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The Complete Guide to ASVAB Scores

ASVAB Scores

It is critical to know how ASVAB scores are calculated and what they are used for.  The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests are used to identify whether a candidate is qualified to enlist in a particular branch of the U.S. Military.  The ASVAB test is also used to determine which military jobs (referred to as MOS for Military Occupational Specialties) a candidate is best suited for.  ASVAB scores can also be used by test takers to help explore which careers they may be a good fit for them – whether they go into the military or not. While no one officially passes or fails the ASVAB, each branch of the military has specific minimum scores required for enlistment.  Your scores also affect the type of military job, enlistment bonuses and salary you are eligible for.

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ASVAB Scores – How They Are Calculated

The ASVAB test is a timed, multiple-choice aptitude test administered in paper or computerized form to armed forces applicants. Each multiple-choice question has four answers of which only one answer could be correct.

Preparing for the ASVAB exam is like using ACT practice tests or SAT practice tests. Unlike standardized tests taken in schools and college entrance exams, however, you want to answer every question even if you have to guess at some of the answers to the questions. You are not penalized for wrong answers but you are penalized for questions left blank, as these are counted as incorrect answers. Each question counts as 1 point, so if you left 15 questions blank, you automatically have reduced your ASVAB score to 85. 

Since the test is timed, you do not want to spend too much time on any one question. If you feel like you’re running out of time, don’t just bubble in answers at the end of the test. The computerized version of the ASVAB does apply a penalty if a large amount of the questions near the end of the test are answered incorrectly.

The ASVAB test consists of multiple choice questions in ten distinct categories (sub tests) listed below:

  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • General Science (GS)
  • Electronics Information (EI)
  • Auto Information (AI)
  • Shop Information (SI)
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  • Assembling Objects (AO)

Students are given a Standard Score for each of the subtests. Standard Scores are derived from your Raw Scores (total number of points you receive on each subtest). The Standard Scores are a statistically derived score that typically ranges from 30 and 70 for each subtest. The Standard Scores are created such that a 50 represents a mean (average) score and there is a standard deviation of 10 (implying that 95% of test takers are within two standard deviations, 20 pts, of the mean of 50).

640px Standard deviation diagram

Source: M. W. Toews [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

An applicant’s Standard Scores on each of the individual sub tests are used to calculate two separate types of scores: Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) scores and Composite Scores. These are the important scores that are used to determine enlistment eligibility and MOS/Job qualifications.

AFQT Scores – Eligibility for Enlistment

AFQT scores are a critical component of your ASVAB scores. AFQT scores are based on your scores from the following four subtests:

  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)

AFQT scores are represented as percentiles in the range of 1 to 99. The percentile score indicates how a candidate’s score compares to a reference group of test takers. If an ASVAB candidate has an AFQT score of 65, this implies that their score is higher than 65% of the test takers in the reference sample group.

The formula for AFQT scores is:
AFQT = MK + AR + 2xVE, where
MK = Your Mathematics Knowledge Scores
AR = Your Arithmetic Knowledge Scores
VE = PC + WK = Your Paragraph Comprehension (PC) scores + Your Word Knowledge Scores (WK)

This score is then converted to a percentile by comparing it to scores from the representative sample group. Once the AFQT score is computed as a percentile, it is then categorized as follows:

Category  AFQT Range
93 – 99
II 65 – 92
III A  50 – 64
III B  31 – 49
IV A  21 – 30
IV B  16 – 20
IV C 10 – 15
V 1 - 9

COMPOSITE SCORES – MOS/JOB ASSIGNMENTS

Composite Scores are sometimes referred to as “line scores”, “aptitude area scores”, or “MOS scores”. These scores are derived by adding different combinations of the sub test standard scores. Composite scores are used by the different branches of the U.S. Armed Services to determine which military jobs (or Military Occupational Specialities/MOS) may be the best fit for you. These composite scores are only one factor in determining which military job is right for you. The recruiter will also use job availability, physical and medical qualifications, and eligibility for security clearance as additional factors. Each branch of the service also defines their own composite scores and eligibility requirements. 

The minimum score requirements and composite scores of the different branches of the U.S. Armed Services are listed below:

Air Force AFQT Score Requirements

  • Minimum AFQT Score (with High School Diploma): 36
  • Minimum AFQT Score (with GED): 65

The Air Force uses the ASVAB to determine an applicant’s eligibility for admission to the Air Force and the specific types of jobs in the Air Force that they would be best suited for. 

