June 27, 2015


The Department of Defense established categories of potential enlistees based on Categories and Tiers. The percentile scores for the AFQT categories are shown in the chart below. Most people will want to score in the first three categories with Level IIIA representing the average performance. Test takers scoring in the first three categories are virtually assured of meeting enlistment requirements as long as there are no other prohibitions or limitations. A certain number of enlistments are permitted for those individuals qualifying as IIIB or even IV, but the chances of acceptance diminish greatly beyond the first three levels. For those recruits who are enlisting for the purpose of receiving specific technical training in specialized fields, it is very important that they achieve percentile scores at the average level or above. The military services want the people who enter their training schools to succeed. Exemplary (or at least average) performance on the ASVAB assures that a large number of trainees will be successful in completing military training in the military occupations they have selected.

Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) Categories and Corresponding Percentile Score Ranges

Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) Categories and Corresponding Percentile Score Ranges
AFQT Category Percentile Score Range
I 93-99
II 65-92
IIIA 50-64
IIIB 31-49
IV 10-30
V 1-9

The Department of Defense converts Category Performance scores to a three-tiered system. The Defense Department prefers to recruit largely from Tier 1 high school graduates, although it does accept a limited number of Tier 2 graduates. The three Department of Defense tiers are as follows:

Tier 1: The military services prefer to have the largest number of recruits from this group, which represents regular high school graduates including adult diploma holders. At least 90 percent of recruits come from Tier 1. Of this 90 percent, at least 60 percent of these must be drawn from AFQT Categories I through IIIA. Only 4 percent of recruits can come from Category IV, although the individual services can make rare exceptions to the policy.

Tier 2: The individual services vary in the degree to which they accept applicants from this group. Tier 2 recruits are made up of those who receive a General Education Diploma or GED. However, Tier 2 potential enlistees must have special skills (foreign languages, for example) and score high on the ASVAB.

Tier 3: This group represents those individuals with no high school education diploma.

Time Strategy for Higher Scoring on the AFQT/ASVAB

Using the Technique of Elimination for Better ASVAB scores

ASVAB Scores Impact Military Careers

How to Pass the ASVAB