Why it is important to correctly interpret ASVAB scores

There seems to be some confusion regarding ASVAB scores and AFQT scores.

There needn’t be...

The AFQT forms part of the overall armed services vocational aptitude battery. It is the most important part of the ASVAB as the requirements of this part have to be met to be able to join the armed forces. The ASVAB is simply additional testing to establish more specific skills. The AFQT is more general.

Here you will discover what can be achieved from a correct interpretation of armed services vocational aptitude battery scores.

Understanding what ASVAB scores actually mean

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)is a standard test for those of you are thinking of joining the armed services. The armed services vocational aptitude battery dates back to 1968, before then there were a variety of aptitude tests for joining the armed services. These included the Alpha and Beta tests, but none were as comprehensive or suitable as the ASVAB. Only since the introduction of the ASVAB has ‘aptitude’ become so specific.

Previous aptitude tests for the armed forces were more to assess whether a candidate had a certain level of all-round skills. The tests were more to ensure that anyone joining the armed forces had a certain level of capability. The original Alpha test was for recruits who understood English extremely well, the Beta test was for those who did not understand English very well. However the armed forces recognised that a candidate may have other skills which do not require good English skills.

The armed services vocational aptitude battery is purely a continuation of the Alpha and Beta test. The interpretation of ASVAB scores is appreciably more beneficial though. In simple terms, the AFQT (Armed Services Qualification Test)  score may determine whether you can join one of the armed forces. The ASVAB results will determine what career path you will likely take when you join.

asvab scores

The older form of recruitment was based on a combination of the recruits choice and availability of positions. A recruits aptitude, or lack of, would only be discovered once the recruit commenced training. This ended up wasting the forces’ money and the recruits’ time when things didn’t work out. Failing that, a recruit could end up spending their life following one path, not realising they were better suited to something else.

What is also interesting is the careers guidance you can get from an interpretation of ASVAB scoring. Recruits in to the armed forces fall in to three categories. There are those who know what they are good at and want to use these skills. There are those who haven’t a clue what they want to do. Then there are those who think they know what they want to do, but who discover they have other skills. It is the interpretation of ASVAB results that can identify hidden talents!

Realizing that poor scores isn’t the end of the world

If you fail your AFQT, you can take it again one month later. If you fail that, you can have a third attempt six months later. That allows plenty of time to practice. The skills required to pass the AFQT are very general and require basic aptitude. There is little in the test results to point you in the direction of a career. Passing the AFQT just means you are smart enough to join the armed forces.

The remaining five sections which make up the whole ASVAB test reveal more. Here both mental and physical ability are tested. The physical side relates more to mental and physical dexterity, as opposed to brute strength. The interpretation of  ASVAB scores will help identify if you are better suited to being an engineer or in communications.

Of course some of you may have set your heart on one thing only. What happens if the interpretation of your ASVAB score isn’t what you had hoped for? Well you have a choice. You can go away, practice the areas you are weak in, and try again. You can accept that perhaps you aren’t cut out for that type of work after all. You can follow your career path, but via a different route.

The armed forces offer more opportunities for promotion than virtually any other career. A poor ASVAB score may just mean that you lower your sights. With increased skills, you can look for promotion or secondment to other areas that would benefit from your skills. While the interpretation of your ASVAB score may guide you, it doesn’t have to define you.

The final interpretation of ASVAB scores lies with the results for the AFQT as well. The tests can’t be identical each year as then recruits would be able to learn all the answers. Instead tests are different each year. That means some years the tests can be harder than others. To make everything fair, the AFQT scores are not based on the test score, but how you did compared to other recruits taking that same test. The results of the AFQT test go a long way to helping the interpretation of ASVAB scores, and your best options for a career in the armed forces.

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