The test is part of the larger ASVAB Career Exploration Program. The Program uses the test to help students identify both their interests as well as their strengths in three skills areas (verbal, math, and science and technical skills). Based on a student's skill levels, information is provided about more than 400 occupations in order to enable students and parents to judge their potential success in areas that interest them the most. Schools that may be facing budget cuts or finding themselves with limited resources devoted to career counseling are encouraged to find out whether using the ASVAB Program would be useful, as the testing and career development services are free of charge.
The test must be completed if you wish to serve in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. The test can also be taken as a career-exploration tool if you are a high school sophomore, junior, or senior. It takes approximately three hours to complete. If you take the computerized version of the test, results are given immediately. If you complete a paper and pencil test, you’ll get results within two weeks.
AFQT scores are the primary measure of recruit potential. Figure 2.7 indicates the percentage of NPS recruits who scored at or above the 50th percentile (Categories I–IIIA) since FY 1973. Numerical data are in Appendix D, Table D-12. The drop in Category I–IIIA recruits after FY 1976 was due primarily to the miscalibration of the ASVAB.  In FY 1976, when new versions of the ASVAB were introduced, an error in calibrating the score scales made the new versions "easier" than the old versions (i.e., applicants received test scores higher than their actual ability). In FY 1980, an independent study of the calibration was made and the test was correctly calibrated. Then, Congress added legal provisions stipulating that no more than 20 percent of accessions could be in Category IV and that such accessions had to be high school diploma graduates.  However, as previously stated, Defense Planning Guidance decreases this limit even further, allowing no more than 4 percent of recruits to come from Category IV.
There is another ASVAB score that's equally important, if not more so, because it is the score that determines if a person is eligible for military service. It's the Armed Forces Qualification Test score, or AFQT score. This score is calculated from only four of the nine Standard Scores on the ASVAB - Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Word Knowledge (WK). First, the WK and PC scores are added together, then the sum is doubled. This is known as the Verbal Expression (VE) score. The VE, MK, and AR scores are then added together, and the sum is the AFQT. This score is a straight percentile measure, expressed as a number from 1-99. The number is the percentage of people who scored lower than the test taker. For example, if a person receives an AFQT score of 63, that means that he did better on the test than 63% of the people who have taken it.
In the 2000s, women can serve on U.S. combat ships, including in command roles. They are permitted to serve on submarines. Women can fly military aircraft and make up 2% of all pilots in the U.S. Military. In 2003, Major Kim Campbell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for landing her combat damaged A-10 Thunderbolt II with no hydraulic control and only one functional engine after being struck by hostile fire over Baghdad.