Military Wiki

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, also known as the ASVAB, is a test administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command in order to assess potential military members for enlistment qualifications.  The test is generally offered on a non-mandatory basis in American high schools in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.  Anyone who is eligible for enlistment may take the test, and all members of the Armed Forces of the United States take the test before being accepted.  Taking the test does not incur any obligations to the military.


The ASVAB was first introduced in 1968, and by 1976 all branches of the United States military began using the test as an entrance exam.  The test underwent major revisions in 2002.  In 2004, the grading system was reorganized to score the test based on how well a test taker scored against other test takers, rather than simply scoring the number of correct answers.  Since the test is measured against other individuals taking the test, a score of 80% means that the test taker scored better than 80% of individuals who also took the test, rather than simply having answered 80% of questions correctly.  The test is frequently offered in American public high schools on a voluntary basis; no teacher, principal, or member of the armed forces has any authority to force a student to take the ASVAB.  The United States Army has made a practice test freely available on their website.  


The ASVAB currently contains nine sections.  The sections take between ten and thirty-six minutes to complete.  The entire test takes approximately three hours to complete.  The sections are as follows:

  • General Science (GS)
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
  • Work Knowledge (WK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • Electronics Information (EI)
  • Automotive and Shop Information (AS)
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
  • Assembling Objects (AO)

Applicants joining the Navy must also take the Coding Speed test; however, this section of the test is only administered to those individuals who are taking the test during the attempt of admittance into the Navy.

Discontinued Sections

Several sections were once part of the ASVAB but have since been discontinued.  They include the following:

  • Numerical Opterations (NO)
  • Space Perception (SP)
  • Took Knowledge (TK)
  • General Information (GI)
  • Attention to Detail (AD)

Enlistment Requirements

Branch High School Diploma GED
Army 35 50
Navy 35 50
Air Force 40 65
Marines 32 50
Coast Guard 45 50 (and 15 hours of college credit)
Army National Guard 35 50
Air National Guard 35 50

Armed Forces Qualification Test 

The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is a formula that uses the scores derived from the ASVAB test results to ensure that the core intelligence requirements to joint the military are met.  The purpose of this score is to ensure that a test taker does not fail the most important tests and use high scores in other sections to compensate and earn a passing grade.  Only four sections of the ASVAB are used to determine the AFQT score: Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Arithmetic Reasoning.  The formula for computing the AFQT score is the following: AR + MK + (2 x VE) where VE = PC + WK.  Students with an AFQT score of 9 or less are prohibited by law from joining the armed forces.

Military Occupation Specialty Scores

Military Occupation Specialty (MOS ) scores are used to help determine what job in the military an applicant may best fit.  The formulas to find MOS scores are combinations of the nine individual section scores.  The formulas to determine MOS scores are as follows: 

Army/Army National Guard

CL Clerical VE+AR+MK
CO Combat Operations VE+AS+MC
EL Electronics GS+AR+MK+EI
FA Field Artillery AR+MK+MC
GM General Maintenance GS+AS+MK+EI
GT General Technical VE+AR
MM Mechanical Maintenance AS+MC+EI
OF Operators and Food VE+AS+MC
SC Surveillance and Communications VE+AR+AS+MC
ST Skilled Technical VE+GS+MC+MK
SF Special Forces GT=107 or higher, CO=98 or higher

Navy/Coast Guard

GT General Technical AR+VE
EL Electronics AR+EI+GS+MK
BEE Basic Electricity and Electronics AR+GS+(2 x MK)
ENG Engineering AI+SI+MK
MEC Mechanical Maintenance AR+AI+SI+MC
MEC2 Mechanical Maintenance 2 AO+AR+MC
NUC Nuclear Field AR+MC+MK+VE
OPS Operations Specialist WK, PC, AR, MK, AO (individually evaluated)
HM Hospital Corpsman GS+MK+VE
ADM Administrative MK+VE
SEALS Special Operations GS_MC_EI=165 or higher or VE+MK+MC+CS =220 or higher

Air Force/Air National Guard

G General VE+AR
M Mechanical MC+GS(2 x AS)
A Administrative NO+CS+VE
E Electrical AR+MK+EI+GS

Marine Corps 

CL Clerical VE+AR+MK
EL Electronics GS+AR+MK+EI
GT General Technical VE+AR
MM Mechanical Maintenance NO+AS+MC+EI
ST Skilled Technical GS+VE+MK+MC
MARSOC Special Operations GT=105

Information Use

The test score data may be used by the Department of Defense for research purposes and may be made available to both the school and military recruiters.  The last two uses are contingent on the consent of the school.


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