The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, tests your knowledge of basic concepts and skills to date, and it determines what branch and rank in the military you are eligible for. Generally, this is knowledge you would have acquired in high school. However, there are sections of the test that you may not have been specifically taught in class, but measure your knowledge of necessary skills for certain positions, such as mechanical comprehension.
You are given multiple scores: a standard score for each of the subtests, an AFQT score and composite scores. So what do all these scores mean? This article will answer that and how the scores are calculated.
Standard scores are given for each of the nine sections of the ASVAB. Here are the sections and their commonly referred to abbreviations:
If you remember the words “mean” and “standard deviation” from your statistics class, youre one step ahead. For those who dont, the mean is the average of a set of numbers. The ASVAB subtests use a one to 100 score range, so the mean is set to 50. This is based on a national sample of 18 to 24yearolds.
A standard deviation is a measurement of distance from the mean. The ASVAB standard deviation is set to 10. Therefore, if you receive a score of 60, you have scored one standard deviation above the mean. If you receive a score of 70, you have scored two standard deviations above the mean, and so on. So your score isnt the number of questions you answered correctly, but how many questions you answered correctly in comparison to others who have taken the test.
Your standard scores dont determine anything specific on their own, but they are used to calculate other scores that determine your eligibility, branch and rank in the military.
Your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score specifically determines whether you are eligible for enlistment in the military. Each branch has a different minimum AFQT score requirement, listed below:
*Note that if you do not have a high school diploma but have passed the GED test, minimum score requirements may be higher. Check with your recruiter for more details on this in regard to your desired branch.
The AFQT score is calculated by combining the standard scores of four subject tests: arithmetic reasoning (AR), mathematics knowledge (MK), paragraph comprehension (PC) and word knowledge (WK). The scores are shown as percentiles, which is a similar concept to the standard score scoring method. The score you see is based on the number of questions you answered correctly compared to other test takers, and it ranges from a percentile score of one to 99.
Composite scores, also called line scores, help determine which military job is right for you, and some composite scores are required for certain jobs and branches. This is part of the classification process, which matches new recruits to specific jobs and branches they may perform well in. According to the official ASVAB website, “Each service develops and validates its own set of composites based on the combination of subtests that are most highly correlated with onthejob performance for clusters of occupations.”
To break this down, each branch of the military determines which skills are most important in the branch. Specific subtests are chosen to evaluate a candidates knowledge of these particular skills. A computational formula is applied that combines the standard scores of these chosen subtests. You will receive 10 of these scores calculated from the computational formulas on your score report. Composite score categories, their acronyms and formulas used to compute them are listed below:
Understanding how your ASVAB scores are calculated will help you be strategic when studying, so you can focus on specific areas you want to do well in, and feel especially ready to attack the AFQT sections. Overall, knowing how your ASVAB scores apply to your potential enlistment, position and rank will make the testing process much less confusing and more productive.
The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is one of the most important metrics on the ASVAB exam. It determines enlistment eligibility for all branches of the US. military. But how exactly is this critical score calculated?
The AFQT score is not a simple percentage of correct answers. Its computation involves converting raw ASVAB subtest scores into standardized scores and then combining four subtest standard scores using a formula.
Let’s break down the steps to demystify how this score is derived,
The Role of the AFQT Score
The AFQT score indicates overall performance on the ASVAB’s verbal and math subtests. It shows how well the test taker did compared to a national sample of youth aged 1823 who took the ASVAB in 1997.
The score is reported as a percentile ranking between 199. For example an AFQT score of 60 means the examinee scored equal to or better than 60% of the national sample.
The military uses AFQT scores to determine enlistment eligibility. Each branch sets its own minimum AFQT score for enlisting. Generally, higher scores qualify you for more specialty jobs with greater responsibility.
Understanding ASVAB Subtest Standard Scores
Raw ASVAB subtest scores cannot be combined directly because different subtests have different score ranges. So the first step in computing the AFQT score is converting raw scores to standardized scores also known as “standard scores”.
Standard scores are constructed to have a fixed mean and standard deviation across all examinees. For the ASVAB, the mean standard score is set at 50 and the standard deviation is set at 10.
This conversion puts all subtest scores on the same scale regardless of the subtest’s raw score range. It accounts for differences in subtest difficulty and measures performance relative to all other examinees.
The AFQT Score Formula
The AFQT score combines standardized scores from four ASVAB subtests:
 Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
 Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
 Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
 Word Knowledge (WK)
These four subtests were chosen because they provide the best indication of verbal and math aptitude.
The standard scores of the four subtests are plugged into the following formula to compute the AFQT score:
(2*VE + AR + MK) / 4
Where:
 VE = Verbal Expression standard score, computed as (WK + PC) / 2
 AR = Arithmetic Reasoning standard score
 MK = Mathematics Knowledge standard score
This formula doubles the weight of the Verbal Expression score, which combines Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension. This puts more emphasis on verbal skills in determining the AFQT score.
Worked Example of AFQT Computation
Let’s look at a sample scenario to see how this formula works:
Ramses takes the ASVAB and receives the following standard scores:
 Word Knowledge = 55
 Paragraph Comprehension = 51
 Arithmetic Reasoning = 72
 Mathematics Knowledge = 65
Step 1) Compute Verbal Expression (VE) score:
(WK + PC) / 2 = (55 + 51) / 2 = 53
Step 2) Plug scores into AFQT formula:
(2VE + AR + MK) / 4
= (253 + 72 + 65) / 4
= (106 + 72 + 65) / 4
= 243 / 4
= 60.75, rounds to 61
Therefore, Ramses’ AFQT score is 61. This means he scored better than 61% of the national sample.
Interpreting AFQT Score Categories
The military assigns AFQT scores to categories based on percentile ranges. The categories indicate basic eligibility for enlistment:
 Category I = 9399 (Highly Qualified)
 Category II = 6592
 Category IIIA = 5064
 Category IIIB = 3149 (May not qualify for certain jobs)
 Category IVA = 2130 (Unlikely to qualify)
 Category IVB = 1620 (Not qualified)
 Category IVC = 1015 (Not qualified)
 Category V = 19 (Not qualified)
In general, you need at least an AFQT score in Category IIIA (5064) to qualify for enlistment. But each branch sets their own minimum AFQT score and particular jobs often require higher scores in Category I or II.
Scoring well into Category I or II also gives you access to more specialized careers in the military that require strong aptitude. So it’s wise to prepare diligently for the verbal and math ASVAB subtests that factor into the AFQT.
Takeaways

