The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) standardized test is often given to high school students to measure aptitude in a variety of areas. It is used by the military to gauge ability but can also be used to help students identify areas of strength and weakness. It is required for all types of military service.

What is it?

Math, science and basic language skills are stressed on the ASVAB.
Math, science and basic language skills are stressed on the ASVAB.

According to the official test website, the ASVAB "is a battery of tests designed to determine the individual skills and abilities of personnel intending to enter the military services. In high schools, it is often used as a basic aptitude test." It tests general science knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, auto and shop knowledge, mathematics knowledge, mechanical comprehension and electronics information.

Scoring

Various branches of the service require different minimum scores.
Various branches of the service require different minimum scores.

If being used for entrance into a branch of the military, test takers must achieve specific scores on the arithmetic reasoning, math knowledge and verbal composite (word knowledge and paragraph comprehension) subtests. The Coast Guard and Air Force require a score of 36, the Navy 35, Marines 32 and the Army 31.

Average Score

Scores are calculated against the scores of other test takers.
Scores are calculated against the scores of other test takers.

ASVAB scores are measured against the scores of all other test takers; therefore, the average score is by definition 50, because that number falls in the middle of all possible scores. Those who score higher have more options in military service; those whose scores fall below average may still be accepted but will find their choices more limited. However, it's not computed by simply adding those scores together but by a formula designed to take the scores and convert them to a percentile value. It's this percentile that represents your ASVAB score and ranks your results in comparison to others.