What Does ASVAB Stand For? The ASVAB FAQ

If you’re curious to find out what is the ASVAB test, you’ve come to the right place. This site is a dedicated resource for those seeking to join the military or improve their AFQT and ASVAB scores.

What does ASVAB stand for and what does it mean/test for?

One of the most frequent questions about the ASVAB from those looking at a career in the military is from people asking “What does ASVAB stand for?”. ASVAB stands for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. It’s a multiple choice test that’s administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command. It tests the qualification a person has for the United States Armed Forces. Further, it determines two main things: whether you have the mental aptitude to enlist in the military branch of your choice, and the military jobs you have the mental aptitude for.

What is a good ASVAB score and what is the average?

The ASVAB test is out of 99 points and whatever you score is known as the AFQT Score (Armed Forces Qualification Test Score). The minimum score you can get on the ASVAB varies by which branch of the military you’re applying to, and whether you have a high school diploma or GED. Standard Scores are scores that have a meaning relative to a national sample of youth aged 18 to 23. About 50% of the population scores at or above a Standard Score of 50 and about 16% of the population scores at or above a Standard Score of 60.

Military Requirements for Minimum ASVAB Score
Military Branch High School Diploma GED
Air Force 36 65
Army 31 50
Coast Guard 40 50
Marine Corps 32 50
National Guard 31 50
Navy 35 50

How is the ASVAB test scored?

ASVAB scoring is based on an Item Response Theory (IRT) model.  IRT is a theory that enables test questions and examinee abilities to be placed on the same scale, thereby allowing tests to be tailored to the specific ability level of each examinee and scores to be expressed on the same scale regardless of the combination of items that are taken. AFQT scores are divided into categories, as shown in the table below.

AFQT Category Score Range
I 93-99
II 65-92
IIIA 50-64
IIIB 31-49
IVA 21-30
IVB 16-20
IVC 10-15
V 1-9

What is the AFQT?

The AFQT is the Armed Forces Qualification Test. The AFQT is computed from the Arithmetic Reasoning, Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge and Mathematics Knowledge subtests of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test that is administered to those entering the United States military.

What is tested on the ASVAB and how long does it take?

There are ten sections to the ASVAB test designed to assess the aptitude of enlistees in a number of areas with a focus on verbal skills, writing, and math. The individual subtests include: General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information, Automotive Information, Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, and Assembling Objects.

In the table below you can see each individual subtest of the overall ASVAB test and the number of questions and time allowed for each section in both the computerized and written test format:

Computerized Test Format
Subject # of Questions Time Limit
General Science (GS) 16 8 minutes
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 16 39 minutes
Word Knowledge (WK) 16 8 minutes
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 11 22 minutes
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) 16 20 minutes
Electronics Information (EI) 16 8 minutes
Automotive & Shop Information (AS) 11 7 minutes
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) 16 20 minutes
Assembling Objects (AO) 16 16 minutes
Total 134 154

Written Test Format
Subject # of Questions Time Limit
General Science (GS) 45 20 minutes
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) 30 36 minutes
Word Knowledge (WK) 35 11 minutes
Paragraph Comprehension (PC) 15 13 minutes
Mathematics Knowledge (MK) 25 24 minutes
Electronics Information (EI) 20 9 minutes
Automotive & Shop Information (AS) 25 11 minutes
Mechanical Comprehension (MC) 25 19 minutes
Assembling Objects (AO) 25 15 minutes
Total 245 158

The computerized test, called the CAT-ASVAB, is an adaptive test which means the test adapts to the ability of the test-taker. It is possible to administer a shorter test this way than with the pencil and paper test. When you complete a subsection of the test, the examinee can then move onto the next section of the test without having to wait for an administrator. Subsections are still timed however and on average it takes about 1 ½ hours to complete the computer ASVAB.

The written test is administered by an instructor who will give verbal direction and pass out the test booklets with answer sheets. Examinees are not allowed to proceed until the administrator instructs to do so. The total time required for this test ranges at about 2-4 hours with each subsection having a fixed number of questions and time limit.

How should I study for the ASVAB test?

There are numerous resources, tips and sample tests you can take to help you prep for the exam. If you are having trouble with on particular section, you can reach out to local recruiters who have taken it before to gain further insight.

What should I bring to the ASVAB test?

You’ll need to bring valid identification (photo ID, SSN card) to be admitted into the ASVAB testing room. Arrive on time— you’ll be turned away and required to reschedule if you are late. Your recruiter may give you a ride to and from the session, but he/she is not permitted in the testing room. You will not need to bring a calculator for the test.

Where can I find my ASVAB scores?

It’s best to keep the contact information of your nearest recruiting office or your actual recruiter; they are your best bet for getting your scores. ASVAB scores are valid for up to two years before you need to retest so most offices will send your current scores via mail. If you can’t get yours by mail, you can pick them up from your local recruiting office.

Can I take the ASVAB test more than once?

Yes. But you must wait one full calendar month to retake the ASVAB test. If you want to take it a third time, you must wait an additional calendar month to retest. Any additional times after that and you have to wait six calendar months to retake the ASVAB.

Where can I take the ASVAB test? How do I schedule it?

Many high schools give students the opportunity to take the ASVAB as part of career exploration. If you chose not to take one in high school, then you will have to schedule a time to take it. You can contact the Armed Forces Recruiting Officer in your area and you can schedule an appointment with a local recruiter from the branch of military you wish to join.