The AFQT score is critical because it determines enlistment eligibility in the U.S. military.

It’s computed using a formula that combines standardized scores from four ASVAB subtests focused on verbal and math skills.

The higher your AFQT Category, the better your job options and prospects in the military typically are.
Knowing what goes into your AFQT score empowers you to be strategic in your ASVAB prep. Target the verbal and math topics that make up this important metric. With the right study approach, you can maximize your chances of scoring to your full potential.
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AFQT Explained
FAQ
What is a good AFQT score?
Percentile Score

Category

Eligible for Incentives

93 – 99

I

Yes

65 – 92

II

Yes

50 – 64

IIIA

Yes

31 – 49

IIIB

No

What is the difference between AFQT and ASVAB?
The AFQT score helps the military decide whether it will accept your enlistment. The other ASVAB scores are used to gauge which career (s) you qualify for within the military. Although your AFQT and ASVAB career qualifications are separate scores, they are calculated from the same exam.
How are AFQT scores calculated?
AFQT scores are computed using the Standard Scores from four ASVAB subtests: AFQT scores are reported as percentiles between 199. An AFQT percentile score indicates the percentage of examinees in a reference group that scored at or below that particular score.
How is the ASVAB calculated?
The ASVAB is divided up into subtests for specific knowledge areas. There are nine main subtests: The Verbal Expression (VE) category is also used for many career scores. It’s calculated by adding your scores from the Paragraph Comprehension and Word Knowledge subtests. Your qualifying career fields come from your subtest scores.
How does the ASVAB score work?
The ASVAB scoring works much differently. You will have two main score categories: subtest scores and the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. Although these scores are separate categories, they both come from the same test. The ASVAB is divided up into subtests for specific knowledge areas. There are nine main subtests: