ASVAB Score and Armed Services Jobs

How Your ASVAB Score Effects Your Armed Services Placement

The ASVAB, or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test, is a test that is given to those wishing to join the armed services. Not only does it help decide that you have what it takes mentally to join the armed services, it can also help direct you into the most suitable jobs, or Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). It was developed by the Department of Defense in 1968 and implemented by all branches of the military by 19756. It is a multiple choice test that covers nine areas of knowledge, including; general science, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, mathematics knowledge, electronics information, auto and shop information, mechanical information and assembling objects.  Practice Questions for all ASVAB content here

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The test can be done using a computer at any Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), or by pen and paper at a Military Entrance Test (MET) site, or high schools and colleges. Both tests are fair but there are a few small differences. The computerized test is an adaptive test. This means that it is slightly different for each applicant and is based on their knowledge level. The difficulty of the questions is based on earlier responses in the test. There are a set number of questions in each category and a time limit. However, you can move on to the next section as soon as you are ready, you do not have to wait out the allocated time. You cannot make changes to your answers once you have submitted them and it is suggested to complete each question – there is a penalty for guessing. On average, the computerized ASVAB Test takes around 90 minutes to complete.  Tips for taking a computerized test

The pen and paper version takes a little longer, around three hours to complete. This is because it is a more traditional test and everyone answers each category in the same, allocated time. The pen and paper test has the advantage of being able to change your answers as you go. However, this is limited to each category. Once a category has been completed and collected, you cannot make further changes. You must also wait to move forward in the test until you have been instructed to do so. Unlike the computerized version, if you are running out of time guessing your answers is a good option as there is no penalty for doing so.

Test preparation can be done in the form of online practice questions. It is highly recommended that applicants take advantage of these test simulations as it will help them gain an understanding of the calibre of questions that will be asked in the actual test.   Practice questions here
How to prepare for a test
Study Tips

Test Subject Areas

Test AreaAbbreviationArea of MeasurementDomain
General ScienceGSKnowledge of life science, earth and space science and physical science.Science/Technical
Arithmetic ReasoningARAbility to solve basic arithmetic word problemsMath
Word KnowledgeWKAbility to understand the meaning of words through synonyms.Verbal
Paragraph ComprehensionPCAbility to obtain information from written material.Verbal
Mathematics KnowledgeMKKnowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.Math
Electronics InformationEIKnowledge of electrical current, circuits, devices, and electronic systems.Science/Technical
Auto and Shop Information*ASKnowledge of automotive maintenance and repair, and wood and metal shop practices.Science/Technical
Mechanical ComprehensionMCKnowledge of the principles of mechanical devices, structural support, and properties of materials.Science/Technical
Assembling ObjectsAOAbility with spatial relationships.Spatial
*Auto and Shop Information are administered as separate tests on the computerized version, but their scores are combined.

Some military branches will also use an area called Verbal Expression in their requirements. Verbal Expression is the combined score of Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension.

Calculating Results

The scoring system of the ASVAB Test can be difficult to understand, especially as the results are broken down into further categories. The scoring system is based on the Item Response Theory (IRT) which designs and scores tests based on the individual’s performance to particular questions. For example, if two people take a test of five questions and they both get two correct, their results are the same, correct? Not exactly. One person may have correctly answered two easy questions, whilst the other person answered two difficult questions correctly. Therefore, despite their results being the same, one person can be considered more proficient than the other.

Once a computer has used this highly technical system to calculate the scores, they are converted into standard scores. This is done by standardizing the scores against the national norms. The national norms were last calculated in 2004. This was from a sample of about 6,000 American youths between the ages of 18 and 23 who underwent testing in 1997.

The next phase is to use calculate the applicant’s AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) results. This score is used to determine whether an applicant is eligible to enlist in various branches of the military and is calculated using four ASVAB subtests. These subtest areas are Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge, Mathematics Knowledge and Arithmetic Reasoning. Each branch has its own minimum AFQT score for enlisting. The AFQT result is given as a percentile, which is effectively a ranking. For example, if an applicant scores 63 it means they performed better than 63 percent of the cohort who took the test. For those taking the test currently, this cohort is the same group of 18-23 year olds who helped established the national norms. The AFQT is often confused as being a test of its own, but it is important to remember that it is simply a result of the ASVAB Test. Applicants only have to sit one exam, and will receive a plethora of different scores and calculations.  More about the AFQT

Further calculations determine the line scores which help to determine which army jobs, or Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) an applicant is most suited for. Various subtests from the ASVAB are used in different combinations to work out the line scores. Line scores and their corresponding jobs will be looked at in further detail below.

