Current policy allows you to take the AFOQT twice, with a 180-day interval between tests. The regulation used to allow for a waiver to take it a third time. Under the old regulation, in order for a waiver to be approved, candidates "must have completed (since the previous AFOQT administration) at least two college courses in subjects relevant to the AFOQT, gained significant flying experience, or improved other skills and abilities measured by the AFOQT." Additionally, "Waiver requests must include documentation of all education and experience with grades achieved and other relevant measures." The current version of the regulation (AFI 36-2605, Air Force Testing Program, Attachment 2) no longer mentions the possibility of taking the test a third time, so this may no longer be an option. Check with your local Test Control Officer (generally the person who administers the AFOQT at your detachment/recruiting station), because he/she will be the one who forwards the waiver.
Your most recent AFOQT score is the only one that matters. That's a good thing if you do better (which you should if you prepare) but it's a bad thing if you do worse. It's a gamble taking it the second time but it's a good gamble if you prepare a bunch - or at the very least MORE than you did the first time. If your scores are already high (e.g. you checked out our database of average AFOQT scores for successful applicants and you're feeling pretty confident) then think long and hard before taking it again just for a small score increase.
We link to practice tests and practice questions whenever we find them online. You will also likely want to invest in at least one AFOQT study guide that contains practice tests.
Nope! AFOQT scores never expire, they're good for life.
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AFOQT - Basic Information
Welcome to the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, or AFOQT, information page. For those of you who do not have a clue about this test or how it is structured, you have come to the right place!
The AFOQT is a standardized test, similar to the SAT or any other standardized test. The main difference from other tests you've likely taken is that the AFOQT has many additional (and specialized) sections beyond Verbal and Quantitative. The test takes about three and a half hours to complete. This sounds like a very long time but, trust me, this will go by faster than you think. It is broken up into 12 different sections -- the longest section is 40 minutes and many are quite short. It may be long and difficult, but the test is not impossible.
You will receive five different AFOQT scores, called composite scores. The five composite scores are the Pilot, Navigator, Academic Aptitude, Verbal, and Quantitative scores. Each score is actually a percentile score - for example, an 80 means you scored higher than 80% of the individuals in the normative reference group.
You can take the AFOQT twice as long as there's at least a 180-day interval between tests. However, most Detachments do not allow you to take it again if you have passed already because if you fail the second time, that is the score they use. AFOQT scores never expire, and if you take the test more than once it's the most RECENT test score that matters. For more information, check out our FAQs on the left of the page or some of the links!
AFOQT Preparation Tips
The test can be cracked. You don't have to be a genius. It's a standardized test which means you have to think like the test makers, know the rules, and exploit the questions. As a pilot, you'll find these skills come into play all the time. The ability to clearly see a problem, use your resources, and come up with a solution are essential to commanding an aircraft and crew/formation. Treat this test like it's one of those challenges. Unlike the SAT or similar tests, there aren't a whole lot of resources available for the AFOQT. Although the verbal/math sections are similar to other tests, you will definitely need to learn some new tricks and strategies if you want a pilot slot. The key thing to remember about the AFOQT is...you can prepare for it! We'll do our best to show you the way.
- Review Basic Information. Familiarize yourself with the test structure and content, etc. You've come to the right place!
- Take a Short Practice Test. Check out the official pamphlet (see link at left) which contains sample questions for each test section, or check out the links section for other practice tests. This will just show you the mechanics of the test and help with the monkey skill memorization on how to attack each question. Remember that this sample test is a very simplified version of the actual test, but it will help identify weak areas.
- Review/Practice Strategy for Each Question Type. On this page we have Flash tutorials for the Instrument Comprehension section and written info on the Instrument Comprehension and Block Counting sections- more coming soon! For other question types, check out our suggested study resources below.
- Purchase an AFOQT Study Guide(s) and PRACTICE. Practice with as many full-length tests as possible. When you take practice tests, try to take them under AFOQT conditions - no extended breaks, follow the timing, and don't write on the practice test (use scratch paper). (Note that some of the books may pre-date the 'new' format, so be sure to discard sections from your practice tests that are no longer on the test). Because there are only a finite number of AFOQT practice tests available, you may need to use some questions from other standardized test books for section-specific practice. Books from ARCO and Barron's are both valuable.
