ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. It is a test that was originally established in 1968 to measure and predict the success of an applicant in various academic and occupational pursuits in the military. High school and post-secondary students and adults take the test more than one million times each year. If you’re interested in joining the military, or if you already have and would like to take a sample test, simply navigate through the ten practice test sections and take whichever tests you’d like as often as you’d like.


For almost a century, the U.S. military has been a pioneer in the field of using aptitude tests to evaluate an individual’s potential for service. The organization also uses the test to determine aptitude for various military occupational specialties (MOS). The use of aptitude tests began during World War I. While the group-administered Army Alpha test measured verbal and numerical ability as well as general knowledge, the Army Beta test was used to evaluate illiterate, unschooled and non-English speaking volunteers and draftees. The Army and Navy General Classifications Tests replaced the Alpha and Beta tests as a means to measure cognitive ability during World War II. The results of these tests, as well as additional classification exams, were used to assign recruits to a particular MOS.
You can't use the AR and MK score shown on your ASVAB Score Sheet. The Score Sheet shows "number correct" for your AR and MK Scores, because "number correct" is what is used for job qualifications. However, the military does not use this same score when computing the AFQT. They use the "weighted scores" of the ASVAB sub-tests for AR and MK. Harder questions in these areas get more points than easier questions. The "weighted scores" for AR and WK are not listed on the ASVAB score sheet given to you after the test.
It's important to understand the difference between the ASVAB Standard Scores, and the ASVAB AFQT score. Test takers will receive a separate score for each of the nine sections on the ASVAB. These scores are known as Standard Scores. A Standard Score is used to determine how the test taker compares to the "average" 18-23 year old American on that part of the ASVAB. Not long ago, a large number of people in this age group were given the tests, and these results are the benchmark for Standard Scores. Around half the people in this age group will score a 50 or higher, and about 16% will score a 60 or higher. In other words, the scoring is based on a standard bell curve distribution. Standard Scores are very important when it comes to determining which military job a person will be assigned to.
Prospective service members are often recruited from high school or college, the target age ranges being 18–35 in the Army, 18–28 in the Marine Corps, 18–34 in the Navy, 18–39 in the Air Force and 18–27 (up to age 32 if qualified for attending guaranteed "A" school) in the Coast Guard. With the permission of a parent or guardian, applicants can enlist at age 17 and participate in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), in which the applicant is given the opportunity to participate in locally sponsored military activities, which can range from sports to competitions led by recruiters or other military liaisons (each recruiting station's DEP varies).
Somewhat earlier, in medieval China, gunpowder had been invented, and was increasingly used by the military in combat. The use of gunpowder in the early vase-like mortars in Europe, and advanced versions of the long bow and cross bow, which all had armour-piercing arrowheads, that put an end to the dominance of the armoured knight. After the long bow, which required great skill and strength to use, the next most significant technological advance was the musket, which could be used effectively, with little training. In time, the successors to muskets and cannon, in the form of rifles and artillery, would become core battlefield technology.
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).
Standard Scores are scores that have a fixed mean and standard deviation in the population of examinees. A Standard Score indicates how many units of the standard deviation a particular score is above or below the mean. In the case of the ASVAB subtests, the mean is set to 50 and the standard deviation is set to 10. Thus, a Standard Score of 40 indicates that the examinee scored 1 standard deviation below the mean. A Standard Score of 70 indicates that the examinee scored 2 standard deviations above the mean. To learn more about how standard scores are derived and used, click here.
The IRT model underlying ASVAB scoring is the three-parameter logistic (3PL) model. The 3PL model represents the probability that an examinee at a given level of ability will respond correctly to an individual item with given characteristics. Specifically, the item characteristics represented in the 3PL model are difficulty, discrimination (i.e., how well the item discriminates among examinees of differing levels of ability), and guessing (i.e., the likelihood that a very low ability examinee would respond correctly simply by guessing).
Mathematics Knowledge tests the ability to solve problems by applying knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications. The problems focus on concepts and algorithms, and involve number theory, numeration, algebraic operations and equations, geometry, measurement and probability. Mathematics Knowledge is one factor that characterizes mathematics comprehension; it also assesses logical thinking.
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