The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is a prerequisite for entering all branches of the United States Armed Forces. You cannot become a member of any branch of the United States military without passing this exam. It is meant to assess if you have the mental aptitude to become a member of the United States Armed Forces, and if that is the case, what types of military jobs you would best be suited for.
The AFQT has four parts: Mathematics Knowledge; Paragraph Comprehension; Word Knowledge; and Arithmetic Reasoning. The Mathematics Knowledge section consists of twenty-five math questions which must be completed in twenty-four minutes or less. The Paragraph Comprehension portion contains fifteen reading comprehension questions that must be completed within thirteen minutes. The Word Knowledge subsection is a vocabulary test consisting of thirty-five questions. This portion of the AFQT has an eleven-minute time limit. The Arithmetic Reasoning part of the test is comprised of thirty math word problems. This part of the test has a thirty-six minute time limit. The AFQT is part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which has five additional components: Mechanical Comprehension, Automotive and Shop Information; Electronics Information; General Sciences; and Assembling Objects.
The minimum passing score for the AFQT for each branch of the United States Armed Forces is as follows. The test is scored on a ninety-nine point scale:
- United States Army: Thirty-one
- United States Navy: Fifty for applicants who have earned a high school diploma, sixty-five for those applicants who have obtained a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
- United States Air Force: Fifty for applicants who have earned a high school diploma, sixty-five for those applicants who have obtained a GED.
- United States Marine Corps: Thirty-two for applicants who have earned a high school diploma, fifty for those applicants who have obtained a GED.
- United States Coast Guard: Forty for applicants who have earned a high school diploma, fifty for those applicants who have obtained a GED.
- United States Air National Guard: Thirty-one for those applicants who have earned a high school diploma, fifty for applicants who have earned a GED.
GED holders who have fifteen or more semester hours of one hundred-level college credit or higher are considered at an equivalent level of high school diploma earners. The high school diploma minimum scores apply to these individuals.
There is more than one way to take an AFQT. The traditional paper version is administered mainly in high schools and post-secondary institutions across the United States. While the paper AFQT can be used for military enlistment purposes as long as a minimum qualifying score is achieved, this exam is used primarily to gain an idea of what types of careers the test taker might be best suited for after graduation. In other words, the paper AFQT is a career aptitude test that can help you gain entrance into the United States military, if you so desire.
The more popular way to take the AFQT is through a computerized version administered at military entrance processing stations (MEPS). This test is somewhat more sophisticated in that the first question is of average difficulty. If you get that question right, the next question will be harder. If you get it wrong, the next question will be easier. If you are strong in a particular category, this works to your advantage because hard questions are worth more points than easy questions. If you are able to answer hard questions early in the exam, you will maximize your score on a particular subtest.
How To Join The United States Army
For those so inclined, the U.S. Army has put part of their enlistment process on their Web site atwww.goarmy.com in the form of an optional online application. First, you provide basic information about yourself, your abilities, and your interests so that the Army can put together a list of jobs that you would excel at. Then, choose a search time frame and let the Army’s system find available jobs that you qualify for. Please note that this can be a time consuming process and may take more than one visit to the Army’s Web site. You are advised to create an account so that your potential career abilities and preferences can be saved between visits. When the search is processed, you can review the available jobs found at your leisure and choose the ones you are most interested in. You can then complete the application for those positions that will be sent to an Army recruiter. The recruiter will contact you to discuss details and probably schedule an in person meeting with you and, if you are still in high school or under eighteen, your parents.
Be sure to have a list of questions ready for your meeting with the recruiter. It is the recruiter’s job to be positive about the Army and the experience it can provide you, but also to explain what is expected of Army recruits in realistic terms. Army life can impact your life in the most positive way if you are the right type of person for the Army, but it is not for everyone. It is also the recruiter’s job to answer questions. No question is too basic or too difficult for an Army recruiter. If the recruiter does not immediately know the answer, he or she should get back to you with the answer promptly.
Some commonly asked questions of United States Army recruiters include:
- Please explain the recruiting process.
- Why should I join the Army?
- What really goes on in Basic Combat Training?
- What are the physical standards candidates have to meet?
- What percentage of people who start Basic Combat Training actually complete it successfully?
- Can an entrant choose the military job he or she wants? How is the job assignment made?
- Can you describe a couple of jobs? I want to understand what people actually do in the Army.
- What are all the ways that a service member can potentially earn college credit during enlistment?