- Relax on the night before test day!
GENERAL AFOQT TIPS
1. Guess freely! You are not penalized for wrong answers - so no matter what you do, make sure you fill in answers for all the questions in every section. Check out our guessing strategy below.
2. Focus your preparation. Focus on your weak areas and on the sections that matter for your priority composite score. Check out the table below to see which test sections apply to which composite scores, and the formula that shows the weighting of each sub-test score for each composite. Note that some of the test sections aren't counted in any composite!
3. Pick a strategy for tightly timed sections. Some of the sections (such as instrument comprehension) have a high number of questions in a short amount of time. You can try a strategy where you allocate your time on only say 15 of the questions to improve accuracy and then guess on the rest. OR you can attempt to answer all of the questions, which leaves you with less time for each one. We think with our tutorial you'll find all you need to slaughter the instrument comprehension problems. But if not - consider this timing strategy.
4. For more specific study/practice ideas for each section, scroll down to the first table below!
So You Want to be a Pilot? Get in Line (and Read This)!
If you want to compete, you have to have great test scores. In fact, you must score a minimum of 25 on the Pilot portion and 10 on the Navigator portion, but the composite must be more than 50. It is highly recommended to be competitive that you achieve scores in the 70 or higher range.
To see average AFOQT scores received by those who were awarded pilot slots, be sure to check out our Pilot Slot Stats page by clicking here!
AFOQT Composite Score Formulas
While we haven't yet found an official source that delineates the weighting of each sub-test/section for the current AFOQT composites, we can offer up this tidbit:
The USAF contracted with a corporation called Operational Technologies (OpTech) to advise on the new composite scores. OpTech produced a report in July 2003 (for AFPC/DPPPWE, the testing folks) with recommendations for which sub-tests to include in the composites and also how much weight to give each sub-test. (They conducted regression analysis to see which sub-tests had the greatest validity as predictors of UPT/UNT success).
While we don't know if the USAF adopted their recommendations on the composite formulas, we do know that the sub-tests they recommended for inclusion are the ones the USAF is now using.
Here are the formulas recommended by OpTech:
Pilot Composite = 1.2*AR + 1.0*MK+ 1.9*IC + 1.0*TR + 2.4*AI
Nav-Tech Composite = 1.2*VA + 3.5*AR + 3.1*MK + 1.9*BC + 1.0*TR + 2.3*GS
AR=Arithmetic Reasoning; MK=Math Knowledge; IC=Instrument Comprehension; TR=Table Reading; AI=Aviation Information; VA=Verbal Analogies; BC=Block Counting; GS=General Science
If you enjoy statistics, you can read the whole report here (although the tables appear to have been deleted from the publicly-available document)
Wondering what the Self-Descriptive Inventory (SDI) is all about?
We stumbled on a little more information about the SDI from a paper given at the 2006 International Military Testing Association convention by an official from the AFPC Military Testing section. (You can view his slides here.)
First, its main use so far has been to collect data. Future uses may include career counseling, job classification, and perhaps screening applicants on non-cognitive measures (though the paper says this wouldn't be the best use of the SDI).
What does it measure? It's called OCEAN ST. The OCEAN part is supposed to be the five basic personality characteristics, and the USAF added the ST characteristics (80 items out of the 220 item test).
O - Openness
C - Conscientiousness
E - Extroversion
A - Agreeableness
N - Neuroticism
S - Service Orientation
T - Team Orientation
Service Orientation is defined as "organizational commitment." Team Orientation is defined as "preferences for working as a member of a group or working alone." (These definitions are from a presentation we saved when it was still available online).
Curious about what the SDI might say about you? The presentation gives some personality test links where you can get an assessment of yourself (on the OCEAN factors, anyway - not the ST factors) if you have time to kill! Try a personality assessment here.
|The "New" AFOQT|
Read About a 16-Subtest AFOQT? How the Current Test is Different
The AFOQT-S has been 'operational' since Fall 2005, but there's still some info on the "old" AFOQT (the 16 sub-test version) out there on the web. Here's how the current AFOQT differs from the old version:
The following sections were eliminated:
Pilot and Navigator Composites:
The sub-tests used for the P and N composites have changed substantially; check out the table on this page for more details.
