In the 1950s, the military adopted a single exam known as the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Used as a screening tool, the AFQT measured a recruit’s ability to absorb military training and their future potential. It was supplemented by service-specific battery tests for the purposes of MOS classification. In 1972, the Department of Defense determined that all services should use one exam for screening and assigning individuals to an MOS. The AFQT was phased out over a two-year period in favor of the current Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

There are nine sections on the exam: General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information, Automotive and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Assembling Objects, and Verbal Expression. The time limits for each section range from 10 – 36 minutes; the entire exam takes three hours.

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.[1]
The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is used by all of the Services to determine if an applicant is eligible for the military. Four of the ASVAB subtests are combined to form the AFQT. It measures general cognitive ability and is composed of verbal and mathematics subtests. AFQT scores are grouped into categories for reporting purposes. The table below shows the AFQT categories and the percentile score ranges corresponding to the categories. Applicants that score in AFQT category IIIA or higher may qualify for enlistment incentives.