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).

In addition to the AFQT, the military also includes additional composite scores, often called 'line scores.' These scores are based on variations of the ASVAB's ten subtests and are required for certain military careers. For example, an Army Clerical (CL) score is determined by looking at an individual's Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) and Mathematics Knowledge (MK) scores. Note that the subtests considered for different careers can vary depending on the military branch.
As a general rule of thumb, anything over an 85 on the ASVAB will qualify you for nearly any position in the armed forces. But there are slight breakdowns within each score. For example, in order to qualify for Surveillance and Communications (SC) in the Army, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Auto & Shop and Mechanical Comprehension all require high marks. Though scoring an 85 or above would guarantee you scored in a high enough percentile to qualify for SC.

One ASVAB sub-measure, the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT)--which is just a separate analysis of the same tests that focuses only on four of the subtests--is also population-referenced, but its score from 1-99 is a percentile score. This means that if you score a 73, you scored as well as or higher than 73% of test-takers in the national sample.

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