To join the US military, you need to first talk to a recruiter and take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, a multiple-choice test used to determine your ability to succeed in the military. But what are good ASVAB scores? What are good ASVAB scores for Army hopefuls? What is a good Air Force ASVAB score?
We'll go over how the ASVAB is scored and give you a list of the minimum required ASVAB scores you’ll need to enlist in different military branches. We’ll also offer some helpful tips for preparing for the ASVAB test.
Feature Image: DVIDSHUB/Flickr
How Is the ASVAB Scored?
When you take the ASVAB, you'll get three scores:
- Standard Scores
- Composite Scores
- AFQT Score
Let’s go over what each of these means.
ASVAB Standard ScoresYou’ll get Standard Scores for each of the 10 subtests on the ASVAB, which are as follows (note that the Auto Information and Shop Information subtests combine to give you a single Auto and Shop Information, or AS, score):
- General Science (GS)
- Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
- Word Knowledge (WK)
- Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
- Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
- Electronics Information (EI)
- Auto and Shop Information (AS)
- Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
- Assembling Objects (AO)
Standard Scores are on a scale of 0-100. On this scale, 50 is the mean, or average, and every 10 points from the mean represents one standard deviation. This means that a Standard Score of 60 would be above average. Most test takers score between 30 and 70.
While your subtest scores don’t really tell you much alone, they can be combined in different ways to give you what are called composite scores (or line scores).
ASVAB Composite Scores
Composite scores, also known as line scores, are different combinations of your Standard Scores from your nine subtest score areas. These scores are used to tell you which military jobs you are most likely to do well in. Each military branch does its own calculations to determine which skills are necessary for which jobs.
The table below depicts the specific subtests used to determine whether test takers are eligible for certain military jobs. Note that "VE" stands for "Verbal Expression" and is a combination of your Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension scores.
|Military Branch||Job/Specialty||Subtest Scores Considered|
|Air Force||Mechanical||AR, VE, MC, AS|
|Electronic||AR, MK, EI, GS|
|Technical||Combination of scores from all subtests|
|Marine Corps||Mechanical||AR, MC, AS, EI|
|General Technician||VE, AR, MC|
|Electrical||AR, MK, EI, GS|
|Navy||General Technician||VE, AR|
|Electronics||GS, AR, MK, EI|
|Basic Electricity and Electronics||GS, AR, MK|
|Mechanical 1||AR, AS, MC|
|Mechanical 2||AR, MC, AO|
|Nuclear||VE, AR, MK, MC|
|Operations||VE, AR, MK, AO|
|Hospitalman||VE, GS, MK|
Source: Official ASVAB
US Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon
Your AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) score is by far the most important score you’ll get on the ASVAB. This score determines whether you’re eligible to enlist in the US military.
The AFQT score is a combination of your scores on the following subtests:
- Arithmetic Reasoning
- Mathematics Knowledge
- Paragraph Comprehension
- Word Knowledge
It uses a scale of 1-99; these are percentiles, or how well you did compared with other test takers. For example, if you got a 53 AFQT score, this would mean you did as well as or better than 53% of test takers. The higher your percentile, the better you did on the ASVAB (and the more likely you’ll qualify for enlistment).
The following ASVAB score chart shows the different score ranges and categories you could fall in, as defined by the official ASVAB website:
|AFQT Category||Score Range|
While there’s no official passing or failing score for the ASVAB, you’ll still want to get an AFQT score high enough to qualify you for enlistment in whatever branch of the military you want to join. Each branch has its own minimum requirements—and we look at those next!
What Is a Good ASVAB Score? Minimum Scores for Enlistment
You now understand how the ASVAB is scored and that your AFQT score is the most important of the different ASVAB scores you'll get. So what is a good ASVAB score? Or more specifically, what is a good AFQT score?
Good ASVAB scores are those that qualify you for enlistment in your desired branch of the military. It doesn’t matter how high above this minimum you are—just that you meet it!
Now, each branch has its own minimum required AFQT score. If you’re thinking of joining the Air Force, for example, you’ll need to know the minimum required Air Force ASVAB score.
In addition, the minimum ASVAB scores required for enlistment will vary slightly depending on whether you have a high school diploma or a GED. Those with a GED instead of a high school diploma typically must earn a higher AFQT score in order to qualify for enlistment.
