What Is ASVAB?

Instructor: Chevette Alston

Dr. Alston has taught intro psychology, child psychology, and developmental psychology at 2-year and 4-year schools.

This lesson defines and describes the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or the ASVAB. The ASVAB is a multiple-choice test and covers ten subject areas in order to determine military placement.


ASVAB is an acronym for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and is a multiple-choice test that is administered by the United States military to determine enlistment qualifications to enter into the U.S. armed forces. Anyone who is eligible to enlist in the military can take this assessment. However, students can also take the ASVAB starting in the 10th grade.

The ASVAB is offered in some high schools, as well as Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) nationwide. The ASVAB serves two purposes. The first is to determine a person has the mental aptitude to enlist in the military. The other is that mental aptitude results help the different military divisions determine which military job(s) will be appropriate for placement.

ASVAB History & Use

The ASVAB is developed and maintained by the Department of Defense. It was created in 1968, but it was not until eight years later in 1976 that the military began to use the information for recruit placement. The ASVAB has had only one revision since being created. There are ten multiple-choice sections in the ASVAB and the examinee is allotted three hours to complete it. The ten areas are as follows:

  • General Science (GS)
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Word Knowledge (WK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • Electronics Information (EI)
  • Auto Information (AI)
  • Shop Information (SI)
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  • Assembling Objects (AO)

ASVAB Score Sheet

ASVAB results are used for research by the United States Department of Defense. Test results are released to schools and armed forces recruiters. It's actually the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT, that determines the basic qualification for enlistment.

The formula for computing an AFQT score uses the multiple-choice sections in a formula. This formula is:

AR + MK + (2 x VE)

VE in this formula is Verbal Expression, and is calculated by adding scores from the language areas of Paragraph Comprehension (PC) and Word Knowledge (WK). Therefore, VE = PC + WK. It should be noted the AFQT is not a separate test, but a subset of ASVAB scores.


AFQT scoring is divided into the following categories:

  • Category I: 93-99 (Highest)
  • Category II: 65-92
  • Category III A: 50-64
  • Category III B: 31-49
  • Category IV A: 21-30
  • Category IV B: 16-20
  • Category IV C: 10-15
  • Category V: 0-9 (Cannot Enlist)

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