Joining the Military: It Starts with the ASVAB

Jacksonville Jaguars game military appreciation game
125th Fighter Wing pilots and Airman of the Year award winners attend a Jacksonville Jaguars game Dec. 2, 2018, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The pilots joined the fans in the stands as part of the Jaguars Military Appreciation Game. (Master Sgt. William Buchanan/U.S. Air National Guard)

According to a recent Harris poll, the military is one of the most respected professions -- above teachers, police officers, engineers, architects, members of Congress, athletes and lawyers. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't because the services have high standards for entry.

In order to be accepted for military service, you must score well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), especially on the arithmetic reasoning, paragraph comprehension, mathematics knowledge and word knowledge tests. Your performance on those four tests will determine if you get into the military, or not. These tests make up the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT). The AFQT is used by the military services to predict your future on-the-job performance.

The military services categorize people according to how well they do on the AFQT. Those categories run from I-V. A high AFQT score will ensure you have the best opportunity for enlistment bonuses and career choices. Here are the AFQT scores and associated categories:

  • 93-99 = Category I
  • 65-92 = Category II
  • 50-64 = Category IIIA
  • 31-49 = Category IIIB
  • 10-30 = Category IV
  • 1-9 = Category V

There are stories about people who consider the military as a last-resort opportunity for youth who have few job skills and/or have been in trouble with the law. These people don't know that the military is forbidden by law to accept individuals whose AFQT score is in Category V or have a disqualifying criminal record. Persons who score in the Category IV range and who have not graduated from high school are not eligible for enlistment.

So in order to be accepted into the military, have the greatest career opportunities and get up to $40,000 in signing bonuses, you need to do well on the AFQT.

Visit the ASVAB section where you can take practice tests and learn tips on how to increase your AFQT score.

Dr. Janet E. Wall was the manager of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program for the Defense Department for many years. She is now an independent consultant focusing on assessment and career development. Wall is the author of several books, including three ASVAB test preparation books: McGraw-Hill's ASVAB, McGraw-Hill's ASVAB with CD ROM and McGraw-Hill's Basic Training for the AFQT. These books can be obtained from any regular or online bookstore.

Copyright 2006 Dr. Janet Wall. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of

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