How to Optimize Your USMC Selection Chances?

If planning for a career in any of the US armed forces, including the USMC, it is wise that you prepare yourself well ahead by understanding about the ASVAB test in detail - including the test sections, question types, test timings, and so on; thus optimize your chances for selection. Read on to find out more about the important aspects of USMC ASVAB test for the US Marine Corps recruitment.

USMC ASVAB Test - History and Importance

The history of assessment tests for US military recruitment can be traced back to the World War times. However, the ASVAB test was first developed in 1968; with the USMC ASVAB test coming to effect only in 1974. By 1976, the Marine Corps started using the test battery for classification purpose as well as for enlisting. For more information on the history of ASVAB testing for Marine Corps, refer to
Alike all the other branches of US military, the USMC is totally dependent on the ASVAB test today, for both enlisting and classification purposes. While the AFQT scores are used for USMC enlisting purpose, the scores of relevant subtests clubbed together are used for classifying the prospective candidates.

USMC ASVAB Test - Test Content and Duration

Though the ASVAB score requirements are different for different branches of the US military, the ASVAB test content, question types, and the duration of the subtests are the same across. There are ten subtests (nine in case of the traditional paper and pencil version of the test) included in the USMC ASVAB test, as in all the other ASVAB tests. The test covers the four core areas:

  • Mathematical
  • Science and Technical
  • Spatial
  • Verbal

The questions in each of the subtests are of multiple-choice type; and durations of the subtests vary. The subtests in USMC ASVAB test and the question numbers in each subtest are as follows (

  • Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) - 30 questions
  • Assembling Objects (AO) - 25 questions
  • Auto and Shop Information (AS) - 25 questions
  • Electronic Information (EI) - 20 questions
  • General Science (GS)- 25 questions
  • Mathematics Knowledge (MK) - 25 questions
  • Mechanical Comprehension (MC) - 25 questions
  • Paragraph Comprehension (PC) - 15 questions
  • Word Knowledge (WK) - 35 questions

Note: The Auto Information and Shop Information tests are administered separately in the CAT-ASVAB, but are scored together as Auto and Shop Information (AS).
The duration for the P&P-ASVAB is estimated to be approximately three hours, while the CAT- ASVAB is found to be completed in much less time. The adaptive nature of the CAT-ASVAB makes it possible for examinees to finish the test off in less time (one hour and thirty minutes, on an average). To learn more about the USMC ASVAB test, refer to the official ASVAB site: For ASVAB sample questions, refer to:

USMC ASVAB Test - Test Scores and How to Improve Your Chances for Selection

As in all the other ASVAB tests, the USMC ASVAB test considers the scores of only four subtests to calculate the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score:

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

The minimum AFQT score required for USMC enlisting is 31, as of now (

It should be noted that, like in all the other branches, it is not the individual ASVAB subtest scores that count for USMC enlistment, rather the relative scores or Standard Scores are used for this task. The relative scores are calculated by comparing the individual subtest scores against those of a nationally, representative sample.

For prospective picks, the score of the entire ASVAB battery is used to select appropriate job roles (MOS) within the USMC. For this, your total USMC ASVAB test scores are split into various line scores; the USMC lines are as below:

  • CL - Clerical: VE, AR, and MK
  • EL - Electronics: GS, AR, MK, and EI
  • GT - General Technical: VE and AR
  • MM - Mechanical Maintenance: NO, AS, MC, and EI
  • ST - Skilled Technical: GS, VE, MK, and MC

Where VE is the composite score calculated by adding up the weighted standard scores of PC and WK subtests.

The selection of candidates into USMC is, thus, done based on your AFQT scores, and the assigning of job roles or MOS is based on your line scores in the USMC ASVAB test. To improve your chances for USMC selection, you must, therefore;

  • Prepare yourself well in the AFQT test areas first.
  • Then, focus on the career line you are interested in. For example, to be qualified for a clerical MOS in the USMC, you need to have a minimum score of 100 in the CL-Clerical line (including Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge subtests). You can find a list of MOS and corresponding line requirements online at,,ASVAB_MOS_USMC.html.
  • Also, remember that the minimum AFQT and ASVAB score requirements for USMC selection are prone to change without prior notice. Check thoroughly and understand the requirements well ahead of taking the test.

To summarize, the ASVAB for USMC is not different from other ASVAB tests in terms of content and questions and structure; the difference always lies in the minimum score requirements. However, with a good grasp of the USMC ASVAB test score requirements, and with the right practice, and other required parameters, you always stand a higher chance for being selected.

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