What is The ASVAB Test?

Nov 2 / Anderson Duran and Arsheena Mohamed
8 out of 10 applicants fail the ASVAB on their first attempt because they aren't prepared.

Learn how the test works so you can get the score you want, and the job you deserve. 

1. What is the ASVAB? 

Well first, what does ASVAB Stand for?
It’s an acronym for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. Essentially, it’s a test to determine whether you are qualified to enlist in the military and if you are, what job you are best suited for.

2. Is the ASVAB Hard? 

The ASVAB measures your strengths and weaknesses in these main areas: verbal, math, science and technical, and spatial. That being said, it can be a difficult test for those that struggle with math or reading comprehension.

See 10. How to Study For the ASVAB for our recommended ASVAB resources.

3. How Long is the ASVAB?

The ASVAB includes nine subtests.

Is the ASVAB Timed? In total, the amount of time allotted to take the ASVAB test is 154 minutes with each of the subtests holding its own range of time. 

You can check out the breakdown of the subtests and time here:


4. Can You Use a Calculator on the ASVAB?

Unfortunately, no.

The ASVAB wants to test your ability to solve math problems rather than test your ability of using a calculator. Because of this, a calculator is not allowed. If that scares you, check out this video on Mental Math so you can practice solving problems in an efficient way without a calculator:

5. Where Do You Take the ASVAB?

Applicants interested in taking the ASVAB to enter the military will need to contact a military recruiter.

Your recruiter will set up a time for you to take the ASVAB at the closest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) or an affiliated Military Entrance Test (MET) site. 

Find a recruiter here:

6. How is the ASVAB Graded?

The ASVAB is graded in 3 different categories: Standard Scores, AFQT Score, and Composite Scores.

Important fact: Your standard score and AFQT score are graded as a percentile score.

What’s a percentile score? A percentile score is how you perform compared to other people. For example, if your AFQT score is a 30, that means you did better than 30% of the applicants on the AFQT. The higher you score, the better.

ASVAB Standard Scores

The standard score describes your percentile score for each of the following subjects, from 0 to 99:

ASVAB Subjects and Subtests:

  1. General science (GS)
  2. Arithmetic reasoning (AR)
  3. Word knowledge (WK)
  4. Paragraph comprehension (PC)
  5. Mathematics knowledge (MK)
  6. Electronics information (EI)
  7. Auto and shop information (AS)
  8. Mechanical comprehension (MC)
  9. Assembling objects (AO)
  10. *New: Coding Speed (CO)


What does AFQT stand for? AFQT stands for Armed Forces Qualification Test.

The AFQT score describes your percentile score for the 4 main subjects:
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK).

ASVAB Composite Scores (Line Scores)

Composite scores, or line scores, combine different standard scores together to help the military see what jobs you qualify for. There are 10 composite scores that you’ll receive, and here’s what each of them stand for (source: www.Military.com):

  • Clerical (CL) = word knowledge (WK) + paragraph comprehension (PC) + arithmetic reasoning (AR) + mathematics knowledge (MK)
  • Combat (CO) = word knowledge (WK) + paragraph comprehension (PC) + auto and shop information (AS) + mechanical comprehension (MC)
  • Electronics (EL) = general science (GS) + arithmetic reasoning (AR) + mathematics knowledge (MK) + electronic information (EI)
  • Field artillery (FA) = arithmetic reasoning (AR) + mathematics knowledge (MK) + mechanical comprehension (MC)
  • General maintenance (GM) = general science (GS) + auto and shop information (AS) + mathematics knowledge + electronics information
  • General technical (GT) = word knowledge (WK) + paragraph comprehension (PC) + arithmetic reasoning (AR)
  • Mechanical maintenance (MM) = auto and shop information (AS) + mechanical comprehension (MC) + electronic information (EI)
  • Operators and food (OF) = word knowledge (WK) + paragraph comprehension (PC) + auto and shop information (AS) + mechanical comprehension (MC)
  • Surveillance and communications (SC) = word knowledge (WK) + paragraph comprehension (PC) + arithmetic reasoning (AR) + auto and shop information (AS) + mechanical comprehension (MC)
  • Skilled technical (ST) = word knowledge (WK) + paragraph comprehension (PC) + general science (GS) + mechanical comprehension (MC) + mathematics knowledge (MK)

7. What is a Good ASVAB Score? 

A good ASVAB score is the score that qualifies you for the job you want. To really understand this, you need to know the following:

ASVAB AFQT Percentile Score – The score you need just to qualify for the branch you want to serve in.

Minimum AFQT Scores by Branch (as seen on Military.com)
(https://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/asvab/what-your-asvab-scores-mean.html )
Air Force – 36
Army – 31
Marine Corps – 32
Navy – 35
Coast Guard - 40

Composite Scores (or Line Scores) – These are the scores that matter. See above for the list of composite scores you’ll receive.

To know which score you need for the job you want, you first need to identify the job you want. Use the links below to find the list of jobs for each branch in the military with the composite scores you’ll need included:

See List: Military Jobs and ASVAB Score Requirements:

Air Force ASVAB Scores
Army ASVAB Scores
Marine Corps ASVAB Scores 
Navy ASVAB Scores 
Coast Guard ASVAB Scores

8. How Long is Your ASVAB Score Good For? 

Your ASVAB score is good for 2 years.

Do your best. Even if you want to enlist later on, having a great score locked in will allow you to focus on other parts of enlistment like meeting your weight goals and physical training (PT). 

9. Can You Retake The ASVAB?


You can take the ASVAB as many times as you want BUT there are wait times between retakes:  

First attempt → Take whenever you’re ready
Second attempt → Minimum 1 month wait after first attempt
Third attempt → Minimum 1-month wait
Fourth attempt → Minimum 6-month wait
Additional attempts → Minimum 6-month wait

What does this mean? It means you should only take the ASVAB when you’re ready. That way, you can always do your best and take the test as few times as possible. More retakes = more delays.

10. How to Study For the ASVAB

8 out of 10 people fail the ASVAB on their first try.

Don’t let that be you. To prepare the right way for the ASVAB, you need to have a passing AFQT score + have the minimum composite score (line score) for the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) you wish to qualify for. Once you know the job you want and the requirements, start getting to work!

Free ASVAB Resources

Use these recommended free resources to boost your score:

  • Register for free online ASVAB classes and get a bonus online ASVAB practice test for free
  • Watch fun and helpful ASVAB YouTube Videos by Duran Learning
  • Join a free ASVAB Facebook group with 7200 members - daily posts with practice problems, tips, and strategies

#1 Recommended ASVAB Classes and Practice

Our #1 Recommended ASVAB Resource - ASVAB All-Access Program

  • Fun and easy-to-follow live classes (with 200 recordings included) 
  • 2500+ Confidence-building practice test questions (video solutions and walkthroughs included)
  • Reliable tutor support Monday-Friday for any ASVAB questions and study planning via text


Acing the ASVAB starts with lowering test anxiety by understanding the test.

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