The next step is to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, or ASVAB. In order to be considered for enlistment in the Army, you need to score at least a thirty-one on the overall exam on a ninety-nine point scale. The test covers your aptitude in ten areas ranging from vocabulary to electronics, to determine both if you have the mental aptitude to join the Army, and to assist in determining which jobs would be best suited for you if you do..
The final step in enlistment in the Army involves a visit to a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS. You will be given a complete physical examination, to determine if you are physically capable of withstanding the rigor of basic training and general Army life. If you pass the physical and the ASVAB, a counselor will discuss job opportunities with you. You are about to make some very important decisions that will impact the rest of your life. Please ask the counselor questions if there is something you do not understand or if you need additional clarification on something. After this final interview, you will be fingerprinted for an FBI background check and undergo a pre-enlistment briefing. You will then be ready to take the oath of enlistment. Family members are welcome to watch you take the oath.
How To Join The United States Marine Corps
The majority of United States Marine Corps members enter through enlistment. Men and women between the ages of seventeen and twenty-nine who have obtained or are in the process of obtaining a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) may qualify to enlist.
Before they can be formally admitted into the Corps, new recruits undergo twelve weeks of grueling basic training. Everything taught in basic training is done with the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment firmly in mind. Marines will carry the importance of these Core Values with them for the rest of their lives, whether they remain with the Marine Corps as a lifelong career path or eventually enter civilian life. The twelve weeks of training includes:
Lessons in values and ethics. Recruits will learn how they will be expected to conduct themselves both in and out of uniform.
Close Order Drill (marching in formation) will be worked on daily.
Marines must be in top physical condition. They will receive extensive physical training that involves obstacle courses, combat conditioning, and conditioning marches in full combat gear that will increase in length from three to nine miles throughout the program.
Recruits will learn offensive and defensive fighting techniques with a bayonet.
Leadership development is a core component of training. Marines will become knowledgeable in eleven Leadership Principles and fourteen Leadership Traits the Corps values.
Recruits will undergo three levels of training with pugil sticks, heavily padded poles that are sparred with to simulate rifle and bayonet combat.
Recruits must qualify for a tan belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts program by the close of training. They will obtain this tan belt by achieving proficiency in bayonet techniques, upper and lower body strikes, basic chokes and throws, defensive counters, and responsible use of force.
In the classroom, recruits will study topics such as customs and courtesies of the Marine Corps, Marine Corps history, cultures, and traditions, standards of professionalism, personal conduct, and appearance that Marines are expected to adhere to, how to properly wear a Marine Corps uniform, and how to best uphold the values and ethics of the Marine Corps at all times. Recruits will also receive first aid training.
Recruits will receive training in exposure to nonlethal CS gas, a standard riot control agent.
All recruits will receive combat water survival training, whether they arrive knowing how to swim or not. They will learn survival strokes and techniques, how to swim with gear and supplies, and how to aid or rescue a fellow soldier, should that be necessary.
Recruits learn rappelling, which is a controlled slide down a rope that prepares Marines for deployment from helicopters, for navigating difficult terrain, and for gaining access to buildings during raids.
Recruits must earn a minimum of Rifle Marksman qualification with an M16 rifle after two weeks of dedicated marksmanship training.
Both individually and as part of a team, recruits will face eleven challenges, each one more difficult than the one before, as part of a two round Confidence Course.
Basic Warrior Training will teach recruits how to operate and conduct themselves in a combat environment.
The final portion of training is The Crucible, fifty-four hours where recruits are pushed to the limit. During The Crucible, recruits face obstacles that must be negotiated as a team, marches both during the day and at night, night infiltration movement, combat resupply and casualty evacuation scenarios, combat field firing as a team, minimal food and sleep, imitating combat, leadership tests, and core values training.
Following The Crucible, recruits march to the Emblem Ceremony, where they are presented with the Marine Corps Emblem, the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. Once they receive the Emblem, they are no longer recruits. They are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.
How To Join The United States Navy
Before beginning the enlistment process for the United States Navy, you must meet these basic enlistment requirements:
- You must be between the ages of seventeen and thirty-four. If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have parental consent to join the Navy.
- You must be a United States citizen OR have a permanent resident visa OR have an Alien Registration Green Card and established a residence and home of record in the United States.
- The Navy will normally not allow you to enlist if you have more than two dependents under the age of eighteen. Speak to a recruiter for more details regarding this policy.
- You must have a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
- The Navy has a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy. Early in the enlistment process, you will be required to take two urinalysis tests. You will also be asked questions about your prior drug and alcohol use. Answer these questions honestly.
