Standards for Enlistment

Enlisting in the military is a lengthy process. The United States military has strict requirements regarding issues such as a recruit’s age, citizenship, number of dependents, physical fitness, and criminal history. Applicants must also achieve minimum Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) scores according to the following chart:

  • Air Force – 55
  • National Guard – 31
  • Coast Guard – 45
  • Navy – 50
  • Marines – 31
  • Army – 31

The scores listed above are the minimum requirements for people with a high school diploma or 15 college credits. There are different standards for recruits who have a GED.

When planning on a military career, you will want to keep in mind that higher AFQT scores will result in more job options and a larger enlistment bonus. Ideally, you will want to have an AFQT score that classifies you as a Category I (93-99) or Category II (65-92) recruit.

Calculating Your AFQT Score

Your AFQT score is calculated after you have completed the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). While there are nine sections on the test, only four of them are used to calculate your AFQT score: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge. The other sections of the test measure your aptitude for specific types of military jobs, such as mechanical maintenance or combat operations.

AFQT scores use a percentile ranking to compare your performance to other test-takers’ results. An AFQT score of 50 would mean that your performance was as good as, or better than, 50% of the test takers. However, percentile rankings for the AFQT do not change each year. The rankings for AFQT scores are calculated based on a sample of 18- to 23-year-old youth who completed the exam in 1997.

If you are not satisfied with your AFQT score, you are allowed to retake the ASVAB if you wait at least one month after your initial testing date. If you want to retake the test a second time, you must wait an additional month. To retake the test a third time, however, you will need to wait six months between testing dates.