ASVAB Test Explained

Marine proctors ASVAB test
Sgt. Eddie Quezada, a Marine Corps recruiter from Marine Corps Recruiting Station San Diego, gathers answer sheets during Mission Bay High School’s first Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in San Diego, Oct. 23, 2014. (Sgt. Erica Kirsop/U.S. Marine Corps)

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is the most widely used multiple-aptitude test battery in the world. The ASVAB measures your strengths, weaknesses and potential for future success in four domains: verbal, math, science and technical, and spatial.

The ASVAB includes tests in 10 areas: general science (GS), arithmetic reasoning (AR), word knowledge (WK), paragraph comprehension (PC), mathematics knowledge (MK), electronics information (EI), auto information (AI), shop information (SI), mechanical comprehension (MC) and assembling objects (AO). It provides career information for various civilian and military occupations and is an indicator for success in future endeavors, such as college, vocational school or a military career.

Your ASVAB Score Can Be Critical

ASVAB test scores are broken down by the individual subtests and their composites. One of the most critical of these scores is the armed forces qualification test, which is used to determine whether you are qualified to join the military service. Each service determines the qualifying AFQT score for enlisting in their service.

The AFQT is comprised of your results in arithmetic reasoning, math knowledge and verbal expression (VE) times two. Your VE score is a combination of your word knowledge and paragraph comprehension scores.

"It's important to know what the minimum scores required in each section are, so you can work on the areas you might need a little help on,'' said Kris Michaelson, director of content for Peterson's Test Prep, a leading test prep provider. "You may ace one section but fail another, and that may limit the career paths the recruiter will consider for you.''

Check out the following AFQT qualifying scores for each branch of service.

Service Branch Required AFQT Score*
Army 31
Navy 35
Marines 32
Air Force 31
Coast Guard 40
* These scores are subject to change without notice.  

In addition, your scores on the other ASVAB composite tests will determine your career field or military occupation eligibility. Since enlistment bonuses usually are tied to your choice of occupations, the better the score, the more opportunities you have. It is impossible, though, to "ace" the ASVAB, so your goal should be simply to do your best.

TIP: Be sure you are ready before you take the ASVAB -- use the ASVAB practice tests to find the areas you may need help. In addition, you can read about ASVAB study techniques.

Three Versions of the ASVAB

There are three distinctly different versions or formats of the ASVAB; the CAT-ASVAB (computer adaptive test), the Military Entrance Test (MET)-site ASVAB and the Student ASVAB. Each ASVAB has different benefits and limitations. Many potential military recruits take the CAT-ASVAB.

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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