The Importance of Line Codes

If you are a military aspirant, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is one of the first important steps towards building a successful armed forces career. Though there are no different ASVAB tests for the various wings of the armed forces, the minimum score requirements - the scores of AFQT and the ASVAB codes - differ for each of these. Read more about the ASVAB codes, line scores, and their importance here.

What are the ASVAB Scores?

The ASVAB is a test battery consisting of nine (in the traditional ASVAB) or ten (in the CAT-ASVAB) varied subtests. The ASVAB scores - the scores of all these subtests- are used for multiple purposes like for deciding enlistment eligibility, and for classification of job roles. For these, the scores of the various subtests are combined, by appropriately grouping the subtests.

The first ASVAB score grouping is into Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score, which is calculated by using the scores of only four subtests. AFQT scores are used to determine the enlistment eligibility of examinees:

  • Word Knowledge (WK)
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)

The different wings of the US military have different AFQT requirements for enlisting (
The next important ASVAB subtest score grouping is into ASVAB line scores, for classification purposes. The ASVAB lines or ASVAB codes differ for the various branches of US military services.

What are the ASVAB Codes?

The ASVAB line codes are achieved by first grouping the various subtests into appropriate clusters or lines and then adding up the relative scores of the individual subtests in a group. It should be noted that the relative or standard scores and not individual scores are used for getting the ASVAB codes. Relative scores are calculated by comparing the individual scores against that of a nationally representative sample of Americans. Scores of all the subtests are used here (The Coast Guard does make use of the Assembling Objects (AO) subtest scores: For more information on the scoring process, refer to

The ASVAB codes differ for each of the military branches, as the AFQT minimum score requirements. Refer to the table below for a list of ASVAB codes specific to some of the military service branches. Even the ASVAB code names differ for each of the branches; while the US Army uses the term lines, the US Air Force calls them the qualification areas:

ASVAB Codes for Different Branches

US Army/National Guard Lines US Air Force Qualification Areas US Marines Lines
CL - Clerical G - General CL- Clerical
CO - Combat M - Mechanical EL- Electronics
EL - Electronics A - Administrative GT- General Technical
FA - Field Artillery E- Electrical MM- Mechanical Maintenance
GM - General Maintenance ST - Skilled Technical
GT - General Technical
MM - Mechanical Maintenance
OF - Operators and Food
SC - Surveillance and Communications
ST - Skilled Technical

The various lines or ASVAB codes are made up of various subtest scores. For example, while the CL - Clerical code includes the scores of only Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge; the General Maintenance and General codes include scores of only Arithmetic Reasoning, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge subtests.

For more information, refer to:;,,ASVAB_MOS.html

Importance of ASVAB Line Codes

As we have seen, the prime role of ASVAB codes is to help recruiters in the job of classification. The codes, which are clusters of different groupings of subtests, reflect the candidates' aptitudes and abilities in various clusters and thus help recruiters decide the best fitting roles for each examinee based on his/her ASVAB code scores. For example, if a candidate has scored well in the El line code, but not so well in the MM line, it can be deduced that the candidate might fit well in the Electrical career line and not in the Mechanical field. Thus, based on the other parameters of selection, recruiters can allocate the best suitable job roles for candidates with the help of the ASVAB codes.

For the candidates also, understanding about each of the ASVAB codes and their constituent subtests, helps in targeting for the requisite ASVAB scores and accordingly prepare for the test. ASVAB codes, thus, pave way for your desired career path in the armed force services.

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