Also, they're developing a new formula that uses variable weighting of sub-tests in the composite score. We think we've learned the formula, but there's no official word - see above.
A (for now) experimental non-cognitive section is being added called the SDI - Self-Description Inventory. Sounds like a “personality” test. This brings the total number of sub-tests up to 12.
Total administration will be reduced by about an hour, down to 3.5 hours total.
The scores (which were always percentile scores, meaning they have to be normed against a representative population) have been re-normed.
(If you remember when the SAT was re-normed in the 90s, everyone's scores went up about 50 points? The re-norming won't really matter, because everyone will get a similar numerical pseudo-boost/disadvantage, but it's something to consider when comparing scores across time).
|AFOQT Test Sections|
In the table below, we've described each AFOQT test section and listed applicable study resources for each one. Because any study guide specifically for the AFOQT (such as the “Officer Candidate Tests” guides) should cover all the sections, we haven't listed that as a resource for each section individually in the table. We've tried to list as many tests as possible so, in addition to AFOQT-specific study guides, you can use all the free resources for the 'bigger name' tests, such as practice questions available online from Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc. The Barron's Military Flight Aptitude Test prep book was much more helpful, in depth, and accurate than the ARCO version of the AFOQT prep. We've linked to a few such resources - see “Related Practice Qs” on the left-hand side of the page. But there are tons more out there! Have any study resources we haven't thought of? Post them here!
|KEY: "Old SAT"=SAT books geared towards the pre-2005 SAT.|
MAS=Mechanical and Spatial. It refers to refers to test prep books specifically geared towards mechanical and spatial aptitude tests.
|Verbal Analogies||25||8 min||Measures ability to reason and to see relationships between words.||Old SAT, GRE, MAT (Miller Analogies Test - WAY more difficult than the AFOQT analogies)|
|Arithmetic Reasoning||25||29 min||Measures ability to use arithmetic to solve problems.||SAT, ACT, GRE, ASVAB|
|Word Knowledge||25||5 min||Basic word definition questions. (synonyms)||GRE (antonyms)|
|Math Knowledge||25||22 min||Measures knowledge of mathematical terms and principles.||SAT, ACT, GRE|
|Instrument Comprehension||20||6 min||Measures ability to determine position of an airplane in flight from reading instruments.||TUTORIAL (scroll down for flash version or for a non-flash version)|
|Block Counting||20||3 min||Tests your ability to "see into" a 3-dimensional stack of blocks and determine how many pieces are touched by certain numbered blocks.||TUTORIAL (non-flash, scroll down), MAS|
|Table Reading||40||7 min||Measures ability to read tables quickly and accurately.||ACT (Science section), SAT (Math)|
|Aviation Information||20||8 min||Measures knowledge of general aviation concepts and terminology.||Private Pilot Test Prep (may be overkill, but at least you'll be covered)|
|General Science||20||10 min||Measures general knowledge in the area of science.||ASVAB|
|Rotated Blocks||15||13 min||Measures spatial aptitude, or the ability to visualize and manipulate objects in space.||MAS|
|Hidden Figures||15||8 min||Measures ability to see a simple figure in a complex drawing, also known as template matching.||MAS|
|Self-Description Inventory||220||40 min||Measures personal traits and attitudes - you must indicate how well certain statements (e.g. "I enjoy reading poetry") describe you.||N/A|
Which AFOQT Sections Do You Care About Most?
