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What Are the Qualifications for Enlistment in the U.S. Army Reserve?

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The U.S. Army Reserve is an ideal opportunity for Americans to serve their country -- and be ready for the call to arms -- while leading a civilian life. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States may enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve if they meet Army Reserve requirements with respect to age, education and physical fitness, and complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

Army Reserve Age Limit

Unlike the other branches of the service, the Army’s age requirements are the same for both active duty and reserve: you must be at least 18 years old and no older than 35. If you’re 17, you may enlist with parental consent. At the other end of the scale, if you’re 34 when you enlist, you must generally ship to basic combat training, a 10-week course all Army troops attend at the beginning of their service commitment, on or before your 35th birthday, although waivers are sometimes granted.

Education Requirements for Enlistment

Today’s Army requires well-educated soldiers, and a high school diploma or its equivalent is required. The Army separates applicants into three tiers based on their education. High school and home-school graduates are in Tier 1, GED holders are in Tier 2, and all others are in Tier 3. Only 10 percent of Army enlistees may be in Tier 2. However, once enlisted, GED holders are not treated or paid any differently from those in Tier 1.

Physical Fitness Requirements

Your height and weight will be measured immediately before to taking the Army Physical Fitness Test, which consists of three events: pushups, situps and a 2-mile run. Army pushups test a soldier’s upper-body strength; your score is the number of properly performed pushups you perform in two minutes. Army situps test the strength and endurance of a soldier’s hip flexor and abdominal muscles. They are performed with a partner holding your ankles; as with pushups, your score consists of the number of situps you perform properly in two minutes. The 2-mile run tests soldiers’ aerobic and leg endurance. You must score at least 60 points on each event out of a possible 100.

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

The ASVAB consists of nine sections. Four of these -- paragraph comprehension, word knowledge, mathematics knowledge and arithmetic reasoning -- make up the Armed Forces Qualifying Test. To enlist in the Army Reserve, you generally need to score at or above the 31st percentile on these four tests. The other sections of the test -- general science, electronics information, assembling objects, auto and shop information, and mechanical comprehension -- are used by the Army to help determine your military occupation specialty assignment.

Other Army Reserve Qualifications

Army reserve requirements do allow waivers for medical disorders as long as the applicant isn’t currently taking medication or under a physician’s care. Applicants who test positive for HIV or for illegal drugs are not eligible to enlist. Applicants with more than two dependents, in addition to a spouse, are likewise ineligible for enlistment. Applicants must also undergo a background check, including a police records check. Conduct waivers are permissible for many offenses, depending on their severity and how long before the enlistment they occurred.


Dale Marshall began writing for Internet clients in 2009. He specializes in topics related to the areas in which he worked for more than three decades, including finance, insurance, labor relations and human resources. Marshall earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Connecticut.

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