Book Review: ASVAB Study Guide 2011 Edition

As you've probably heard, the ASVAB is the single most important test you take during your entire Army career. You get one shot at the test when you are at MEPS, and it determines both your eligibility for enlistment and the list of potential MOSs that you can choose from. With this in mind it's a good idea to make sure you are prepared by taking practice tests and studying. Your recruiter will probably give you some practice tests (although we also have two here and here) but you also want to make sure you study up on any weak subjects.

The core of the ASVAB is the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) which determines whether or not you can enlist. You should definitely study for this test, and we have a review of a study guide for the AFQT. Your score on the AFQT is combined with your score on the other sections of the ASVAB to determine your final score. In addition to the four subjects on the AFQT, the additional subjects on the ASVAB are:

  • General Science: 25 questions covering general concepts from life, earth, and physical sciences
  • Electronics Information: 20 questions covering basic circuits, electronic terminology, and principles.
  • Auto and Shop Information: 25 questions that test mechanical knowledge of automobiles as well as shop tools and practices.
  • Mechanical Comprehension: 25 questions covering basic physical and mechanical principals.
  • Assembling Objects: 25 questions testing your ability to visualize how a disassembled object will look when put back together.

The ASVAB study guide we are looking at today, the 2011 edition by Kaplan, not only covers these five subjects, but also covers the four subjects in the AFQT. Let's get started!

Part I: General Information and Diagnostic Test

The book starts off with a brief introduction of the ASVAB, along with a helpful comparison of the paper-and-pencil test vs. the computer test (CAT-ASVAB). Essentially the CAT-ASVAB has fewer questions (the numbers above are for the paper test), takes less time, and can be scored instantly; however, you can not skip forward or backward through questions.

A short explanation of the scoring of both the AFQT (for entrance into the military) and ASVAB (for MOS eligibility) is included. It is brief but clear - more involved (and confusing) breakdowns of ASVAB scoring can be found online if you are curious.

The last 40 pages of this intro section consists of a diagnostic ASVAB test followed by the answers and explanations. Do not skip this test! This will help to guide you through the rest of the book. If you get all but 2 or 3 questions correct in a section, you don't need to spend to much time looking over that section. You have to know where your weaknesses are before you can get rid of them!

Part II: Review of AFQT Subjects

This section covers the four topics that make up the AFQT:

  • Word Knowledge
  • Paragraph Comprehension
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Mathematics Knowledge

Although not as complete a study guide as ASVAB AFQT for Dummies this book does a decent job of touching on each of these four subjects, and each section ends with a few practice questions related to the topic covered. If you have big gaps in your math or English knowledge (bad grades throughout high school, a poor score on the practice sections, or you can't answer the study questions at the end) you may want to look at supplemental study materials (such as ASVAB AFQT for Dummies).

Both English sections (Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension) give tips for studying for as well as taking both sections, and the math sections (Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge) give a review of basic math terms (prime number, factors, fractions, etc.) as well as reviews of equation solving and geometry.

If you can ace the practice questions at the end of the review (and in practice tests), this is probably all the review of the ASVAB AFQT that you need.

Part III:Technical ASVAB Subjects

In this section, the book covers the non-AFQT subjects on the ASVAB. As mentioned previously, these subjects are:

  • General Science
  • Electronics Information
  • Automotive/Shop Information
  • Mechanical Comprehension
  • Assembling Objects

These sections go much more in-depth than the AFQT-related subjects, and provide plenty of information to improve your score on the related ASVAB section.

The General Science chapter has a section for each of the major branches of science on the ASVAB: life science (anatomy, genetics, ecology), earth science (geology, meteorology, astronomy), and physical science (physics and chemistry). Each one of these branches of science is followed by its own set of practice questions to test what you have retained.

The Electronics chapter starts with the basics: the atom and electron flow theory. It gives useful definitions for common electrical terms (voltage, current, resistance, etc.) and various equations used to determine the relationship between various aspects of electricity. The final section focuses on the different types of circuits and how various components (resistors, capacitors, semiconductors) are used.

The Automotive and Shop sections each get their own chapter. The Automotive section begins with the basics of an internal combustion engine - including cylinder number and firing order, camshafts, air-fuel ratio, and more - before moving on to the other systems in the modern-day car. Systems such as the lubrication system, cooling system, drive train, suspension, and more are all covered. The Shop chapter contains details on the correct and safe use of almost any tool you can find in a shop. From wrenches and sockets to soldering and welding tools - it's all here.

The Mechanical Comprehension section is essentially just applied physics. This chapter reviews things such as force, friction, tension, as well as potential and kinetic energy. Also covered are simple machines (remember the 3 different classes of levers?), how gears and gear ratios work, and finally, hydraulics.

The final review section for the ASVAB is the Assembling Objects chapter. While this is not a review like the other sections (since you probably never had a class on assembling objects in high school), this chapter does offer some helpful tips on common ways the ASVAB will try to trip you up and how to avoid them.

Part IV: Practice Tests and Final Thoughts

The final section of this book contains two additional practice tests. These are great for seeing how your studying has improved your score, as well as finding addition weaknesses to improve upon.

If you have already have a pretty decent score on the four sections that make up the ASVAB AFQT, and you need help with some of the more technical subjects found on the ASVAB, this book may be all you need to improve your ASVAB score. However, if some of the subjects on the AFQT test are giving you trouble, don't hesitate to get a dedicated ASVAB AFQT book as well. Remember, you get one shot at these two tests - an extra $20 to improve your MOS choices (or even get into the Army) is a worthwhile investment!

To buy the Kaplan ASVAB Study Guide (2011), use the following link:

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