The table below shows the minimum AFQT score for each branch of the military and for those with high school diplomas or GEDs. Note that for some branches, it is very rare for them to accept applicants with only GEDs.
|Military Branch||Minimum AFQT Score (High School Diploma)||Minimum AFQT Score (GED)|
As you can see here, the minimum ASVAB scores needed for enlistment vary somewhat among the different military branches. The Air Force and Army have the lowest minimum AFQT score (31) for high school diploma holders, while the Coast Guard has the highest (40).
For all military branches, you’ll need an AFQT score of at least 50 if you have a GED.
So what does all of this mean? Basically, a good ASVAB score for you will be equal to or higher than the minimum score required for your desired military branch. If you’re applying for the Army, you’d need at least a 31 AFQT score (remember, that’s the same as the 31st percentile).
4 Tips for Getting Great ASVAB Scores
It’s important that you do well on the ASVAB if you wish to enlist in the military. Here are four key tips to help you prepare so you can ultimately earn the ASVAB scores you need.
#1: Prioritize Your AFQT Score
As a reminder, your AFQT score is the score that'll determine your eligibility for enlistment in the military. It's a combination of your scores on the following subtests:
- Arithmetic Reasoning
- Mathematics Knowledge
- Paragraph Comprehension
- Word Knowledge
This means you should prioritize your studying for these four subtests over the other six, as these are what make up the AFQT score. In other words, you’ll need to really target your math and verbal skills above all else as you get ready to take the ASVAB.
#2: Practice With Real Sample Questions
The best way to prepare for any test, including the ASVAB, is to practice with real test questions. This will give you a clearer idea of how questions are usually worded and what kind of content you will be tested on.
You should always prioritize questions and practice tests created by the makers of the ASVAB; this ensures you’ll get an accurate sense of what to expect on test day.
Try starting with the sample ASVAB questions on the official ASVAB site and Today’s Military before checking out our extensive guide to the best ASVAB practice tests.
#3: Make a Study Schedule—and Stick With It!
You can’t expect to do well on the ASVAB if you don’t study consistently for it.
With this exam, it’s best to start prepping around two months in advance; this should give you plenty of time to hone both your verbal and math skills and to get a feel for the format of the test through practice questions.
Try to also stagger your ASVAB practice tests so that you’re taking one at the beginning of your prep, one near the middle, and one at the end right before the actual test.
- ASVAB Prep Plus, 2018-2019 by Kaplan
- ASVAB Study Guide 2019-2020 Secrets by Mometrix
- ASVAB for Dummies
#4: Focus on Your Weaknesses
As you study for the ASVAB, be sure to put more time into honing your biggest weaknesses (within the realms of verbal and math). Doing this will allow you to improve your mistakes faster and ultimately raise your AFQT score.
For example, if you keep missing the Word Knowledge questions but are doing great on the Math Knowledge questions, then you’ll want to start diverting some of your study time away from math and toward verbal. Specifically, you could spend more time improving your vocabulary.
I suggest keeping track of the practice ASVAB questions you miss in a notebook or journal so that you can get a clear sense of which subtests and content you struggle with the most.
If you want to get here, you'll need to first get a high AFQT score.
Conclusion: What Is a Good ASVAB Score?
There are three types of ASVAB scores you'll get:
- Standard Scores: Given for each subtest; 50 is average and 60 is above average
- Composite (Line) Scores: Various combinations of your subtest scores that are used to determine which military jobs you're best suited for
- Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) Score: A combination of the AR, MK, PC, and WK subtest scores that's used to determine your eligibility for enlistment in the military
The most important score is your AFQT score, as this one determines whether you'll qualify to join the military or not.
Each branch of the military has its own minimum required AFQT score. This requirement is slightly higher for GED holders (as opposed to high school diploma holders); thus, a good ASVAB score for you will be one that’s equal to or higher than the minimum AFQT score for your branch.
Studying for the ASVAB can help ensure that you will get the score you need for the military. Once again, our top four tips are as follows:
- Prioritize your AFQT score
- Practice with real sample questions
- Make a study schedule—and stick with it!
- Focus on your weaknesses in your prep
Now, get out there and ace the ASVAB!
Want to learn more about the ASVAB? Then check out our complete guide to the ASVAB. You'll learn about the different versions of the exam and what kind of content it tests.
Need some help prepping for the ASVAB? Start by taking a look at our compilation of real ASVAB practice tests.
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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.