The following table displays which test sections are used to score each AFOQT composite score - Pilot (P), Navigator (N), Academic Aptitude (A), Verbal (V) and Quantitative (Q). You should focus your AFOQT preparation based on your weaknesses and your priority composite score. (Source: Official AFOQT Pamphlet from AFPC.)
|Verbal Analogies|| ||X||X||X|| |
|Arithmetic Reasoning||X||X||X|| ||X|
|Word Knowledge|| || ||X||X|| |
|Math Knowledge||X||X||X|| ||X|
|Instrument Comprehension||X|| || || || |
|Block Counting|| ||X|| || || |
|Table Reading||X||X|| || || |
|Aviation Information||X|| || || || |
|General Science|| ||X|| || || |
|Rotated Blocks|| || || || || |
|Hidden Figures|| || || || || |
|Self-Description Inventory|| || || || || |
When you go through a section be sure to keep an eye on time remaining. Leave yourself a couple minutes at the end to guess. Here's how to do it. First, eliminate any answers you can and guess from there. If you have no idea, assume the test makers want the same number of correct A, B, C,... answers on each section. So, only answer the questions that you're sure of, or are reasonably sure of, on your answer pad. Then, go back and try to figure out those that you didn't know. When you near the end of the allotted time, count how many A,B,C, and D answers you've marked. If the section is 20 questions long and you've got 5 A answers, 4 B Answers, 4 C Answers, and only 1 D Answer marked....then you should guess D on the remaining questions.
|AFOQT Block Counting|
Block counting is pretty straight forward. It just requires an ability to see three dimensional figures properly. With a little practice visualizing the stack of blocks you should be on your way. The number one thing to remember with these questions is spelled out right in the directions. All blocks are the same size and shape! Even though that might not appear the case in some of the drawings, consider it a given. To practice this visualization, take a look at the stack above. How many blocks touch the “S3“ block? After you've counted take a look below to see if you're visualizing it correctly.
Above we've colored in red all the blocks that touch S3. The picture is no different other than the red coloring. You should see that S3 touches seven different blocks. Now take a look above and see how many blocks touch the S2 block. Check below to see how well you visualized.
You should have seen that S2 touches only 3 blocks. Try to visualize how many blocks S5 touches and look below to check.
S5 touches 4 different blocks. Like we said, block counting is pretty straight forward and is just a matter of visualization and a little bit of practice.
|AFOQT Instrument Comprehension|
Let's first start off by saying it's hard to comprehend what exactly the test makers were thinking with this section. There is an assumption that must be made for these problems that the test makers don't tell you (and if you have any flight experience, it will actually hurt you). Couple to that the extremely poor aircraft drawings and you have a section that will bite you out of nowhere. We have operational pilots that miss these questions. The instruments are not actual instruments and the drawings ignore any sense of aerodynamics. But whatever..it's a test. A poorly constructed section, in our opinion, but we'll do our best to point out the best way to tackle this section.
This is what the problems look like above. You have an “artificial horizon” (which would lead to many aircraft accidents if it were actually used in a jet) and a compass (which would get you lost if you tried to navigate by it) and four poorly drawn pictures representing the aircraft with those instrument indications. Your job is to pick the drawing that BEST fits the instrument indications.
We've highlighted the “horizon line” in the illustration above. The horizon line is simply a line that separates ground from sky. Just like the horizon you'd see looking out the cockpit of a plane, this instrument replicates that picture. So now you see the horizon line separating ground and sky. So which area is sky and which area is ground? That's the assumption that the test makers fail to tell you. Here is the answer. The section from the horizon line to the caret is ALWAYS the sky and the other side is always the ground.
You must assume the ground is the lower portion from the horizon line as we've illustrated with red above. This is always the case on the test. A real aritificial horizon in an aircraft will have the ground area filled in with a color like the illustration above. For the test, mentally shade in the area below the horizon line as we've done to indicate the ground. This makes it much easier to read. On the test, the aircraft is always upright (it's not upside down). If you have flight experience you may have interpreted the instrument as shown below:
This is the WRONG WAY to interpret the instrument above. If you take the area above the horizon line and make it the ground then you are showing an aircraft that is inverted and banking left. The caret, again, always points straight up to the sky. That being the case, the area from the horizon line to the caret cannot be ground. It's very unlikely that any test questions on the AFOQT will show an aircraft inverted. Think of this test as written by heavy pilots that never go upside down. Always shade the bottom portion of the horizon line and make that the ground reference. In the case of a 90 degree turn, remember the portion with the caret is the sky.