The Air Force uses the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) to qualify applicants. The Air Force requires an AFQT score of at least 36 and a High School diploma to be eligible to enlist for Air Force active duty. While they do not accept many non-high school graduates, a person with an AFQT score of 65 or higher and a GED may be considered for eligibility. If you are looking to obtain a GED credential, you can prepare with our free GED practice tests.

How the Air Force uses ASVAB scores to find out what specific Air Force jobs a person qualifies for can be confusing. There is no single test score that determines whether someone is qualified to be a pilot or a mechanic or some other job. Every Air Force job has certain skills and knowledge required to do that job successfully. The Air Force took each job within the Air Force and broke it down into which skills and knowledge were necessary to do each job, which are now referred to as Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC).  From those codes, they were able to devise a battery of tests that would provide an indication of what jobs and individual was capable of doing within the Air Force. 

The Air Force utilizes a combination of the ASVAB subtests referred to as MAGE (Mechanical, Administrative, General Aptitude and Electronics) scoring to determine what specific occupational Air Force specialties an individual is qualified for. MAGE is based on eight ASVAB subtests, which are grouped together into four different “Qualification Areas”. 

  • Mechanical = Mechanical Comprehension, General Science, Auto & Shop Information
  • Administrative = Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension
  • General = Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Electrical = Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematical Knowledge, Electronics Information, General Science

MAGE Scores are percentile scores that range from 0-99.

For example, an Aerospace Control & Warning Systems Technician would have had to score at least a MAGE of 55 from combined subtest scores. 

AIR FORCE COMPOSITE SCORES

Composite Score Standard Scores Formula
Mechanical  Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Verbal Expression (VE), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), Auto and Shop Information (AS) AR + 2xVE + MC + AS
Administrative  Verbal Expression (VE), Mathematics Knowledge (MK) VE + MK
General  Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) VE + AR
Electronics  Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Electronics Information (EI), General Science (GS) AR + MK + EI + GS

Army AFQT Score Requirements

  • Minimum AFQT Score (with High School Diploma): 31
  • Minimum AFQT Score (with GED): 31

 The Army uses the ASVAB to determine an applicant’s eligibility for admission to the Army and the specific types of jobs in the Army that they would be best suited for. 

The Army uses the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) to qualify applicants. The Army requires an AFQT score of at least 31 to be eligible to enlist for Army active duty. The Army does not make a distinction between High School graduates and those that hold a GED.

How the Army uses ASVAB scores to find out what specific Army jobs a person qualifies for can be complicated. There is no single test score that determines whether someone is qualified to be a combat instructor or a small arms mechanic or some other job. Every Army job has certain skills and knowledge required to do that job successfully. The Army took each job within the Army and broke it down into which skills and knowledge were necessary to do each job, which are now referred to as Occupational Specialties (OS). From those Occupational specialties, they were able to devise a battery of tests that would provide an indication of what jobs an individual was capable of doing within the Army. 

Occupational Specialty   ASVAB Scores Looked at
 Clerical  Word Knowledge, Comprehension, Math Knowledge, Arithmetic Reasoning
 Combat  Word Knowledge, Comprehension, Math Knowledge, Arithmetic Reasoning
 Electronics  Science, Math Knowledge, Arithmetic Reasoning, Electronic Information
 Field Artillery  Math Knowledge, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mechanical Comprehension
 General Maintenance  Science, Auto & Shop information, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information
 Basic Technical  Word Knowledge, Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning
 Mechanical Maintenance  Auto & Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Electronic Information
Food & Operators Word Knowledge, Comprehension, Auto & Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension
Surveillance & Communications Word Knowledge, Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Auto & Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension
Skilled Technical Word Knowledge, Comprehension, Science, Mathematics Knowledge, Mechanical Comprehension

The Army utilizes the subtest test scores from the ASVAB to determine what specific occupational specialty an individual is qualified for.  They convert an individual’s score on ASVAB subtests into composite score areas referred to as line scores. Lines scores are grouped together in various ways to identify an individual’s job selection. For example, a Tank Turret Mechanic would have had to score at least 100 from the combined line scores from the Mechanical Maintenance subtests.

