Anyone who is planning to enlist in the United States Armed Forces should be familiar with the military’s standards and screening processes. An important part of this screening process is the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which is a subsection of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This standardized assessment measures a candidate’s skills in the areas of paragraph comprehension, word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics knowledge.
The U.S. Armed Forces are one of the largest militaries in terms of the number of personnel. It draws its personnel from a large pool of paid volunteers. Although conscription has been used in the past in various times of both war and peace, it has not been used since 1972, but the Selective Service System retains the power to conscript males, and requires that all male citizens and residents residing in the U.S. between the ages of 18–25 register with the service.
There are several different authorized pay grade advancement requirements in each junior-enlisted rank category (E-1 to E-3), which differ by service. Enlistees in the Army can attain the initial pay grade of E-4 (specialist) with a four-year degree, but the highest initial pay grade is usually E-3 (members of the Army Band program can expect to enter service at the grade of E-4). Promotion through the junior enlisted ranks occurs after serving for a specified number of years (which can be waived by the soldier's chain of command), a specified level of technical proficiency or maintenance of good conduct. Promotion can be denied with reason.
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.
The paper-and-pencil version of the test administered at a Mobile Examination Test (MET) site usually takes 3–4 hours. The time needed to take the CAT-ASVAB test can vary. The test is adaptive. If the candidates answer a question correctly, they are given one of increasing difficulty. If the candidates miss a question, they are subsequently given an easier item. This pattern continues until the test is finished. Because of its adaptive nature, the CAT-ASVAB test generally takes about half the time of the paper-and-pencil version.
In Medieval Europe, tales of knighthood and chivalry, the officer class of the period captured the popular imagination. Writers and poets like Taliesin, Chrétien de Troyes and Thomas Malory wrote tales of derring-do, featuring Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Galahad. Even in the 21st century, books and films about the Arthurian legend and the Holy Grail continue to appear.
In 1974, the first six women naval aviators earned their wings as Navy pilots. The Congressionally mandated prohibition on women in combat places limitations on the pilots' advancement, but at least two retired as captains. In 1989, Captain Linda L. Bray, 29, became the first woman to command American soldiers in battle during the invasion of Panama. The 1991 Gulf War proved to be the pivotal time for the role of women in the U.S. Armed Forces to come to the attention of the world media; there are many reports of women engaging enemy forces during the conflict.
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 study conducted in 1997. Thus, an AFQT score of 95 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 95% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year olds. An AFQT score of 60 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 60% of the nationally-representative sample.
From the time of its inception, the U.S. Armed Forces played a decisive role in the history of the United States. A sense of national unity and identity was forged as a result of victory in the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War. Even so, the founders of the United States were suspicious of a permanent military force. It played a critical role in the American Civil War, continuing to serve as the armed forces of the United States, although a number of its officers resigned to join the military of the Confederate States. The National Security Act of 1947, adopted following World War II and during the Cold War's onset, created the modern U.S. military framework. The Act established the National Military Establishment, headed by the Secretary of Defense; and created the Department of the Air Force and the National Security Council. It was amended in 1949, renaming the National Military Establishment the Department of Defense, and merged the cabinet-level Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force, into the Department of Defense.
The vast majority of ASVAB test takers will ultimately not enlist in the military. The ASVAB Career Exploration Program claims that only two-and-a-half percent of those who participate in the ASVAB join the military. Forty-seven percent of those who take the exam indicate an interest in attending a four-year college, and 16 percent of those who take the exam originally indicate some kind of an interest in joining the military.
The Auto and Shop Information section of the ASVAB test measures your knowledge of automobile technology and basic repairs. The shop questions are about basic wood and metals. For example, you will encounter questions such as “Shock absorbers on a car connect the axle to the: wheel, chassis, drive shaft, or exhaust pipe?” You may be asked what sanding blocks are used for, followed by the following choices: preventing high spots and ridges on sanded surfaces, preventing dirt from collecting on the sandpaper, stretching the length of sandpaper, or prolonging the use of the sandpaper. The CAT-ASVAB test has two parts: the first part covering automotive material asks 11 questions in 7 minutes; the 11 shop information questions are allotted 6 minutes. The paper-and-pencil version asks 25 questions in 11 minutes.
Many high schools give students the opportunity to take the ASVAB as part of career exploration. If you chose not to take one in high school, then you will have to schedule a time to take it. You can contact the Armed Forces Recruiting Officer in your area and you can schedule an appointment with a local recruiter from the branch of the military you wish to join.
If you are interested in using your test scores for military service, you will receive an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. This score is calculated using the scores from the Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK) portions of the exam. AFQT scores are expressed as percentile scores in order to better compare results among all potential military recruits.
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.