Joining the Navy just got a little bit easier.
Under new guidelines announced Monday, the Navy will now accept up to 7,500 new sailors who score between the 10th and 30th percentile of the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT.
These future sailors would be so-called “Category IV” recruits, and up to 20% of the upcoming year’s enlistees could fall into this category.
“As we continue to navigate a challenging recruiting environment, changing the AFQT requirement removes a potential barrier to enlistment, allowing us to widen the pool of potential recruits and creating opportunities for personnel who wish to serve,” Cmdr. David Benham, a spokesperson for Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, told Military.com on Monday.
The AFQT, which measures word knowledge, reading comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and mathematics knowledge, is just one part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. The AFQT is graded on a scale of all test takers — in other words, instead of a grade, an applicant is ranked in a percentile of how well they did relative to everyone else taking the test.
While the ASVAB helps determine what position an enlistee may hold, the AFQT simply determines whether someone is eligible for military service. The two tests combined determine what positions someone can enlist for.
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Speaking to Military.com, Benham reiterated that potential enlistees still have to meet ASVAB standards.
“Individual Navy rating requirements are based off these fixed line scores, not the overall AFQT score,” Benham said. “To qualify for enlistment, the individual must still meet the minimum line score requirement for a given Navy rating. These ASVAB line score requirements are unchanged by this policy, and they are not waiverable.”
Regulations from the Department of Defense stipulate that no more than 4% of enlistees into the various services can score in the “Category IV” range – what the Navy will now be selecting from based on this new guidance – on the AFQT.
“Anybody who comes in under this change in policy will have still met the requirements to serve,” Benham told Military.com.
The new policy took effect Monday and will be evaluated through next October.
“As we continue to navigate a challenging recruiting environment, changing the AFQT requirement removes a potential barrier to enlistment, allowing us to widen the pool of potential recruits and creating opportunities for personnel who wish to serve,” Benham told USNI News.
The new policy comes as all the services are struggling to find enough qualified recruits. The Army is struggling to find enlistees, missing its 2022 goal by 15,000 new soldiers, and has instituted a basic training for basic training – the Future Soldier Prep Course – to help recruits meet the minimum physical and aptitude requirements.
The Navy met its 2022 recruiting quotas, but by just 42 new sailors. In November, the service announced it was raising the maximum age for enlistment to 41.
The Army is going back to a golden oldie, reviving the “Be All You Can Be” slogan. Perhaps it’s time for the Navy to follow suit and bring back those “Accelerate Your Life” ads with the Godsmack song. Keith David’s voice can still get you to do anything.
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