The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is used to identify whether a candidate is qualified to enlist in a particular branch of the U.S. Military. Meaning, if you want to join any branch of the military then you are going to be taking the ASVAB.
The ASVAB test is also used to determine which military jobs (referred to as MOS for Military Occupational Specialties), enlistment bonuses and salary-level a candidate is eligible for. A high score will improve your chances of getting the job and signing bonus you want. This is another reason why earning the highest possible score on the ASVAB is critical to your immediate and long-term future.
Some of the acronyms and jargon that you hear about the ASVAB may be confusing. The main thing to remember is that there is only one test that you will take, the ASVAB. This large test contains a total of approximately 200 multiple-choice questions that cover a wide variety of topics or categories. In fact, the ASVAB contains questions from nine (9) specific categories or sub-tests. This is, in part, why talking about the ASVAB can become confusing, but we'll make sure everything is crystal clear!
Let's take a look at the nine sub-tests, within the ASVAB. When you take the ASVAB exam you will be asked to answer multiple-choice questions from each of the following sub-tests:
You can review more about the details of the sub-tests here.
Students are given a Standard Score for each of the sub-tests. Standard Scores are derived from your Raw Scores (total number of points you receive on each sub-test). The Standard Scores are a statistically derived score that typically ranges from 30 and 70 for each sub-test. The Standard Scores are created such that a score of 50 represents an 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). This just means that a Standard Score of 50 on any of the sub-tests is the average score, or right in the middle, of everyone taking the sub-test. 95% of all students taking a sub-test will end up with a Standard Score between 30 and 70.
Since each sub-test has it's own Standard Score, the military can group certain sub-tests together to get a specific "view" of an applicant. Specifically, individual sub-tests are used to calculate 2 (two) important 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 job/specialty qualifications. Let's go through each of these separately.
The military calculates your AFQT score by adding up a handful of the sub-test scores that we just reviewed. In fact, they look at 4 (four) of the 9 (nine) sub-tests contained in the ASVAB. Your AFQT score is important since it is used to determine your eligibility to enlist. If your score on the AFQT does not meet the minimums set by the specific branch of the military, then you cannot enlist in that branch.
AFQT scores are based on your scores from the following four sub-tests:
The second grouping of sub-tests scores are Composite Scores, which are sometimes referred to as “line scores”, “aptitude area scores”, or “MOS scores”. Composite scores are used by the different branches of the military to determine which jobs/specialties (or Military Occupational Specialties/MOS) you qualify for. These Composite Scores are only one factor in determining which military job is right for you. Your recruiter will also use job availability, physical and medical qualifications, and eligibility for security clearance as additional factors.
Each branch of the military defines which sub-tests are combined to create its Composite Scores. Each branch also sets its own minimum scores that must be met to become eligible for certain jobs. You can review these score requirements for each branch using the menu on the right hand side of the screen, or via these links:
We encourage you to try one of our free ASVAB practice exams. If you are serious about acing the ASVAB then you need our industry-leading test prep solution.