What is the military? In simple terms, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the five armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. There are three general categories of military people: active duty (full-time soldiers and sailors), reserve & guard forces (usually work a civilian job, but can be called to full-time military duty), and veterans and retirees (past members of the military). And of course there are the millions of family members and friends of military members, past and present. But you're here to learn more about the military. There is much to learn! So first the basics. Exactly who is in charge?
The U.S. Armed Forces are one of the largest militaries in terms of the number of personnel. It draws its personnel from a large pool of paid volunteers. Although conscription has been used in the past in various times of both war and peace, it has not been used since 1972, but the Selective Service System retains the power to conscript males, and requires that all male citizens and residents residing in the U.S. between the ages of 18–25 register with the service.
Law prohibits applicants in Category V from enlisting. In addition, there are constraints placed on Category IV recruits; recruits in Category IV must be high school diploma graduates but cannot be denied enlistment solely on this criteria if the recruit is needed to satisfy established strength requirements. Furthermore, the law constrains the percentage of accessions who can fall between Categories IV-V (currently, the limit is 20% of all persons originally enlisted in a given armed force in a given fiscal year).
Trends in recruiting 1975–2001 showing total numbers of enlisted recruits in all branches of US armed forces in light blue and percentage of recruiting goals met in dark blue. Percentage of recruits with at least a high school diploma is shown in gold, percentage with an above average AFQT in orange, and the percentage called "high quality", with both a diploma and above-average AFQT score, is in purple.
The four most important sections of the test—Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge-make up your Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT) score. Your AFQT score ranges from 0 to 100 and determines if you are able to enlist in the military and which jobs and programs you may qualify for when you are in.
Once the ASVAB is over, participants are given a score. This score is used by recruiters to determine which branch of the military would be a good fit for a given test-taker. The most important score for the ASVAB for military purposes is the AFQT score. The AFQT score looks at results from the following sections: Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Math Knowledge (MK), and multiplies the Verbal Composite (VE) score by two. This is because the Verbal Composite Score is composed of both the Word Knowledge and the Paragraph Comprehension scores. Each branch of the military requires a different minimum AFQT score for its members. For the army and marines, this number is 31, for the navy 35, the air force 36, and the coast guard 45. Therefore, this test is a crucial part of any military career, and can determine potential jobs and advancement opportunities. Along with advancement opportunities come higher salaries and greater benefits, which makes the ASVAB an essential element for prospective military service personnel at any level.
One set of ASVAB scores – Career Exploration Scores – tells you your current strengths in verbal, math, science, and technical skills. The scores allow you to compare your test performance with that of other students at your grade level and can help you determine your readiness for further education and training in different career areas. You will also receive a Military Entrance Score that is important for entry into the Armed Services. You can discuss your score with a military recruiter.
The ASVAB Career Exploration Program provides tools developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) to help high school and post-secondary students across the nation learn more about career exploration and planning. Since the mid-1990’s, the ASVAB Career Exploration Program has provided high quality, cost-free career exploration and planning materials and services annually to approximately 14,000 of the nation’s high schools. You can prepare by taking ASVAB Practice Tests – many of which are available online.
The Student ASVAB is the most flexible of the exams. It is typically provided to high school students to help them assess their skills, job prospects, potential military positions, or college majors. The ASVAB for students is essentially the same as the MET ASVAB exam, only students are not necessarily testing for positions within the military. The students’ school counselors examine their scores and help them decide on what to do after graduating from high school. This test is still an important component of a student’s education because it can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and help set them on the right track for their future career goals.