- The Navy also applies medical, legal, and character standards to your application, including traffic offense history, criminal history, and other factors.
If you meet these basic qualifications and decide that you are serious about joining the Navy, then it is time to talk to a recruiter to get questions answered and determine which enlistment process is best for you. You can go directly to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) and become enlisted in as little as two days. If you need to take care of some personal matters before reporting to boot camp, you can join the Navy as part of its Delayed Entry Program (DEP). If you are a high school graduate who is trying to decide between college and the Navy, you can have the best of both worlds! It is possible for enlistees to join the Navy and attend college at the same time through one of the Navy’s undergraduate programs.
It is important that you share your thoughts about joining the Navy with your family, as the idea of having a loved one in the armed forces can understandably make people feel uneasy about your safety. Feel free to bring your family members with you to talk to a recruiter. Your recruiter can easily answer a family’s detailed questions about service in the Navy.
Now it is time to submit your application. Your recruiter can assist you with this, but you will need to bring the following information with you to make the process as smooth as possible:
- Medical records
- Your birth certificate
- Your Social Security card
- Your citizenship certificate (if applicable)
- Your high school diploma
- A complete list of places where you have worked
- Four character references
- A list of all the places you have visited outside of the United States
- A list of all the places where you have lived
- Any information involving the police and drug use
Once your application is approved, it is time to go through MEPS. You will take a physical to determine if you are physically healthy enough to join the Navy. You will take the Armed Services Vocational and Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to assist in determining what Navy careers you are best suited for. Based on your ASVAB and physical results, you will speak with a Career Classifier to choose your Navy career. Once you have chosen a career path, you will have one final pre-enlistment interview with a counselor. If your career requires any additional testing, you will complete that testing at this time. Finally, you will sign an enlistment contract and attend the Oath of Enlistment Ceremony.
Congratulations…you have joined the finest naval institution in the world.
How To Join The United States Air Force
Basic requirements to join the U.S. Air Force are as follows:
- You must be between fifty-eight inches (four feet, ten inches) and eighty inches (six feet, eight inches) tall and be no heavier than a prescribed maximum weight based on your height. The Air Force does not currently have a weight reduction program in place to help you meet this goal.
- You must be at least seventeen years of age to apply for admission to the Air Force, and be in Basic Military Training before your twenty-eighth birthday.
- You must have 20/20 vision, or vision that is correctable to 20/20 vision. In most cases, corrective eye surgery of any kind is a disqualifier.
You must have a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). However, applicants with a GED instead of a traditional high school diploma have considerably more stringent admission requirements to face. The minimum score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is higher for GED holders than it is for traditional high school graduates. Generally, only one per cent of applicants in a given one year period are GED holders. GED holders must wait for slots to become available, and this can sometimes mean undergoing a waiting period of up to one year. Finally, the minimum age for a GED holder to enroll in the Air Force is eighteen rather than seventeen years of age.
An excessive number of traffic related violations within one year of your application date could impact your enlistment qualifications. This is generally handled on a case by case basis.
In most cases, ANY prior history of substance abuse will disqualify your application for enlistment in the Air Force.
You must be a citizen of the United States or possess a Green Card. All applicants for enlistment to the Air Force must be able to speak, read, and write English fluently regardless of citizenship status.
Transferring the custody of a child or children to other family members for the purpose of enlisting in the Air Force is strictly prohibited and will render an applicant permanently disqualified for enlistment in the Air Force.
You may not now or have ever been in the past a “conscientious objector.” A requirement of all Air Force personnel is to be willing and able to bear arms in the defense of the United States, should that be necessary.
While not a specific requirement per se, it is extremely important that anyone considering enlistment in the Air Force be able and willing to live up to their three Core Values:
Core Value #1: Integrity First
- People with integrity possess courage, honesty, responsibility, accountability, justice, openness, self respect, and humility. You need to do the right thing whether anyone is looking or not.
Core Value #2: Service Before Self
- Enlistment in the Air Force carries the potential of significant personal sacrifice. Whether or not you ever enter combat, you will spend a considerable amount of time away from your loved ones. Service before self also encompasses following rules, having respect for others, and exercising discipline and self control at all times.
Core Value #3: Excellence In All We Do
- Every member of the Air Force needs to commit to a work ethic of continuous improvement in self and service. This extends to excellence in the products and services provided, personal excellence, community excellence, excellence in material and human resources, and excellence in both internal and external operations.