The first step that one will take after deciding to pursue a career in the military is taking the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery test. This is more commonly referred to as the ASVAB. The ASVAB not only determines whether or not a candidate is qualified to serve in the armed forces but also shows which specific job they have the most aptitude for.
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.
The format is different depending on where you take the test. At MEP sites, the test is computer-based and is given in an adaptive format. This means that questions may get easier or harder based on your answers to previous questions. The ASVAB-CT does not allow you to review or change your answers, which some recruits may find difficult, but it has some advantages over the pencil-and-paper version given at satellite MET locations. Overall, the exam takes only about 1 ½ hours to complete, doing each section at your own pace – and you can see your scores as soon as you finish taking the test. The pencil-and-paper version takes longer (3-4 hours total time), is not adaptive, and has a time limit for each subtest. You are allowed to change your answers for each subtest before moving on to the next one, but only before the time limit is reached for that subtest. In addition, scores must be processed manually and so they are not available for a few days – although a preliminary AFQT score will be calculated and given to your recruiter once you have completed the test.
Under the Student Loan Repayment Program, when you enlist the Army will pay back up to $65,000 in qualified education loans (up to $20,000 for reservists), the Navy up to $65,000 and the Air Force up to $10,000. Each year 15% of the loan balance or $500, whichever is greater, will be repaid by SLRP. There may also be annual and cumulative caps on the amount repaid. Participants must score 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT). SLRP must be requested at the time of enlistment or reenlistment. Qualified education loans include federal education loans such as the Perkins, Stafford, PLUS, or Consolidation loans, but not private alternative loans. Defaulted loans are not eligible. Payments made under the SLRP are considered taxable income.
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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