Cracking the AFQT Score: A Step-by-Step Calculation Guide
If you want to pursue a military career, you need to familiarize yourself with two sections of an important pre-military test, the ASVAB and the AFQT. Each of these initialisms refers to line scores conducted from the test.
The ASVAB is the overarching name for the entire test that determines the placement and eligibility of your military career. The AFQT is a score based on four subsections of the ASVAB.
These four subsections include paragraph comprehension, word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics. Together they equal the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or the test that discerns whether or not you meet the requirements to join the military.
Still confused? Don’t worry. This article will explain how to calculate your AFQT score and read the line scores. Keep reading to find out the best ways to measure your score.
Table of Contents
How the AFQT Score Works?
The lowest score someone can earn on the AFQT is zero, and the highest is 99. The numerical scale between 1 and 99 reflects the percentage that the test-taker scores in. Most people score around a 50 on the AFQT.
So How Can You Score the Test?
For starters, each military branch requires candidates to earn a specific score to enlist. If you graduated high school, you do not need as high of a score to enlist as if you got your GED.
- To enlist in the Air Force, you need a 36 on the AFQT if you graduated from high school and a 65 if you have a GED.
- To enlist in the Navy, you need a 35 on the AFQT if you graduated from high school and a 50 if you have a GED.
- To enlist in the Coast Guard, you need a 40 on the AFQT if you graduated from high school and a 50 if you have a GED.
- To enlist in the Army, you need a 31 on the AFQT if you graduated from high school and a 50 if you have a GED.
- To enlist in the Marine Corps, you need a 32 on the AFQT if you graduated from high school and a 50 if you have a GED.
To calculate this numerical score, you add the scores from the paragraph comprehension and word knowledge sections. The total of these two scores creates a section entitled Verbal Expression.
Next, arithmetic reasoning and mechanical comprehension receive scores based on the content asked.
This means if the test had some more difficult arithmetic questions and the mechanical comprehension questions bordered on the easier side, the administrators might give more points to the mechanical reasoning section. It really depends on the test.
The mathematical formula used to receive your AFQT score is verbal expression (VE) x 2 +arithmetic reasoning (AR) + mechanical comprehension (MC).
The scoring does not necessarily line up with answering 15 questions correctly and getting 15 points. Instead, the system looks like this for the verbal expression score:
You receive one point for each correct answer, and you do not lose points for answering a question incorrectly.
- If you score between 0 and 3 on the paragraph comprehension and the word knowledge section, you get a 20 VE score.
- If you score between 4 and 5 on the paragraph comprehension and the word knowledge section, you get a 21 VE score.
- If you score between 6 and 9 on the paragraph comprehension and the word knowledge section, you get a 22 VE score.
- If you score between 10 and 11 on the paragraph comprehension and the word knowledge section, you get a 25 VE score.
- If you score between 12 and 13 on the paragraph comprehension and the word knowledge section, you get a 27 VE score.
- If you score between 14 and 15 on the paragraph comprehension and the word knowledge section, you get a 29 VE score.
- Between a score of 16-17 equals 31 VE
- Between a score of 18/19 equals 32 VE
- Between a score of 20-21 equals 34 VE
- Between a score of 22-23 equals 36 VE
- Between a score of 24-25 equals 38 VE
- Between a score of 26-27 equals 40 VE
- Between a score of 28-29, equals 42 VE
- Between a score of 30-31 equals 44 VE
- Between a score of 32-33 equals 45 VE
- Between a score of 34-25 equals 47 VE
- Between a score of 36-37 equals 49 VE
- Between a score of 38-39 equals 50 VE
- Between a score of 40-41 equals 52 VE
- Between a score of 42-43 equals 54 VE
- Between a score of 44-45 equals 56 VE
- Between a score of 46-47 equals 58 VE
- Between a score of 48-49 equals 60 VE
- A score of 50 equals 62 VE
If you score a 42 on the VE portion, you receive 84 points when computing your AFQT score. Next, you add the points given to you for the arithmetic reasoning sections and the mechanical comprehension sections.
Based on difficulty, the military decides which questions earn the most points on a scale of three. They assign a number between one and three for each correct answer in the arithmetic reasoning and the mechanical comprehension sections.
Say you earn that 84 on the VE portion, and you earn 16 points on the mechanical comprehension section and 30 points on the arithmetic reasoning section. The equation looks like this:
That means you scored a 130 on the entire AFQT portion of the exam and the military ranks any score between 128 and 131 as a 4%.
This means you scored in the bottom four percent of everyone who has taken this test. This percentage portion comes from a study of test-takers from 1997. The military has used this data to compute scores since 2004.
The score further breaks down into eight categories:
- I- 93-99- This means your AFQT score is better than 93-99% of people who take the ASVAB. This is the highest range you can score in. The top tier.
- II- 65-92- This means you scored better than 65%-92% of people who take the ASVAB.
- III A – 50-64- This means you scored more than 50%-64% of people who signed up for the ASVAB. This is the most common tier for test-takers to place.
- III B- 31-49- The III B tier suggests you scored between 31% and 49% of those who took the test. You can still join the Army with a score of 31.
- IV A- 21-30- This tier means you scored between 21% and 30% of test-takers.
- IV B- 16-20- This range means you scored more than 16% and 20% of test-takers.
- IV C- 10-15- This is the second lowest tier reflecting a score higher than 10% to 15% of test takers.
- V 0-9- The last section means you scored more than zero or 9% percent of those who sign up to take the ASVAB. You will not be able to if you score on any tier below III B.
AFQT Scores By Section
Let’s take a look at what each section for the AFQT consists of:
Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
This section has 16 multiple-choice word problems. Your job is to answer them all to the best of your ability in the allotted 39 minutes.
The questions will be about percentages, fractions, and numerical values, and you need to show your demonstration of problem-solving to score well on this portion. You need basic-level math skills to receive a high score.
Word Knowledge (WK)
You have eight minutes to answer these 16 multiple choice questions about words. You use context clues and vocabulary knowledge to ensure you will receive a high score on this portion of the exam.
To prepare for this portion of the test, practice reading a lot and studying words with a thesaurus and a dictionary. This portion measures your reading comprehension as well as your word knowledge, so reading and writing help you increase your score.
Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
For this section of the exam, you have twenty minutes to complete the 16 multiple-choice questions. You need high-school-level math skills to receive a high score on this test.
Practice understanding percentages, ratios, probabilities, exponents, word problems with numbers and letters, and PEMDAS. Review high school math coursework to prepare.
Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
You have 22 minutes to complete these 11 questions on reading comprehension. You read passages of text and use the context and your reading skills to determine answers to the questions following the passages. Brush up on your reading skills by reading challenging texts.
How to Prepare for the AFQT
Job Test Prep offers a practice package to help you improve your score and move one step closer to enlisting.
The prep pack includes score reports, over 90 online practice tests, answer explanations, and study guides. The prep pack starts at $79, and if you find the pack does not work for you, you can return it and get your money back.
The ASVAB is the pre-military enlistment test. The score calculated that decides whether or not you can enlist is a composite score of four subsections: paragraph comprehension, word knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics.
With this scoring guide and Job Test Prep’s Prep Pack, you can learn how to calculate and improve your AFQT score.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.