ARMY COMPOSITE SCORES

Composite Score Standard Scores Formula
General  Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) VE + AR
Technical, Clerical, Combat, Electronics Repair, Field Artillery, General Maintenance, Mechanical Maintenance, Operators/Food, Surveillance/Communication Skilled Technician Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Mathematics Knowledge (MK). General Science (GS), Electronics Information (EI), Auto Information (AI), Shop Information (SI), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), Assembling Objects (AO) Weighted combinations of all ASVAB Subtests

Marine Corps AFQT Score Requirements

  • Minimum AFQT Score (with High School Diploma): 32
  • Minimum AFQT Score (with GED): 50

The Marine Corps uses the ASVAB to determine an applicant’s eligibility for admission to the Marines and the specific types of jobs in the Marines that they would be best suited for. 

The Marines use the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) to qualify applicants. The Marine Corps require an AFQT score of at least 32 and a High School Diploma. The Marine Corps does not accept many non-high school graduates, however, a person with an AFQT of 50 or better and a GED could be considered eligible to enlist for Marine Corps active duty. 

How the Marines use ASVAB scores to find out what specific Marine Corps jobs a person qualifies for can be confusing. There is no single test score that determines whether someone is qualified to be a Combat Engineer or a tank mechanic or some other job. Every Marines Corps job has certain skills and knowledge required to do that job successfully. The Marines took each job within the Marines and broke it down into which skills and knowledge were necessary to do each job, which are now referred to as Military Occupational Specialties (MOS).  From those codes, they were able to devise a battery of tests that would provide an indication of what jobs and individual was capable of doing within the Marine Corps. 

The Marines use the MCCS (Marine Corp Composite Scores) to determine the specific MOS an individual is qualified for. The MCCS is based on seven ASVAB subtests, which are grouped together into three different sections: 

Section 1: Electronics Repair, Missile Repair, Electronics & Communications (EL) – Based on General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronic Information ASVAB subtests.

Section 2: General Maintenance, Construction, Utility and Chemical Maintenance (MM) – Based on General Science, Auto & Shop, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronics Information ASVAB subtests.

Section 3: General Technical, Special and Officer Programs (GT) – Based on Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Arithmetic Reasoning ASVAB subtests

MARINE CORPS COMPOSITE SCORES

Composite Score Standard Scores Formula
Mechanical  Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), Auto and Shop Information (AS), Electronics Information (EI)  AR + MC + AS + EI
Clerical  Verbal Expression (VE), Mathematics Knowledge (MK) VE + MK
General Technician Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mechanical Comprehension (MC)  VE + AR + MC
Electronics  Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Electronics Information (EI), General Science (GS) AR + MK + EI + GS

Navy AFQT Score Requirements

  • Minimum AFQT Score (with High School Diploma): 35
  • Minimum AFQT Score (with GED): 50

The Navy uses the ASVAB to determine an applicant’s eligibility for admission to the Navy and the specific types of jobs in the Navy that they would be best suited for. 

The Navy uses the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) to qualify applicants. The Navy requires an AFQT score of at least 35 and a High School diploma. While the Navy does accept people who only hold a GED, those individuals must score a 50 or higher on the AFQT to be eligible to enlist for Navy active duty. 

The Navy does not use line scores. They utilize the actual scores from the ASVAB subtests grouped into 10 different Ratings categories to determine what specific occupational Navy specialty an individual is qualified for. 

For example, a Submarine Electronics Technician would have had to score at least 222 from the combined scores from the Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics knowledge, Electronics Information and General Science subtests.

NAVY COMPOSITE SCORES

Composite Score Standard Scores Formula
General Technician Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) VE + AR 
Electronics General Science (GS), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Electronics Information (EI) GS + AR + MK + EI
Basic Electricity and Electronics  General Science (GS), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK) GS + AR + 2xMK
Engineering  Auto and Shop Information (AS), Mathematics Knowledge (MK)  AS + MK
Mechanical 1 Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Auto and Shop Information (AS), Mechanical Comprehension (MC) AR + AS + MC
Mechanical 2 Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), Assembling Objects (AO) AR + MC + AO
Nuclear  Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Mechanical Comprehension (MC) VE + AR + MK + MC
Operations  Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Assembling Objects (AO) VE + AR + MK + AO
Hospitalman  Verbal Expression (VE), General Science (GS), Mathematics Knowledge (MK) VE + GS + MK
Administrative Verbal Expression (VE), Mathematics Knowledge (MK) VE + MK

source: http://official-asvab.com/military_app.htm

ASVAB Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Question: What are ASVAB Scores?

