The Armed Forces Qualifying Test, commonly known as the AFQT, is used by the United States military to assess prospective service members. The questions on this test are taken from the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. The following ASVAB subject areas are included in the test: arithmetical reasoning (AR), mathematics knowledge (MK), verbal expression (VE), paragraph comprehension (PC), and word knowledge (WK). These are the most general academic content areas on the ASVAB. The formula for computing scores on the AFQT test is AR + MK + (2 x VE), with VE = PC + MK. Scores are then placed in the following categories: Category I (93 to 99), Category II (65 to 92), Category IIIA (50 to 64), Category IIIB (31 to 49), Category IVA (21 to 30), Category IVB (16 to 20), Category IVC (10 to 15), and Category V (0 to 9). These AFQT test score categories are percentiles, which indicate how well the test-taker performed relative to others. A person scoring a 50, for example, performed as well as or better than half of the other test-takers. The percentile score is based on the raw score (number of questions answered correctly) and the difficulty of the test version. The minimum passing score for the AFQT varies between branches of the military.
The vast majority of people who take the CAT-ASVAB test finish it as the time constraints are not very aggressive. However, if a respondent isn’t able to finish in time, the remaining unanswered questions are scored as if the respondent had answered them randomly. This is obviously not an ideal way to finish up the test and most often results in even poorer scores.
The exam is not a “pass or fail” test. Your score in each area reflects your own unique abilities. Of course, you will want to study with the aim of doing your best so that you can qualify for a job that fits your skills and career interests. Your AFQT score is compared to the scores of other recruits in the 18-23 year age bracket to see how your potential measures up.
Registration for the ASVAB is done entirely through your local recruiter. They will not want to start the application process without being confident that you will be a qualified applicant, so they will first ask you some information about your age, fitness, and marital status, among other things. They will likely also administer a short practice exam before taking you to a testing center to either give you a realistic idea of which jobs you would qualify for or to help you decide if it would be better to study before taking it.
Just as the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, are in charge of the entire military establishment, maintaining civilian control of the military, so too are each of the Defense Department's constitutive military departments headed by civilians. The four DoD branches are organized into three departments, each with civilian heads. The Department of the Army is headed by the Secretary of the Army, the Department of the Navy is headed by the Secretary of the Navy and the Department of the Air Force is headed by the Secretary of the Air Force. The Marine Corps is organized under the Department of the Navy, however it is still considered a separate and equal service. The Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security and receives its operational orders from the Secretary of Homeland Security. However, the Coast Guard may be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President or Congress during a time of war, thereby placing it within the DoD.
A lot of people see the “CAT” term attached to the ASVAB test when they first start looking into the test and aren’t sure what that stands for. This term is an acronym and it stands for “Computerized Adaptive Test”. There are three different versions of the ASVAB test. The CAT is available at military processing stations for enlisting soldiers. The pencil and paper (also known as the P&P or S-ASVAB) version of the test is available for high school and college students who may not actually enlist. The third type of ASVAB test is the MET-ASVAB, or Mobile Examination Test, which is available only for enlisted soldiers at mobile testing centers (this test is also done with paper and pencil).
In order to take the ASVAB at a MEPS for enlistment purposes, an individual will need to speak with a recruiter and schedule a time to take the test. ASVAB testing at a MEPS is self-paced and taken on a computer, and it may be retaken after a one-month waiting period. Entitled the CAT-ASVAB, the test is adaptive – meaning it adapts to your ability level.
The Student ASVAB is the most flexible of the exams. It is typically provided to high school students to help them assess their skills, job prospects, potential military positions, or college majors. The ASVAB for students is essentially the same as the MET ASVAB exam, only students are not necessarily testing for positions within the military. The students’ school counselors examine their scores and help them decide on what to do after graduating from high school. This test is still an important component of a student’s education because it can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and help set them on the right track for their future career goals.