The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is given to more than one million applicants per year. The group of tests that make up the ASVAB measures the test taker’s likely future job performance and academic success. In some ways, the ASVAB is like the better-known SAT exam, but is a bit more geared toward job performance rather than pure academic prowess.
Scoring on the ASVAB follows a rigorous statistical method to make certain that results are accurate and useful. On each of the four sections of the exam, applicants receive a score that indicates how far they placed above or below the average score. It gets a little complicated at this point, but the amount above or below is measured in what are called “standard deviation units.” For each standard deviation unit above or below the mean score, 10 points is added or subtracted. A score of 60, for example, says that the test-taker was one standard deviation above the mean score.
The most important thing to remember about ASVAB scores is that they are used to determine final results for the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). An applicant’s original ASVAB scores are used to create a percentile ranking of all candidates. The ASVAB sections are Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Paragraph Comprehension (PC). A unique formula is used to compute those four raw scores into AFQT rankings, which are expressed as percentiles.
ASVAB scores themselves are the primary basis for determining enlistment eligibility and are used to place applicants into various jobs. In addition, the scores are very helpful when it comes time to plan out an applicant’s proposed military career path.
While there are more than four sections on the ASVAB, the scores on the four above mentioned sections are the only ones that are used for AFQT score calculation and enlistment eligibility. When administrators begin to create the AFQT score, they add three components from the ASVAB scores, namely the AR score, the MK score, and twice the combined WK and PC scores. The result is scaled according to percentile performance, thus the final AFQT score will tell applicants where they placed in the mix. A score of 85, for example, would mean you did better than 85 percent of all test-takers that day.
The various branches of the military use the AFQT scores in slightly different ways for occupational placement and academic evaluation. The ASVAB examination is an important part of your military record and should be approached with care and preparation.
If you have any questions we may be able to help you with on the ASVAB, just post them below. Thank you.
Author Larry Bell is a professional writer, comedian, and automotive enthusiast whose work can be seen at www.myperfectautomobile.com and many other online publications. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Thunderbird School of Global Management.