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.
On the CAT-ASVAB, you answer one question at a time and can’t go back and change your answers once you’ve submitted them. If you answer a question correctly, you get a more difficult question, but if you are incorrect, you are given an easier question to answer. This is called “adaptive” testing. Once you finish a section you can go on to the next section at your own pace.
You are tested in four critical areas — Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge (see below) — these scores count towards your Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) score. The AFQT score determines whether you’re qualified to enlist in the U.S. military. Your scores in the other areas of the ASVAB determine how qualified you are for certain military specialties. Score high, and your chances of getting the specialty/job you want increase. The better score you get, the better chance you have of pursuing the specialty or field that you desire.
There are nine sections on the exam: General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information, Automotive and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Assembling Objects, and Verbal Expression. The time limits for each section range from 10 – 36 minutes; the entire exam takes three hours.
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.
There are different minimum AFQT score requirements for enlisting in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, although requirements will vary depending upon whether you have a high school diploma or a GED. Minimum score requirements change on a fairly regular basis, with higher scores being required during times of above-average enlistment levels. Enlistment bonuses, which are determined by your choice of military occupation, may also be influenced by AFQT 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.
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