outside military settings, it is important to examine what the test measures, i.e. to evaluate the construct validity of the AFQT. Kaufman's 2010 review stated that David Marks (2010) scanned the literature for datasets containing test estimates for populations or groups taking both the AFQT and tests of literacy. One study on nine groups of soldiers differing in job and reading ability found a correlation of .96 between the AFQT and reading achievement (Sticht, Caylor, Kern, & Fox, 1972). Another study showed significant improvements among black and Hispanic populations in their AFQT scores between 1980 and 1992 while whites only showed a slight decrement (Kilburn, Hanser, & Klerman, 1998). Another study obtained reading scores for 17-year-olds for those same ethnic groups and dates (Campbell et al., 2000) and found a correlation of .997 between reading scores and AFQT scores. This nearly perfect correlation was based on six pairs of data points from six independent population samples evaluated by two separate groups of investigators. According to Marks, "On the basis of the studies summarized here, there can be little doubt that the Armed Forces Qualifications Test is a measure of literacy." However, it is important to note that AFQT has been shown to correlate more highly with classic IQ tests than they do with one another, and that the "crystallized" intelligence measured by AFQT is measured very similarly by Wechsler, in particular.[8]


  1. ^ Kapp, Lawrence (February 25, 2002), Recruiting and Retention in the Active Component Military: Are There Problems? (PDF), Defense Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade; Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress
  2. ^ "ASVAB". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  3. ^ "What To Expect When You Take the ASVAB". Department of Defense, Official site of the ASVAB. 19 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Minimum ASVAB Scores".
  5. ^ "10 Steps to Joining the Military – Step 2: Decide if you're ready". Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b 10 USC Sec. 520
  7. ^ "ASVAB and Air Force Jobs". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  8. ^

Further readingEdit

  • Gregory, Robert J. (2011). Psychological Testing: History, Principles, and Applications (Sixth ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN 978-0-205-78214-7. Lay summary (7 November 2010).
  • Hogan, Thomas P.; Brooke Cannon (2007). Psychological Testing: A Practical Introduction (Second ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-73807-7. Lay summary (21 November 2010).
  • Marks, D.F. (2010). "IQ variations across time, race, and nationality: an artifact of differences in literacy skills". Psychological Reports, 106, 643-664.
  • Kaufman, S.B. (2010). "The Flynn Effect and IQ Disparities Among Races, Ethnicities, and Nations: Are There Common Links?" [1]

External linksEdit