Friday, March 7, 2008

Why Saying "I Got a 72 on the ASVAB" Ain't Right.

Our Sailor took the ASVAB his junior year in high school so he could get out of class. (Who knew that taking the lazy way out would lead to a career!) His AFQT score was pretty good, which is why we began getting calls from all the branches of the military.

It wasn't until much later that I found out about the ASVAB, how the ASVAB is scored, and what the scores mean. I'm not sure it would have made a lot of difference, but the curious side of my nature would have been satisfied much earlier. And I would have found at that saying, "I got a 72 on the ASVAB" was incorrect.

First of all, the ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. It is routinely offered to juniors in high schools. There are nine sub-tests to the ASVAB, and they are scored separately. The math and language parts of the subtests are used to come up with an AFQT percentile. This percentile compares the test-taker's score to everyone else taking the test. A 72 means that the score was better than 72 percent of the others. In order to get into the Navy, you must get a 35 on the ASVAB - right? Wrong! You must have an AFQT of 35.

So what about the ASVAB scores? The ASVAB scores are individual raw scores from nine sub-tests. Sometimes they are called line scores. The Navy looks at these scores to see what rating a recruit qualifies to be. (Rating, by the way, means job.) For example, to qualify to be an Aviation Boatswain's Mate, the Navy looks at four ASVAB line scores, the verbal scores, the Arithmetic Reasoning score, the Mathematics Knowledge score, and the Auto Shop score. These four scores added together must equal 185 for the recruit to be given a contract to be an AB. On Navy sites, this is written VE+AR+MK+AS=185.

(You can get a more thorough explanation of the ASVAB score and the AFQT percentile at

So, when our boy came home, he told us his ASVAB score (he said it wrong, of course!), and we were suitably pleased and interested. It wasn't until later that we discovered exactly how important that score was to his future.


Eric said...

Considering how important ASVAB scores are for enlistment and job qualification it's something that more people don't understand them...

Leslie Lim said...

I simply want to say I am new to weblog and truly savored you’re website. More than likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You actually have excellent writings. Thanks a bunch for sharing your web site.