ASVAB Scores and Military Entry Requirements
There are minimum ASVAB scores set for each military branch. The results of your Mathematics Knowledge, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Arithmetic Reasoning subtests determine your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. The AFQT score is often called the ASVAB score, and it determines which branch(es) of the military you are eligible to join.
About the AFQT
The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is a score derived from four of the ASVAB subtests. The subtests are Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge.
For people with a High School Diploma, the minimum qualifying AFQT score is 31, which is needed to join the Army or National Guard, whereas you need to get higher than 40 to join the Coast Guard. People without a High School Diploma can still enter the forces with a General Educational Development (GED) test passing score, but then the AFQT requirements are higher, at 50 points for the Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Navy, or 65 for the Air Force.
Is the AFQT the same as the ASVAB?
The AFQT is part of the overall ASVAB test, and contains the four sections mentioned above. The ASVAB, on the other hand, is the name given to the full test that contains the AFQT sections as well as six more tests in more specific areas such as electronics and mechanics.
The AFQT determines if you’re generally qualified to join the military, whilst the remaining parts of the ASVAB can help determine eligibility for military occupational specialties (MOS).
The AFQT is a standardized test, so a score of 50 doesn’t mean you got 50 questions correct, or even 50% of the questions.
Your AFQT score is determined using the “mean”, and “standard deviation” scores from a sample of 18 to 23 year old youths who took the ASVAB as part of a national study conducted in 1997. Thus, an AFQT score of 90 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 90% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year old youth. (Source: official-asvab.com)
If you score 50, you are at the mean, which is the average across the country. If you score 60, you’re one standard deviation above the mean, 70 is two standard deviations above, and 30 is two standard deviations below.
So really the AFQT score is how much better or worse you did than other people who have taken the test.
Air Force ASVAB Scores
Applicants with a high school diploma must get a 31 or higher on the AFQT to qualify to join the Air Force. Also, over 90 percent of those approved for Air Force enlistment do score 50 or above. Your recruiter may ask you to return when you get a score of 50 or higher.
Air Force Education Requirements
It is nearly impossible to get into the Air Force without a high school diploma. The chances are incredibly slim for people who only get a GED. Historically, only 0.5% of all annual Air Force enlistments have only a GED. If a GED holder is trying to enlist, that person must score a 50 or higher on the AFQT. On the upside, college credits may result in a higher enlistment rank!
More about Air Force ASVAB Scores >
Army ASVAB Scores
The Army requires a minimum AFQT score of 31 to be eligible to enlist. Moreover, if a recruit scores higher than a 50 then enlistment bonuses could be available depending on circumstances.
Army Education Requirements
More people can join the Army with only a GED than any other military branch. Hence, some recruitment years have allowed 15% of recruits to enter without a high school diploma. Just like the Air Force, college credits open the door to join with a higher enlistment rank! Also, the Army allows recruits with a college degree to enter with a level as high as E-4.
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Coast Guard ASVAB Scores
The Coast Guard is the most challenging branch of the military to enter. A minimum ASVAB score of 45 is required to enlist. However, a waiver is possible if a recruit’s scores on subtests outside of the AFQT, such as Mechanical Comprehension, make them eligible for a specific job.
Coast Guard Education Requirements
95% of recruits must have a high school diploma. If a recruit enlists with a GED, the minimum AFQT score is 50. Also, the Coast Guard provides an advanced enlistment rank of E-2 with a minimum of 30 college credits; or E-3 with at least 60 college credits.
More about Coast Guard ASVAB Scores >
Marine Corps ASVAB Scores
Recruits must get a minimum score of 32 on the ASVAB to join the Marine Corps. There are very few exceptions.
Marine Corps Education Requirements
Recruits without a high school diploma are practically ineligible to enlist. Of note, the Marine Corps does not allow more than 5% of recruits to join with only a GED. A person with a GED must get a minimum score of 50 on the AFQT. As with the other branches, the Marine Corps provides advanced enlistment rank for recruits that have some college credits. However, the Marines are less generous to applicants with some college credit. They only allow a maximum of E-2 upon enlistment.
More about Marine Corps ASVAB Scores >
National Guard ASVAB Scores
National Guard recruits must get a minimum score of 31 on the AFQT. Exceptions are rare for those who do not reach a 31. Unfortunately, the military job opportunities are not highly desirable for scores that low. In this instance, study and retake the test to increase your score.
National Guard Education Requirements
If a person has a GED instead of a high school diploma, the minimum AFQT score required is 50. Thus, GED holders who earn 15 college credits at 100 level or higher are considered equal with those holding high school diplomas.
More about National Guard ASVAB Scores >
Navy ASVAB Scores
Navy recruits must get a minimum score of 35 on the AFQT. Unfortunately for some, there is not a lot of flexibility for minimum ASVAB scores in the Navy. However, a reserve enlistment is available for those that do get an ASVAB score higher than 31.
Navy Education Requirements
The Navy rarely accepts recruits without a high school diploma. Of note, GED enlistments must get at least a 50 on the AFQT. Applicants with only a GED must have three references from prominent members of the community (police, fire, teacher, civil servant, etc.). A person with college experience can increase their enlistment ranking as high as E-3.
More about Navy ASVAB Scores >
Composite scores for MOS
It will come as no surprise that certain roles, also known as military occupational specialties (MOS) are more suited to certain types of intelligence than others, and just because someone might struggle with Mechanical Comprehension, there’s no reason they couldn’t excel in Arithmetic Reasoning and Math Knowledge.
Military occupational specialties are a reflection of the roles best suited to an individual joining the military, and each specialty requires a specific combination of ASVAB scores. Each job in the military fits into a category, and each category has a combination of ASVAB tests that make up the required score.
The role of Combat Engineer, for example, is in the Combat (CO) category, and requires strong scores in Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Coding Speed (CS), Auto and Shop Information (AS), and Mechanical Comprehension (MC).
Ammunitions Specialists, however, need to do well in the Skilled Technical (ST) category, and will excel in General Science (GS), Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension (VE), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Mechanical Comprehension (MC).
There are a lot of specialties available for those starting a career in the military, and each has its own minimum score for the separate parts of the ASVAB test. For a full list of roles and requirements, see the US Military MOS Database. In most cases, a higher AFQT score will mean more MOS options, but certain roles require exceptional scores in specific tests.
Taking the ASVAB with GED
It is possible to join the military without a high school diploma, but at minimum a General Educational Development (GED) is required. All military branches require a considerably higher ASVAB score, usually 50 or above, to qualify with a GED.
Even then, only a small percentage of all recruits can hold a GED.
ASVAB Scores Summary
There are many career opportunities in the military and specialties to suit all types of people. Knowing which areas of the ASVAB you are already comfortable with, and which you are most likely to struggle with, can help guide you when practising for the ASVAB.
If you are concerned about achieving high enough ASVAB scores to meet military requirements, then online classes and practice tests are available to study through the ASVAB Boot Camp online Official Study Program.
The Official ASVAB Study Program includes practice tests and online courses to increase your ASVAB score.