When an applicant receives their score card they will see three different scores. These include the AFQT score, the CEP score (if the test has been taken as part of the Career Exploration Program at school), and the relative scores of the nine subtests (ten if the computerized test is taken). The applicant is then able to make an appropriate choice for their position in the military.

The Army

Jobs in the Army are extremely varied and it’s no surprise that particular jobs require particular skills. Below is a table of the Line Scores in the Army and their corresponding ASVAB Subtest areas.

ASVAB Scores and Placement

Line  Score AbbreviationASVAB Subtests
ClericalCLWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge.
CombatCOWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Auto and Shop and Mechanical Comprehension.
ElectronicsELGeneral Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronic Information.
Field ArtilleryFAArithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Mechanical Comprehension.
General MaintenanceGMGeneral Science, Auto and Shop, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronics Information.
General TechnicalGTWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Arithmetic Reasoning
Mechanical MaintenanceMMAuto and Shop, Mechanical Comprehension and Electronic Information.
Operators and FoodOFWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Auto and Shop and Mechanical Comprehension.
Surveillance and CommunicationsSCWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Auto & Shop and Mechanical Comprehension.
Skilled TechnicalSTWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge.

When an applicant is enlisting in the Army, they must score a minimum in certain line scores in order to be eligible for particular jobs. Some jobs, such as a musician in an Army band, do not require any particular results, whereas others, such as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, need to qualify in multiple line score areas. Common sense may provide a link between certain line scores and specific jobs. For example, most jobs that involve operating or repairing vehicles or machinery require proficiency in Mechanical Maintenance or General Maintenance. Applicants who wish to work in the food serving sector must achieve suitable results in the Operators and Food area. Some more specific examples of Army Military Occupational Specialities and the required line scores can be seen below.

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Specialty Occupations

Military Occupational SpecialtyASVAB Line Score Requirements
Field Artillery SurveyorSkilled Technical = 95
Utility Helicopter RepairerMechanical Maintenance = 105
Cavalry ScoutCombat = 90
Criminal Investigation Special AgentSkilled Technical =110
Armament RepairerGeneral Maintenance = 100
Radar RepairerElectronics = 110
Tank Turret MechanicMechanical Maintenance = 100

The Air Force

The Air Force have four qualification areas that they use to determine eligibility for particular jobs. These jobs have minimum score requirements in the area that is relevant to the set of skills necessary  for the job. For example, jobs that involve administrative duties, logistics and management tasks require the applicant to score appropriately in the Administrative area. Just like the Army, some jobs demand a particular result in more than one area.

ASVAB Score and Placement

Qualification AreaAbbreviationASVAB Subtest
GeneralGVerbal Expression (Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension) and Arithmetic Reasoning.
MechanicalMMechanical Comprehension, General Science, and two counts of Auto and Shop Information.
AdministrativeANumerical Operations*, Coding Speed*, and Verbal Expression (Word Knowledge plus Paragraph Comprehension).
ElectricalEArithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information , and General Science.
*Numerical Operations and Coding Speed are being phased out so line area qualifications may alter.Jobs in the Air Force are called Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). The following table shows some specific examples of ASVAB Score Line Requirements for particular jobs.

Air Force Job TitleASVAB Line Score Requirement
Aircraft LoadmasterGeneral = 57
PararescueGeneral = 44
Special Weather Operations ApprenticeGeneral = 66 and Electric = 50
Aircraft Fuel SystemsMechanical = 47
Air TransportationMechanical = 47 and Administrative = 28
Aircraft Armament SystemsMechanical = 60 or Electric = 45

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The Marine Corps

Just like other branches of the military, the Marine Corps use line scores to determine an applicant’s suitability for Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). The scores needed, and the area in which they come from are guided by the skills and talent needed for a particular position. For example, a job involving communications, radio, computers and telephones will necessitate a suitable score in Electronics.

Line ScoreAbbreviationASVAB Subtest
ClericalCLVerbal Expression, Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge.
ElectronicsELGeneral Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronics Information.
General TechnicalGTVerbal Expression and Arithmetic Reasoning.
Mechanical MaintenanceMMNumerical Operations*, Auto and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension and Electronics Information.
Skilled TechnicalSTGeneral Science, Verbal Expression, Mathematics Knowledge and Mechanical Comprehension.
*Numerical Operations is being phased out so line area qualifications may be altered.
Some examples of specific jobs and their score requirements can be seen below.

