If you are looking to enlist, one of the things you must do is take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This test is probably one of the single most important tests you'll take in the military, since your score determines the different jobs (or MOSs) that you are eligible for. This means that you should prepare in advance for the ASVAB - you only get one shot at the test in MEPS. Your recruiter will probably give you practice tests, which you should do (we also have practice tests on this site here and here) and you should also study.
The ASVAB consists of nine separate sub-tests of which four make up the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT). The AFQT is even more important than the ASVAB, since your score on these four sub-tests determine if you are eligible to enter the military at all. These four sub-tests are:
- Arithmetic Reasoning: This section consists of 30 multiple-choice math word problems.
- Word Knowledge: This section tests your vocabulary with 35 multiple-choice questions that ask you to pick the closest meaning to the highlighted word.
- Paragraph Comprehension: This section requires you to read various paragraphs and answer one to four questions on each paragraph, with 15 questions total.
- Mathematics Knowledge: This tests consists of 25 high school-level math questions.
That's it - your score on these four categories determine if you can even begin your military career. Now that you know what is riding on these four sections, let's take a look at a book designed to help you improve your AFQT score ASVAB AFQT for Dummies by Rod Powers.
Part I: A Tour of the AFQT
The first section of this book is basically an orientation on the ASVAB, the minimum score required on the AFQT for military service, and general test-taking advice.
Although all this information is valuable, most of this information can be found online or in almost any study guide for any standardized test (ACT, SAT, etc.). The minimum required scores for each branch are available online, although there is a nice breakdown of the various percentile scores (and their enlistment potential). There is also information on how each branch of the military handles retaking the ASVAB once you have taken the "official" version (although each branch requires your ASVAB score to expire before a retest, which takes two years - so study hard the first time!).
Part II: Learn the Information You Need
The next two sections of ASVAB AFQT for Dummies deal more in-depth with the specific sections of the test. Each of the four tests is broken down into two chapters - the first chapter provides general knowledge and an overview on the specific information being tested, while the second chapter deals with more AFQT-specific details as well as some sample questions.
These sections make up the meat of this book, and if you have any problem areas (for example, poor grades in Math or English in high school) you should start with the appropriate section at least a month or two before you are scheduled to take the ASVAB - you cannot expect to cram twelve years of schooling into a night (or weekend!).
In the vocabulary and reading comprehension sections you not only get basic knowledge like a list of prefixes and suffixes, a list of common word roots, and a helpful list of commonly-used homonyms, but you also get a list of the different types of questions commonly asked, as well as strategies to improve both your reading comprehension and reading speed for the paragraphs.
Similarly, the strategies and knowledge in this book are invaluable for those who slept (or just forgot) most of math class. If you don't know what PEMDAS, factorials, prime number, and distributive property mean, you are in for a rough time during the math exam. The information given in this chapter is not a complete high school math course, but after reading over the chapter and doing the sample questions, most of your buried math knowledge should come rushing back! The math section also includes hints to solve word problems, and a valuable list of commonly-seen word problems, and the formulas to use to solve them.
Part III: Practice, Practice, Practice!
The final major section of this book consists of practice tests - this resource alone is worth the cost of the book, especially if you are struggle with a particular section of the AFQT. It's probably a good idea to take one of these practice exams (after taking the free ones here at Army.com!) to see where your biggest weaknesses are. That way, you can start your studying on the things that need it the most, instead of wasting time studying things that you are familiar with.
Each question in the practice test is multiple choice (like the AFQT), and the answer key not only gives the correct answer, but it also explains how to get to the correct answer - an invaluable help for math problems which you may not understand.
There are four practice exams, so even after taking one as a starting point, you still have three left. This is especially helpful since you can see how studying improves your scores.
Part IV: Extras and Final Thoughts
After all the practice tests are a list of 10 studying tips - most of this section is just a rehash of things found throughout the book, but it is helpful to have them all in one place for quick reference. These should probably be reviewed before you take the practice tests and the real thing. There is also a list of resources for further study in various AFQT- and ASVAB-related subjects, if you think you need more study than you find in this book.
All in all, if you are worried about your ability to score high enough on the AFQT portion of the ASVAB, this book will be a valuable resource. Keep in mind that it does not give tips on the other sections of the ASVAB. It is your score in these other sections, plus the AFQT that determine the different MOSs that you will qualify for - so don't forget to study for those as well. There are books which help for all parts of the ASVAB, that we'll be reviewing soon.