Now that we know what is sky and what is ground, let's talk about “bank.” Banking is the amount of “roll.” If an aircraft is flying straight and level then it has no bank. If it rolls to the left, however, then it banks to the left and would give an indication like that above. Again, imagine the ground area shaded above. Does it make sense that it's banking to the left? If you have trouble picturing it with the horizon then you can use the “caret marker” which we've highlighted in red above. See the “0” on the dial at the top of the instrument? If the caret is to the right of the “0” then the aircraft is banking left. If the caret is to the left of the “0” then the aircraft is banking right. If the caret is directly below the “0” then the aircraft isn't banking at all.
Just to be clear, we've highlighted the “0” in blue above.
Above is an Artificial Horizon that has no bank. It also has no climb or descent. It's flying “straight and level.“ How do you know if an aircraft is climbing or descending? Take a look at the middle of the instrument. It's hard to distinguish but there is a little mini aircraft symbol in there. If that symbol is on the horizon, as it is above, then it is neither climbing or descending. It's maintaining the same altitude. If, however, that little symbol is below the horizon line then it is descending. If the aircraft symbol is above the horizon line then the aircraft is climbing.
The aircraft above is descending because the mini aircraft symbol is below the horizon line.
The aircraft above is climbing because the mini aircraft symbol is above the horizon line.
NOTE FOR THOSE WITH FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: You should by now realize that actual flight and aerodynamics are ignored with these pictures. It is certainly possible, in reality, that the aircraft symbol could be above the horizon line and yet the aircraft is actually flying straight and level (such as in slow flight) or even descending (such as in a stall). Ignore these facts for the test.
The other instrument you have is the compass. This compass doesn't work like a regular compass. The needle points to the heading (or direction) of the aircraft. In this illustration above the needle is pointing to somewhere between 090 and 135 degrees. Each tick is 45 degrees. The cardinal headings correspond as such. N=360 (or 0 degrees), E=090 degrees, S=180 degrees, and W=270 degrees. This needle is pointing to approximately 120 degrees. None of that really matters for the test though. You don't need to know how to do this math. You just need to picture which way the needle is pointing. First, you need to mentally flip the compass picture in your head. You can see we've drawn two weak little blue arms reaching up and grabbing the compass. Imagine those are your hands and you're reaching up. Now flip the compass 90 degrees, mentally, so the word “compass” is closer to your head and the “N” is furtherest away. That's how you want to envision where the needle is pointing. That's how the aircraft drawing will be pointed.
Take a look at the example, above. You can see the aircraft is banking right. We know this from the horizon line and, even easier, we know because the “caret” is to the left of 0. We can tell the jet is climbing because the aircraft symbol is above the horizon line. We can tell by the compass that the aircraft is travelling to the west (pointed to the left of the page). So that easily narrows the answer choice down to B or C. But which one is it? Take a close look. They're both pretty much pointed in the same direction. They're both climbing. So which one is banking right? Now we come into another major flaw of the test. Garbage drawings. For you to determine which direction these two aircraft are banking you need to be able to distinguish the top of the aircraft from the bottom of the aircraft and that pretty much depends on the detail of the artist. Here we see that answer B has little detail compared to answer C. Unfortunately, the tails of both aircraft are different too (something which wouldn't appear different in reality). In answer B we can make out a little line on the leading edge of the wings. Not sure what this line represents though as there are no flaps or ailerons on the leading edge of the wing of any aircraft we've seen. In answer C we see all kinds of details. We can make out the flaps (which you should be able to see from the bottom or the top) and we can see some detail towards the nose of the aircraft (although it's not clear if that's the cockpit or the main landing gear doors). At any rate, you really can't tell which is the top of the aircraft and which is the bottom. According to the AFOQT test pamphlet, the correct answer is C. So that means the bottom of the airplane is more detailed than the top of the aircraft. Keep that in your bag of tricks. If you're trying to distinguish between the top of the jet and the bottom of the jet...the bottom has more detail. Something they don't tell you on the test and you couldn't possibly be expected to know.
Incidentally, this is one of the flaws of the test prep books we've seen. In their instrument comprehension sections they provide very clear and crisp pictures of the aircraft. Although this makes it easier to pass their practice tests, it doesn't make it easier on test day when it comes to distinguishing the actual sloppy AFOQT drawings.