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How Do I Get the Best AFQT Scores?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2017
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Earning the best Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) scores is usually a matter of doing some research into what exactly the test covers, taking the time to review and drill your skills, and planning to take at least one practice test before exam day. The U.S. Military publishes a host of review materials, which you should carefully read. A number of commercial test preparation companies also publish guidebooks and practice exams, which can be a good way to identify and improve upon any weaknesses.

The AFQT is designed primarily to assess test-takers’ basic aptitude at high school-level skills in math and linguistics. It is part of the larger Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, which also includes subjects such as mechanical comprehension and general science. AFQT scores are usually the most important for enlistment eligibility. Students who are doing or have done well in high school courses are generally well positioned to do well on the AFQT portion, though existing knowledge does not guarantee high AFQT scores. Success on the exam is as much about understanding how to take the test and anticipating the questions as it is about straight book knowledge.

Understanding the exam’s format is one of the most important parts of earning good AFQT scores. There are four sections on the test: mathematics knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, and paragraph comprehension. All questions are presented in multiple-choice format, and there are enforced time constraints.

Careful review and drills are some of the best ways to improve AFQT scores. Although the questions are necessarily different from year to year, all tend to follow a similar pattern and cover the same basic skills. In math, a good score usually requires mastery of basic formulas, geometric theorems, and the standard order of operations. For the language sections, vocabulary review, grammar drills, and practice with analogies and reading comprehension are all helpful.

Military recruitment centers usually publish an AFQT review booklet that covers all of the sections and main skills tested. This booklet is usually also accessible online along with full-length practice tests. Taking advantage of these free resources is one of the best ways to help prepare yourself for success on the aptitude tests.

Once you have taken the practice exams you will have a sense of your areas of strength and weakness. It may make sense for you to seek out commercial test prep books that zero in on the AFQT sections with which you are struggling the most. In most cases, commercial books are not affiliated with the U.S. Military, but can nevertheless provide a robust review and a good chance to continue practicing test-taking skills.

Getting good AFQT scores may also hinge on how ready you are for the specific sort of test you will be taking. The AFQT is generally administered in one of three ways. It can be a computer-adaptive test, which is taken on a computer with questions that get progressively harder or easier depending on your answers; it can be taken as a paper-based exam in a military recruitment office; or it can be administered as a paper-based exam by a high school guidance counselor. The presentation and format of tests in each category is slightly different.

Most people seeking military enlistment take the test either on the computer or in a military recruiter’s office. In both of these cases, AFQT results are available almost instantaneously. On high school campuses, the main goal of the tests is not to serve as military entrance exams, but rather to act as career indicators and guides. High AFQT scores in high school will usually still qualify students for enlistment, but this is not usually their main function. Understanding the kind of test you are taking, as well as its purpose, will help you prepare.

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