Answer: ASVAB scores stand for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores. They are the result of ASVAB testing, which measures an individual’s aptitude in science, math, English language and comprehension, mechanics and electronics.  It is not an IQ test score; it is a measure of an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and potential for success in the armed forces.

Question: What are ASVAB Scores Used for?

Answer: ASVAB scores are used for a variety of purposes. Most high schools administer to the ASVAB to students in grades 10-12 and can use the resulting ASVAB scores to guide students in their choice to attend college, technical or vocational school or enlist in the armed forces. High School career counselors also utilize the test to identify and specific career paths for the student to explore. 

ASVAB testing is used extensively in all branches of the military. Armed Forces Recruiters will send applicants to Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) or Military Entrance Test sites (MET) to take the ASVAB test to determine whether the applicant is eligible for active military duty in a specific branch of the military.

Each branch of the armed forces uses the ASVAB not only to determine if an individual meets minimum entrance requirements, but also to determine the individual’s aptitude for specific occupations within that military branch. For instance, from the ASVAB, the Air Force can determine an individual’s aptitude for avionic mechanics, while the Navy can determine an individual’s aptitude for sonar electronics, the Army can determine an individual’s aptitude for Field Artillery Maintenance, and the Marines can determine an individual’s aptitude for Combat Engineering and so forth.

Question: What is a good ASVAB score?

Answer: A good ASVAB score would be a passing score, which would be anything above the minimum required score for the branch of the military that you are seeking to enlist in. For the Army, that would be any score above 31. For the Air Force, that would be any score above 36. For the Navy, that would be any score above 35. For the Marines, that would be any score above 32. 

 

 Military Branch Min. Score (HS Diploma) Min. Score (GED)
 Air Force 36 65
Army 31 31
Coast Guard 40 50
Marine Corps 32 50
Navy 35 50

Question: What is the highest ASVAB score?

Answer: If you take the paper form of the ASVAB, the highest total score is 225; whereas the highest score on the computerized version is 145.

 Each branch uses the AFQT, which is based on the ASVAB, as the base enlistment test and the highest score, which is a percentile score, is 99. 

Question: How many questions are on the ASVAB?

Answer: The number of questions on the ASVAB depend on whether you take the paper and pencil version or the computerized version of the test.

There are 225 questions on the written ASVAB. Questions are divided into 9 subtests as follows: 

 Written (Paper and Pencil) ASVAB

Subtest  # of Questions Minutes Allowed
 Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 30 36
Word Knowledge (WK) 35 11
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 15 13
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) 25 24
General Science (GS) 25 11
Electronics Information (EI) 20 9
Auto & Shop Information (AS) 25 11
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) 25 19
Assembling Objects (AO) 25 15
Totals 225 149

There are 145 questions on the computerized ASVAB. Questions are divided into 10 subtests as follows:

Computer (CAT) ASVAB

Subtest  # of Questions Minutes Allowed
 Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 16 39
Word Knowledge (WK) 16 8
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 11 22
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) 16 20
General Science (GS) 16 8
Electronics Information (EI) 16 8
Auto Information (AI) 11 7
Shop Information (SI) 11 6
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) 16 20
Assembling Objects (AO) 16 16
Totals 145 154

Question: How many times can you take the ASVAB?

Answer: If you are not happy with the score you received on the initial ASVAB test you took, you can retake the ASVAB up to two more times. There is a required waiting period, however, between each test retake. In order to take the ASVAB a second time, the required waiting period is one month from the initial test date. In order to take the ASVAB a third time, the required waiting period is six months from the time you took the ASVAB the second time. 

Question: How long are ASVAB scores good for?

Answer: If you take the ASVAB but don’t plan to enlist right away, the scores from your ASVAB test are good for up to two years.

Understanding ASVAB scores is critical if you want to enlist in the U.S. Military and get the military career of your dreams. The ASVAB test is an aptitude test but is not a perfect measure of your knowledge, skills and abilities. Your scores do not guarantee whether you will be successful in a future occupation. Your ASVAB scores, however, need to be good enough to get you into the military branch of your choice.