How to Read ASVAB Scores

by Grant D. McKenzie

There are two versions of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The first is called the institutional version and is given to high school students to help guidance counselors give effective career counseling. The second is the production version, which is used by military recruiters to determine eligibility for military service. The computerized edition of the production version is called the computer-adaptive testing ASVAB (CAT-ASVAB). All versions of the ASVAB consist of eight individual tests except the CAT-ASVAB, which contains one additional test.

Institutional Version Scorecard

Locate the "Military Entrance Score" or AFQT at the bottom of the scorecard. The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is the "bottom-line" for the ASVAB and is a percentile score, which means it ranges from zero to 100. The AFQT is the score used to determine enlistment eligibility and qualification for enlistment incentives, if available. Each branch of the armed services has different minimum AFQT requirements, and some have different minimum requirements depending on whether you earn a diploma or a GED.

Locate the individual test scores under the heading "ASVAB Tests." The scores presented are percentile scores that are compared to three different groups: males, females, and all students in the same grade. They are not your final score for the test. A score of 55 in the first column means you did better than 55 percent of the same-grade females who took the test with you.

Look at the standard score bands to the right of the percentile scores. The shaded band represents a "average range" for each individual test for a "standard" group. Your raw scores are compared with this standard group to determine your standard score. An "x" indicates your standard score, which can be seen in the column on the far right.

Locate the composite scores near the top of the scorecard. The scores are obtained by combining the various individual tests in a variety of ways and are read the same as the individual test scores. These are the scores used by students and guidance counselors in the ASVAB Career Exploration program

Production Version Scorecard

Read the header information, especially the personal identification information, to ensure it is correct.

Read the standard scores for the nine individual tests. The CAT-ASVAB is almost always given for military recruitment, so the test will almost always have nine sub-tests. The same standard group for the institutional version is used for the production version to convert raw scores into standard percentile scores. The test names are atypically abbreviated as digraphs. For example, "Word Knowledge" would be abbreviated "WK" and "Arithmetic Reasoning" would be abbreviated "AR."

Read the composite score, which are sometimes called line scores, for the branch of service you are preparing to enter. These score combinations of the nine standard scores used by the services to determine aptitude for a variety career fields. For instance, the Air Force "mechanical" composite score, which is abbreviated "M," is the sum of the Mechanical Comprehension score, the General Science score, and twice the Auto & Shop Information score. For the Army, most of the line scores are calculated as "a non-integer weighted linear combination of all the ASVAB subtests."

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