First, the ASVAB measures your accumulated knowledge in different areas. So if you are currently in school, stay focused and study hard. Your overall knowledge gained in school will most likely be reflected in your ASVAB score. Second, though accumulated knowledge is important, you may be able to raise your score by preparing specifically for the ASVAB, especially in areas where you are weak. Various study guides are available for this purpose (listed left).

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.


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The Arithmetic Reasoning section of the test measures your ability to solve arithmetic word problems. You may be asked questions such as “If the tire of a car rotates at a constant speed of 552 times in 1 minute, how many times will the tire rotate in half an hour?” Therefore, reviewing common math key words associated with each operation is recommended. For example, if you see the key words “in all,” the problem deals with addition. If the problem asks you to “find the difference,” you are being asked to subtract. If a question asks “how many times” per day or week, you know you are dealing with multiplication. If it asks “how many in each,” you should be thinking about division. The CAT-ASVAB has 16 questions in 39 minutes; the paper-and-pencil version has 30 questions in 36 minutes.

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.
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