Your performance in four basic areas – Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Word Knowledge (WK) determines whether you’ve made the grade. Your scores in the AR, MK, and Verbal Composite (VE, which is WK+PC) sections add up to the all-important “AFQT” (Armed Forces Qualifying Test) score that recruiters use to see if you are eligible to serve.
After World War II, with the onset of the Cold War, the constant technological development of new weapons was institutionalised, as participants engaged in a constant 'arms race' in capability development. This constant state of weapons development continues into the present, and remains a constant drain on national resources, which some[who?] blame on the military-industrial complex.
The underlying model used for the ASVAB is a three-parameter logistic (3PL) model. This model represents the probability that an examinee at a given level of ability will respond correctly to an individual item with given characteristics. The characteristics used are difficulty, discrimination and guessing (this refers to the likelihood that a very low ability examinee would respond correctly simply by guessing).
Examinees also receive a score on what is called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). AFQT scores are computed using the Standard Scores from four ASVAB subtests: Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Word Knowledge (WK). AFQT scores are reported as percentiles between 1-99. An AFQT percentile score indicates the percentage of examinees in a reference group that scored at or below that particular score. For current AFQT scores, the reference group is a sample of 18 to 23 year old youth who took the ASVAB as part of a national norming study conducted in 1997. Thus, an AFQT score of 90 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 90% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year old youth. An AFQT score of 50 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 50% of the nationally-representative sample.
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.