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ABCs of the ASVAB

The AFQT Score

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Bell curve comparations based in Sex differences in means and standard deviations for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) subtests and total scores and for Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) scores.
Xjmos/Wikimedia Commons

You often hear people say something like, "I got a 70 on the ASVAB." What they are talking about is the ASVAB AFQT score, or Armed Forces Qualification Test Score. Many people think the AFQT score is the overall ASVAB score, but that's not correct. In fact, the AFQT score is derived from only four of the nine ASVAB subtests: Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowlege (MK), and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR).

The AFQT score is the most important ASVAB score, because it determines whether you can join the military service of your choice. Each of the services branches has set their own minimum AFQT scores.

The AFQT score is a percentile score. What does that mean? In 1997, a study, known as the "Profile of American Youth," was conducted by the Department of Defense in cooperation with the Department of Labor. DOD administered the ASVAB to around 12,000 individuals, ranging in age from 16 to 23. Your AFQT score is a comparison of how well you scored on the four subtests, compared to those who took the ASVAB as part of the 1997 survey. In other words, if you have an AFQT score of 70, that means you scored as well or better than 70 percent of those 12,000 folks.

AFQT Categories

The military divides AFQT scores into the following categories. The lower your category number, the more attractive candidate you are to the military for enlistment:

  • Category I - 93-99
  • Category II - 65-92
  • Category IIIA - 50-64
  • Category IIIB - 31-49
  • Category IVA - 21-30
  • Category IVB - 16-20
  • Category IVC - 10-15
  • Category V - 0-9

In the early 90s, Congress passed a law stating that no Category V recruits could be accepted for enlistment in any of the military services, and no more than 20 percent of accessions could be in Category IV. Additionally, Congress required that any Category IV accessions had to be high school diploma graduates (no GEDs).

However, the military services have even stricter standards for enlistment.

Computing the AFQT Score

To compute your AFQT score, the military takes your Verbal Expression (VE) score, and doubles it. They then add it to your Mathematics Knowledge (MK) and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) raw scores. The Formula is 2VE+MK+AR. The then compare the result to a table very much like the one at the bottom of this page, to derive your AFQT percentile score.

A Note About Raw Scores. A raw score is not the same as the standard scores you see on your ASVAB score sheet. On the ASVAB, harder questions are worth more points than easier questions. The raw score is the total number of points you earned on that particular ASVAB subtest. You won't know what your raw score is, because the military doesn't include that information on the ASVAB score sheet.

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Computing the AFQT Score

2VE+MK+AR AFQT Percentile 2VE+MK+AR AFQT Percentile
80-120 1 204 50
121-124 2 205 51
125-127 3 206 52
128-131 4 207-208 53
132-134 5 209 54
135-137 6 210 55
138-139 7 211 56
140-142 8 212 57
143-144 9 213 58
145-146 10 214 59
147-148 11 215 61
149-150 12 216 62
151-153 13 217 63
154 14 218 64
155-156 15 219 65
157-158 16 220 66
159-160 17 221 67
161-162 18 222 68
163-164 19 223 69
165 20 224 70
166-167 21 225 71
168-169 22 226 72
170-171 23 227 73
172 24 228 74
173-174 25 229 75
175 26 230 76
176-177 27 231 77
178 28 232 78
179-180 29 233 79
181 30 234 80
182 31 235 81
183-184 32 236 82
185 33 237 83
186 34 238-239 84
187-188 35 240 85
189 36 241 86
190 37 242 87
191 38 243 88
192 39 244 89
193 40 245 90
194 41 246 91
195-196 42 247 92
197 43 248 93
198 44 249 94
199 45 250 95
200 46 251 96
201 47 252 97
202 48 253 98
203 49 254-320 99

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