The AFQT, and Military Entrance for McGraw-Hill's ASVAB (page 3)
When you take the ASVAB in order to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces, your ASVAB scores will be used in several ways. You will need to achieve a certain AFQT score (Military Entrance Score) in order to be eligible for initial enlistment. Later, your ASVAB scores will be used to qualify you for various occupations in the military. The higher your scores, the more choices you will have for training in various occupations. So you want to do your best on the ASVAB so that you will have the widest choice of training programs and job responsibilities.
AFQT Scores and Eligibility for Enlistment
The Military Entrance Score or AFQT is a composite of your scores on four ASVAB tests that make up what is called the Armed Forces Qualification Test. The AFQT is the primary score that indicates the training potential of persons who wish to enlist in the military. Your AFQT score determines your eligibility for military service. It also is able to predict how well you will perform on the job.
AFQT scores are reported as percentile scores. The percentile shows how your score compares to the scores of other test takers, and it also determines where you fit into what are called AFQT categories. The services use these categories to set recruiting goals. Recruiters prefer recruiting people in the highest categories because they are generally smarter and easier to train in the various occupations needed by the military. It is also more economical for the Department of Defense to recruit smarter individuals because they learn what is needed much more quickly and they perform better on the job.
Persons in categories I and II are above average in trainability. Category III recruits tend to be average in trainability, and category IV recruits are below average in trainability. Applicants scoring in category V are forbidden by law to be accepted into the military. In addition, military applicants in category IV who do not have a high school diploma are generally forbidden to enter the military.
Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) Categories and Corresponding Percentile Score Ranges
|AFQT Category||Score Range|
The services are required to enlist at least 60 percent of recruits from AFQT categories I through IIIA, and no more than 4 percent of the recruits can come from category IV. To give you an idea of the percentages of recruits in each AFQT category, look at the following chart. You can see that very few recruits come from category IV and none come from category V.
Additional Educational Requirements
The amount of education you have obtained also matters in your eligibility to enter military service. The Department of Defense uses a three-tier classification of educational credentials. The three tiers are:
Tier 1. Regular high school graduates, adult diploma holders, and nongraduates with at least 15 hours of college credit.
Tier 2. Alternative credential holders, including those with a General Education Development (GED) certificate of high school equivalency.
Tier 3. Those with no educational credentials.
The reason for this classification system is that there is a strong relationship between educational credentials and successful completion of the first term of military service. That is, if you have a good AFQT and good educational credentials, you are likely to complete your required service and not drop out partway through (an outcome that would waste the taxpayer dollars spent to train you).
The services are required to ensure that at least 90 percent of first-time recruits are high school graduates. Services often set even higher educational standards, sometimes requiring nearly 100 percent of the recruits in their enlistment pool to be high school graduates. If you don't have a high school diploma, you will need a high AFQT score.
There are different AFQT scoring standards for individuals in each tier. Generally, tier 3 applicants must have higher AFQT test scores than tier 2 applicants, who must have higher test scores than tier 1 individuals. The Air Force and Marine Corps follow these differential standards, requiring different minimum test scores for each tier. The Army and Navy require applicants with alternative credentials (tier 2) and those with no credentials (tier 3) to meet the same AFQT standards, which are more stringent than those for high school graduates (tier 1).
So if you want to enlist in the military, your chances are much better if you have graduated from high school with a traditional diploma and score high on the AFQT.
Beyond the ASVAB
Physical Condition and Moral Character Requirements
If you achieve a satisfactory ASVAB score and continue the application process, you will be scheduled for a physical examination and background review at one of the 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS). The examination determines your fitness for military service. It includes measurement of blood pressure, pulse, visual acuity, and hearing; blood testing and urinalysis; drug and HIV testing; medical history; and possibly tests of strength and endurance. If you have a fixable or temporary medical problem, you may be required to get treatment before proceeding. It is possible but very difficult to obtain a waiver of certain disqualifying medical conditions and be allowed to enlist.
To enter one of the services, you must meet rigorous moral character standards. You will be screened by the recruiter and will undergo an interview covering your background. You may undergo a financial credit check; a computerized search for a criminal record may also be conducted. Some types of criminal activity are clearly disqualifying; other cases require a waiver. The service to which you applied will examine your circumstances and make an individual determination of qualification. Since it has been shown that applicants with existing financial problems generally do not overcome those problems on junior enlisted pay, a credit history may be part of the decision to allow you to enlist or not.
Military Occupational Counseling
If your ASVAB scores, educational credentials, physical fitness, and moral character qualify you for entry and you wish to proceed with the process, you will meet with a service classification counselor at the MEPS to discuss options for enlistment. The counselor has the record of your qualifications and computerized information on available service training/skill openings, schedules, and enlistment incentives.
A recruit can sign up for a specific skill or for a broad occupational area (such as the mechanical or electronics area). In the Army, most recruits (95 percent) enter for specific skill training; the others are placed in a military occupational specialty during basic training. Approximately 70 percent of Air Force recruits enter for a specific skill, while the rest sign up for an occupational area and are classified into a specific skill while in basic training. In the Navy, approximately 79 percent of recruits enlist for a specific skill, while the rest go directly to the fleet after basic training, classified into airman, fireman, or seaman programs. Approximately 86 percent of Marine Corps enlistees enter with a guaranteed occupational area and are assigned a specific skill within that area after recruit training; the rest enlist with either a specific job guarantee or assignment to a job after recruit training.
Your counselor will discuss your interests with you and will explain what the service has to offer. Typically, the counselor will describe a number of different occupations to you. In general, the higher your test scores, the more choices you will have. The counselor may suggest incentives to encourage you to choose hard-to-fill occupational specialties. You are free to accept or reject these offers. Many applicants do not decide immediately, but take time to discuss options with their family and friends; others decide not to enlist. The services do not discriminate based on race, religion, or gender, but females are barred from entering certain combat occupations. In fact, about 17 percent of the Armed Forces are female.
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