ABCs of the ASVAB - The AFQT Score

United States Marines relax in combat.
The AFQT score determines whether you can join the military service of your choice.. Michael Sugrue / Getty Images

You often hear people say something like, "I got a 70 on the ASVAB." What they are talking about is the ASVAB AFQT score, or Armed Forces Qualification Test Score. Many people think the AFQT score is the overall ASVAB score, but that's not correct. In fact, the AFQT score is derived from only four of the nine ASVAB subtests: Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowlege (MK), and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR).

The AFQT score is the most important ASVAB score, because it determines whether you can join the military service of your choice. Each of the services branches has set their own minimum AFQT scores.

The AFQT score is a percentile score. What does that mean? In 1997, a study, known as the "Profile of American Youth," was conducted by the Department of Defense in cooperation with the Department of Labor. DOD administered the ASVAB to around 12,000 individuals, ranging in age from 16 to 23. Your AFQT score is a comparison of how well you scored on the four subtests, compared to those who took the ASVAB as part of the 1997 survey. In other words, if you have an AFQT score of 70, that means you scored as well or better than 70 percent of those 12,000 folks.

AFQT Categories

The military divides AFQT scores into the following categories. The lower your category number, the more attractive candidate you are to the military for enlistment:

  • Category I - 93-99
  • Category II - 65-92
  • Category IIIA - 50-64
  • Category IIIB - 31-49
  • Category IVA - 21-30
  • Category IVB - 16-20
  • Category IVC - 10-15
  • Category V - 0-9

In the early 90s, Congress passed a law stating that no Category V recruits could be accepted for enlistment in any of the military services, and no more than 20 percent of accessions could be in Category IV.

Additionally, Congress required that any Category IV accessions had to be high school diploma graduates (no GEDs).

However, the military services have even stricter standards for enlistment.

Computing the AFQT Score

To compute your AFQT score, the military takes your Verbal Expression (VE) score, and doubles it. They then add it to your Mathematics Knowledge (MK) and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) raw scores. The Formula is 2VE+MK+AR. The then compare the result to a table very much like the one at the bottom of this page, to derive your AFQT percentile score.

A Note About Raw Scores. A raw score is not the same as the standard scores you see on your ASVAB score sheet. On the ASVAB, harder questions are worth more points than easier questions. The raw score is the total number of points you earned on that particular ASVAB subtest. You won't know what your raw score is because the military doesn't include that information on the ASVAB score sheet.

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Computing the AFQT Score

2VE+MK+ARAFQT Percentile2VE+MK+ARAFQT Percentile
80-120120450
121-124220551
125-127320652
128-1314207-20853
132-134520954
135-137621055
138-139721156
140-142821257
143-144921358
145-1461021459
147-1481121561
149-1501221662
151-1531321763
1541421864
155-1561521965
157-1581622066
159-1601722167
161-1621822268
163-1641922369
1652022470
166-1672122571
168-1692222672
170-1712322773
1722422874
173-1742522975
1752623076
176-1772723177
1782823278
179-1802923379
1813023480
1823123581
183-1843223682
1853323783
18634238-23984
187-1883524085
1893624186
1903724287
1913824388
1923924489
1934024590
1944124691
195-1964224792
1974324893
1984424994
1994525095
2004625196
2014725297
2024825398
20349254-32099

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