Job/Military Occupational SpecialtyMinimum ASVAB Line Score Requirement
Infantry RiflemanGeneral Technical = 80
Geographic Intelligence SpecialistElectronics = 100
Metal WorkerMechanical Maintenance = 95
Ammunition TechnicianGeneral Technical = 100
Aviation Supply ClerkClerical = 100

The Navy

The Navy does not use line scores, instead they have ratings. Just like other military branches, these ratings are comprised of combinations of the necessary ASVAB Subtests. Ratings correspond to jobs in the Navy and below you will find some examples of Navy Ratings and their minimum ASVAB Subtest scores.

ASVAB Score and Placement

Navy Rating TitleNavy RatingMinimum ASVAB Subtest Score
Air Traffic ControlmanACArithmetic Reasoning + 2x Mechanical Knowledge + General Science = 210
Aviation Electronics MateAEArithmetic Reasoning + Mathematics Knowledge + Electronics Information + General Science = 218
Construction MechanicCMArithmetic Reasoning + Mechanical Comprehension + Auto and Shop Information = 158
Damage ControlmanDCVerbal Expression + Mechanical Comprehension + Auto and Shop Information = 158
EnginemanENMathematics Knowledge + Auto and Shop Information = 96
Machinery RepairmanMRArithmetic Reasoning + Mechanical Comprehension + Auto and Shop Information = 158
Ship’s ServicemenSHVerbal Expression + Arithmetic Reasoning = 96

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard use scores directly from the ASVAB Test, they do not use line scores. However, they do calculate scores to gain an understanding of what jobs a recruit is most suited to. The general job area and the ASVAB test areas can be seen in the table below.

ASVAB Score and Placement

Occupation Abbreviation ASVAB Subtest
EnginemanENGAuto & Shop Information and Mathematics Knowledge.
AdministrativeADMMathematics Knowledge and Verbal Expression.
General TechnicalGTArithmetic Reasoning and Verbal Expression.
Mechanical MaintenanceMECArithmetic Reasoning,  Auto & Shop Information  and Mechanical Comprehension.
HealthHMGeneral Science, Mathematics Knowledge and Verbal Expression.
Mechanical Maintenance 2MEC2Assembling Objects,  Arithmetic Reasoning  and Mechanical Comprehension.
ElectronicsELArithmetic Reasoning, Electronic Information, General Science and Mathematics Knowledge.
Nuclear FieldNUCArithmetic Reasoning,  Mechanical Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge and Verbal Expression.
Engineering and ElectronicsBEEArithmetic Reasoning, General Science  and Mathematics Knowledge.
OperationsOPSArithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge.
 

National Guard

The National Guard is a reserve military force. Applicants are required to sit the ASVAB Test, just like and other military branch, but the required entrance score is lower than most other branches. The National Guard operates using the same line scores as the Army, as they are effectively the same. The main difference is that members of the Army are in active duty, whilst the National Guard can essentially be seen as a reserve. They are deployed less often and many members of the National Guard will also work in ordinary civilian jobs. However, their Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) are the same, and therefore so are their line score requirements.

ASVAB Score and Placement

Line  Score AbbreviationASVAB Subtests
ClericalCLWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge.
CombatCOWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Auto and Shop and Mechanical Comprehension.
ElectronicsELGeneral Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronic Information.
Field ArtilleryFAArithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge and Mechanical Comprehension.
General MaintenanceGMGeneral Science, Auto and Shop, Mathematics Knowledge and Electronics Information.
General TechnicalGTWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Arithmetic Reasoning
Mechanical MaintenanceMMAuto and Shop, Mechanical Comprehension and Electronic Information.
Operators and FoodOFWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Auto and Shop and Mechanical Comprehension.
Surveillance and CommunicationsSCWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Auto & Shop and Mechanical Comprehension.
Skilled TechnicalSTWord Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge.
 

Jobs in the military provide great opportunity. The enlistment procedure can be confusing at first, but upon closer inspection it is relatively straight forward. The most important thing for new recruits to consider is the ASVAB Test, although other factors such as physical fitness and health are also major contributing factors. It is recommended to adequately prepare for the test using the many practice options that are available. The higher an applicant scores in the ASVAB, the more opportunities they will have in their preferred military branch. Each branch of the military uses these scores in their own, unique way to further determine eligibility for Military Occupational Specialties. Hopefully, this article has given you a greater insight into how the enlisting process works and what test result requirements are needed for a range of jobs.

    1 Comment

  1. Alexandria Church
    December 26, 2017
    Reply

    What is the ASVAB score for Navy MA?

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