How ASVAB Score is Calculated: Understanding Military Entrance Scores

by | Joining the Military | 1 comment

Understanding how your ASVAB score is calculated can seem like a challenging job, but it’s crucial for anyone considering a career in the military. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is more than just a test; it’s a comprehensive assessment that determines your qualifications for various military occupations.

You’ll encounter multiple subtests that measure your abilities in areas like math, word knowledge, and mechanical comprehension. These subtest scores are then combined in specific ways to create your AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) score, which eventually determines your eligibility for enlistment. Knowing how these scores are calculated can help you focus your study efforts and improve your chances of landing the military role you desire.

Understanding the ASVAB Test

The ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, tests several skill areas to determine your suitability for military roles. Let’s jump into its essentials.

What Is the ASVAB?

The ASVAB is a multi-aptitude test administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command. It measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. Think of it as a gateway to identifying your strengths.

Overview of ASVAB Sections

The ASVAB consists of ten subtests, each evaluating different skills:

  • General Science (GS): Covers topics in life science, earth science, and physical science.
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR): Measures the ability to solve basic arithmetic word problems.
  • Word Knowledge (WK): Tests understanding of word meanings through synonyms.
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC): Assesses ability to obtain information from written material.
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK): Evaluates knowledge of high school mathematics principles.
  • Electronics Information (EI): Tests knowledge of electrical circuits, systems, and devices.
  • Automotive and Shop Information (AS): Measures understanding of automotive maintenance and repair, and wood and metal shop practices.
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC): Assesses understanding of mechanical and physical principles.
  • Assembling Objects (AO): Measures spatial orientation and choosing the correct object form.
  • Verbal Expression (VE): Combines Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension scores.

These sections combine to form your AFQT score, which determines your eligibility for enlistment in the U.S. military.

How ASVAB Scores Are Calculated

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests aptitude in various skills. Knowing how your score’s calculated helps you understand your potential military roles.

The Role of Standard Scores

Each ASVAB subtest has a standard score ranging from 1 to 100. Most participants score between 30 and 70. High scores in your primary skills improve your overall score.

Example: If you score 65 in Arithmetic Reasoning and 70 in Word Knowledge, these contribute significantly to your AFQT score. Each subtest’s standard score’s derived from a national sample of test-takers from 1997, creating a bell curve distribution.

Composite Scores and What They Mean

Composite scores, or line scores, determine your qualification for specific military roles. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps each use different combinations of subtest scores to assess your suitability for various occupations.

Example: The Army Clerical score is calculated using Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge. Each military branch prioritizes different skills, so excel in your most relevant subtests.

Understanding your composite scores helps target the roles aligning with your strengths.

Impact of ASVAB Scores

Understanding the impact of ASVAB scores is essential for anyone pursuing a military career. These scores determine not just your eligibility but also the range of opportunities available to you within different branches.

Military Entrance and Job Qualification

ASVAB scores directly affect whether you can enter the military and what jobs you qualify for. Each branch has its own minimum AFQT score requirements:

  • Army: 31
  • Navy: 35
  • Marine Corps: 32
  • Air Force: 36
  • Coast Guard: 40

These minimum scores determine if you can enlist. Your scores also influence the Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) you’re eligible for within each branch. For example, a higher Mechanical Comprehension (MC) score can qualify you for technical roles like an aviation mechanic.

Importance in Career Placement

ASVAB scores play a vital role in your military career placement. High scores in specific subtests can open doors to specialized and advanced roles. For example:

  • Word Knowledge (WK) and Paragraph Comprehension (PC): High scores in these can lead to roles in intelligence or communications.
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) and Mathematics Knowledge (MK): High scores can qualify you for technical fields such as engineering or information technology.
  • Electronics Information (EI): Strong performance here can make you eligible for electronics or avionics positions.

By excelling in the relevant subtests, you can target roles that not only align with your strengths but also offer better career progression.

Tips for Improving Your ASVAB Scores

You want to achieve high ASVAB scores since they significantly impact your military career opportunities. Follow these tips to boost your performance.

Study Strategies

Create a Study Schedule: Dedicate consistent time each week for ASVAB study sessions. Consistency builds knowledge over time.

Use Official Study Guides: Rely on official ASVAB study guides to familiarize yourself with the test format and question types. Accredited resources ensure accuracy.

Focus on Weak Areas: Identify your weak areas by taking practice tests. Spend more time improving these subjects to balance your skills.

Join Study Groups: Collaborate with others preparing for the ASVAB. Study groups provide support and allow for knowledge sharing.

Test-Taking Tips

Read Questions Carefully: Ensure you understand each question before answering. Misreading can lead to mistakes.

Manage Your Time: Divide the allotted time per section and stick to it. Avoid spending too long on any single question.

Eliminate Wrong Answers: Narrow down choices by eliminating obviously incorrect answers. This increases your chances of selecting the right one.

Stay Calm: Maintain composure throughout the test. Stress can affect performance.

Review Your Answers: If time allows, review your answers. Correct any that seem doubtful.

Follow these strategies and tips to improve your ASVAB scores, opening doors to better career opportunities in the military.


Understanding how your ASVAB score is calculated is crucial for anyone looking to build a successful military career. Knowing the specific AFQT scores needed for enlistment and how they impact your eligibility for various Military Occupational Specialties can make a significant difference. By focusing on improving your performance in key subtests and following effective study strategies, you can greatly enhance your ASVAB score. This can open doors to specialized roles and better career opportunities within the military. Take the time to prepare thoroughly and approach the test with confidence to achieve the best possible results.


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