Book Review: Master the ASVAB by Peterson's

If you've been on this site at all, you probably know about the importance of the ASVAB. This test, taken during your short visit to a Military Entry Processing Station (MEPS), determines both your eligibility to enlist in the military and your available career paths once enlisted.

With this at stake, I think most would agree that it is impossible to be over-prepared for this test. We've done book reviews of ASVAB study materials before (Kaplan ASVAB Study Guide and ASVAB AFQT for Dummmies) and we have a couple of practice tests available on this site for free (here and here) so there's no excuse not to be ready!

The heart of the ASVAB is the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT). Your AFQT score determines your eligibility to enlist in the branch of the military you want! For more information on the AFQT, check out our review of ASVAB AFQT for Dummies by Rod Powers.

The four subjects that make up the AFQT 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.
  • Mathmatics Knowledge: This tests consists of 25 high school-level math questions.

The additional subjects that make up 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.

All these subjects are covered in Master the ASVAB written by Lt. Col. Scott A Ostrow (USAF, Ret.).

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The layout of Master the ASVAB and the Kaplan ASVAB study guide are very similar, and so you will notice that these reviews are laid out in a very similar way. If you haven't read the Kaplan ASVAB book review, you should probably read that one first.

Part I: ASVAB Basics

The first section of Master the ASVAB gives a fairly comprehensive rundown of what the ASVAB is and the nine different subject categories, as well as the time limit and number of questions for each category.

The book also goes over the differences between the paper ASVAB and the computerized version (CAT-ASVAB), and includes instructions on the layout of the computer keyboard and how to take the CAT-ASVAB.

Next up is an overview of the scoring. This section is surprisingly informative; it covers the information present on your Student Results Sheet (mailed to you after taking the paper ASVAB), an explanation of ASVAB percentile scores, composite scores, ASVAB codes, military career scores, academic ability, verbal ability, and more.

Overall, with the breakdown of the CAT-ASVAB and the scoring, this book is slightly more in-depth than the Kaplan ASVAB study guide, although both are very good. The extra information on scoring, in particular, is very helpful to have handy.

Part II: Diagnosing Strengths and Weaknesses

Here is your first practice test. DO NOT SKIP THIS SECTION. Knowing what subjects you are proficient at and which you are under-prepared for is crucial. You can save a lot of wasted study time if you take this test and use its results to plan out your week(s) of studying.

Much like the Kaplan ASVAB book, after the practice test you can check your answers to discover your score in each section. Also included are brief explanations on why a particular answer was chosen.

Remember, this is probably the most important section of the book!

Part III: ASVAB Review Basics

Here is the heart of the book - specific information to help you review and brush up on subjects you may not be comfortable with. Unlike the Kaplan book, all the review sections are in one section (instead of dividing the AFQT subjects from the extra ASVAB subjects). This does make this section a huge section of the book - over 230 pages - but things are still easy enough to find.

Many of the review sections seem to be a little more in-depth than the corresponding sections in the Kaplan ASVAB book, however whether or not this is important really depends on your strengths and weaknesses that you diagnosed with the previous practice test. In the interest of thoroughness, here is a breakdown of the page lengths of the various review sections:

Review Subject Master the ASVAB Kaplan ASVAB 2011
Word Knowledge 9 6
Paragraph Comprehension 6 8
Arithmetic Reasoning 7 12
Mathematics Knowledge 9 13
General Science 45 26
Electronics Information 9 15
Automotive & Shop 68 55
Mechanical Comprehension 37 12
Assembling Objects 2 8

If you're interested in the specifics of what each section covers, the contents are broadly the same as in the Kaplan ASVAB book, and as such you can find that information in our Kaplan ASVAB review.

Part IV: ASVAB Practice Tests

At the end of the book are three more practice ASVAB tests. The best use of these tests is to take one every few days (or weeks, depending on your preparation time) and study your weakest section(s) in between tests. Don't forget we also have a couple of practice tests on this site as well as two more on our sister-site,

In the appendixes you also can find a variety of military jobs and their related responsibilities, qualifications, ASVAB scores, and civilian counterpart occupations as well as other enlistment-related information.

Part V: Final Thoughts

Click here to buy this or any other Peterson Publishing book and take 30% off by using coupon code - ASVAB30!

Between this book and the Kaplan ASVAB book - you really can't go wrong. ANY study is better than no study, and although this book does have a little more review information for the non-AFQT subjects, the Kaplan book seems to have a little more information on the AFQT subjects. If you can buy both, great - however, if you cannot, take a practice test online and see if you need more improvement in your AFQT or non-AFQT subjects.

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