The Meaning of ASVAB Codes

The Importance of Line Codes

If you want to join the military, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is one of the first steps you will have to take. 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 codes of ASVAB - differ for each of these. Read more about these 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.





An important score of this examination is the 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 (http://official-asvab.com/eligibility_rec.htm). The AFQT score can be considered the first type of score code that must be achieved in order to enlist in the Armed Services. The other ASVAB codes are also a type of scores that are calculated by taking into account the marks received in a certain cluster of sub-tests.

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 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):
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/Education/asvab.asp). For more information on the scoring process, refer to: http://official-asvab.com/understand_coun.htm.

The codes differ for each of the military branches, as the AFQT minimum score requirements. Refer to the table below for a list of ASVAB line 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 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armed_Services_Vocational_Aptitude_Battery; http://www.military.com/ASVAB/0,,ASVAB_MOS.html

Importance of ASVAB Line Codes

As we have seen, the prime role of the odes is to help recruiters in the job of classification. They 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 test-taker 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 these codes.

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