The Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB test, is required of all people trying to enlist in the United States military service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or the United States Coast Guard. This multiple-choice test is divided into eight subtests to assess individual subject area strengths and weaknesses. Passing, being admitted to the branch of service is determined by a combination of ASVAB score and if the future enlistee has graduated from high school or has a GED. Enlistees must also pass the ASVAB with a certain scores for each subtest to be eligible to obtain certain jobs within the service.
The ASVAB Test
A passing score for entrance into any of the services is comprised of the scores of four of the subtests; word and math knowledge, paragraph comprehension and arithmetic reasoning. This is called the Armed Forces Qualifying Test, or AFQT. The numeric score from the test represents the percentage of people who score lower than you. A score of 32 would mean that you scored higher than 32 percent of all other applicants that took the test on that same day. You are given three hours to complete the test. Scores are good for two years.
Army and Marines
The United States Army accepts both high school graduates and GED holders. The minimum ASVAB/AFQT score is 31. The United States Marine Corps accepts high school graduates; there are very few exceptions granted for GED holders or other high school equivalency certificates. The minimum ASVAB/AFQT score is 31. According to The Education Trust, 77 percent of potential enlistees between the ages of 17 and 20 passed the ASVAB with a score of 31 or above in 2010.
Navy and Air Force
The United States Navy accepts both high school graduates, GED holders and holders of other high school equivalency exams. The minimum ASVAB/AFQT score is 35. The United States Air Force accepts high school graduates. The minimum ASVAB/AFQT score is 36. According to a recruiter, the Air Force requires higher scores because of its greater use of technical equipment.
The United States Coast Guard accepts high school graduates. The minimum score to enter the Coast Guard is 50. If the enlistee possesses certain desired skills, or scores very high on a subsection test where enlistees are needed by the Coast Guard, a waiver may be granted to accept a score as low as 36. It has additional requirements that the military does not, particularly what they call the "whole person" evaluation. According to the Coast Guard, it takes into account non-tangibles such as honesty and professionalism. The Coast Guard is not a part of the Department of Defence; it is under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security.